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This film proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the "Beach Party" genre was dead. After the previous film with Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello, American International thought they could pull the two of them back for one final picture. However, by the time the plans were announced Avalon was more interested in other roles and Funicello was busy raising her family. Instead we get Tommy Kirk and Deborah Walley who, unfortunately, don't have the chemistry that Frankie and Annette had together. The "Beach Party" series was one of the most enduring in film history. Too bad it had to go out with a whimper instead of a bang.
First, I should clear up any confusion that may have arisen from the
title: not only is the ghost's bikini invisible, but what's underneath
her bikini is also invisible. Now, I must ask: how was Boris Karloff
reduced to starring in a "beach party" movie? "The Ghost in the
Invisible Bikini" is basically a cross between beach party movies and
the old-style horror movies. Karloff plays Hiram Stokely, a corpse who
must accomplish a good deed within 24 hours. Fortunately for him, the
title character (Susan Hart) has the answer: he can protect a bevy of
teens who are descending on his estate for a party. Tommy Kirk plays
the main youngster.
Overall, the movie is pretty much an excuse for everyone to party as they would on the beach, except that they're doing it in what appears to be an English castle. I couldn't tell whether the movie was supposed to happen in California or England. I guess that this movie is better than most beach movies, just because it stars Boris Karloff. Oh, and the title character is pretty hot. But other than that, it's just another beach party movie.
Obviously one shouldn't take this film very seriously at all if one plans on enjoying it in the slightest. If you can loosen up quite a bit, this film does have some fun silly bits. Plus can any film with both Boris Karloff and Basil Rathbone possibly be all bad? I don't feel so...both fine actors try hard to keep their dignity in this Scooby Doo-like (without Scooby Doo) Beach Party entry.
The Ghost In The Invisible Bikini if it hasn't should attain a certain
amount of screen immortality in having one of the most eclectic casts
ever assembled for one film. Of course the film isn't exactly Citizen
Kane or Gone With The Wind.
The title role in this last of the Beach Party cycle is played by an ethereal Susan Hart who parades around in a bikini which certainly wasn't in fashion when she and Boris Karloff were young and dating. Karloff has gone on to meet his maker, but apparently Susan who died young and was his beloved has interceded with the Deity. Karloff was a stinker in real life and Susan has come to give him one more chance to do a good deed to insure his entrance to heaven with her. He'll even go in as a young man because apparently there is sex in heaven.
Karloff has to make sure that his rightful heirs inherit his ill gotten gains in life and those heirs would be Tommy Kirk, Deborah Walley, and Patsy Kelly who acts as den mother to the whole beach crowd who move in with the three of them. They have to stay in the ostensibly haunted house after the reading of the will. You know something sinister has to be up with that kind of clause in the will. Especially when the will is drawn up by Basil Rathbone as the lawyer who wants his hands on the Karloff fortune. Rathbone is aided and abetted by Jesse White, Benny Rubin as a Jewish Indian, and Rathbone's nearsighted daughter Quinn O'Hara. And crashing the party as they always do is Harvey Lembeck and is intellectually challenged motorcycle gang of which he definitely is the leader.
Incredible when you think about it, but making his last big screen appearance in an over 50 year career is that first leading man of Hollywood, Francis X. Bushman. He has a small role as Rathbone's butler. And part of the beach crew are the daughters of a pair of singing icons, Nancy Sinatra and Claudia Martin. I leave it to you, have you ever seen a more widely varied generational cast than this?
It's an incredibly dopey film, but charming in its own way. But what a place to find Messala, Sherlock Holmes, and the Frankenstein monster.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I realize that most people who have seen The Ghost in the Invisible
Bikini will look at my rating and decide I need to have my head
examined. I readily admit that it's one of the stupidest movies I've
seen recently. I am perfectly capable of seeing all of the same
problems in the movie that all of the other reviews or comments point
out. Yes, the beach movie was on its last leg when The Ghost in the
Invisible Bikini was made. Yes, there is no plot. Yes, most of the
comedy is incredibly lame. Yes, Tommy Kirk is beyond terrible. Yes,
Harvey Lembeck was way too old to play a rebellious motorcycle leader.
Yes, Benny Rubin's Chicken Feather character is offensive. Yes, Deborah
Walley is no Annette Funicello. Yes, Boris Karloff has little more than
an extended cameo that almost appears to have been an afterthought.
Yes, I see all these problems and more in The Ghost in the Invisible
Bikini, but for whatever reason, the movie is still a lot of fun. I had
a blast watching Nancy Sinatra sing "Geronimo". She's just so cool. I
also enjoyed watching Basil Rathbone in one of his final performances.
He seemed to really be enjoying the chance to ham it up. As goofy as it
may sound, I love the fact that The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini takes
many of the traditional beach movie trappings and transports them to a
big, old haunted house. A swinging 60s style beach party set in
Karloff's over-the-top torture chamber is an awesome idea. Finally,
I've got to give the movie a bonus point for having a completely
unnecessary gorilla. It adds a surreal touch to everything.
So, despite the many, many weaknesses and problems in The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini. I still had a great time watching it. I'll continue to say that the entertainment I get out of a movie is more important to me than anything else. And with that in mind, the 6/10 rating I've given The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini seems about right to me.
Representing the (somewhat fatigued) tail-end of the "Beach Party" saga, minus Frankie and Annette, this haunted house comedy has some style in the live-action cartoon vein, but is hurt overall by an unenthusiastic cast and too much chatter. Sleepy Tommy Kirk and distracted Deborah Walley are involved in the reading of a will in a spooky mansion; Susan Hart is a sexy apparition (wearing a dopey-looking blonde wig for F/X purposes); Boris Karloff saunters through, tossing off droll comic lines in a debonair manner; Harvey Lembeck returns as Eric Von Zipper (although he doesn't look happy about it); and Nancy Sinatra is one of the teens there for a slumber party (she sings "Geronimo" poolside in the film's best sequence). Not terribly witty or lively; most of the kids on display are artificially frantic and 'nutty', waving their arms about. The movie desperately needs more music and more special effects. It relies too much on the talk-heavy plot, which is its weakest link. ** from ****
Maybe I am crazy in the head (If I am, I enjoy every minute if it - heh
heh), but I thought "Ghost in the Invisible Bikini" was the perfect
synthesis of the earlier AIP beach and supernatural movies. With actors
and actresses from hits like "Beach Party", "Dr. Goldfoot and the
Bikini Machine", "Die, Monster, Die" and so on, we end up with a highly
campy, yet enjoyable plot. Boris Karloff is great as Hiram Stokely, the
"corpse". Susan Hart playing the "Ghost" is great eye candy as she was
in the original "Doctor Goldfoot" film, and the scenes in the graveyard
and the chamber of horrors conjure up memories of the fine AIP
supernatural/Poe films. And of course, with the rock and rollers
including Nancy Sinatra conjuring up the earlier AIP beach movies - who
can ask for more. Great camp - great fun throughout. 9/10.
Anyone expecting to see nudity in this film, be forewarned! It's the GHOST that's invisible and not the bikini!
This film was the largest budgeted of the "beach" pictures. But it became a box-office failure and was the last of the genre American International produced. The inane script...is not only tired but borrows from such other sources as the curtain line of Some Like It Hot... This year's crop of boys in this film isn't up to the earlier "beach" cavaliers.ll KARLOFF and the other veterans are only along for the ride....Stanley Cortez's camera...makes good use...in exploring some...fasinating sets evidently left over from the Poe period..a good try but short on script and inspiration.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Originally conceived as another Frankie Avalon/Annette Funicello romp
(both of whom would later drop out of this project, along with The
Supremes), this was both the last Beach Party movie and the only Beach
Party movie not set on a beach. The only reason I was even remotely
interested in watching this one was for the "guest appearances" from
Boris Karloff and Basil Rathbone. Karloff plays Hiram Stokely, a
"corpse" who is awaken in his coffin by "ghost" Cecily (Susan Hart),
his former girlfriend who died at a young age while he aged. She
informs him that he has just 24 hours to do a good deed so he can spend
eternity in heaven with her. As an added bonus, if Hiram is successful
then he'll regain his youth. And even better, since Hiram cannot leave
his crypt, Cecily will actually do the leg work for him as they
communicate through a crystal ball. Hiram decides the good deed should
involve making sure the heirs to his estate - Chuck (Tommy Kirk), Lili
(Deborah Walley) and Myrtle (Patsy Kelly) - actually receive their
inheritance. The problem lies with his crooked attorney Reginald Ripper
(Basil Rathbone) and his "sinister sidekick" J. Sinister Hulk (Jesse
White), who conspire to swindle the million dollar estate away from its
The three heirs show up at Hiram's mansion, along with the attorney, and must remain there until midnight for the reading of the will. Myrtle's nephew Bobby (Aron Kincaid) and about a hundred brainless, grinning teens pop by in a bus and head straight for the pool. A band starts playing, Nancy Sinatra starts singing "Geronimo" and suddenly we're suddenly in musical hell as a bunch of rhythm-deficient young folks in bathing suits start bouncing around. Throw in more supporting characters (Quinn O'Hara as Rathbone's daughter, Francis X. Bushman as the groundskeeper, Benny Rubin as an embarrassing chicken truck driver, Harvey Lembeck as a biker, etc.) then was needed, pile on lame "comic" gags and sound effects and pad things out with around a half-dozen lame and (mostly) badly-performed musical numbers and you've basically got this labored and unfunny would-be dark house comedy from AIP. It's always nice to see Karloff and Rathbone - even in something like this - but most of the rest of the cast either annoyingly overacts or mugs, are talent and charisma free (I'm looking at you, Kirk and Walley) or look as if they'd rather be off doing something else. I've not seen many other "Beach Party" films before this one but they were basically little more than thin excuses for mainstream audiences back in the day to watch barely clad teens wiggling around in bathing suits and that's about it.
The opening sequence is wonderfully atmospheric, with lots of fog and a red-cloaked figure walking through a graveyard toward a crypt, but that just goes to show what a waste this really is. The film seems to have had something of a budget. It's colorful, has a big cast, the shooting locations are nice and the cinematography by Stanley Cortez is excellent. Some reviewers might find this campy and enjoyably dated, but sorry to say, I didn't care much for it.
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