There are things you know about me: I'm cranky, I hate summer with a passion and I watch a lot of bad movies. But what you might not know is that I am a rabid fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Oh, sure, you might be able to guess, what with my patron saint being Tom Servo and all, but I don't think that does justice to the extent of my obsession.
I own 132 episodes of the show: all the box sets, all the single-releases, plus 55 more DVDs of episodes that I got from this site. (I also own 2 of the Film Crew DVDs, books by Kevin Murphy and Mike Nelson and a bunch of RiffTrax. And I really need to start acquiring stuff from Cinematic Titanic; I'm letting the Joel side down!)
What I'm trying to say here is that I am very fond of MST3K, and I thought it was time to share that love with you. Some episodes are particular favorites of mine (I could write a thesis on Mitchell), so those seemed logical to highlight.
Here, we examine episode 817, The Horror of Party Beach, one of the seemingly endless supply of mid-60s black-and-white monster movies. This one is special, though, because it's kind of a musical. And it fails quite spectacularly on both levels.
Honestly, we must ask ourselves: Is this the horror of Party Beach?
Screen shots shamefully snagged from badmovies.org, who actually watched the whole thing straight!
(Is it the horror of anything, really? Characters keep commenting on how it smells of rotten fish, as if the filmmakers understood that they had to ramp up the repulsion because the visual alone just wasn't cutting it.)
... or is this the horror of Party Beach?
Meet the Del-Aires. "Who?" you ask. Exactly. I don't know what's worst about this band: that their songs are bad, that there are so many of them throughout the movie or that they're catchy and stay in your head, where you absolutely don't want them. Damn band can't even lip-sync, fer Chrissakes.
Of course, this could also be the horror of Party Beach:
Okay, it's a dance number. Fine. But it lasts forever, and it doesn't even take a break when a fight breaks out; suddenly, it's like Cirque du Soleil is settling creative differences. Plus, it's scored by, of course, the Del-Dang-Aires.
But I'd say this is truly the horror of Party Beach:
Yes, it's one of those charming mid-60s movies that believed it was actually set in the mid-1860s. Eulabelle, the domestic employee of the scientist dude there, actually discovers how to kill the monsters (but she does it accidentally, of course; can't have the help thinking they've got deductive reasoning skills!). One thing I love about the MST3K treatment of this awful movie is that Mike and the bots give Eulabelle a sort of internal life and agency that she doesn't really have in the original material.
I really hope Shout Factory (the current publisher of the MST3K DVDs) releases Horror of Party Beach soon; it's got so much to offer. If you've seen it, feel free to leave some of your favorite memories or riffs in the comments!