The Horror of Party Beach is a personal favorite of mine but it’s not an easy film to review. Technically, this is a terrible film but it’s also a lot of fun. It’s the type of film that makes the traditional definitions of good and bad irrelevant. In short, this 1964 “horror” film simply has to be seen to be believed.
Party Beach is perhaps the most depressing stretch of sand and surf to ever appear in a 1960s beach film. During the day, the beach is full of amazingly skinny dancers and leather-clad motorcyclists who spend all of their time dancing to music of the Del-Aires. Occasionally, a fight breaks out between the motorcyclists and the dancers but, for the most part, everyone seems to spend their time engaging in witty banter that I imagine was probably dated even in 1964. The skies are permanently overcast and the whole beach just reeks of a combination of societal decline and general ennui.
Even worse, the film opens with a toxic waste spill that somehow causes an underwater skeleton to mutate into a creature that’s apparently half-man and half-fish and which also has an insatiable lust for blood and a mouth that appears to be full of hot dogs. Soon, every night, the creatures are wandering around the town, killing people, and dragging the bodies off to the quarry.
One of the first victims is Tina, the wild girlfriend of Hank. Hank is a scientist who has the young Aryan look that most B-movie heroes seemed to have in the early 60s. Seriously, Hank manages to get through the entire film without once getting a single hair out-of-place. You would think that Hank would be upset over Tina’s death but he’s not because, as he told Tina before she died, he’s “no longer the campus bigshot who will do anything for kicks!” It also probably helps that Hank has fallen in love with Elaine, who appears to be about 40 years old but who, in a typically dramatic moment, turns down an invitation to go to a slumber party with all of her teenage friends.
Elaine’s father is Dr. Gavin. Dr. Gavin is also Hank’s boss and we can tell that Dr. Gavin is a genius because he not only wears glasses but he’s also bald and smokes a pipe. Together, Dr. Gavin and Hank try to figure out if there’s any way that the monsters can be stopped.
Dr. Gavin also has a maid named Eulabelle, who appears to have come to Horror of Party Beach straight from an awkwardly racist 1930s comedy. At one point, Eulabelle explains that she’s not only locked the front door but that she’s “double-locked and triple-locked it. Ain’t no monsters gettin’ in here…”
Perhaps if everyone on Party Beach had taken Eulabelle’s advice, many lives could have been saved. But oddly, even after everyone knows that there are monsters among them, the party continues on Party Beach. Not even the fear of death can silence the Del-Aires…
I make no apologies for loving The Horror of Party Beach. Everything about it — from the ludicrous monsters to the expressionless performances of the cast to the thoroughly nonsensical plot — make The Horror of Party Beach a one-of-a-kind experience. I’ve come across quite a few critics who have claimed that The Horror of Party Beach is one of the worst movies ever made but, seriously, it’s way too silly to be truly bad. It may not be a good film but it’s definitely a fun viewing experience.