The Beach Girls and the Monster
Beach party lovers make hey! hey! in the moonlight... while the Monster lurks in the shadows!
Year of Release: 1965
Also Known As: Monster from the Surf, Invisible Terror, Surf Terror
Rated: Not Rated
Running Time: 66 minutes (1:06)
Director: Jon Hall
Arnold Lessing ... Richard Lindsay
Elaine DuPont ... Jane
Jon Hall ... Dr. Otto Lindsay
Sue Casey ... Vicky Lindsay
Walker Edmiston ... Mark
Carolyn Williamson ... Sue
Gloria Neil ... Bunny
At California's Malibu Beach you'll find everything: hot, hunky, sun-bronzed surfers, bikini-clad chicks stacked to Pasadena, rock 'n' rollers, beatniks, booze, beer and something else... a hideous reptilian monster with a hunger for bitchin' babes.
The Beach Girls and the Monster, remindin' us that the 1960s will be forever remembered as the decade where drug use was so rampant that LSD needed its own expense column in the budget ledger. Whole lotta "arteests" droppin' acid an tryin' to recreate their psychedelic experiences on film in those days. An actually, this movie'd make a whole lot more sense if it was whittled down to about half an hour an edited into that scene in The Trip where Peter Fonda gets completely blasted on LSD. Might even fill in some of the plot holes from that mystical journey he takes with the midget Mexican ridin' the carousel an Dennis Hopper puttin' 'im on trial for bein' a corporate shill. Whole movie was just a bad trip, see? Like when Bob Newhart woke up to realize that the entire Newhart series was just a dream an he was still married to Suzanne Pleshette? Woulda been much better that way.
An speakin' of things that'll blow your mind, I gotta take this opportunity to show everybody why us rural folks're always the ones who survive the nuclear holocaust to terrorize the Mad Max character. It's cause we always find a way to make the best of a bad situation. Take this past weekend for instance, where these two hairy truckers were swervin' all over the road to see who could run over the most ground squirrels between here an Cheyenne, only one of 'em turned a little too sharp an dumped a load of potatoes all over the highway. Now, if this kinda thing'd happened in the city, you'd have hysterical people freakin' out about missin' their gym appointments or smashin' all the windows in the pawn shop so they could loot a buncha gaudy old woman jewelry an fantasy daggers. We don't have that problem though, cause we're pragmatic. We just called up the farmer whose spuds were fryin' on the pavement, an you know what he did about it? $2.99 all-you-can-eat hash browns, that's what. Guy sent his farmhand home to collect a buncha eggs, ordered up a whole mess of coffee from Mack's Stacks of Manly Snacks, an got the place cleaned up quickly an easily with literally no government involvement an no clean up expenses. Well, I guess the expense prolly comes in the form of hardened arteries in all the truckers who stopped to get their fill, but they were just gonna do that up the road at the next Flying J anyhow. An it's not like he was cookin' the eggs on the pavement or anything, we're not animals ya know. He cooked 'em on the engine block of his truck like a civilized human being. Had both lanes back open in under two hours, an the guy never lost a cent on the load. Simple, common sense solutions to life's little problems, people. Only in rural America can you bear witness to this level of entrepreneurial ingenuity. Somethin' like this happens in Portland an you've got folks chewin' their nails down to the third knuckle waitin' for FEMA to come save 'em from The Attack of the Killer Potatoes. All you dishwasher loadin', AAA callin', mocha latte orderin', condo dwellin', chihuahua sweater buyin' wards of the state aughta pay attention an try to follow our example. Heck, you might even grow to enjoy not freezin' up like a radiator fulla cheap anti-freeze anytime there's a minor bump in the road.
Nothin' against city folks of course, it just makes me sad watchin' one try to change a tire when the car's got all four wheels on the ground, ya know? I'll tell ya who didn't have all four wheels on the ground though; Jon Hall, the guy who directed this thing. It's kinda like the boring, plain sister that nobody wants to date cause they all wanna get down an dirty with its sexy sibling, The Horror of Party Beach. Same basic movie, only that one's got more monster action. Basically, you date The Horror of Party Beach, then you marry The Beach Girls and the Monster when you're ready to stop havin' fun. Course, we're talkin' about an extremely niche subgenre here, so it's important to disregard the flick's overall motif de landfill an single out all the pieces of salvaged wisdom we can get outta this scrap heap, which I've taken the liberty of doin' since you were all probably too busy blowin' off fingers an gettin' drunker'n Hogan's goat all weekend. First, singin' b-movie show tunes through a lion puppet will always result in sex on the beach. An if you're real quiet, you may even be able to watch without gettin' beaten up. Second, parents love it when strangers bring 'em soap sculptures of their recently deceased daughter carved in out the form of a mermaid with huge knockers. Doesn't bother 'em at all wonderin' how it is you knew about that big mole on 'er left breast. An third, if people leave notes for you rubber-banded to whiskey bottles, you might have what's known as a drinkin' problem.
But puttin' those exceptional insights into the psyche of middle-America aside, it seems like every time somebody makes one of these rubber suit monster movies, they're often lackin' in backstory when it comes to the monster. Usually we get somethin' like the half-assed "it's prehistoric and we've just never seen one until now" excuse they give in flicks like Creature from the Black Lagoon, an that might be good enough for the parents who're just happy to get their screamin' tax write-offs to shut up for five minutes in the theater, but that ain't good enough for me. Anytime I get somethin' like that I feel like I've been denied critical, need to know information. So if any of you screenwriters're out there readin' this, please write in with the answers to some of the questions that've been plaguin' my brain for the better part of four decades.
1) Does the monster hafta wait 30 minutes before comin' onto land after eating?
2) If a rubber suit monster is involved in an airplane water landing, can it be used as a flotation device?
3) When a pair of 'em attempt to procreate, do they hafta take off their rubbers?
4) Do they have wheels that slip, or wheels that grip?
5) Are they allowed into the Ripley's aquarium to see imprisoned relatives on visiting day?
6) Did they all get netted an processed into pencil erasers? Or are they just unemployed because the computer effects guys'll work for Hot Pockets?
7) Can you be fined by the EPA for settin' one on fire?
8) Is the Michelin Man one of them an tryin' to hide it through the use of expensive cosmetic surgery?
9) If they fall asleep on the beach, what length of time is considered appropriate to wait before slatherin' 'em in batter?
10) Is caviar collection from females of the species considered to be 1000+ counts of abortion in the Fifth circuit court?
Any help on any of these questions would be greatly appreciated.
The movie begins with these shapely women whippin' their pears back an forth to the sounds of Frank Sinatra Jr., who was never allowed entry into the Rat Pack for reasons that seem pretty obvious if you can pry your eyes away from the undulating udders for more'n about two seconds. Then we pan over to some teenagers who appear to be in their late thirties doin' the "Donald Duck dryin' his ass with a towel" dance, until one of the beach blanket bimbos runs off to a cave that's occupied by an ugly ole fish monster who ends up stranglin' 'er while she struggles to keep 'er bikini straps on an the director outta jail. The body's discovered shortly thereafter by one of the dead girl's fellow bimbi, but the cops don't really feel like lookin' inside the cave until they can get some science guys with radon testin' equipment in there to make sure it's safe. So one of the kids (Richard) heads back to his posh beachside estate where his Little Floozie Homemaker of a stepmother (Vicky) is tryin' to jump his skeg, til Dad (Otto) comes home an demands to know if he plans to live there until he's eligible for social security. Then this other guy (Mark) shows up an gets Richard outta there so they can go watch stock surf footage starrin' a buncha Barneys who couldn't hang ten if they had an elephant trunk stashed in their drawers, while Vicky drones on about how Mark's beach leechin' off 'em an how he's plannin' to lure Richard away to a life of beach bummery that'll end with the family name takin' a serious mullering. Mark ain't like that though. Mostly he just sculpts busts of... well, busts, includin' one of Vicky that looks just like Medusa from Clash of the Titans. Then Richard picks up his girlfriend so they can frolic in the pool until Mark comes out an tells 'em that he tried givin' the dead girl's parents the mermaid sculpture he carved of 'er, an that he refuses to go back over there cause they're an Endless Bummer. The reminder of their friend's recent demise depresses Richard an Jane for a full six seconds before they go back to havin' a splash fight. Meanwhile, Vicky's gone down to the beach for a swim. Cept once she starts to towel off she gets a little too close to the cave, an just as Jack the Flipper's about to turn 'er into Tuna Helper he remembers at the last second that he's already filled his bimbo tag for the season an lets 'er go. Then she goes up to Mark's room to model for 'im an starts gropin' his whittlin' stick while he tells 'er that his love for 'er will still be strong after the boys of summer're gone, but that just makes 'er laugh at 'im an get 'im so P.O.'d that he can solder personalized engravings into his sculptures with his eyes. Later that evenin', Richard an Mark go to Dad's laboratory to pick 'im up since he spent all his money on Victoria's Secret negligees for Vicky an can't afford his own gas, but pretty quick Dad starts chewin' Richard's ass like a hungry pitbull for enjoyin' his life when there's science stuff that needs doin'.
Mark decides hobblin' home on his gimpy leg'll be less painful than listenin' to their bickerin', so he gets out an gimps his way down to the beach where he leers at some more girls who're shakin' their sparklin' wits at nobody in particular. Then, later on, Dad's sittin' at home completely perplexed as to why the trophy wife who's 15 years his junior ain't interested in sex with somebody who hasta take a Rolaid before every meal, until Vicky finally explains that she never was interested in havin' sex with a boring old minute manatee, but that they're living in a material world, an she is a material girl. So once Dad storms out, she picks up the phone an dials 1-900-BIG-STUD an arranges to get outta the house, only Dad instinctively picks up the phone in the livin' room an tries to get 'er to stay home on the basis that it's too dangerous to go committin' adultery with the Creature from the Black Laguna stalkin' the beaches. Elsewhere, the beatnik generation is down at the beach playin' bongo drums an doin' the "sand up my tuchus" dance, til Richard starts playin' slow songs that're so pathetic they'd make Annette Funicello puke. Then this weirdo with a stuffed lion's head starts singin' "Monster in the Surf" with Jane an... this may not be a nice thing to say, but Jane's singin' voice is about as soothing as listenin' to Olive Oyl bein' fed feet first into a wood chipper. The monster's finally had it, thank cripes. It was one thing when the Whiskey A-Go-Go girls were swingin' their buoys around like glow sticks at a rave, but this's completely unacceptable. So Albert Fish storms the beaches of Goremandy an starts kickin' some serious beach bum until he gets tired of wrestlin' with one of the guys an kills 'im with a side suplex. Naturally, Mark just happens to be strolin' by at the time an conveniently gets blamed by all the hysterical beaches, cept while the cops're tryin' to slap 'em back to their senses, Mark finds part of an inner tube that got torn offa the monster durin' the fight an decides to steal a cop car so he can perform a biopsy an determine whether the monster's in league with Cooper or Goodyear. Elsewhere, Vicky arrives home after gettin' thoroughly liquored an dickered, an finds a note attached to the vodka bottle askin' 'er to come up to Mark's room. For anyone else you'd put that note on the refrigerator, the front door, maybe the TV, but not this broad. For her you leave a message with Secretary Daniels. Anyway, when she gets up to Mark's room Marlin Slayans is waitin' for 'er, an next thing you know she gets turned into a sushi sampler. Then Mark makes it home an starts pawin' around for boobie snacks in the kitchen pantry an finds a fake monster head between the green beans an the corned beef hash, at which point he's suddenly attacked by Bloody Mudskipper. Gonna cut it off here, even though I'm pretty sure it's obvious where this's goin'. Public domain though, so here's a link.
Alrighty... The Beach Girls and the Monster. A title that wants you to know what you're gettin' right up front, and isn't embarrassed to tell you. I'm not exactly sure why the IMDB lists it as being strictly Horror, because any idiot listenin' to the soundtrack for more than about four seconds knows this is a comedy with mild terror elements. It was shot during the peak of the beach movie craze of the 1960s, which began with Beach Party in 1963 starring Frankie "without this voice I'm pretty much Joe Pesci" Avalon and Annette "torpedo top" Funicello. These movies, to anybody under the age of 40, are completely unwatchable, with the exception of something like the Mystery Science Theater riffing of Catalina Caper. But the crux of the subgenre was basically teenagers runnin' around with as little clothing as you could get away with at the time, in an adult-free environment, where they were free to sing these god-awful songs that made your mother dance like an off-balance washing machine. It's pretty painful stuff, which you probably already know if you ever bore witness to your Mom chaperoning a high school dance. I imagine you prolly had to be there to really understand why, but these kinda flicks were really profitable; so fortunately, we ended up with this really obscure offshoot that involved all the usual beach movie elements, but added a monster into the mix. These are pretty painful too, but they're also stupid enough, and weird enough, that you'll probably drop $1 on a VHS tape at a yard sale to see what it's about. Then you storm back onto that guy's lawn and demand your dollar back. But unlike the regular beach flicks (many of which were directed by William Asher of Bewitched fame), this movie seems to only be capable of identifying the necessary elements, with no idea whatsoever of how to edit them together. Although that's not too surprising since it was directed by the actor playing the part of the Dad who's bein' bamboobled by the slinky gal with the soccer balls growin' out of 'er chest, who had up to that point never directed anything in his career (and only ever directed one other feature). About the only thing that saves it from being as bad as similar rubber monster suit flicks of the era is just how unashamed it is, and how random some of these scenes are. Like the scene where the weird-beard hippy beach comber breaks into song and projects it through the head of a stuffed lion puppet. Then there's the part where Sue Casey finds the note left for her on the liquor bottle (which is intentionally funny on its own) that's been TYPED. Which basically means that whoever made that note for her went to the trouble to get out the typewriter for that eight word sentence, rather than just writing it out. I'd also question the sensibility of takin' your reel to reel to the beach and laying it in the sand, but I think the tour de force scene of The Beach Girls and the Monster hasta be where the monster has a sissy slap fight with the guy at the bonfire party, and then kills him by pickin' him up to waist level and dropping him onto the sand. Musta landed on a conch shell or somethin', but it's nothing short of masterful.
Anyway, time to dump this rubber-suited stinkburger into the ocean and see if its airtight, or whether it just fills up faster'n a drive-in porta-potty and drowns under the weight of its own incompetence. The plot, and I use the term loosely, is basically a whodunit with ADHD. What that means is that who actually did it is barely worth investigating because it's hard to focus on solving murders when there're hot chicks bouncing around in their bikinis. Which is fine with me because the story isn't that great to begin with, but I don't imagine there are many film professors out there who would consider the director's complete lack of focus to be one of its better attributes. Nevermind the little things like why the cops don't go in after whatever whacked the first bimbo, or why Mark steals a cop car just to get home a little quicker. I guess it's not a complete failure, but then neither was Richard Nixon. The acting is surprisingly decent most of the time, particularly when you consider how pitiful most of the actors' careers were before and after this flick. That's not to say that any of the characters are even slightly interesting (with the minor exception of Sue Casey), but in general, the acting is a lot better than you'd expect from a movie with this title, or this premise. Walker Edmison's delivery is a bit uneven from time to time, but beyond that, I think the rest of the silliness can be attributed to the deliberately stupid premise.
Here's who matters and why: Jon Hall (The Invisible Agent, The Invisible Man's Revenge), Sue Casey (Camelot 1967, Evilspeak, Son of Sinbad, Aladdin and His Lamp), Walker Edmison (Acting roles: Scared to Death 1980, The Night that Panicked America. Voice work: Trilogy of Terror, Escape from the Planet of the Apes, The Andromeda Strain), Elaine DuPont (Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow, I Was a Teenage Werewolf, Son of Sinbad), Read Morgan (Back to the Future, Nomads, The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai Across the 8th Dimension, A Stranger is Watching, The Munsters' Revenge, Blood Beach, Meteor, Time After Time, The Car, Helter Skelter 1976, Shanks, Sleeper, Octaman). Even got a coupla mainstream roles people might recognize outta this pack of mixed nuts, including Jon Hall's portrayal of Dr. Tom 'Ramar' Reynolds in Ramar of the Jungle, and Walker Edmison going on to voice Enik in the '74 version of Land of the Lost.
The special effects are a little hard to knock when you understand the ending, which I alluded to in the description but didn't exactly reveal. I'm inclined to give them a break for that reason, because the plot (such as it is) does make it clear that the ridiculous look of the monster is at least somewhat intentional. Doesn't mean it's gonna get a lot of points, but it wouldn't be fair to completely tank it either. Other than the monster suit, the only other effects are the wounds inflicted on the monster's victims, which are actually pretty good for the time. A little more blood drippage would have helped, but in those days that probably woulda got the censor board royally hacked off, so this may have been the most that they could safely put on the screen. The shooting locations are pretty decent, although they would have been a lot nicer if the film had been shot in color. Beach scenes are always wasted in black and white, and I'd imagine that the place looked pretty nice, even though you never really get that sense from watching it without color. The majority of the interior shots were filmed in the director's residence, which is pretty posh for a guy who only did 47 movies in an era where a lot of people had 300+ titles on their resumes. Pretty nice looking place, and I think it works well enough to serve as the home of a man who can afford a trophy wife and a middle-aged son who still lives with him. So even with the black and white photography, the shooting locations are still the biggest net contributor to the movie's score. The soundtrack, for the most part, is appropriate for the type of movie they were making. Whole lotta poorman's Beach Boys tunes in there. The problem arises when you've got the monster strangling beach bunnies to death, and the tone of the music never changes. So not only is Frank Sinatra Jr. happy to be composing music on his first feature film, but the editor is also happy to be killing off scantily clad women to the beat of "Wipeout." All these beach movies pretty much have the same soundtrack, so if you've heard one you've heard 'em all, and the only other thing it has to offer is that slutty trombone music that used to play in the speakeasies during the girly show. It's important that we get that though, cause otherwise we might forget that Sue Casey's character has loose morals. Overall, I'll respectfully disagree with John Wilson for including this in his list of the 100 Most Enjoyable Bad Movies Ever Made, but it does have its moments. You might wanna check it out if you're looking for something the likes of which you've never seen, but that's about the only scenario under which I can recommend it.