The Horror of Party Beach (1964)

Fifty-seven years ago today, the film The Horror of Party Beach premiered. It has been recognized by film critics as one of the worst films of all time. Doesn’t that make you want to watch it? Do you look away when you pass a car accident? No you don’t.

Title: The Horror of Party Beach
Directed by: Del Tenney
Produced by: Del Tenney and Alan V. Iselin
Written by: Richard Hilliard
Starring: John Scott, Alice Lyon, Allen Laurel, and Marilyn Clarke
Cinematography: Richard Hilliard
Edited by: Leonard De Munde, David Simpson, and Gary Youngman
Distributed by: Twentieth Century-Fox
Release date: June 1, 1964
Running time: 78 minutes
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $50,000

Near a small East Coast beach town, in broad daylight and a short distance from shore, a boat dumps a 55-gallon metal drum labeled “Danger Radioactive Waste” into the ocean. The drum opens upon reaching the bottom, releasing its contents upon a sunken ship and a nearby human skeleton. The skeleton is transformed by the “radioactive waste” into an aquatic, humanoid monster characterized by bulging eyes, fins, and mouth stuffed with appendages that resemble sausage links. The monster immediately ambulates toward the beach, where a dance party featuring The Del-Aires musical group is in progress.

Hank Green, an employee of local scientist Dr. Gavin, attends the beach party with Tina, his immature and drunk girlfriend. While dancing, Tina flirts with Mike, the leader of a motorcycle gang, as Hank talks with Dr. Gavin’s adult daughter Elaine. Following a scuffle, Hank and Mike shake hands and ignore Tina, who swims to a rock jetty. Shortly after arriving at the jetty, and as The Del-Aires perform “The Zombie Stomp,” Tina is attacked and killed by the monster. Tina’s body soon thereafter causes a commotion when it washes ashore, still covered in blood.

The police investigating Tina’s death enlist Dr. Gavin to “get to work on this.” Dr. Gavin, who proposes Carbon-14 tests as a means to investigate the genetic structure of a tissue sample, comforts Elaine about her romantic feelings toward Hank. Eulabelle, Dr. Gavin’s housekeeper and Mammy archetype, then suggests to Dr. Gavin that “the voodoo” is responsible for Tina’s death. Elaine later decides to skip a slumber party with her adult, female friends. The monster, now joined by additional monsters presumably derived from the same radioactive waste-mediated, skeleton transformation mechanism, subsequently attacks the slumber party, killing over 20 of the attendees. The local media – including a young newspaper vendor who repeatedly shouts “Extra! Extra! Read all about it!” – then begins to report the attacks.

An indeterminate time later, three female travelers driving through town on a remote road experience a flat tire. While attempting to replace the tire, they are attacked and killed by the monsters. As Hank and Elaine attend an evening dance party at the beach, with music again provided by The Del-Aires, one of the monsters stalks two young women who are walking through town. Frustrated when the women are picked up by a passing automobile before it can attack them, the monster instead attacks female mannequins on display in a storefront window, in the process severing its arm. Dr. Gavin and Hank later study the severed arm, which is still alive, with Dr. Gavin characterizing the muscle tissue as the taxonomically impossible “a sea anemone, a species of protozoa.” Although Dr. Gavin and Hank cannot devise a way to kill the arm, Eulabelle accidentally spills a container of impossibly-liquid metallic sodium on the arm, which kills it. Dr. Gavin thus realizes a chemical method for destroying the monsters: application of “plain old sodium.”

Two drunken men stumbling through town encounter a dead, mutilated man inside a parked truck. shocked upon what they see one of the drunks is shortly thereafter attacked and killed by the monsters, thus representing the only males killed by the monsters. Following a montage of additional women being attacked and killed, the police initiate unsuccessful searches for the monsters by tracking the latter’s trail of radioactive water. As Hank drives to New York City to obtain a supply of metallic sodium, Elaine performs her own search for the monsters at a local quarry, near where the female travelers were killed. Upon learning this, Dr. Gavin rushes off to assist Elaine, bringing a small amount of sodium with him. As Elaine is testing the quarry water, which registers as highly radioactive, she notices the emergence of a monster. Despite wearing dress shoes she manages to avoid an attack by walking away, but she then falls and becomes incapacitated by a bloody leg injury. Dr. Gavin arrives at her side and, by tossing sodium, kills an approaching monster in a fiery explosion. As additional monsters approach, Dr. Gavin engages one of them in extended Hand-to-hand combat. Hank then arrives with a large supply of sodium, kills the monster that is attacking Dr. Gavin (in the process badly burning Gavin), and with the assistance of police destroys the remaining monsters.

As a song by the Del-Aires plays on the radio, Hank later visits and nuzzles the recovering Elaine in her bedroom, wherein one of Eulabelle’s Voodoo dolls has been placed on a bedside table.

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