DVD Review

“The Horror of Party Beach” & “The Curse of the Living Corpse”

By Dan Century

Del Tenney Double FeatureThe Horror of Party Beach was featured in episode 817 of Mystery Science Theater 3000. I wonder why they didn’t feature it sooner? The Horror of Party Beach is an absolute classic of exploitation cinema, which transcends the “beach party” genre adding horror, super science and voodoo to the mix.

The film begins with budding scientist and frat jock Hank Green arguing with his hose-monster girlfriend Rita. Hank wants to get serious about life, and Rita wants to beach party all the time – “You ain’t seen living ‘till you see Rita swing!”

Meanwhile, out at sea, the “Floating Pig” trash barge is dumping radioactive waste. Surprise! The movie takes place in Connecticut, not New Jersey or Los Angeles. Apparently, when you dump radioactive waste on human skeletons, sea life begins to grow around bones, and before you know it you’ve got 6 or 7 radioactive sea monsters to deal with. Sea monsters, or actors in costumes who stumble around like they can’t find the costume eye holes.

Back on the beach, the camera focuses on a woman’s shaking buttocks and one of the beach boys says: “Hey, that reminds me, did I bring my hotdog buns?” Hilarious!

Rita is on the loose, and horny to hook up. While Hank is off thinking about science, Rita is checking out a biker’s anatomy. This leads to a classic beach party film cliché: the fight scene between the clean cut jocks and the bikers. This happens in every beach party movie. During the fight scene Hank does a back flip and kick that looks more like spastic ballet than fighting.

Rita is confused and disgusted because Hank fights like Peter Pan and still managed to kick the biker’s ass, so she goes for a swim in the sea. Waiting in the ocean is one of the radioactive sea monsters that either brutally murders her or erotically massages chocolate frosting all over her body. Honestly, I couldn’t tell.

Rita is as dead as Hank’s libido, and it’s up to science to discover the answer why. Thankfully Hank’s mentor Dr. Gavin is an expert in Carbon 14 and genetic testing, and his maid Eulabelle is an expert in zombies and voodoo. Eulabelle is a classic B-Movie character – her constant jibber jabber about voodoo and zombies makes the film all the more enjoyable.

Nothing can slake the radioactive zombie sea monster’s thirst for blood, and soon they claim three “bad girls” lost in the woods (not sure how the creatures got from the beach to the woods), as well as 20 sorority girls who smell something “fishy” and mistake the sea monsters for frat boys. No movie stereotype is safe: screaming teenagers in pools and comical drunks get slaughtered too.

Fortunately the sea monsters are as dumb as a stack of dead fish, and one of them attacks a mannequin in a store window, slicing off one of its arms in the process. The arm seems to be made out of garbage and live centipedes. Kudos, props department! Dr. Gavin provides a lengthy, but riveting scientific explanation of how the creatures are actually humans whose flesh has been replaced by protozoa and sea anemones, and the reason why they need to drink blood is because they lack a human digestive system. Wow! Ironically voodoo-obsessed Eulabelle discovers the way to destroy the creatures when she inadvertently knocks a glass of liquid sodium on the severed arm. Apparently this isn’t the same kind of sodium that you find in the salt water the creatures come from.

Now they have a way to kill the monsters, and after some more pseudo-scientific expository dialog, they determine they can track the creatures with Geiger counters. At this point Hank drives to New York City to score some sodium, and as if to prove he’s actually in New York he passes the Guggenheim, the MET and Washington Square Park (in the correct order). All I can thinl is “why”? Why are we suddenly in the middle of Manhattan, when minutes ago we were at a beach full of blood thirsty monsters?

The film ends with a showdown with the monsters, as you would expect. If you enjoy B-Movie cheese like Plan 9 from Outer Space, the Horror of Party Beach is worth a look. The soundtrack, provided by a surf rock band called the Del-Aires, is sweet as well.

The Curse of the Living Corpse opens in 19th century New England at the funeral of Rufus Sinclair, patriarch of the Sinclair family. In the beginning moments of the film we witness the selfish Sinclair family violate all the stipulations of Rufus Sinclair’s last will and testament. Rufus feared that his family would bury him alive, and so he crafted a terrifying will to punish his family with terror. According to the will:

· His wife Abigail would die in a fire,
· His son Bruce – the first of many disappointments – would die with his face disfigured.
· His other son, the sickly Philip, would be choked or smothered to death.
· Vivian, Philip’s unfaithful wife, would drown.
· Cousin Robert would have his beloved wife take from him, and
· Seth, the handyman, would join Philip in his tomb.

Since all of them violated the will in the first scene, it was only a matter of time before the body count began. After a make out session in the tomb with Bruce, Letty the maid is relieved of her cranium by a cloaked phantom. Is Rufus really alive and back to murder his clan? It would seem so.

In the first of many classic, gristly scenes Letty’s head arrives in Bruce’s room served on a platter (instead of Bruce’s breakfast). Bruce remains cool and calm and reveals Letty’s head to Vivian while delivering the classic line “would you prefer a better menu?” Bruce convinces Vivian to aid in the disposal of Letty’s halves in a quicksand bog.

Before long Bruce is murdered, and his precious face is destroyed. At this point the family is certain that Rufus has risen from his tomb. The lawyer offers these gangster rap-like lines: “If he was buried alive you can be sure of one thing, by now he is hopelessly insane, a homicidal maniac bent on one thing, revenge by the most horrible means”. What means are those? Being forced to watch this movie twice? Just kidding – I’m actually enjoying this film.

The family enlists the aide of the bumbling local police. The best protection the police can offer is by helping Philip polish off a bottle of whiskey; “official procedure, just to make sure it hasn’t been tampered with.” As you might guess the murders continue until the end, which I won’t spoil for you because I think this is a rather good film and I think it’s worth seeing without further spoilers.

The Curse of the Living Corpse benefits greatly from the strength of the two lead actors, Roy “Jaws” Scheider and Robert Milli, as well as a fair amount of clever and quotable dialog – it’s a shame Del Tenny didn’t write more scripts. My favorite quote has to be: “The body is a long insatiable tube, in need of drink and relaxation”. There’s even some side boob action – about as good as it gets in 1964. The Curse of the Living Corpse is an enjoyable mystery that would make an excellent remake if Hollywood were looking for scripts to resurrect. Maybe they can remake it with gangsta rappers!

Contact Information:
Dark Sky Films
Post: MPI Media Group, 16101 S 108th Ave., Orland Park, IL, 60467, USA

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