Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Psycho Beach Party (3¾ Stars)

Boy, there are a lot of twisted souls out there!

Even though this film was a box office flop, earning less than a quarter of its budget in the cinemas, it's considered by many to be a cult film. I won't try to explain what that means, because I'm not sure I understand it myself. Nevertheless, it's been a favourite rental film in video stores ever since it was released on disc. Maybe the film's title appeals to young people who want a movie night at home.

The film was made in 2000, but it's set in the 1960's, the decade of beach parties. Marvel Ann heads down to Malibu Beach in the sexiest bikini she dares to wear -- see above! -- to pick up boys. She takes her two best friends with her for company, nerdy Bernadine (on the left) and tomboy Florence (on the right). She tries to lose her friends when the surfers show up, but they embarrass her by joining in her conversations with the boys. Worst of all, Florence insists on learning to surf so that she can be one of the guys.

Unknown to the girls, there's a killer stalking the beach. Dead bodies are found each day, and not even the best work of the transvestite police detective Monica Stark can find the killer. Florence is suffering from a multiple personality disorder and suspects herself. But the killer may even be supernatural. There's a haunted house on the beach in which a whole family was slaughtered 20 years ago. The house has been empty ever since, but now it's being rented by Bettina Barnes, a big star in horror and science fiction films.

The film doesn't take itself too seriously. It parodies the surfing culture of the 1960's, including the brash sexism of the age. The lines are delivered with wooden precision. It's not too scary, it's not too funny, but it's cute. It's a good film for a movie night at home.

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