by Patrick Bromley
I love the Beach Party movies. I do not love them ironically in a 'so bad they're good' way. I genuinely love them -- the energy, the music, the unabashed fun of them all. I recognize that many of them are not very good, particularly the later entries like Ghost in the Invisible Bikini or the otherwise-unrelated Ski Party (more a knock-off than an official entry). The series got loosier, sillier and, unfortunately, even dopier as it went along. That's saying a lot about a group of movies that were hardly Casablanca to begin with.
As the fifth Beach Party movie in only two years, 1965's Beach Blanket Bingo suffers from many of the same issues that plague the late-period efforts. It's broad. It's cartoonish. It is less a story than a series of scenes that hang together on the basis of some songs and the fact that all the scenes are set at the beach. I know these things and I love it anyway. I'm not a monster.
So, yes, it's ridiculous, and only gets more so as the movie introduces things like skydiving sequences comprised of mostly stock footage and mermaids and the villainous South Dakota Slim (Timothy Carey, best known to me as the heavy in The Monkees' Head) setting up a full on "Perils of Pauline" by tying up Sugar Kane and moving her on a belt towards a buzzsaw. It has all the realism and gravitas of a Scooby-Doo episode -- and all the guest stars, too. While I might prefer the more straightforward approach of the original Beach Party, it's not as though Beach Blanket Bingo has gotten the series so far off track. By the third film (1964's Bikini Beach) we were already getting super smart monkeys and Frankie Avalon in a dual role as both Frankie and British pop star/drag racer "Potato Bug." Throwing a mermaid into the mix just seems like the next logical step.
If you've never seen a Beach Party movie, this is not the one to start you off. Better to go in chronological order and work your way towards the skydiving and the mermaids. This one is more for advanced studies. I love it just the same. How exciting (for me) that we live in a time in which these are finally getting upgraded to Blu-ray.
Blu-ray release date: February 17, 2015
DTS HD 2.0 Master Audio (English)
Bonus Feature: Trailer
Buy Beach Blanket Bingo from Olive Films here