The Beach Girls and The Monster (1965)

There are some films where you just know the producer hammered two random things together in the hopes that the result would be entertaining. Snakes and planes, sharks and tornadoes, Nazis and any excuse to see them brutalised. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, and sometimes it doesn’t work on a level that just fills you with awe at the majestic beauty of how misshapen and proud the final creation is. There is no way you can convince me that the people behind “Beach Girls And The Monster” knew what they were doing, on any level, as no one could ever intentionally put together such an epic piece of ridiculousness. They just went “people like Beach Girls and Monsters… now go and write that script”.

The setup is delightfully straightforward; in the heady days of the mid-60s, the boys surf, the girls dance to rock and roll on the beach, and a bug-eyed monster eats anyone that comes close enough to its lair. They truly were simpler times, possibly due to the world consisting of three stages and a monoculture. Also, no one can act in this world; either because the characters are paper-thin or ridiculously over the top, and the surf-rock is never ending.

The story mostly follows Richard Lindsay (Arnold Lessing) as he decides to give up his career in science in favour of girls wearing incredibly pointy bras and constantly gyrating. His father, Dr. Otto Lindsay (Jon Hall), disapproves and his mother-in-law, Vicky (Sue Casey), spends her time sleeping with anything that moves (Yeah… that gets really creepy really quickly…). The bodies start mounting, in violent little vignettes that look Pythonesque in their absurdity, and the party never stops.

Eventually, the cops get involved – for what can only be explained as plot necessity – and Richard is suspected because of reasons. More partying happens, with some beards and bongos that should only be seen by an adult audience, and more attacks happen. Vicky gets creepier, the movie pauses for ten minutes to show some actually excellent surfboarding action, and you get drawn in deeper and deeper by the drums and the guitars and the sound of the sea. It’s truly hypnotic, or at least so non-sequester that it develops a dreamlike feel.

Finally, the last 20 minutes kick in and it all goes crazy. Bodies rack up, plotlines disappear, the monster stalks, people have foot-long bowie knives sitting by the kitchen sink, and the police shoot at anything that they want to stop and talk to. Twists happen, some of them earned and some of them just pulled out of a hat marked “neat ideas”. Somehow, they all manage to land (possibly through Stockholm Syndrome). Then, in one blinding moment, it’s all over, with nothing but a quick fanfare and “The End” before the movie heads off into the sunset, probably to go to one of those crazy teenager parties the film has heard so much about.

It’s difficult to describe quite how much fun these 70 minutes of nonsense are. It’s not a good film, not by any stretch, but it’s packed with so much indifference to technical ability, so many weird “did they actually just say that?” moments of poor scripting, randomly thrown in moments of people unrelated to the plot being really good at something, and just an unrelenting jour-de-vie that you eventually get into it’s groove and can’t stop watching. That’s probably helped by the ever-present surf-rock soundtrack being provided by The Hustlers, who were a legitimately excellent band, and that it constantly swings between inane beach antics, a fever-dream family drama, and what looks like Children’s BBC trying to do a monster horror film.

It works, it shouldn’t do but it does. It’s short, it’s got a clear goal, and it’s just bloody good fun. It’s the kind of Treasure that you find and keep and will never get rid of, but you’ll never be able to explain why. You’ve almost certainly got to be in the right mode for it, but it’s something that you’ll tell your mates to try and watch again and again with them whenever anyone agrees. You’ll be there, repeatedly; groaning along, tapping your feet, and wishing you knew how to surf.

The Raggedyman

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