Creature Features Revisited- Beach Blanket Terror – Summer edition
Usually in my Creature Feature posts, I like to pick out the top films in the subject matter – one’s worth watching today, whether for their historical impact, monster designs or nostalgic value. The following picks have laughable monsters, bad acting, and hokey plots. I’ve selected these films solely for their seaside locations and bathing beauties. Hey it’s summer, enjoy!
A Del Tenney directed, surf rock-n-roll beach party flick, featuring dancing bikinis, sea monsters and the rockin’ sounds of the Del-Aires. Bad acting, a hokey creature design, and some gnarly old time rock-n-roll dancing can’t deter this film’s innocent charm. In daylight the creatures look like something a child would draw with crayons, the film’s low-budget was obvious thin in the costume design department. The monster looks like it has as dozen frankfurters stuck in its mouth. My guess is they were supposed to be multiple tongues. Okay, so a disposal company dumps drums of radioactive waste in the NY waters. That causes some dead bodies in the sea to regenerate using fish and sea-life parts. Hank has a fight with his girl and after a sexy cat dance, she goes for a swim. She’s the first victim. The scene is just like Jaws (and by ‘just like’ I mean ‘nothing like‘) with people running, screaming, and the Del-Aires singing, “Zombie Stomp“. Other sunken bodies regenerate (off the coast of NJ, figure it out) and soon there’s a dozen of these fish zombie things. Hank, working with a reputable scientist discovers they can be killed with sodium…sodium? Isn’t that salt? These things came out of salt water, didn’t they? Anyway, they throw some salt bombs (sodium snow-balls) and the creatures flame up and disappear (like in Blade). Awesome dialog like, “smells like dead fish” (isn’t that a Nirvana song?) – “He’s cute. Fill me up, hon?” (talking to a gas station attendant with dreamy eyes), and “I hate drunks!” (from a drunk guy that just crashed his car.) The best scene is the pajama party, pillow fight, that turns into a fish-fry massacre. I have to mention the sound, the fish-monsters roar is awesome and the background music during monster attacks have that old school sci-fi/horror weirdness.
A young dude Richard quits his science studies to become a surfer. He spends his time at the beach with dancing beauties, radical waves, and rockin’ surf tunes. However, his science knowledge is called upon to discover what is killing young girls at the Santa Monica beach. What indeed, seems to be a parade float wrapped around an actor, plastic strips flapping in the surf and wind, with plastic ping-pong ball eyes with paper-mache tooths. The film often cuts to four young ladies gyrating to the rockin’ surf music on the beach who are credited as dancers from the Whisky-a-go-go. The music was put together specifically for the film, sung by Frank Sinatra Jr. and Arnold Lessing (who plays Richard), and performed by members of the surf band, The Hustlers. Songs titled “Dance Baby Dance,” and “There’s a Monster in the Surf” fuel the dancers booty-shaking. Surfing footage is shot by Dale Davis, who is famous for shooting surf footage, and also stars in the film as one of Richard’s friends. The plot gets a little hazy with all this dancing and music, but it has something to do with Richard’s step-mom hitting on both him and his friends. Richard’s dad is not too happy, his son left his career to hang ten with the surf crowd, and his much younger wife seems to be more interested in the young people than being a wife. If you need a good guess at the film’s conclusion, there’s this picture:
But it takes an awful long haul to get there. Unless you’re into surf music, 60’s dancing, and nostalgia for vintage no-budget films, I would steer clear. But I happen to like all three, so I was bemused with the floppy flick.
This early 60’s Corman flick takes a comedic parody pot-shot at both spy films and horror films. A gangster, Renzo, looking to take advantage of unrest in Cuba plans to steal the nations fortunes. He attempts to kill the Cuban loyalists and blame a legendary Sea Monster. When his plans fall apart he sinks the ship with plans to retrieve the treasure later. Secret Agent, ‘Sparks Moran’ (what a name) infiltrates the gang to discover Renzo’s plan. When Renzo’s gang attempts to retrieve the treasure, they discover a real sea monster and are picked off, one-by-one. Its hard to believe this monster can pick-off anything, except maybe turds at the bottom of your toilet. The monster was made from amongst other things, brillo pads, Tennis balls (eyes) and pipe cleaners (claws). Reportedly the crew had a hard time not laughing when they were shooting scenes with the thing. The film was shot on location in Puerto Rico in 5 days, back-to-back with, The Last Woman on Earth and Battle of Blood Island. Agent Sparks also narrates the action with great lines like, “The sun was beginning to set. I could tell because it was getting dark.” In one scene there’s a Spanish subtitle for no apparent reason. The film is painfully slow-moving and the comedy is ultra b-campy, but some people are fans of everything Corman put out. It’s a definite WTF? when you see the monster and you can get a chuckle out of that for sure. Perhaps with a six-pack and a couple of friends you could have some fun goofing on this super cheesy flick. However, it’s definitely one of the least impressive in Corman’s catalogue.
Photo Galleries – beach babes, monster waves, and monster raves!
The Horror of Party Beach (1964)
Beach Girls and the Monster (1965)
Creature From the Haunted Sea (1961)
No matter how many ways you do the poster art, it isn’t gonna make it a better film: