Spring Breakdown: The Beach Girls and the Monster (dir by Jon Hall)

Happy Spring Break!

Spring Break is one of the things that I really miss about high school and college.  Despite the fact that I don’t drink, I don’t swim, and I generally hate crowds, I always made it a point to celebrate Spring Break by going to the beach.  Spring Break was more than just a week’s vacation from “preparing for the future” and everything else that I occasionally pretended college was about.  Spring Break was a ritual.  It was a tradition.  Celebrating Spring Break was as much a required activity as dressing up for Halloween or going to fireworks on the 4th.

For the next two weeks, we’re going to celebrate Spring Break on the Shattered Lens.  I know that some people are saying that no one should be celebrating the Spring Break this year.  To be honest, there were people saying that before the pandemic broke out and there were be people saying that once the pandemic is under control.  Wear your mask indoors.  Social distance.  Do whatever needs to be done and yes, definitely make sure that you know what’s going on in the world.  But don’t ever let the professional killjoys tell you that you don’t have a right to enjoy your life.

If you want to check out a professional killjoy, just check out the scientist who is at the heart of the 1965 film, The Beach Girls and the Monster.  Dr. Otto Lindsay (Jon Hall, who also directed) is an oceanographer who totally resents the fact that teenagers are partying on the beach.  I mean, he’s even more obnoxious than that jackass lawyer who spent last year wandering around the beach of Florida while dressed up as the Grim Reaper.  Obviously, some of Otto’s bad attitude can be explained by the fact that he’s old but it’s hard not to feel that there’s something bigger fueling his resentment.  Maybe he’s angry that his young wife, Vicky (Sue Casey), doesn’t seem to be particularly happy with their marriage.  Maybe he’s annoyed that there’s a sculptor named Mark (Waler Edmonston) living in his house.  Mark is a friend of Otto’s son, Richard (Arnold Lessing).  Richard was planning on following his father into the field of oceanography but then he discovered surfing.  Now, the only thing that Richard wants to do is surf and hang out on the beach.

It’s a popular beach, though perhaps a little bit less popular now that people are being randomly killed on the sand.  Who is killing off of all of the surfers and the beach girls?  Richard thinks that it’s a maniac but Otto believes that it’s a prehistoric sea creature, come back to life and seeking revenge on all of the irresponsible young people who ruining the beach.  Judging from the fact that the killer looks like some sort of humanoid-fish hybrid, we can only assume that Otto is right.  But is he?

You’ll have to watch the film to find out and, fortunately, it’ll be pretty easy for you to do just that.  The Beach Girls and The Monster is in the public domain and it’s been uploaded to YouTube about a dozen times.  And you know what?  You should watch it because this is an entertainingly dumb little movie.  It’s not exactly a good movie, of course.  The acting is …. not impressive.  The killer fish is …. less impressive.  But so what?  This is a fast-paced and fun movie with a silly monster, a lot of beach parties, and just enough dancing to hold my attention.  It’s nonsense but, in the best tradition of Spring Break, it’s entertaining nonsense.

Yaphet Kotto, RIP

Yaphet Kotto in Blue Collar

I saw rumors on twitter last night that Yaphet Kotto had died but, since it was just random people on social media, I didn’t want to say anything until the news was officially confirmed.  Sadly, it was confirmed this morning.  Yesterday, at the age of 81, Yaphet Kotto passed away in the Philippines.

Yaphet Kotto was a busy actor who appeared in so many classic films that I think we took sometimes took his talent for granted.  Kotto, though, was an actor who could play almost anything.  He was usually cast in dramas but he could also do comedy.  He could play both villains and heroes with equal skill.  He held his own opposite Anthony Quinn in Across 110th Street.  He was one of the best Bond villains in Live and Let Die.  He was one of the toughest members of the crew of the Nostromo in Alien and a key member of the resistance in The Running Man.  Long before Forest Whitaker won an Osar for playing the role in The Last King of Scotland, Yaphet Kotto brought Idi Amin to terrible life in Raid on Entebbe.  He was just as believable as an FBI agent in Midnight Run as he was as a auto worker in Blue Collar.  Blue Collar was probably he best performance, one in which he easily upstaged both Richard Pryor and Harvey Keitel.

For me, Yaphet Kotto will always be remembered Lt. Al Giardello in Homicide, the philosophical leader of Baltimore’s murder cops.  Giardello was written to be a stern and no-nonsense leader but Kotto played him with a subtle sense of humor.  He was the ideal leader and one the key cast members of one of the best shows of the 90s.  Andre Braugher may have gotten the critical acclaim and Richard Belzer may have gotten an entire new career based on playing John Munch in a dozen different shows but Kotto was the one who often held the show together.  Though Homicide was cancelled before it’s time, the show was allowed a reunion movie to tie up loose ends.  The movie ended with the death of Giardello and it felt appropriate because, as played by Yaphet Kotto, Giardello was the heart and the soul of the show.

Yaphet Kotto, a great actor, has left us but he will never be forgotten.

Artwork of the Day: Hollywood Hellcat (by Raymond Johnson)

by Raymond Johnson

This is a novel that was published under several different titles.  It was originally published in 1950 as Bedtime Blonde.  Then, in 1953, it was republished as Tempting Tigress.  And then, in 1956, it became Hollywood Hellcat.  According to the blurb, this is “the shocked story of what a woman must do to become a star.”

This cover was done by Raymond Johnson, who has been featured on this site may times in the past and who will be undoubtedly be featured many times in the future.

Music Video of the Day: Missionary Man by Eurythmics (1986, directed by Willy Smax)

I always assumed that Missionary Man was meant to be a specific attack on people like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell but, according to Annie Lennox, this song was actually inspired by her brief marriage to Radha Raman, a devout Hare Krishna.  The missionary man of the title is meant to represent anything or anyone that demands total and unquestioning belief, whether it’s the leader of a cult or a televangelist.  Still, when the song and this video originally came out, it was controversial because many interpreted it as specifically being an attack specifically on Christianity as opposed to an attack on fanaticism in general.  Regardless of how you interpret it, it’s still a rocking song.

This video came out shortly after the monster success of the video for Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer.  Stop motion animation was all the rage.