It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.
This week’s musical:
The Horror of Beach Party (1964) – Musical #718
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
John Lyon (billed as John Scott), Alice Lyon, Marilyn Clarke, Eulabelle Moore, Allan Laurel, Damon Kebroyd
When radioactive waste is dumped into the ocean, skeletons in the ocean are turned into sea monsters that survive on human blood. The first monster kills a young woman attending a beach party (complete with music from the Del-Tones). Monsters continue terrorizing the town, invading a slumber party and visitors. A doctor (Laurel) works to search
• Working titles were “Invasion of the Zombies” and “The First Monster Musical”
• The motorcyclists were played by the Charter Oakes Motorcycle Club.
• The director Del Tenney has a role in the film as a gas station attendant
• Filmed in Stamford, Conn. After the films filming issues, director Del Tenney was asked to not make any more films in the town, according to Tom Lisinti’s book, “Hollywood Surf and Beach Movies.”
• Last film of Eulabelle Moore
• First film of Marilyn Clarke and Damon Kebroyd
• Only film of Alice Lyon. She was the college roommate of Del Tenney’s wife, according to Tom Lisinti’s book, “Hollywood Surf and Beach Movies.”
• Actors Alice Lyon and John Lyon are siblings
• The beach party with dancing and music from the Del-Aires
• “The Zombie Stomp” performed by The Del-Aires
• “Drag” performed by The Del-Aires
• “Joy Ride” performed by The Del-Aires
• “You Are Not a Summer Love” performed by The Del-Aires
You could be thinking, “The film that is considered the worst of all time as a Musical Monday?” You bet. The New Jersey rock band, the Del-Aires, perform six songs and that’s a musical if you ask me.
Riffing off the popular beach movies of the 1960s, this movie includes the beach, music and dancing (no surfing, because it was filmed on the east coast), and adds in sea monsters who only survive on human blood. The monsters are a result of radioactive waste dumped in the ocean.
If the movie wasn’t so bad, perhaps it would be interesting because of the anti-nuclear message. Film critic Leonard Maltin said it was one of the “earliest anti-nuclear warning films.”
Director Del Tenney said in an interview that the film first was being developed as a “evolutionary story about atomic waste speeding up evolution, changing a fish into a man who becomes a monster.” But then they wanted to tie in beach parties and music so it shifted, according to Tom Lisitnti’s book Hollywood Surf and Beach Movies: The First Wave, 1959–1969.
The film begins with young lovers Tina and Hank arguing and splitting up. Hank moves on pretty quickly to Elaine and they attend a beach party where someone is killed by a radioactive sea creature. We watch a full three minutes of watching the monster develop under the sea (though it’s a bit hard to see). Then we see as the monsters multiple and wreak havoc on the town.
It’s interesting that the police automatically agree that the crimes are indeed performed by sea monsters.
Going in and knowing this was low budget, I fully expected poor cinematography and looking and sounding like a cheap film, with a fuzzy picture and bad sound. I was surprised that this was a clear picture (perhaps it was released on Blu?) and wasn’t shot all that badly.
The story is just shoddy and the performances are pretty bad. The best bad performance to me is Damon Kebroyd as Lt. Wells, who seems like he’s trying really hard to act like a film noir detective. The monsters looked ridiculous and once I read that their teeth were made of hot dogs, it’s all I could see. I felt bad for the people who had to wear the costumes, since they also evidentially couldn’t see out of them well.
The montage of people being attacked as the doctor and police research is a choice. It was interesting too that we saw blood.
To me, the highlights of the film were :
-The beach party with the music by the Del-Aires and fun dancing. Also surprising to see so many guys in speedos, which you didn’t see often in 1960s film.
– I liked the footage of Hank driving a nice car through New York City to get sodium. Totally unnecessary, but it was cool footage of the city and he drove a nice looking MG.
Is it the worst film ever made? Eh, I don’t know. It’s not good but I’ve seen so many bad films. Is it fair to call it the worst beach film? Probably so.
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