Take a beach party movie a la Frankie and Annette, mix it with the creature from the Black Lagoon, and shake it till it loses most of its brain cells and that's The Beach Girls and the Monster (1965).
Far from his heyday playing hunky leading man to Dorothy Lamour and Maria Montez, John Hall directed and starred in this low budget stinker which would also be his last film. With a hip surf score courtesy of Frank Sinatra Jr. and lots of dishy looking youngsters, this is nevertheless a long hour that feels padded despite its short running time.
Still, it's got some goofy moments that have to be seen to be believed and a simultaneously irritating and amusing surreal sense of just about everything. Either that, or a touch of insanity, have brought me back for multiple viewings.
|I thought I'd missed something, but no, this is how the movie begins|
No need to worry about the build up of suspense here, the beach monster makes his first appearance mere minutes into the film. After tossing a fistful of sand into her boyfriend's face, a beach girl trots up the beach, and takes sudden interest in a dark cave. Apparently the monster has been hanging around in this dank alcove, waiting for the opportunity to snag a go-go dancer.
As he waddles out of his hiding place, the monster looks a lot like the tin woodman draped in seaweed. When you finally get a glimpse of his face, you don't feel fear, but rather, nostalgia for those old bathtub toys that squirted water out of the mouth hole when you squeezed them. Silly as he looks though, this guy is a killer and he strangles the curious girl.
Everyone is mildly concerned, the police are called and the teens keep right on dancing. They even continue to have weenie roasts and sing-a-longs on the beach at night. Despite the fact that their friend has been murdered and the killer is still on the loose.
This nonchalance about the threat of murder greatly irritates Hall, who is Dr. Otto Lindsay an oceanographer who lives in a house on a hill above the beach. He hates the beach parties and tells a policeman that "The boys are a bunch of loafers and the girls are little tramps." His son Richard is one of those loafers and it angers him that he has given up his work alongside him in the lab.
|Hall, not in his prime, but still a handsome older man|
|Mark sculpts the doomed temptress Vicky|
Yes! Dr. Lindsay manages to slip into his extra monster costume and strangles mark, but he is caught by Richard and his girlfriend. The frantic doctor takes off in his tiny convertible, wearing half the monster costume and driving like a maniac until he plummets off a cliff.
How anybody manages to survive in this flick is beyond me. No one seems capable of taking the most basic self-protective measures.
I mean, if you're going to keep partying on the beach all night, at least take some kind of a weapon? But no, instead they bring a guitar, and a decapitated puppet head called Kingsley the Lion (which was created by Edmiston, who was also a puppeteer and children's television host) who serenades the group of dippy teens. The constant barrage of gags in this scene seem very much the desperate efforts of the filmmakers to give the scene wacky charm. It's almost endearing.
This post is my entry in The Beach Party Blogathon, co-hosted by Speakeasy and Silver Screenings. To read more posts, take a look at the submissions for day one, two, three and four.