Thursday 13 February 2014

IMDb Bottom 100 review – Number 95 The Horror of Party Beach

This one is from back when dumping toxic waste into the ocean was still considered cool. And of course, with all the human skeletal remains on the ocean floor, it's bound to take a turn for the worse, in...
Just look at this kooky bastard. Would you like a peanut?

Generally about the movie
Tonight's feature has mitigating factors and extenuating factors up the proverbial wazoo. On the mitigating side, it's from 1964 and is thus the oldest entry so far. Ok, it's only been 6 movies including this, but it's still 50 years old, which is more years than most of the people reading this have lived. The extenuating circumstances aren't, per se, the movie's fault. I could only find one version of this movie, and that was the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version. For those of you who aren't familiar with Mystery Science Theater 3000, or MST3K for short, don't panic. It's entirely stupid, as you may or may not have already guessed. It's basically a little show spun around various old and crappy movies. The idea is, that a guy is being chased across the galaxy by a mean woman (the reason for this isn't explained, and that's probably for the best) who forces him and his two robot companions to watch shitty movies.
They managed to play decently, considering they weren't plugged in.

Besides a stupid little theme tune intro sequence, and a few scripted, and extremely unfunny, scenes involving the lady doing something stupid, or this guy and his robots doing something equally stupid, MST3K basically means, that we (you and I) are treated to silhouettes of this Mike dude and his two robotic sidekicks at the bottom of our screen. Covering probably a fourth of the movie screen. Throughout the movie. And as if that wasn't enough, we are also treated to a host of stupid comments, most of which are either too stupid or too obscure to find amusing. A few times they made some funny observations, but most of it just drowned in a vast ocean of lame puns and stupid remarks.
Ok, so that isn't really a lot of info about the movie itself, but this MST3K shit just made an already stupid movie even worse. And the worst part is, this movie isn't in the Bottom 100 because of MST3K. That's just an added bonus that I can't circumvent. Oh the humanity.
How any insanely lame fight should end. You won the girl fair and square.

What the fuck is it about even?
The plot here is actually pretty basic (I know. I was surprised too). Some kids have fun at the beach, while some other kids dump some barrels of toxic waste directly into the sea. A barrel floats to the bottom of the sea and hits a rock, causing the tiny lid on the nozzle, to come lose. Toxic waste starts spilling into the water, and ends up covering a skull and some bones that are vicariously strewn across the ocean floor. It's really unfortunate, because this toxic waste happens to have re-animation qualities, and a sea monster is born fully formed. The monster makes its way to the surface, and starts killing.
The kind of shit they stuck in between segments of the movie. Do you think this is a motherfucking game?

The movie opens with Hank and his girlfriend Tina driving to the beach. Tina is obviously a frivolous skank, made apparent when she waves at a bunch of bikers they pass, to Hank's distress. You just don't wave to bikers! It's obvious that things aren't as peachy between Hank and Tina, because an argument breaks out as soon as they are at the beach. Hank's all caught up in his work at the university, and Tina wants to have fun and dance. It's the age old problem between man and woman. Tina storms into the happy throng of what is supposed to be partying teenagers, and starts getting jiggy with it to music played by a quartet of extremely Beach Boy looking preppy dudes. Meanwhile a bemused Hank wanders aimlessly about, and runs into Elaine who he apparently knows. Just as you'd think things couldn't get any worse for Hank, the bikers arrive and their leader almost immediately gets a hard on for Tina, who eagerly flirts back. Damn dames, you just can't trust them! A fight breaks out between Hank and the gang leader over Tina, that Hank wins. They then shake hands. Just like in real life. Tina, now finally understanding that she had totally wronged Hank with all her having fun, swims out to sea where she perches herself on a rock, only to become the first victim of an aspiring sea monster.
The scene cuts to a police car pulling up at a house in the suburbs, and some official looking people exiting it, to speak to a balding guy who is smoking a pipe. Elaine, who is apparently the pipe smoking man's daughter, and whose lines are inexplicably dubbed, joins in, and through dialogue it becomes apparent, that this scene takes place several days after the beach scene, because it is the day of Tina's funeral. Elaine is in love with Hank, or at least has feelings of an unknown nature for Hank, but his girlfriend was just murdered by a weird otherworldly entity, so she doesn't quite know if now's the time to make a move. Her father jovially sympathizes. He turns out to be the local university's top scientist, or something, and Hank's boss! It's unclear how he is affiliated with the University, where Hank is supposed to be studying or working. Almost everybody in the movie are played off as college students, but it's clear that most of them are at least in their late 20s, if not older. So that's a little funky.
Gang warfare has come a long way. A LONG way. 

Next up on the victim list is a slumber party of girls. Those were popular in the sixties already. Elaine was supposed to join them, but didn't want to go, because Tina was murdered. That's as good a reason as any, I guess. Her father doesn't think it's a good enough cause to be rude however, and makes her call the slumber party to say she isn't coming. This is a really weird scene, because honestly who gives a fuck if she called them. It's the sixties, I guess. You should always call and let people know you aren't coming. Luckily for Elaine, the monster chose this very night to raid the slumber party, killing everybody. Only, at this point there were two identical monsters. Whether the monster had mastered on the fly cell division, or if the toxic waste was putting out a continuing stream of fresh monsters, I don't know. But where the slumber party girls expected guys from the local fraternity to crash their party, monsters made of rotting and decaying human remains decided to barge in and kill everything in stead. Boy, that escalated quickly. Some of the girls were taken back to a body of water, however, as a way of perhaps honoring them.
"Monsters are rampantly killing in my little town? I best nip off for some alone time!"

This sets off a montage of monster related incidents combined with news paper headlines spinning onto the screen in time honored fashion. We see several people brutally murdered by the monsters, who by now count dozens, and cut to the lab of our pipe smoking man. He has been working tirelessly, with Hank, to figure out just what the fuck is going on with these monsters. Fortunately, a monster, passing by a shopping window, has managed to cut off its own arm on broken glass, trying to reach for a mannequin it had fallen in love with. Nonplussed, they examine this severed arm, and can't for the life of them figure out what's causing all this ruckus, when the colored house maid Eulabelle, played by a woman aptly named Eulabelle, accidentally spills a sodium saturated glass of water on it. The arm burst into explosive flames, and evaporates in a cloud of smoke. The solution is found! It was sodium this whole time.
They took a break from practical jokes and pillow fighting, to sing women liberation tunes.

Now all there is left, is to use a cunning method to figure out which body of water houses the monsters, because apparently they migrated between lakes. Also, the fact that sodium is both the method with which to kill the monsters, and a major chemical element of salt water leads me to believe, that the sea the monster came from wasn't actually a sea, but a huge ass lake. Also, Hank will need to acquire a large amount of sodium, and is not happy to find, that all their local chemical compound dealers are fresh out of sodium. He needs to take a one hour drive to Manhattan, where a chemical dealer is able to supply him with an abundance of sodium (turns out to be about a bucket's worth). We are treated to a sight seeing tour of Manhatten, spanning from the Guggenheim in the Upper East Side, all the way to Greenwich Village and various other locations. Seems like Hank is taking his sweet time.
Elaine decides now is the perfect time for her to go out on her own, to the local quarry, which doubles as the only place Pipe smoking scientist dude hasn't checked yet. Of course shit starts hitting the fan in a big hurry at the quarry, and it's a race against time for Hank. Pipe dude takes out one monster, and starts a fist right with another. He's almost out for the count, when Hank shows up with the police and they handle matters efficiently, with the bucket of sodium. Hank and Elaine start dating, Eulabelle is pleased that her master's daughter is seeing somebody nice and clean, and the pipe fella will recover from his bad burns within a week. All is well that ends well.
This is where feminism had its foundation laid!

Is it actually that bad, or are you just a pussy?
The movie wasn't that bad, really. It's predictable and fairly boring and of course filled with gaping plot holes and continuity errors. I doubt many of the movies found on this B100 list will deviate from this trodden path. This movie, being from 1964, had a historic quality to it that I found somewhat interesting. We see Eulabelle, the colored maid, who is pretty stereotypical of a colored house maid of the time; superstitious (voodoo is her way of explaining the monsters), naïve in the ways of the world, simple minded but good hearted. She just wants her master to live well. Also, there are quite a lot of sexual innuendo throughout the movie. It's from 1964, so the sexual revolution hadn't quite come about yet, but this movie has a lot of skin (not nudity, but skimpy outfits and bikinis). And we are also treated to both slumber party girls singing women liberation songs AND a trio of women who are changing their own flat tire. I don't know if all of this is just coincidental or if the director is trying to send a message: women are people too, just like you and me! Whatever the case, the message lingers between women as independent and assertive, and women as sex objects who aren't able to keep up with harshness of the world.
Of course, I might just be reading too much into it. The MST3K comments and gags were extremely annoying, and since it's apparently actually a TV show, we also had commercial breaks and intermissions throughout. Not actual commercial breaks, but indications of when they were going to be there, with little animations. I don't know who thought of this Mystery Science shit, but I bet he never actually watched any of it. Lazy fucker. I'll try and make an effort in the future, to steer clear of the MST stuff. It just isn't worth it.
Yes massa, I most surafiably do say, voodoo I says. Voodoo!

Why is this something that exists?
Monster movies is a genre that goes way back. Dracula, Monster of Frankenstein and The Mummy are all characters we've seen reinvented time and time again to varying degrees of success. Of course a good fright is something almost universally loved. Also, writing a monster movie, it turns out, isn't too hard. The monster scenes write themselves, because there usually isn't dialogue involved. And everything around those scenes is basically just the director yelling action, and letting people prance about doing whatever comes natural. Why it still ends up looking anything but natural, is anybody's guess.
Apparently Stephen King cites this movie as one of his favorites, which begs the question: Is Stephen King so astute a horror observer, that he sees something I don't? Granted, Stephen King has a lot of horror stories floating around in his wake, and I'd lie if I claimed I was better than him when it came to appreciating horror. But this movie is anything but good. It's not god awful, I'll concede that. But favorite? Not at all. It has a sort of dumb charm I guess, kind of like a friend you don't particularly like but still keep around because of that one Jack Nicholson impression he/she can do brilliantly. Would you want to see it all the time? Fuck no. But it's nice to have seen it, and laugh about it with friends.
A look we all know. When you're fed up with a dull boyfriend and just want to dance and have forbidden fun!

You certainly have a lot of hate. Could you do better?
I think I could match The Horror of Party Beach, yes. Most of the actors, if you wanna use such a strong word, in this flick have gone on to do, well, pretty much absolutely nothing at all. For most of them, this was a one off deal. The director made a few other flicks, and actually died last February (that's 2013 if you aren't reading this right now (which is 2014)). So what went into making this? The script could almost certainly be churned out in a few hours, and according to IMDb, shooting this took 3 weeks. No scenes involved anything really complicated, so I think it's safe to say, that most people could produce a movie on par with this.
Perhaps a few of their ideas are decent enough. At one point two cars are supposed to ram into each other, but because they didn't have money for the crash to actually happen, they had the cars sort of drive up close to one another. I had read this before watching the movie, but it still looked somewhat convincing. Ok, it wasn't a huge head on collision, but more a small fenderbender type crash. Even so, I thought it was decent. So for the amount of money they had, I guess some aspects of the production weren't too shitty.
Both of these are supposed to portray college kids. Hank and Elaine!

Fuck off, bro! You can’t convince me there isn’t one redeeming thing about this!
I gotta go with the, at this point, only really consistent redeeming fact: there were some nice looking people in this movie. Ok, like I described earlier, it has an interesting view into the 60s and how the world was viewed then. And there was the car crash too. But the monster make up/costume was abhorrent. I mean, it was really crappy. Just awful. The acting was wooden and felt forced. And what's with dubbing one actress' lines throughout the movie? Did she do the dubbing herself later, or was it somebody else? Nobody knows.
It's kind of a standard monster movie, and I suppose you could enjoy it for what it's worth. I admit I am not predisposed to love monster flicks. In fact, I always found them kind of boring and uninteresting. The Blob or Creatures From Outer Space. That sort of thing never rang my little bell. So obviously I wouldn't enjoy this particular aspect of Horror Beach. But if you were predisposed, and if you did enjoy other genre movies, then I'm sure you'd be able to find points in this movie, that you'd enjoy. The director was scared his movie wouldn't work, and was surprised by its huge success. I can't find any numbers on this huge success claim, but perhaps it was successful back then. Who knows. Stephen King probably would've paid money to go watch it. Perhaps he DID pay to see it. I certainly wouldn't pay anything to spend an hour and 17 minutes in the company of The Horror of Party Beach!
"Oh Hank! I am so glad your former girlfriend was brutally murdered not one week ago. Kiss me!"


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