Director: Robert Lee King
USA - 2000
Psycho Beach Party is an attempt to recreate and lampoon the beach party horror
films from the days of yore. Thought-provoking satire, witty dialogue, sharp humor
these are all qualities Psycho Beach Party lacks.
Lauren Ambrose plays Chicklet Forrest a girl struggling with her gender, boys in
general, girls in general, the fact that girls
arent supposed to surf, and a minor case of delusional schizophrenia. She acts
naïve and silly for the most part, but when another personality takes over, wackiness
ensues: naughty words, blunt sexual connotations, and jive talking. Look! That white
girl is talking jive! Har har.
Danni Wheeler plays Berdine Chicklets best friend before she started
hanging out with the surfer crowd. Has a secret crush on Chicklet, but is considered
unattractive because of her glasses. I always love it when they put glasses on an
attractive girl to create the "ugly" look. Such a masterful make-over.
Thomas Gibson plays Kanaka the resident surf legend who always talks in rhyme
(anyone besides myself remember Wordsworth?). Falls for one of Chicklets alter-egos.
Nicholas Brendon plays Starcat a surfer in Kanakas gang, and
Chicklets love interest.
Kimberley Davies plays Bettina - a former b-movie star who befriends our surfing heroes
and resides in a beachside haunted house.
Matt Keeslar plays Lars a Swedish exchange student who lives at the Forrest
home. You can tell hes foreign because of his unbelievably thick accent and lack of
knowledge pertaining to American social skills (i.e. common sense).
Charles Busch plays Captain Monica Stark the police chief in charge of
investigating the rash of bizarre murders that have been plaguing the beach. As the two
names imply, Captain Stark is obviously a man dressing up as woman. Why? Because its
Nick Cornish and Andrew Levitas play (respectively) Yo Yo and Provoloney two
more surfers from Kanakas gang. They look macho and tough, but are riddled with
sexual ambiguity. Thats "funny" too. The name "Provoloney" is
probably a reference to the character being Italian. Again, "funny."
Beth Broderick plays Mrs. Forrest Chicklets Mom. Prim and proper on the
outside, but sexual repression is about to make her explode.
The Killer - unfortunately, not Chow Yun-Fat. Has a thing against the handicapped. When
identity is revealed, severe disappointment rears its ugly head.
Spoofs are a tough genre to tackle. If done correctly, the humor can be razor-sharp,
the criticism poignant. Heck, if youre really good, you can even sneak a message in
there. But for every positive there is (at the very least) one negative. In other words,
if done poorly, spoofs can suck eggs. Psycho Beach Party,
unfortunately, falls into the latter category. It tries to be funny. It tries to be sharp.
It tries to be satirical. It fails.
For one thing, the damn movie just isnt funny. I can count on one hand the number
of times I laughed. Actually, "laugh" may prove too strong a word.
"Chuckle" might suffice. Not an open-mouth chuckle, mind you. More along the
lines of a couple casual snickers. Did I miss something? Am I wrong to think that spoofs
are supposed to be, at the very least, humorous? Psycho Beach Party,
instead, substitutes humor with dullness, a lack of action, and an abundance of unfunny
jokes. Trust me, I know what isn't funny.
The predominant gag of the film are the not-so-subtle homosexual overtones. Again, if
applied correctly, this could have provided some great gags. Some serious knee-slappers. I
mean, think of all those Frankie Avalon and "Skippy" Funicello movies where the
girls were ga-ga for the guys, and the guys were ga-ga in return. There was no gray
matter, only black and white. Well, what if Frankie didnt fall for Annette?
Instead, maybe he had a thing for Cubby? That would surely add a bit of friction during Beach Blanket
Bingo. In this film, however, said overtones are executed ham-handedly. King beats the
viewer over the head. Look! These two guys are always wrestling each other, even when a
hot chick is running around in a bikini! Theyre HOMOSEXUALS! Oh, you dont get
it yet? Ok, well add yet another guy to the equation who sprays the sparring couple
with baby oil as they grapple. Theyre HOMOSEXUALS, I tell ya! Actually, the baby oil
bit was kind of a hoot. But only a minor hoot.
And though I may not be the most politically-correct guy in the world, I have to admit
that I was a little offended by the films portrayal of Lars. Over the course of many
years I have had the privilege of hosting several exchange students in my home. Weve
had Swiss people who know nothing about cheese; weve housed Japanese
people who have had little to no interaction with Gamera; and we even had Germans who
despised David Hasselhoff! Can you believe it? They hated David Hasselhoff! But in
all fairness, Im probably going a little overboard on my dislike of Lars; I think it
stems from all the experiences Ive had with my fellow Americans asking the
aforementioned exchange students stupid questions. Once, during Drivers Ed., some
moron asked the Swiss kid, "Do they have cars in Switzerland?" to which Achille
replied, "No, we ride goats." Man, people never cease to amaze me.
Two words: No monsters. Let me get this straight, a group of teens (not actually teens,
but they play them on TV) frolicking, partying, and dancing (poorly) on the beach - but no
monster? No radioactive mutant rising from the depths to seek its revenge against the
pollutant-riddled society that spawned it? No hockey-masked freak running around
hacking up fornicating young uns with a cuisinart? No crazed
alligator/shark/whatever picking off young surfers from the waves? Whats going on
around here?! Who ever heard of a beach-themed horror movie that doesnt feature some
kind of menacing beastie? And not only do they lack a creature, but they replace the
necessary abomination with one of the worst killers that comes to recent memory. When you
finally discover the perpetrator of the films nefarious deeds, you too will be
So, if youre looking for a throwback to the good ole days of beach movies, or
perhaps a horror movie, or even a nutty spoof, with Psycho Beach Party, youll
be barking up the wrong tree. Its not scary, has no nostalgic value, and perhaps
most importantly, its not funny. Not at all.
- Mrs. Forrest preaches throughout the film about how women are supposed to stay home,
clean laundry and indulge in needlepoint, yet towards the end, she throws all of her
domestic morals out the window for a tryst with Lars. So first shes the model of
domestic tranquility, then suddenly shes running around in nothing but a bra trying
to tackle the Swedish stud. Irony! Komedy! Oh, my sides!
- Is that a testicle in his mouth?!
Words to live by:
"Just look at these urine stains! They may never come out completely!"
"There are ghosts, all right. I feel it in my nuts."
Q: "Are you incognito?"
A: "No, Im German-Irish!"
some of your hard-earned cash!
-- Copyright © 2000 by J. Bannerman