Movie 93 The Horror of Party Beach (1964)

Cover of "The Del Tenney Double Feature"

Thankfully we didnt have to watch both.

Thanks for coming back, particularly to our new readers from Uruguay. We have taken it upon ourselves to presume it is Luis Suarez and his wife. Interesting that they only started reading after we covered Mo’nique’s Phat Girlz. Hmmmmmm

It is worth noting that this was a tricky one to source. The only copy we found was part of an 80s TV show in America that featured 60s horror movies. Lucky us! The highlight of this was we got to see some rather disturbing adverts from the period. I’ve stuck one at the bottom which might explain the current crime trend Stateside. You’ll see what we mean.

So to our first horror movie, a genre I have a particular affection for. Where Andy was excited about “It’s Pat”, the movie that stood out to me in our 100-91 countdown was indeed, The Horror of Party Beach. Who wouldn’t be excited? I love bad horror movies! Everyone does, don’t they? The fact they can spawn 8 sequels, the constant repetitive stupidity of the main characters, the gratuitous nudity people, nudity!! In 20 years Freddie Krueger went from a terrifying concept of a paedophile who entrapped your children in their sleep, to a cartoon character who sliced you up in a computer game. That kind of ridiculousness has always made me love shit horror movies. So, THOPB (which no one calls it) was always going to be great, no matter how bad! It turns out I was both right and wrong. We did enjoy this movie for its terrible qualities but not in the normal way you love horror movies. It had none of the clich├ęs mentioned previously and it certainly didn’t churn out any sequels. In fact it stopped dead the careers of everyone involved.That isn’t a metaphor. Literally no one worked again. Mainly because some of them didn’t seem to be working during.

Now you may well have some sympathy for THOPB due to its year of conception. 1964 is by far and away our oldest movie so far and so of course you expect a drop in quality of certain aspects of the film. There is no CGI or special effects. Andy pointed this out and that maybe this was good filmmaking for its time. I then reminded him that The Wizard of OZ, one of our favourite films, was made in 1939 and visually a Van Gogh in comparison to this monstrosity which, in this analogy, is a remedial kid’s spaghetti painting that you won’t even put on your fridge in case the food goes off. From this point we became scathing. I should also point out that 1964 was also the year of bad actor hall of famer Nicholas Cage‘s birth and I can only presume his parents watched this, got bored then got busy ten minutes in and in some mystical channeling of souls spawned a God awful actor. That right there is already a better plot.

Talking of plot, here goes nothing. THOPB basically has about 30 minutes of ideas stretched out over 78. Every scene is so laboriously shot with huge gaps of silence which are either there as a mark of respect to mourn the careers of those involved or a well predicted opportunity to laugh heartily at the quality viewing. The opening scene has all the makings of a classic horror. Two characters you don’t know the name of instantly get caught up in a gruesome death. I mean we assume it is gruesome, we don’t actually get to see it. Budget constraints you see. In fact the director was so committed to anonymity that you only ever hear the name of about three characters. The opening scene showing a party on party beach before it gets tragic does have what can only be described as one of the greatest scenes in movie history. A middle aged gentleman, who I believe is supposed to be the 20 something heartthrob, gets involved in some form of Brazilian jujitsu dance fight with a latino gentleman plucked straight from West Side Story. At one point our hero uses a bystander hand plant to do a flip and feebly kick a leather clad Ricky Martin-esque T-Bird in the chest. At this point without one utterance of dialogue, the two men stop and shake hands as a mark of respect to the machismo they had both shown. In fairness, maybe this as some sort of prequel to Step Up.

Every good horror needs a good leading woman, a scream queen. Granted there were more pressing needs here. Less visible string, a budget, an audience but a leading woman was important too and finally one emerges around 7 minutes in. Sadly, like dog years that equated to about 40 minutes in Party Beach Time. Elaine, so beautifully referred to by the housekeeper as Miss Elainy, is the only character with any semblance of common sense in the whole film. Sadly though for Elaine, this film has a slightly misogynistic undertone. I say undertone, the opening minute involves a man grabbing a woman pretty much by the throat and telling her to be quiet. And so to by far and away my favourite part of the movie. Over 15 women have now been murdered by this horrific beast (not the script writer, the other one) and a team of experts, and Elaine, are trying to come up with an explanation for what these alien sea creature is and how to stop it. Elaine then says “How do we stop this Zombie of the sea?”. A fair question. “Zombie? Don’t be so dramatic Elaine.” Elaine is then sent to the corner for a while. Genuinely. Yes, her friends had been brutally murdered by a scaly giant reptile emerging the the ocean but “Zombie?” Calm yourself you silly little woman. To be fair to them they did have some equality and by that I mean they offended black people too by pretty much casting Tom & Jerry’s Mum as the house help who just said “yes boss”, “no boss” and you guessed it, believed in voodoo. She was one can of grape juice and a sub 10 second 100 metre sprint away from being the most offensive character since Al Jolson. I might have imagined it but I’m sure at one point she tried to kill the monster by standing on a stool and waving a saucepan at it. Believe it or not that’s not half of it, but I best leave some room for Andy to explain the rest.

I bloody love a horror.

Craig

Dawson's Creek

Sorry, how old is James Van Der Beek meant to be?

So, the next film on our list was ‘Horror Of Party Beach’. To be fair it was briefly set on a beach, there was something that resembled a party and it was a complete horror of filmmaking.

You could be mistaken for thinking that the first half of this film was just an extended music video for the young, trendy group The Del-Aires. They must have been the only people who’s careers weren’t completely destroyed by HOPB!….wait….scrap that. A quick search has just confirmed that they split in early 1964. You’ll be pleased to know though that Ronnie and Bobby still play together regularly in Bonita Springs, Florida. Phew.

Now,on to the ‘plot’. After we see the ‘monster’ and the first kill (we don’t actually see the first kill….or any of the kills actually, that would have cut into the Del-Aires screen time too much) we meet a group of people trying to solve the mystery; scientists, police etc. Well, I say meet, we only ever find out a few of their names. Various irrelevant tests are run, people are questioned but still it doesn’t stop the monster attacking a 15 girl slumber party. I assume the monster attacked them anyway, we know he enters the room…..which is where the scene ends. I have read rumours that there is an uncut version but for the life of me I can’t understand why you would make a ‘cut’ version of a horror film and cut ALL of the ‘horror’.

One of the most unsettling things about the film is the fact they have people who look in their late 30′s playing high school kids. Over the years we’ve had to deal with this kind of thing before, Dawsons Creek, 90210 etc and we, as an audience, buy into it but the aforementioned slumber party had a pillow fight that wouldn’t have looked out of place as a deleted scene from the DVD special features on Cocoon and my only worry was that one of them would do their hip.

We’ll clip in some videos for you too see for yourself how truly disastrous the ‘First Horror Monster Musical’ was. Not sure why the genre didn’t really take off but I can’t remember a second one. Unless you count the girl in Hairspray as a monster.

Onwards and downwards with our list then and we’ll be back after MY holiday this time with a real treat for all you martial arts fans out there.

Andy

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