Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Horror of Party Beach .. Oh the horror!

The Horror of Party Beach

The Horror of Party Beach, 1964, 78 minutes, Iselin-Tenney Productions, B&W. Directed by Del Tenney. Produced by Tenney and Alan V. Iselin. Starring John Scott as Hank Green, Alice Lyon as Elaine Gavin, Allen Laurel as Dr. Gavin, Eulabelle Moore as Eulabelle. Featuring the music of the Del-Aires. Schlock-Meter rating: 6 and 1/2 stars out of 10.

OK, this film is no masterpiece, but I disagree with those who include The Horror of Party Beach in worst film lists. Have they ever seen Monster A Go Go? Director Del Tenney lacked time, money, acting talent (some directing talent, let’s admit) and special effects worth a damn (the monsters are RIDICULOUS), but he had a pretty good filmmaking imagination, and Horror of Party Beach boasts a pretty good tale that may have been better with a bigger budget and better singing talent.

Here’s the plot: Radioactive waste is dumped into the Long Island harbor. Somehow it resurrects sailors long drowned at the bottom of the ocean. The radioactivity turns them into monsters who appear (I’m not making this up) to have hot dog franks stuffed into their masks. The creatures are pathetic looking rubber fiends, and one wishes Tenney would have spent just a little more cash on the makeup.

Anyway, the monsters seem attracted to the hot teen spot on the beach, where lots of silly white kids dance to the tunes of an inept band called the Del-Aires (pay close attention to the song The Zombie Stomp, it’s a howler). So, the monsters kill a lot of girls and women before finally being foiled by hard-working Dr. Gavin (Laurel), his teen-queen daughter Elaine (Lyon), and Dr. Gavin’s assistant Hank Green (Scott) who has the hots for Elaine, which is reciprocated by her. There’s also a black maid Eulabelle (Moore), thrown in for comic relief, but today would be considered a racist stereotype.

Despite clich├ęs and contradictions, one of which has the monsters being killed by sodium, even though they became monsters in the salt water ocean, the film is rarely dull and provides a lot of laughs, albeit unintentionally. The actors try hard and except for some jokes on the beach intended to make viewers laugh, the film takes itself seriously. It’s no classic, but it can serve as a fun video to show friends at midnight. Audiences liked The Horror of Party Beach when it was released. It and another Tenney film, Curse of the Living Corpse, were huge hits on the drive-in circuit for distributor Twentieth Century-Fox in 1964.

-- Doug Gibson

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