Psycho Beach Party
is a 2000 comedy-horror film based on the off-Broadway play of the same name, directed by Robert Lee King. Charles Busch wrote both the original play and the screenplay. As the title suggests, Psycho Beach Party
, set in 1962 Malibu Beach, is a parody of 1950s psychodramas, 1960s beach movies and 1970s slasher films
After going to the cinema with her friend, Chicklet has a blackout when a murder occurs. Later, through a string of incidents, ends up on a surfer beach and persuades the "surfer king", Kanaka, to teach her how to surf, joining the local gang of surfers. Getting caught in the mixed of a Love Triangle
, more murders occur as the actress from the earlier film lives in a rumoured Haunted House
where a family was murdered. As the police get closer to the murder, Chicklet worries whether her Split Personalities
have anything to do with it...
This film provides examples of:
- Almost Kiss: Berdine was almost about to kiss Chicklet... but they got interrupted, not that Chicklet realised what was happening.
- Asshole Victim: Rhonda, resident disabled jerkass.
- Axe Crazy: The murderer the not-so-Swedish Lars... or Chicklet's Split Personality Ann Bowman.
- Bluffing the Murderer: To draw out the murderer (as there's no evidence to arrest who they suspect) the police arrest Ruth, Chicklet's mother, so the murderer, Lars, can feel as though he's safe from suspicion.
- Book Ends: It starts with people watching a cheesy horror film at a drive-in cinema when somebody gets killed. That movie was a movie that other people were watching when they get killed (implied death, anyway).
- But You Were There, and You, and You: Chicklet says exactly this at the end of the film when she wakes up at the mental hospital, recognising the staff as the murder victims from her dream (the rest of the film).
- Climbing Climax: Chicklet tries to escape the murderer by climbing up a movie billboard.
- Cruel Twist Ending
- Dancing Theme: And what a lovely dance it is, too...
- Dawson Casting: Averted. Charles Busch was tempted to play Chicklet in the film but decided that while he could get away as playing such a young woman on stage, on film it would be entirely different.
- Disabled Snarker: Rhonda and her "kisses".
- Downer Ending: Just when it seems it would end nicely, it's revealed to all have been a dream that Chicklet is having in a mental hospital, which turned out to be a movie based on a true story and Chicklet got out.
- Drag Queen: Capt. Monica Shark is played by Charles Busch, who played Chicklet in the Broadway productions.
- The End... Or Is It?: Anne Bowman killing the audience to the film based on Chicklet's life, where the entire film up to that point had been a dream.
- Enfant Terrible: Lars murdered his entire family when he was younger.
- Erotic Eating: Marvel Ann does this with Provoloney (who responds by rubbing an ice-cream sandwich all over his face) at the start.
- Female Gaze: Chicklet's mother, Ruth, is constantly trying to get close to Lars and starring at his very good-looking body.
- Gainax Ending: It was all about surfers, obvious Chroma Key, parody of campy psycho films and the last few moments are of Chicklet in a mental hospital getting shock therapy and the rest of the film had all been a dream... except that scene was in a film that people were watching that was based on a true story and those people get killed by Chicklet (who wasn't the murderer in the film we just saw, anyway...).
- Genre Throwback: Beach movies, psychodramas and slasher films all in a very campy/narmy style.
- Gollum Made Me Do It: Played with. As the number of murders increases, Chicklet presumes she did it because of her oddly timed blackouts when her split personalities took over, but actually she was innocent.
- Hey, It's That Guy!: Aunt Zelda is Claire Fisher's mother.
- Ho Yay: Invoked with Yo-Yo and Provoloney (two of the surfers) who are extremely fond of each other, wrestling, dressing up in women's clothing together... they date at the end.
- There's also abundant Les Yay from Berdine toward Chicklet, who doesn't seem to notice.
- Incompatible Orientation: Marvel Ann towards Provoloney.
- The Killer In Me: Chicklet worries if this is the case. In the end, it wasn't as it was Lars - though she's in a mental hospital and Anne Bowman is "real".
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Once Chicklet's Split Personality has been revealed to everybody, Bettina (the in-universe actress) says she wants to make a broadway production of this story where she would play Chicklet.
- Loves My Alter Ego: The Great Kanaka is thoroughly interested in Anne Bowman but isn't interested at all in Chicklet.
- Mind Screw: The ending. It was all a dream Chicklet had in a mental hospital. Did any of the film take place or was she put away after her brother's death but before the "movie" could take place? Next if some of it did happen was she the actual murderer instead of Lars? Did Rhonda actually get killed or was she an extra victim slotted in so Chicklet could make sense of the murders? How much of the movie being watched at the end actually happen in Chicklet's world? Did the in-universe makers of that film change a lot to make it interesting, even changing the murderer to Lars? Did the entire movie happen, but afterward Chicklet got worse again and later became a murderer after the trauma of Lars trying to kill her?
- Not Quite Dead: Rhonda is shown alive as a nurse at Chicklet's hospital, so the other victims may be alive as well.
- Oblivious to Love: Provoloney is completely oblivious to Marvel Ann's affections towards him.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: The Great Kanaka, Yo-Yo, Provoloney and Starcat.
- Red Herring: Chicklet's split personality has nothing to do with the murders.
- Self-Made Orphan: The murderer, Lars.
- Serial Killer: The murderer kills people because they're imperfect, being disabled, have an extra toe, one testicle, etc.
- Sexier Alter Ego: Anne Bowman, while looking the exact same as Chicklet, acts with much more confidence and showing her body off more.
- Shameful Strip: Happens to Marvel Ann (Amy Adams) when she breaks up with her boyfriend; he tries to get his pin from her, which is attached to her bikini bottoms, and then he accidentally rips her bikini bottoms off, exposing her lower half for all the beach to see - and forcing her to run off while trying to cover herself ineffectually.
- Shirtless Scene: All of the surfers show off their chests, and Lars shows his.
- Show Within a Show: Psycho Beach Party opens with a movie and eventually the actress from that show would join the group of surfers.
- Then it's revealed that the entire film up until that point had been a film another group of people had been watching.
- Split Personality: Chicklet has two, a dominatrix (Anne Bowman) and a Sassy Black Woman.
- They Do: Chicklet and Starcat, Kanaka and Monica and Yo-yo and Provoloney.
- Trauma-Induced Amnesia: It's revealed that Chicklet has forgotten a large part of her childhood because of when she accidentally killed her kid brother.
- Twist Ending: Who's the murderer? That sexy fake Swede, Lars. Except it wasn't him, because all of it was part of Chicklet's imagination and that story (her having the dream) was based on a film and she kills two people from the audience who are watching it...
- Virgin Sacrifice: The surfers want one at their orgy... but we never find out what they had planned.
- Walking Swimsuit Scene: The main location is a beach, so loads.
- Wild Teen Party: The orgy at the end. Complete with dance-off.
- Yank the Dog's Chain: Chicklet has been cured of her mental illness, has sorted out her past trauma, has escaped the murderer, and has a boyfriend who loves her—that was all a dream and she lives a horrid life in a mental hospital getting shock therapy.