In 1987, there was a movie called Back to the Beach, which I saw on video a bunch of times and really dug. But it was loosely based on a series of Beach Party movies from the 1960s, which I'd never seen (they were before my time). Since then, I've seen a couple of the old movies, and hopefully will see them all, eventually. Meanwhile, I don't think I'll bother actually rating any of these movies, since I think they're kinda lame compared to the 1987 movie. But they're kinda fun, if you watch them at least semi-ironically. Seeing them could also be kind of useful for understanding the influence the movies had on pop culture, such as a scene in one episode of Family Guy. And of course, the swimsuit-clad girls tend to have a certain retro sex appeal, I guess. Especially Annette....
IMDb; MGM; Rotten Tomatoes; TCM; Wikipedia
It starts with Frankie (played by Frankie Avalon) heading to a beach house for summer vacation with his girlfriend Dolores (played by Annette Funicello). He expects they're going to be all alone, but it turns out she's invited all their friends. This upsets him, so he tries to make her jealous by going out with Ava, a waitress at Big Daddy's, a popular hangout for all the teens. The place is actually run by a guy called Cappy; Big Daddy is seen sleeping in a chair, his face covered by a hat. Everyone waits for him to give them "the word." But that's not really important.
There's also an anthropologist named Robert Sutwell, who's studying the beach kids and comparing them to various primitive cultures for a new book he's writing. He has an assistant named Marianne, who obviously likes him, though he's pretty oblivious. He ends up making contact with Dolores, hoping she'll help him in his research, but she mainly wants to use him to make Frankie jealous. Their first contact comes when Sutwell rescues Dolores from Eric Von Zipper, the rather dim (but amusing) leader of a gang of bikers. Von Zipper spends a lot of the rest of the movie wanting to get revenge against Sutwell.
Not really much else to say. There are a lot of cheesy songs in these beach movies. No great acting or writing or anything. But if you're a fan of camp, or fake surfing, or just young people in swimsuits, it's reasonably entertaining (though most if not all of the "teens" are played by actors in their 20's... but what else is new?) Plus Vincent Price makes a brief cameo. What's not to like about that?
Muscle Beach Party
IMDb; MGM; Rotten Tomatoes; TCM; Wikipedia
The teens are once again on summer vacation at the beach, and Frankie once again has troubles with his girlfriend. This time she's called Dee Dee rather than Dolores, though I think he might've called her that in the first movie too, I'm not sure. Another change this time is that there's no Big Daddy, and the hangout is now just called Cappy's Place. He's quite concerned that the place may get wrecked by these kids, if they get into a fight like they did before with Von Zipper's gang.
The bikers, however, are not in this picture. Instead, there's a totally ridiculous guy named Jack Fanny (played by Don Rickles), who is the trainer of a bunch of bodybuilders. The main one of these is Mr. Galaxy, aka Flex Martian. There's also this rich, beautiful, widowed contessa named Julie, who has had a string of boyfriends, and who now sets her sights on Flex. So, she has her people (S.Z., played by Buddy Hackett, and Theodore, some stuffy, vaguely British-seeming guy) work out a deal with Jack Fanny to get control of his bodybuilders and buy him a bunch of gyms (though he would rather wait to consult with his silent partner, Mr. Strangdour). Unfortunately, shortly after the deal is signed, Julie decides she isn't interested in Flex anymore. She heard Frankie singing, and decides she's in love with him, and wants to get him a record deal and make him a star.
This, naturally, complicates things between Frankie and Dee Dee, though there was already some trouble brewing. He's happy with his life just basically surfing and being free, while she thinks he should do something with his life, and also make a commitment to her. Oddly enough, his potentially getting a record deal doesn't make her or any of their friends happy. Meanwhile, Flex and Jack Fanny are not happy about Julie dumping Flex for Frankie, so of course a war will break out between the bodybuilders and the surfers. And of course it will happen at Cappy's.
Not much else to say, really. This movie is even campier than the first, but it's still okay I guess. And Peter Lorre makes a cameo appearance.
Beach Blanket Bingo
How to Stuff a Wild Bikini
The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini (B-Movie Central)