The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini

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The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini
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
Editing by Eve Newman
Studio American International Pictures
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 also sings a song.


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]

This film was originally intended to star Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello in the roles that went to Tommy Kirk and Deborah Walley, and this is the only film in the series that doesn't feature either one of them. The movie was produced as The Girl in the Glass Bikini (the title was changed before release),[4][5] and this early title 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).

The movie was originally called Pajama Party in a Haunted House, and then later Slumber Party in a Haunted House and Bikini Party in a Haunted House. Beach Party regulars Jody McCrea and John Ashley were announced in the cast[6] but did not feature in the final film.[7] Buster Keaton was meant to reprise his role as the comic Indian but died before filming so his part was taken by Ben Rubin.[8] Other veterans who appeared were Francis X Bushman, Basil Rathbone and Patsy Kelly. Don Weis who had made Pajama Party for AIP, directed the film under a two-picture deal with AIP.

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.[9]

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.[9]

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.[9] 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][9] Neither Hart or Karloff worked with any members of the original cast; their scenes were edited into the existing footage.[10]

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.


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.[11]

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

Nancy Sinatra performs “Geronimo;” Quinn O'Hara performs “Don't Try to Fight It Baby;” and Piccola Pupa performs “Stand Up and Fight.”

The Bobby Fuller Four perform “Swing A-Ma Thing” and “Make the Music Pretty.”


The movie was a commercial disappointment - the New York Times described it as "a flop"[12] - and AIP made no further Beach Party films.[9] 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.[13]


  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. ^ 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. 
  5. ^ MOVIE CALL SHEET: SPIEGEL TO FILM 'SWIMMER' Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 19 Mar 1965: D13.
  6. ^ MOVIE CALL SHEET: JOAN STALEY SET FOR 'SCARED' Martin, Betty. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 03 July 1965: 17.
  7. ^ 'Lawrence' Team Reunited Martin, Betty. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 25 June 1965: C11.
  8. ^ Nat Cole Daughter Signed Martin, Betty. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 26 June 1965: 15.
  9. ^ a b c d e Tom Lisanti, Hollywood Surf and Beach Movies: The First Wave, 1959-1969, McFarland 2005, p282-294
  10. ^ Tom Weaver, "Susan Hart", Double Feature Creature Attack: A Monster Merger of Two More Volumes of Classic Interviews, McFarland, 2003 p 139-141
  11. ^ The Internet Movie Database entry for The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini [1]
  13. ^ 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

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