To fully appreciate Monster From Bikini Beach (US-2008; dir. Darin Wood) you have to take the “Truth in Advertising” approach to criticism. Look at the title. Right? Now what do you expect to find in this movie? Cheesy monsters? Bikini-clad beach bunnies? Trash cinema aesthetics? Okay, keep that in mind.
Monster From Bikini Beach is a pastiche of cheapie 1950s/60s B-grade exploitation flicks that fully knows that it has a minuscule budget, no subtext to speak of, actors of varying ability and a low-brow generic attitude toward narrative, artistic design and tonal ambiance. It has, in fact, embraced these things with enthusiasm, not simply of necessity but with deliberate intent. Therefore, what it offers is:
- Bikini-clad women dancing on a beach
- A “man-in-a-suit” monster — with an outrageously non-naturalistic design:
- Lots of spilt blood:
- And spaghetti guts:
- Plus bikini tops being removed, accompanied by lots of screaming:
- And gratuitous nudity (bare breasts mostly, of course):
And all of this in the pre-credit sequence!
Now if the above causes you to mutter tsshhh… rubbish and wonder where you left your copy of À la recherche du temps perdu, it’s probably fair to say that you shouldn’t watch this film or, if you do, you shouldn’t expect to get much enjoyment out of it. On the other hand, if you like cheap, energetic exploitation films from the ’50s and ’60s, you just might be on a winner.
In the township of Camaroville, which boasts the groovy Bikini Beach as its main attraction, a bunch of eager bikini-clad and body-painted beauties and their lusty partners have gathered to take part in a dance contest. With immaculate timing a terrible monster arises from the stereotypically murky depths — a primordial fiend whose over-sized claws and enormous mouth just can’t get enough of the local beach-blanket bingo. The story follows a crooked cop (Sammy Payday) and his naive squeeze as they try to score bigtime:
— and an eccentric, rather nerdy guy (Archie Barclay) and his attractive “I-wish-she-was-my-girlfriend” buddy, who realise the Truth early on and must work to Save the Party.
Will they be too late to stop the monster’s bloody rampage before the town is denuded of its bikini-wearing wildlife? Will they keep the monster away from the big televised final of the Dance Contest?
(If you answered that last question in the positive, just wait on a sec ’cause I’ve got Marcel Proust’s phone number here somewhere and I know he’d love to talk to you.)
It should be said that though the low-end nature of the project is sometimes apparent in various technical aspects of production — lighting, sound recording, SFX (though the gore and dismemberment is more than adequate for the genre), variable acting ability, occasional flat sections of narrative and some overkill in the dialogue (see Sammy Payday’s final soliloquy) — the cast, crew and director Wood do a smashing job with what they’ve got, and the result is an enjoyable way to pass the time — but only, as I’ve said, if you like this sort of thing.
In fact, Stephen Vargo as Sammy Payday and Galen Howard as Archie Barclay bring an eccentric and sometimes [endearingly] awkward energy to their roles that makes the whole thing less stereotypical than it might have been.
Other positives are lots of groovy beach music and the groovy retro design:
Oh, did I mention the cool monster?
and the gore?
It’s lots of trashy fun. If you get the chance, see it at a fleapit cinema near you!
- Official website: Trash Film Orgy Productions