Wednesday, October 27, 2010

It's a Bikini World (Stephanie Rothman, 1967)

It's a Bikini World is an old surf movie that is the opposite of the nerdy-girl-gone-glamorous, in that alpha surf douche Mike Samson pretends to be the nerdy Herbert to scam on a girl, Delilah, who only likes smart guys. The main draws for me were the inclusion of Sid Haig as "Daddy" who does kustoms and runs "The Dungeon" and Lori Williams who appears briefly (unfortunately).

I think we all know where this one is going, with the "Samson and Delilah" reference and Mike's machismo going out the window. This can only end on a cliché. While Delilah spends her time with "Herbert" she is obsessed with showing up Mike.

Lori Williams briefly strolls through to deliver a comedic line and to be the hottest chick in the film.

This one is a tad different from the norm, in my limited experience with surf films. Rather than everyone being in high school, most of the regulars are supposed to be in college, which works because no one ever goes to class. Most of the actors look like they are easily thirty, but Williams was a mere twenty-one when this was released (two years after her biggest role in Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!).

Possibly the weirdest part was the music. It had all the typical teen sounds you'd expect. One soul group, a Beach Boys clone, a Rolling Stones clone, and then The Animals. I am not sure who convinced them to be in this. They had been around for a while, and House of the Rising Sun was a number one song in 1964. Here they do We Gotta Get Out of this Place which is completely inappropriate for the tone of the film. Everything is happy-go-lucky, pre-hippie southern California, and then Eric Burdon gets up in his crappy denim jacket and brings the mood way down. Now, I love the song, but really? There is next to no conflict in this film, no drinking, no drugs, and no money worries, but there are The Animals being cheered on by surf douches.

I sort of think the beach movie genre is the weirdest of all. It is formulaic to be sure, but it is so flexible. You need guys surfing, girls in bikinis doing the Watusi, and an older beatnik type. The main male and female lead have to have some issue to get past. Typically there is some fad that the squares don't understand (in this film it is skateboarding). Aside from that, anything goes. This one is pretty straight, but you can always throw Vincent Price in and make it a faux horror film (Doctor Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine), or Buddy Hackett and make a faux biker film (Muscle Beach Party), or just go violent and homoerotic like Psycho Beach Party.

Verdict: This one is a good textbook example of a beach movie, but if you are really interested in taking on the genre you might hit a Frankie and Annette movie first.


Copyboy said...

To me there can be only one beach blanket bingo...that's the name of the game. :)

Darius Whiteplume said...

I'd check more of these out if they were not all pretty much the same film :-) Annette is always a plus though ;-)

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