The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini

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The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini
Ghostinvisiblebikini.jpg
Directed by Don Weis
Produced by Samuel Z. Arkoff
James H. Nicholson
Written by Louis M. Heyward
Elwood Ullman
Starring Deborah Walley
Tommy Kirk
Basil Rathbone
Aron Kincaid
Quinn O'Hara
Boris Karloff
Jesse White
Dwayne Hickman
Music by Les Baxter
Cinematography Stanley Cortez
Edited by Eve Newman
Production
company
Distributed by AIP
Release dates
April
  • 1966 (1966)
Running time
82 min.
Country United States
Language English
Budget $600,000[1]
Box office $1.5 million (est. US/ Canada rentals)[2]

The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini is the seventh (and last) of the American International Pictures (AIP) beach party films and was released in 1966. The entire film takes place in and around a haunted house with no beach in sight, with the teenage gang instead cavorting in and around it and the adjacent swimming pool.

Besides the usual bikini-clad cast, random singing, silly plot line, musical guests, and ridiculous chases and fight scenes, the continuity linking this to the other beach films is the Rat Pack motorcycle gang led by Eric Von Zipper (Harvey Lembeck), as well as the appearance of previous beach party alumni Tommy Kirk, Deborah Walley, Bobbi Shaw, Jesse White, Aron Kincaid and Boris Karloff.[3]

Pop singer Nancy Sinatra, who was on the rise at the time just before the film was released, has a supporting role and performs one song written for the film; and the Bobby Fuller Four appear as themselves and sing two songs. Claudia Martin, daughter of Dean Martin, co-stars in the film as Lulu. The briefly famous Italian starlet Piccola Pupa appears as herself and sings a song.

Synopsis[edit]

The ghost of recently dead Mr. Hiram Stokley (Boris Karloff) finds that he has 24 hours to perform one good deed to get into Heaven. He enlists the help of his long dead girlfriend, Cecily, to stop his lawyer, Reginald Ripper (Basil Rathbone), and a henchman from claiming the estate for themselves. The real heirs, Chuck, Lili, Hiram's cousin Myrtle, and her son bring their beach party friends to the mansion for a pool party while Reginald Ripper also employs his daughter Sinistra, and J. Sinister Hulk's slow-witted associates Chicken Feather and Yolanda to help them terrorize the teens, while dopey biker Eric Von Zipper and his Malibu Rat Pack bikers also get involved in pursuing Yolanda for a share of the Stokley estate.

Principal cast[edit]

The Rat Pack[edit]

  • Harvey Lembeck .... Eric Von Zipper
  • Andy Romano .... J.D.
  • Alberta Nelson .... Puss
  • Myrna Ross .... Boots
  • Jerry Brutsche .... Jerome
  • Bob Harvey .... Bobby
  • John Macchia .... Joey
  • Allen Fife .... Beard

Production notes[edit]

Development[edit]

The project originated as Pajama Party in a Haunted House being first announced by AIP in January 1965. It was part of a line up of Beach Party-linked projects from the studio, the others including Beach Blanket Bingo, How to Stuff a Wild Bikini, Ski Party, Sergeant Deadhead, The Chase Jet Set Party, and a Beach Party TV series.[5] (The last three of those announced were never made.)

It was also known in development as The Girl in the Glass Bikini and was originally to star Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon, and be directed by William Asher.[6][7][8] The title of Girl in the Glass Bikini can be seen in the promo in the end credits for Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine, an AIP spy spoof loosely affiliated with the Beach Party series (with "beach" alumni Avalon, Walley, Dwayne Hickman, and Susan Hart).

By June 1965 Don Weis was announced as director. He had made Pajama Party for AIP, and did it under a two-picture deal with the studio. [9] Louis M. Heyward, who had also worked on Pajama Party, wrote the script.

During filming, the movie was also called Bikini Party in a Haunted House[10]

Casting[edit]

Although Avalon and Funicello had been announced as the stars originally, neither appeared in the final film (it remains the only movie in the series to not feature either.) Walley signed in June 1965, and was soon followed by Nancy Sinatra and Claudia Martin.[11] Beach Party regulars Jody McCrea, Harvey Lembeck and John Ashley were also originally announced in the cast[12][13] with Buster Keaton signing to reprise his role as a comic Indian.[14]

Keaton died before filming began and his role was taken by Ben Rubin. Ashley and McCrea did not appear in the final film, the male leads being played by Tommy Kirk and Aron Kincaid, both of whom at worked for AIP before.

Other veteran actors who appeared were Francis X Bushman, Basil Rathbone and Patsy Kelly.[15] The movie was reportedly Bushman's 435th.[16] Elsa Lanchester was originally announced to be playing a small role[17] but did not appear in the final film.

Piccolo Pupa was a 13 year old discovery of Danny Thomas.[18] The movie marked her film debut.[19]

Filming[edit]

The shoot began in September 1965. On the first day of filming, a grip on the film crew fell to his death from a catwalk.[20]

Aron Kincaid, who was forced to participate in the film under his long-term contract with AIP, was supposed to perform two musical numbers but these scenes were dropped. After filming was completed, a number of the cast went to the Disney Ranch to film the opening number, Bikini Party in a Haunted House sung by Kincaid and Piccola Pupa.[20]

The stunt scene of Eric Von Zipper crashing his motorcycle into a pond was used again in the first Billy Jack film, The Born Losers (1967), also produced by AIP.

Addition of Karloff/Hart Sequences[edit]

James H. Nicholson and Samuel Z. Arkoff of AIP were not happy with the original cut of the film and subsequently ordered reshoots several weeks after the completion of principal photography, including addition of a new plot involving an old man who has to perform a good deed in order to gain eternal youth, and a sexy ghost in an invisible bikini who helps him. The old man was played by Boris Karloff and the ghost by Nicholson's wife Susan Hart.[20] The movie was retitled Ghost in the Invisible Bikini.

Hart shot her scenes wearing a blonde wig and black velvet bathing suit, shot against a black velvet backdrop. They were directed by editor Ronnie Sinclair. Hart worked for two weeks on her own, then for a week with Boris Karloff. Karloff's scenes were all filmed in a one-room mausoleum set on a separate soundstage. For his scenes, Karloff is clearly standing in a bottomless coffin, rather than sitting up in it, a necessity given his chronic back problems and leg brace.[citation needed][20] Neither Hart or Karloff worked with any members of the original cast; their scenes were edited into the existing footage.[21]

Music[edit]

Les Baxter composed and conducted the musical score. Al Simms was the musical supervisor, and Albert Harris composed some additional music and served as the film’s orchestrator.[22]

Guy Hemric and Jerry Styner wrote five songs that appear in the film:

  • "Geronimo" performed by Nancy Sinatra
  • "Don't Try to Fight It Baby" performed by Quinn O'Hara
  • "Stand Up and Fight" performed by Piccola Pupa
  • "Swing A-Ma Thing" performed by The Bobby Fuller Four
  • "Make the Music Pretty" performed by The Bobby Fuller Four

Reception[edit]

The film was released in April 1966.

Critical[edit]

The Los Angeles Times said the film "had little to distinguish itself from its predecessors beyond the rumour that this beach party romp... will be the last in AIP's long proliferating series... Old timers give the picture some class."[23]

Box Office[edit]

The movie was a commercial disappointment - Vincent Canby in the New York Times described it as "a flop"[24] - and AIP made no further Beach Party films.[20]

Louis M Heyward later said he "wasn't really happy" with the film, as "there was no reason for it to be made, other than Jim's [James H. Nicholson's] trying to prove that he could make Susan Hart into a star.[25]

Philip Bent, who had a small role, died soon after the film was released in a plane crash in July 1966.[26] The same month Bobby Fuller also died.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Samuel Z Arkoff & Richard Turbo, Flying Through Hollywood By the Seat of My Pants, Birch Lane Press, 1992 p 129
  2. ^ "Big Rental Pictures of 1966", Variety, 4 January 1967 p 8
  3. ^ Stephen Jacobs, Boris Karloff: More Than a Monster, Tomohawk Press 2011 p 470-471
  4. ^ Lawrence' Team Reunited Martin, Betty. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 25 June 1965: C11.
  5. ^ Christus Portrayal No Longer 'Types': Own Career Cited by Hunter; Happy Days for Freelancers Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 22 Jan 1965: c11.
  6. ^ MOVIE CALL SHEET: Spiegel to Film 'Swimmer' Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 19 Mar 1965: D13.
  7. ^ McParland, Stephen J. (1994). It's Party Time - A Musical Appreciation of the Beach Party Film Genre. USA: PTB Productions. p. 118. ISBN 0-9601880-2-9. 
  8. ^ MOVIE CALL SHEET: SPIEGEL TO FILM 'SWIMMER' Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 19 Mar 1965: D13.
  9. ^ Knotts 'Running Scared' Martin, Betty. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 23 June 1965: D11.
  10. ^ Film Packager Plans Comedy Martin, Betty. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 09 Oct 1965: a9.
  11. ^ Triple-Threat Man Signed Martin, Betty. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 24 June 1965: d12.
  12. ^ MOVIE CALL SHEET: JOAN STALEY SET FOR 'SCARED' Martin, Betty. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 03 July 1965: 17.
  13. ^ MOVIE CALL SHEET: Mineo Forms Film Outfit Martin, Betty. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 23 Aug 1965: C22.
  14. ^ Nat Cole Daughter Signed Martin, Betty. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 26 June 1965: 15.
  15. ^ Poitier Plans Film Safari in Africa Hopper, Hedda. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 26 Aug 1965: D13.
  16. ^ Bushman to Star in No. 435 Briggs, Andrew. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 17 Sep 1965: d11.
  17. ^ MOVIE CALL SHEET: Paul Ford Set for Comedy Martin, Betty. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 02 July 1965: d10.
  18. ^ THE TV SCENE: Danny Thomas Rich by Accident Smith, Cecil. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 13 Nov 1964: C18.
  19. ^ Waterloo' Set Next Year Martin, Betty. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 07 Oct 1965: D16.
  20. ^ a b c d e Tom Lisanti, Hollywood Surf and Beach Movies: The First Wave, 1959-1969, McFarland 2005, p282-294
  21. ^ Tom Weaver, "Susan Hart", Double Feature Creature Attack: A Monster Merger of Two More Volumes of Classic Interviews, McFarland, 2003 p 139-141
  22. ^ The Internet Movie Database entry for The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini [1]
  23. ^ 'The Ghost' a Romp at Beach Harford, Margaret. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 22 Apr 1966: c9.
  24. ^ SERIES OF MOVIES ON CYCLISTS NEAR: SMALL COMPANY FINDS GOLD IN HOODLUMS' BEHAVIOR By VINCENT CANBY. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 22 Nov 1966: 32.
  25. ^ Tom Weaver, Michael Brunas, John Brunas, "Louis M. Heyward", Science Fiction Stars and Horror Heroes: Interviews with Actors, Directors, Producers and Writers of the 1940s through 1960s, McFarland 1991 p 160
  26. ^ Actor and Folksinger Killed In Crash of Plane on Coast New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 13 July 1966: 20.

External links[edit]