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Film / The Horror of Party Beach

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"The first horror monster musical," released in 1964 by director Del Tenney. It is not a real musical, as it spends only about the first ten minutes with some musical accompaniment.

Because it's a "monster musical," the first three hours of this 78-minute film take place at a beach where suspiciously middle-aged teens boogie to a live band while making lame attempts at humor. A college grad named Hank and his immature and unpleasant lady pal Tina drop by. The two bicker, Tina's flirting sparks a brawl with a biker gang, and finally the girl runs off to go swimming and is killed by a monster.

Turns out someone's been dumping barrels of radioactive waste into the ocean, causing the skeletal crew of a sunken ship to mutate into frog-fish things that proceed to hunt down and kill every young woman they can find. The elderly and ineffectual Dr. Gavin, assisted accidentally by black servant Eulabelle, discovers that the things are vulnerable to elemental sodium. Taking their time, the heroes eventually get around to tracking down the monsters' lair (as the kill count climbs ever higher), work up the energy to get a load of sodium, and then throw it on the horrors of Party Beach.

Oh, there's also a replacement love interest for Hank named Elaine, but she doesn't do much besides not die. And all her dialogue has been redubbed by someone even older for some reason. And she's played by the sister of the lead, explaining the complete lack of sexual chemistry between them.

The film was revived from obscurity by both Michael Medved's 50 Worst Films Of All-Time, and by having clips of it in the film It Came from Hollywood, before being a 1997 episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, where it found a whole new generations of fans.

For the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version, please go to the episode recap page.

Besides Horror, Party Beach provides examples of:

  • The Alcoholic:
    • Tina. "Today Tina and alcohol are going to have a great cocktail!"
    • Two of the victims are clearly drunks. Also, Hypocritical Humor, as one of the drunk guys says he hates drunks.
  • Ambiguous Syntax:
    "Do you like bathing beauties?"
    "I don't know. I've never bathed one!"
  • Artistic License – Biology:
    • The frog-fish monster things are apparently human corpses whose every organ and tissue have been replaced with sea life, making them a "giant protozoa." It's used as a metaphor, however, as they're more directly tied to sea anemones, according to the leads.
    • Elemental sodium can kill the monsters because "protozoans are almost entirely made of water." Sure, but so is basically all other organic life on Earth, and touching pure sodium doesn't cause anything else to violently explode, so what the heck?
  • Artistic License – Chemistry:
    • Speaking of which, the sodium is what reacts in that relationship, not the water. So there's absolutely no logical reason why gently brushing against a piece of sodium would cause the creatures themselves to violently disintegrate.
    • In addition to this, when the police aren't sure what the monsters are, they use carbon 14 testing to check their genes. Carbon 14 is only useful for determining age, not genetic makeup. It also only works on fossil samples and the like, not living tissue.
  • Brief Accent Imitation: Hank puts on a Southern accent whenever he speaks to Eulabelle; there doesn't seem to be any reason for this, almost making it look like he's talking down to her. Which doesn't work because Eulabelle actually does something useful.
  • Broken Heel: During the film's climax, the monsters ambush Elaine as she's searching for them in Fingall's Quarry. As she attempts to flee, Elaine stumbles and gets her foot caught between two rocks; even after getting loose, the resulting Twisted Ankle prevents her from fleeing quickly enough to escape the monsters, and she only survives because the other characters show up in the nick of time.
  • Bucket Booby-Trap: During the slumber party when the girls think some boys are about to crash the party. They're wrong.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': Much is made of Elaine not calling Libby to let her know she's not coming to the slumber party.
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: Believe it or not, there was one (with art by Wally Wood and Russ Heath, no less), and it's a collector's item now.
  • Damsel in Distress: Elaine's role for the film's finale, having tumbled down a slight incline and somehow gotten her leg trapped.
  • Drunk Driver: Two drunks both try to drive, and crash into each other. It's played for laughs.
    Drunk 1: I guess we weren't capa-pa-ble-ble! (Both start laughing madly.)
  • Dull Surprise: Both Hank and Elaine.
  • Ethnic Menial Labor: Eulabelle is an example of the "mammy" archetype. Subverted in the fact that she’s the character who is most proactive in moving the plot forward.
  • Evil Smells Bad: The titular horrors are stated to smell like dead fish by one of the girl victims.
  • Extra! Extra! Read All About It!: Twice, with the same newsboy.
  • Face-Revealing Turn: Completely and utterly botched via Behind the Black. A drunk guy finds someone slumped in a wrecked car, and chats amiably until the (breathing) corpse's head turns to the camera, revealing half his face is a bloody mess. Except the drunk was staring at the wound the entire time and only reacted when it was turned toward the light.
  • Fish People: The monsters look like this, despite actually being giant amoebas or whatever.
  • A Handful for an Eye: During the beach fight.
  • Hard-Work Montage: Botched, terribly. There's an extended sequence of both the police and Doctor Gavin laboring mightily to find a way to stop the monsters, while the monsters themselves prey on at least three other young women — except Dr. Gavin already knows what kills them by this point, and yet hasn't gone to the floundering police with his discovery, making everyone look worse than useless.note 
  • Hollywood Voodoo: Eulabelle believes in it, and even has a Voodoo Doll which she hopes will keep the monsters at bay.
  • Hypocritical Humor: One of the two drunk guys makes a comment about how much he hates drunks.
  • Joisey: The setting of the film. None of the main characters sport an accent, but the ancillary speaking roles definitely do, and Hank's drive to New York on that sodium run is shown to not take much time at all.note 
  • Monster Misogyny: Twenty-four on-screen female deaths, not counting Victim Montages, compared to three killed males.
  • Montages: A montage features more victims, subsequent reports (from the reporter or newsboy), Dr. Gavin at work... and some guy.
  • Never Trust a Title: The title would have you believe that this is a Frankie and Annette movie with monsters. However, only the opening takes place at the beach. The rest of the movie is a by-the-numbers monster flick with no beach in sight.
  • Nuclear Mutant: The radioactive drums spill a split-second after hitting the ocean floor, and begin mutating a human skeleton immediately. (The fish swimming all around the spill? Not so much.)
  • One-Book Author: Alice Lyon (Elaine) only appeared in this film, and never had another role in any other medium. She was lead actor John Lyon's sister (who went under the name John Scott).
  • Our Zombies Are Different: The monsters are described as "human bodies kept alive by radioactive decay," and completely "infiltrated by tiny seaplants." Presumably the monsters were growing in number by taking some of the bodies of their victims back to the water to make more.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: When his (ex) girlfriend Tina starts flirting with a biker at the beach, Hank goes to drag her away, leading to this exchange:
    Biker: Hey, she doesn't want to go with you.
    Hank: I really don't think that's any of your business.
  • Pun: An example:
    [close-up of a gal's bikini bottom, shakin' to the music as two guys stare]
    Guy: That reminds me, did I remember to bring my hot dog buns?
  • Replacement Goldfish: Apart from about a minute of angst on Elaine's part, Hank and Elaine seem perfectly okay with hooking up, about two weeks after Tina's death. To be fair, he pretty much broke with her at the beach.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: Eulabelle uses occasional but ubiquitously pointless rhymes as homilies: "You don't see me sitting around moanin' and groanin' all day." "What are y'all doin' sneakin' and peekin' in the dark?" It's the most fun you'll get out of this movie, and the best performance by any actor in the film.
  • Same Language Dub: For whatever reason, the actress who plays Elaine has been dubbed. Badly.
  • The Scourge of God: The hard-drinking exhibitionist Tina is the monster's first victim, leaving her boyfriend Hank to hook up with the chaste and sweet Elaine.
  • Stage Name: Hank Green was played by porn actor John Lyon, under the stage name John Scott.
  • Tempting Fate: Tina complains about how strait-laced Hank is and says "You go your way and I'll go mine, and we'll see who gets the most out of life!" About ten minutes later, she's dead in part because of her lack of inhibitionsnote .
  • Tsundere: Probably the best way to conceptualize Tina (besides "drunk"): "I never needed you, and I never will! ...Oh Hank, what happened to us?"
  • Use Your Head: In a move which has wisely not been adopted by professional fighters, the biker gang uses their leader as a battering ram. But then again, Hank stood still for it, so...
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Eulabelle chews out Hank for giving up during his search for sodium without going through every supplier in the phone book. Sure enough, the next one he calls afterward has some.