It's no Creature from the Black Lagoon; nice DVD though!
Surfink | Racine, WI | 08/16/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"For some reason, American International Pictures never properly exploited the huge potential crossover appeal of their highly successful beach party and horror genres (witness the tepid Ghost in the Invisible Bikini). Attempting to fill this void, kiddie-show producers Edward Janis and Joan Gardner concocted this mildly enjoyable, very low-budget beach/horror item (fondly remembered as Monster from the Surf on TV). The story is primarily a dysfunctional-family melodrama: it seems oceanographer dad (Jon Hall) is losing his grip because son Richard (Arnold Lessing, looking rather more than teenaged) is being distracted from his studies by the surf and sand set, and also apparently because frustrated, shrewish wife Vicki (Sue Casey) is stepping out on him. Meanwhile, an alleged "sea monster" is bumping off errant teens (the minute a stray couple heads down the shore you know they're toast). The production is 'enhanced' somewhat by the participation of puppeteer/voice artist/sculptor Walker Edmiston (who plays the crippled sculptor Mark, wrote the song "Monster in the Surf," and sculpted the creature's head) and more so by surfing photographer Dale Davis, who supplied some nice footage of hot-dogging tube action. Also on the upside: BG&TM offers probably the largest chunk of halfway-decent instrumental surf music to make it onto a movie screen during the craze years (Dick Dale, The Pyramids, et al. were usually not allowed to play their best [instrumental] stuff in the Beach Party movies). The main title theme, repeated throughout the film (minus the horrendous opening vocals), and a "spooky" reverb guitar-and-sax theme actually hold up pretty well today. No musical group is credited so apparently these and the vaguely Brubeckian cocktail/spy-jazz cues are courtesy of Frank Sinatra Jr. (yes, THAT Frank Sinatra Jr.) The movie also generates a modicum of sleazy Adults Only ambience, mostly thanks to Ms. Casey, whose cold-eyed, acid-tongued demeanor begs comparison with Meg Myles in Satan in High Heels, Tura Satana in Faster Pussycat, and other definitive "bad girl" performances. And trash film junkies will have fun snickering at the Edwoodian dialogue ("I still believe that a human clawed that girl to death, not a fish, no matter how big"); ultra-chintzy, overlit monster suit; and some of the least convincing rear-projection driving scenes ever committed to film (check the size and trajectory of some of those following/passing vehicles!). Unfortunately, the homely beach girls, lacklustre party scenes, and cringeworthy vocal numbers and 'blackout' jokes cause one to reflect only on how brilliantly these elements were handled by William Asher in the AIP series. Cult status or no, "More Than Wanting You" is just lame, and the singing hand puppet is, well, a singing hand puppet. According to several of the principals, the film was actually directed 'by committee' and it shows. The writing, performances, editing, and continuity are consistently amateurish (watch the white MG transform into a different auto as it heads over the cliff in the finale); plot points are telegraphed by obvious, heavy-handed dialogue; and nominal director and star Jon Hall (looking puffy and bug-eyed) overacts wildly throughout. Hard to believe he was once the debonair ladies' man romancing Maria Montez on-screen. SF/horror fans will groan at the cop-out ending and the entire picture will most likely disappoint straights expecting an actual Good Movie. However, Beach Girls and the Monster does offer a sizable chunk of cheese for low-budget schlock aficionados to snack on. Makes a great double bill with Horror of Party Beach (still MIA on DVD).
Yet another fine Image/Wade Williams presentation, Beach Girls is offered here in probably the definitive DVD edition. The source print has been transferred in anamorphic widescreen, matted at 1.85:1, and other than some light speckling and blemishing, and sporadic, barely noticeable lining it looks great, with generally excellent brightness, contrast, sharpness, and shadow/highlight detail (limited at times by the quality of the original cinematography). The full-frame BG&TM trailer looks a little dupey but still very good, with only some light speckling apparent, and the usual five bonus WW Collection trailers are included in a cookie. The disc also features an extensive gallery of stills, on-set candids, and advertising art (some of the photos are in color), and an underwhelming eight-page extract from the original script in Adobe PDF format. The Dolby Digital 1.0 mono sound is clear and full, the main menu is nicely animated, and there are informative liner notes by Tom Weaver in the keep case. One of the nicer packages in the Image/Williams series. Three stars for the movie, five for the DVD, equals four overall."
Five star sedative
Al Benincasa | las vegas, NV USA | 08/07/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie used to play periodically on late Saturday night Philadelphia TV in the 60s. My family and I must have watched it at least a dozen times without ever seeing the end. It got to be a real joke. We used to watch for it in the listings, and every time it would play we would gather together in front of the tube resolving to stick it through to the end, only to fall asleep once again. Twenty years later I finally got to see the end, but I won't ruin it for you."
Janos Rukh | Eastern N.Y. | 07/09/2009
(1 out of 5 stars)
"BGATM is a wonderful low-budget entry from the 60's heyday of exploitation anything goes insanity (Horror Of Party Beach, The Flesh Eaters, Brain That Wouldn't Die). Unfortunately three versions of this film exist and all three sport different cuts. One would need all three versions to create a composite of the complete movie. Sadly, the Image disc is missing chunks of footage and is far from the definitive cut of this amusing time capsule. I hope one day somebody will care enough to present this movie in all it's delightful splendor, but I doubt it."