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Frank Sinatra Jr had absolutely nothing to do with the soundtrack. It was recorded at BMI studios in L.A. in one evening by a band called the Illusions, from Riverside, CA. I played lead guitar, Monty Byrd played drums, Dave Phillips rhythm guitar, Mick Okleshen (an airman on active duty at March AFB) on bass, and Tom Burrell on Sax. There was also a studio musician playing trumpet and french horn. We were a typical high-school band playing for dances and parties, when Chuck Segal, connected to capitol records (how I could not tell you) put us on contract to make records after hearing a demo record we made in Cucamonga, CA, and carried all over LA to record companies. Kids who had a real contract!! We were thrilled, and of course, still inexperienced kids. Chuck called us into the LA studio to do the track while watching clips from the movie. We never saw the entire film until it played at a local drive-in theater. We were told that Frank Jr had actually written one of the many different songs we played throughout the movie, but they thought using his name in the credits would ad at least some credibility to an otherwise delightfully sleezy film. We had to do it at night, because it was during school. We had to improvise various generic riffs to fit the scenes, including the "creepy" guitar sounds when the monster appears (that's me on my Fender jaguar), as well as the beach party, the car crash sequence, and several other scenes. We never were paid anything, but Chuck did take us out to a Chinese place not far away for a free meal sometime after midnight, when we finally finished. Sometime after that we did spend another evening making a demo of a song called Clare De-Lune (sp?) but in a guitar double-picking surf music style, similar to what Dick Dale made famous. Everyone used to tell me I could actually play better and faster than Dick, but I did not have the unique "sound" he could produce because he played a right-handed guitar left-handed, but upside down, with the strings still in the RH order. I just thought a few people would get a kick out of hearing what really went on with the music. I found this site after "Googleing" the film title and was surprised anybody even cared enough to watch it, much less devote time to comment. It was fun, and the movie will always be great to me, one of the fondest memories I have from my youth.
I remember watching this movie as a kid and I thought it was pretty scary, so when I saw it on DVD I decided to get it and now I see why a lot of people think this movie is a stinker. The film is part beach party flick, part whodunnit, part melodrama and part horror. John Hall, who showed a lot of promise with his role in The Hurricane, really showed how far his career had fallen when he became involved in this throwaway and Sue Casey showed why she was nothing more than a minor league actress. The other actors, if you can call them that, are so bad that you wonder why this film was ever made. However, I do like looking at bad movies and this is definitely one of them.
... when you see a boom mike in the trailer!
"The Beach Girls and the Monster" features a clear shot of Sue Casey speaking on the phone during the trailer. With a boom mike above her. And the perch.
The movie itself has a delightful scraping the barrel approach when it comes to exploitation. You can find the two main sub-genres from the 60's b-movies melting: the monster movie and the beach movie. Both aspects are indeed badly done. The monster is everything but frightening and one has to wonder why any of his victims hadn't the idea to kick him between the legs. And the beach part is so cliché ridden it looks like a "Lord Loves A Duck" sequence, except for the fact that "Lord Loves A Duck" was a parody (also featuring boom mikes on screen). There's for instance, for comic relief, a ventriloquist and his lion Kingsley who duets with the girls on a corny song. Actually, he could be the worst ventriloquist on Earth: he carries a false beard to hide his moving lips.
Then, you find all the features of cheap exploitation movies. Washed-out actors playing the parts of supposedly attractive characters. "Teenagers" that were last seen in high school 15 before the shooting. Big names on the credits, like Frank Sinatra. Even if you must add "Jr" as that's his son, Frank Jr, and he merely wrote the score (mostly lounge jazz and a few Beach Boys attempts). Actually, Mark (Walter Edmiston) looks a little like Sinatra as the sculptor that Sue Casey teases. (By the way, his sculptures are not exactly flattering even for a fading beauty like Ms Casey.)
Jon Hall, for his only directing credit, shot the thing cheaply and quickly. His house was a convenient place for inner shots and he tends to use zooming extensively to end a scene without making another shot. It's irritating even when it's Luchino Visconti who's directing and Jon Hall is apparently no Visconti.
And there's the story, or indeed the lack of story. You also know that a movie has got a problem when Robert Silliphant is credited for "additional dialogue". Silliphant took a writing hand in both "The Creeping Terror" and "The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies!!?". In other words, he's responsible for two of the lamest screenplays of all times! "The Beach Girls and the Monster" is his third and final screen credit. So I have to wonder how much Silliphant improved the original screenplay.
On the plus side, the girls on the beach (actually the dancing troupe from the Whisky-A-Go- Go club) have tight bikinis and giggles as if they were Shakira's mother. Or grandmother. So, every movie has a redeeming quality.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I want to preface this review by stating that I am of the opinion that
gawd-awful bad can be....well....good. After all, one of my favorite
movies was Plan 9 From Outer Space. You gotta love cardboard tombstones
that bend when brushed against. With that said, Monster From the Surf,
a.k.a. The Beach Girls and The Monster, is a masterpiece. I go into a
science fiction trance every time I hear that exotic, muffled trumpet
music whenever the cheating wife of the scientist is shown. I love that
little beach ditty, "There's A Monster in the Surf, Yeah, Yeah". And I
roll over laughing when the Lion puppet comes out and the beautiful
brunette beach bunny talks to it in her cutsie little baby voice.
A SPOILER IS NEXT. DON"T READ ON UNLESS YOU DO NOT CARE ABOUT THIS MOVIE BEING SPOILED FOR YOUR FIRST TIME VIEWING ENJOYMENT.
Man, things don't get any better than this. I was a little disappointed to find out that the zipper that was visible in various scenes poking through the back of the monster was actually legitimized, when it was discovered that the monster in the movie really was a man dressed up in a monster suite. But that faux pas was made up during the final car chase scene, when the backscreen scenery was moving directly opposite the steering wheel movement. Let's face it, you gotta be really good, to be really that bad. I love this movie and recommend it to everyone.
Pretty cheesy. John Hall directs and stars in this movie also known as MONSTER FROM THE SURF. Pretty girls are slashed to death by a sea monster. Right! I have always liked Jon Hall, but this movie is as interesting as sea weed. Stock footage of surfing and no "real" monster at all. Acting is about as lame as the script. Also in the cast are Sue Casey, Elaine DuPont and Walker Edmiston.
For years I've had the TV version (Monster From The Surf) on VHS off of TV. Despite it's shortcomings, I watch it once in a while. Maybe it's the surfish soundtrack (nice minor key whammy-bar during the monster scenes); I've added the opening credits theme to my surf guitar repetoire. I also enjoyed the character Mark, the sculptor,(Walker Edmiston's finest moment?) who really digs the surf crowd (rather vacuous and dull in this movie) but can't seem to connect with them. I wonder if Frank Sinatra Jr. really composed the music. I also wonder if Jon Hall actually got in the monster suit. I doubt it. For his sake I hope not as the performance of the monster was awful. Note how after 'brutally murdering' the 1st victim he makes sure not to drop her on the ground hard. Anyhow I was surprised to see this on DVD but didn't think it deserved the price it was selling for. Later I found it used and happily picked it up. No outtakes or commentary (I doubt there's a huge public outcry) but some good liner notes about the cast & movie. *1/2 out of *****
MST fans are familiar with the classic episode whereby Mike and the 'bots
turn their comedic talents on the East Coast beach movie "The Horror of
Party Beach". Like "Horror", "The Beach Girls and the Monster" takes
on a beach and features a monster, but that's where the similarities
"Beach Girls" tells the story of Otto, who is a scientist. Otto is a control freak who can't control anyone in his life. You see, Otto has a trophy wife by the name of Vicky who likes to cheat on him and a son who has been neglecting his work in the family's sea lab. The son carries some guilt over being involved in an accident which gives his friend a limp. Seeing that he's been living life way too seriously, the son has taken to the beach life, surfing and dancing with pretty girls. This does not please the father at all.
Otto's son and his friends party like it's 1999, but a monster is killing them one by one. Why them and no one else? Why are we never shown the origin of the monster? Well, after about the 2/3 mark of this movie, it becomes very apparent what the answers to these questions are. This movie is not so much a horror movie per se, but rather a drama involving a dysfunctional family that just happens to have a monster in it.
One little item might escape you on first viewing it. In one scene, the son and his friend are viewing a movie of surfing in Hawaii, which really lends nothing to the movie except to pad it out so it runs at least an hour. The movie is shot in black and white, but the inserted footage is in that washed-out 60s color. Watch for it.
Sterno says catch this wave and ride it in to shore.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
What "The Night of the Hunter" was for Charles Laughton--the sole directorial effort from a great film star--"The Beach Girls and the Monster" was for '40s matinée idol Jon Hall. But whereas Laughton's film is one of the eternal glories of the cinema, Hall's picture is...well, let's just say not nearly as glorious. In his film, Hall stars (at this point in his career, looking like Ernest Borgnine's older brother) as Dr. Otto Lindsay, an oceanographer whose troublesome son, rather than follow in his Pops' footsteps, prefers to go surfing with his pals and play his guitar at beach parties. This domestic friction is made even more problematic when a seaweed-draped, lumbering, rather ridiculous-looking monster starts to attack kids on the beach.... Anyway, Hall's film is silly in parts but not nearly as goofy as you might be expecting; certainly more serious than a Frankie & Annette movie! It has been well shot in B&W (although utilizes egregious rear projection for all driving sequences), showcases an annoyingly catchy theme song by Frank Sinatra, Jr., is decently acted, and features a twist ending of sorts that goes far in mitigating much of the silliness that has come before. Almost stealing the show is Sue Casey, playing Hall's trampy wife; my buddy Rob is quite right in pointing out that her sharp-tongued, shrewish vixen of a character would have been right at home in a '60s Russ Meyer flick. "Beach Girls," with a running time of only 66 minutes, still feels padded, with surfing stock footage, rock 'n' roll numbers accompanied by boogying bikini babes (played by the Watusi Dancing Girls from the Whiskey-A-Go-Go!), and assorted hijinks. Still, I can think of much less entertaining ways to spend an hour. As Michael Weldon succinctly puts it, in his spoiler review in "The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film": "A cheap laugh riot with lots of bongos, murders, and girls in bikinis."
I've only ever seen this film with the title Monster From the Surf, but whichever way you package it, it's a stone cold psychotronic classic. Heck, the dual presence of Radley Metzger behind the camera (he acquits himself nicely, especially with his shots of a drunken Vicky) and Frank Sinatra Jr.'s score should be enough enticement for anyone. Add in faded matinee idol Jon Hall in the starring role, season with liberal amounts of surf footage, and you have a winner! Especially memorable is the 'theme song', as interpreted by a hand puppet. A pleasure to watch on many levels.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Beach set horror film about a monster stalking and killing kids in
around the coast.
Its an okay (at best) little film with lots of music, a rather dumb, but fun looking monster and just a touch of mystery. In all honesty the best way to view this film is as the model for every Scooby Doo episode ever made. I know I just ruined this for about six of you but for the rest of you I probably just saved you from wasting 65 minutes of your life. It's a film that is just as clever as Scooby. Beyond that the film really doesn't have much to recommend it. If you're in the mood for a the live action Scooby Doo film (sans the dog) give this a shot otherwise take a pass.
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