The Beach Girls and the Monster: 1965
Sea, Sand And Slaughter!
A group of young people are hanging out at Malibu Beach, California, dancing and surfing, when one girl plays a trick on her boyfriend by putting sand on his hot dog. She runs away, and he chases her, but she hides behind a rock; looking around, she spies a cave and approaches it when suddenly a seaweed-covered fish-man emerges from the darkness and claws her to death. Her body is discovered by one of her friends, who screams and alerts the police, who notice a track of large footprints in the sand - could they have belonged to the monster? The cops call on oceanographer Dr Otto Lindsay (Jon Hall) to examine the prints, and he deduces a sea creature is responsible - and it could strike again...
This sun-drenched horror in underwhelming black and white was written by Joan Gardner, and it apparently worked on the premise that what the craze for Beach Party movies really needed was a visit from the Creature from the Black Lagoon. The monster is a man in a bug-eyed rubber suit, but possibly gives the best performance in the film considering the modest amount he is required to do - the rest of the cast make Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello look like Sir Laurence Olivier and Katharine Hepburn. As the director and star, Jon Hall seems to be making a doomed attempt to break back into the matinee idol position he once held, but he is hampered by the ridiculous script.
If you're on the look out for fun in the sun, then you'd be advised to look elsewhere, because too much of the short running time is caught up, not with tracking the sea beast, but with Dr Lindsay's domestic problems. He is married to his second wife, Vicky (Sue Casey), a bitchy woman who is unsatisfied by her husband's advances and even flirts with her stepson, Richard (Arnold Lessing). Richard is causing Otto trouble too, being reluctant to join the family business in oceanography and preferring to enjoy himself on the beach. Overreacting Otto tells the police that he despises the beach kids, who are capable of anything, including murder!
Living with Otto and his family is Mark (Walker Edmiston), an intense sculptor crippled previously in a car crash who is obsessed with Vicky, and is making a bust of her. What isn't clear at the start is that the film is a whodunnit, and someone is responsible for sending out the monster to cause mayhem - could it be Mark, who made a small mermaid statue of the first victim? Judging by the tone of kids just wanting to frolic and adults (one in particular) wanting them to take life more seriously, maybe we should be looking elsewhere for the culprit. However, the soap opera antics of the main characters make you wonder whether the kids might have the right idea.
Although just over an hour long, there's quite a bit of padding, and of course, surf music. The producers like the main title theme so much that they use it at every opportunity, and whenever the beach bunnies are seen dancing, it's that same piece of music jangling away on the tape recorder. There are other songs, including bongo-heavy one which the cast mime to while fooling around with the contents of the local joke shop, and the lighthearted (considering their friend has been murdered) "Monster in the Surf", complete with join-in clapping and whooping. There's also some actual surfing footage crowbarred in, obviously not performed by any of the actors. The Beach Girls and the Monster just about gets by on campy appeal, but not much else, and it's a pity they couldn't afford to shoot it in colour to brighten it up. Music by Frank Sinatra Jr.