tek's rating: ¾

Psycho Beach Party (unrated)
Badmovies.org; IMDb; Rotten Tomatoes; Strand Releasing; TV Tropes; Wikipedia
streaming sites: Amazon; Google Play; iTunes; Vudu; YouTube

This came out in 2000, but I didn't see it until 2022, as the capper for my summer of beach movies (and as part of the Halloween season). It's based on an off-Broadway play, which I've never seen. The movie is mostly a spoof of Gidget, but I would say some of the embellishments' zaniness is a bit reminiscent of the Beach Party movies. Actually, I think much of the film's comedic sensibility puts me in mind of John Waters movies, even though I haven't seen many of those. I really enjoyed the redonkulousness of this movie, though I couldn't say how much that was enhanced by the beer I was drinking. Maybe I'd like it just as much if I were sober, maybe not. I also want to say I don't think there was really enough horror in the movie. That element seems secondary to the main plot, which itself felt pretty random.

There's a 16-year-old girl named Florence Forrest (Lauren Ambrose), who has a best friend named Berdine. They go to the beach with their friend Marvel Ann (Amy Adams), who is on a man hunt. But Florence becomes more interested in learning to surf. Unfortunately, none of the male surfers want to teach her. They include a guy called Starcat (Nicholas Brendon, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer), who starts dating Marvel Ann. He has a rather antagonistic relationship with Florence, but they eventually develop feelings for each other. Oh, and the surfers all start calling Florence "Chicklet". She also meets a surfer called the Great Kanaka (Thomas Gibson, whom I know best from Dharma & Greg). Now, I need to tell you that Florence has multiple personalities, the main one being Ann Bowman, who is very aggressive, like some kind of old-school gangster. This turns Kanaka on, because he is a closeted submissive, and wants to be dominated by Ann. Unfortunately for him, Ann never sticks around for long before Florence reverts to her real personality and has no memory of time spent as Ann (or any other personality). So Kanaka spends a lot of the movie trying to get Ann to reemerge, while also teaching Florence to surf. Meanwhile, the surfers and the girls meet a B-movie actress named Bettina Barnes, who is hiding out on the beach until the Hollywood studio she works for agrees to certain demands. She's staying in a beach house that is supposedly haunted because of murders that happened there years ago. And Berdine gets a job as Bettina's assistant, after becoming jealous of all the time Florence is spending with her new surfer "friends".

And speaking of murders... there is currently a murderer on the loose, so a number of people are killed throughout the movie. This is being investigated by police captain Monica Stark (Charles Busch, who wrote the play and the movie). I have to say, I'm not sure if Captain Stark is meant to be in drag, or a transgender woman, or actually a cisgender woman who just happens to be played by a man. I suppose it's not important, but whatever the case, it adds to the camp value of the movie (of which there is a lot). Florence begins to wonder if she herself might be the killer, because of her frequent blackouts. Another possible suspect is Florence's mother, Ruth (Beth Broderick), who is kind of a perfectionist, and Captain Stark comes to realize the victims all had flaws of various kinds. And... there's just so much other random stuff going on in the movie. There are a pair of surfers named Provoloney and Yo-Yo, who obviously have feelings for each other, though for most of the movie they seem oblivious to their own feelings, or just in denial. And there's a girl in a wheelchair named Rhonda, who is mean to everyone. And Florence and Ruth have a Swedish exchange student named Lars staying with them. And... I don't know what else to tell you.

I wouldn't want to call this a "good" movie. It's certainly less culturally significant than the movies it parodies. But I still found it a bit more entertaining than any of those movies. It's just so weird, it can't help but be fun. (If you're into that kind of thing.)

B-movies index
surf & beach index
teen comedy index