In retrospect, it's nuts that my introduction to the world of Beach Party was the film Ski Party -- the main setting is different, the characters are different, and except for a quick gag where she plays a college professor who goes "parking" with students, no Annette Funicello. But boy oh boy what a flick! Frankie Avalon and Dwayne Hickman disguise themselves as ladies on a college co-ed trip to a ski lodge, with Hickman almost finding love with the big man on campus! A creaky idea? Maybe, but executed with fun, real wit -- and a Lesley Gore number! There's even a scene where our heroes choose not to stay the night with some girls they've duped because "the average age of this movie's audience is 14." Fun!
Not fun? The Beach Girls and the Monster, a cheapo horror-mystery about beach bums and their disappointed parents. There aren't enough beach girls to justify that title, really, while the conversations the movie attempts to have about the Generation Gap and Changing Times are embarrassing. I don't think the mystery holds up, either. Sue Casey plays an enjoyably boozey, acid-tongued wife, though. And Frank Sinatra, Jr., contributed to the soundtrack, so that's...something. This is not a Beach Party film, but it's clearly influenced by the success of that series.
Girl Happy is not a Beach Party movie -- not only is it a different studio entirely, but it stars Elvis Presley! Still, it's about some young 'uns who head to Fort Lauderdale for Spring Break. Elvis falls for his boss's daughter, and once you've seen Shelley Fabares in action, you will too. While she doesn't possess Ann-Margret's volcanic sexual energy, she's a natural comedienne who plays the hell out a drunken striptease scene. Girl Happy is more frank about sex than the Frankie & Annette flicks -- indeed, it's also more open to letting its women have a good time, without judgment. I like that! Yay for proud strippers!
Disappointingly enough, Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine was dull. From the team that brought you the Beach Party films comes another Frankie Avalon-Dwayne Hickman adventure, this time going up against mad scientist Vincent Price and his army of robot beauties. Price is game, but it's oddly listless.