Dear Readers, I am partial to horror and monster musicals, especially the dark and beautiful ones like Phantom of the Opera, Jekyll & Hyde, Dracula the Musical. I love the campy fun shows like Rocky Horror Picture Show, Bat Boy the Musical, Little Shop of Horrors. I even enjoy the awful musicals like Repo! the Genetic Opera, Cannibal the Musical.
The Tagline for The Horror at Party Beach is, “the first horror monster musical.” In American musical theater history, the musical Showboat is the first musical play, it defined musical theater’s format. The format we think of when you think of musical theater. Yes, there were musicals before Showboat, but Showboat is the prototype for a show we associate with musical theater. Actually, The Horror of Party Beach is not the first horror monster musical film, that tagline is also on the poster for The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Zombies and released one month prior to Party Beach! Is it possible that these films are significant to horror monster musical cinema? Good question, it takes a lot of research to answer that question.
Readers: If you know of a monster musical film predating or post-dating these two, let me know!
So let me give you a quick plot synopsis: radioactive, toxic waste dumped off the coast, lands on a human skeleton creating a Protozoa Anemone Zombie.
(Wait, a what? How can an anemone be a protozoan organism?)
Sometimes there is one monster, sometimes as many as six. How ever many there are in the shot, they are invincible!
This movie features a Stripping Drunk Girl! A Biker in a Beret! Radioactive Nuclear Waste! Atomic Sea Monsters! Voodoo Dolls! Dismembered Body Parts! High Body Count! Folk Singing Slumber Parties! Rock Music! Speedo Bikini Clad Male Dancers! And, the filmmakers had the audience sign a release promising not to hold the theater liable if they die of fright. It sounds pretty exciting, doesn’t it? Well, to be honest, the film is better in theory than it is in execution.
As it turns out most of the cast were not professional actors, they were locals and friends and family of the crew. The book Return of the B Science Fiction and Horror Heroes: The Mutant Melding of Two Volumes of Classic Interviews has an interview with Director Del Tenney. According to Tenney, with a budget of $120,000 both The Horror of Party Beach and its co-feature The Curse of the Living Corpse were shot back to back in two weeks. Much of the Party Beach cast were local college students and friends.
Eulabelle Moore playing Eulabelle the maid is the film’s best actor. Ms. Moore had a legit background, starring in the original Broadway productions of A Streetcar Named Desire, You Can’t Take it With You, and The Skin of Our Teeth (among other shows), she is the indirect hero, and accidentally discovers sodium is the way to stop the monsters. Wait a minute, this unkillable monster can be destroyed only with sodium? Isn’t there sodium in the ocean? Can someone please explain why sodium is fatal to a sea creature? There is sodium in the sea. But it is not the only salt in the sea, nor is it the most present salt in the sea. On average, for every 1000g of seawater there are .035 grams sodium. The sea is 3.5% sodium. On average, the human body is 4% sodium. If we assume the sodium liquid Eulabelle, the maid, knocks over in the lab is 100% sodium, then it is plausible that 100% sodium is fatal to a Protozoa Anemone Zombie. Even if the Protozoa Anemone Zombie lives in the sea.
My other favorite was Marilyn Clarke as Tina (the drunk party girl). Sadly, she dies in the first ten minutes of the film. She has the best line in the film:
If that’s the way you want it, you go your way and I’ll go mine and we’ll see who gets the most out of life. Oh, brother, you ain’t seen living ’til you’ve seen Tina swing!
The film goes downhill after her death.
One the three female tourists is the costumer (no, she did not make that monster, don’t get excited). The gas station attendant they flirt shamelessly with is the director Del Tenney.
Robert Verberkmoes designed the creature. Tenney was unhappy with the design, but Verberkmoes thought it was funny, so they kept the creature as-is. I forgot to mention the best part: the monster looks like a pencil topper from the dentist’s prize box!
The best element is the soundtrack, The Del-Aires, a New Jersey-based surf-guitar band, provide cute fun songs: Drag, The Zombie Stomp, and Wigglin’ and Wobblin’.
The bikers consist one principal actor and The Charter Oaks Motorcycle Club. A real motorcycle club! The Charter Oaks Motorcycle Club from Connecticut is still an active group. Their website does not disclose much information. I discovered they host a summer beach party! Working with an actual motorcycle club, as opposed to actors, proved problematic for the production.
Tenney originally blocked a drag race for the film. When the cameras rolled, one of the guys decided he wanted to be up front. He pushed forward on the bike and caused an accident, injuring several people, including one of the film’s principal actors. The actor suffered a spinal injury and hospitalized for three months. Rather than re-cast, Tenney finished the film without that character.
Youtube has the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version.
Until our next installment,
MST3K The Horror at Party Beach: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=TF8MIZwb8ws
Weaver, Tom. Return of the B Science Fiction and Horror Heroes: The Mutant Melding of Two Volumes of Classic Interviews. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland Classics, 2000. Print.