The Horror of Party Beach
|The Horror of Party Beach|
Theatrical release poster.
|Directed by||Del Tenney|
|Produced by||Del Tenney
Alan V. Iselin
|Written by||Richard Hilliard|
|Editing by||Leonard De Munde
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox
Regal Films and Dark Sky Films
|Release dates||June 1, 1964|
|Running time||78 min|
The Horror of Party Beach (working title Invasion of the Zombies) is a 1964 horror film in the beach party genre, directed by B-movie maven Del Tenney, which Tenney himself describes as "a take-off on beach parties and musicals". The original theatrical release of the film paired it with another Del Tenney feature, The Curse of the Living Corpse, in a studio-sanctioned double feature. 
A small East Coast beach town experiences a wave of attacks from creatures derived from water plants and dead human tissue mutated from radioactive waste. The monsters coalesced into humanoid form by attaching themselves to skeletons in a shipwreck. They immediately proceed to hunt down and kill (mostly young) women, as is common in the horror films of this era. Despite the murders committed by the monsters, young women in large numbers conveniently keep returning to the area for activities like slumber parties. Trying to stop the monsters are scientist Dr. Gavin, his young-adult daughter Elaine, and her boyfriend (and Dr. Gavin's employee) Hank Green, with some unexpected assistance from housekeeper Eulabelle and metallic sodium.
The Horror of Party Beach was included as one of the choices in the 1978 book The Fifty Worst Films of All Time.
The movie starts with Hank and his immature girlfriend, Tina, driving to the beach. Tina is drinking alcohol. Hank expresses disapproval and they argue. Meanwhile, a boat dumps toxic waste into the ocean, which lands on a sunken ship and the skull of a dead sailor, which transforms slowly into a half-human, half-fish monster. The monster then proceeds to make its way to the surface.
A party is going on at the beach, with music played live by The Del-Aires. The party catches the attention of a motorcycle gang. Tina starts flirting with the leader, Mike, while Hank talks with Elaine. Hank tries to take Tina away, but Mike starts a fight with him. Hank wins, and Mike accepts his defeat. Tina tries to apologize to Hank, but he leaves. Mike is then taken home by his gang. Tina then decides to go for a swim out to some rocks far away from the beach. She is attacked and killed by the monster. The sight of her body causes commotion on the beach.
Elaine worries about Hank since Tina's death, and is reassured by her father, Dr. Gavin. Eulabelle, Dr. Gavin's housekeeper, suggests that some kind of voodoo is responsible for Tina's death. Gavin refuses to believe this. Later that night, Elaine cancels going to a slumber party with her friends. The monsters, whose numbers have increased, attack the slumber party and kill most of the girls. This news spreads quickly.
Three female travelers drive through the town on their way to New York. They get a flat tire while going past Fingel's Quarry. While attempting to fix the tire, they are killed by the monsters. One of the monsters stalks two girls in town, and is enraged when they are picked up before it can kill them. The angry monster notices a clothing store with female mannequins on display, and breaks the glass with a punch, ripping off its arm. The severed arm is later studied by Dr. Gavin and Hank. The arm is still alive, and they can't figure out how to kill it. Eulabelle accidentally spills a container of sodium on the arm, which kills it, giving the scientists a way of destroying the monsters. Meanwhile, two drunks (the only male victims shown) are killed by another monster.
Dr. Gavin and Hank search for the location of the monsters. After discovering that the monsters can be tracked by their trail of radioactive water, Hank drives to New York City to obtain sodium. Dr. Gavin initially has no luck in finding the monsters. Eulabelle tells him that Elaine went to look for the monsters at Fingel's Quarry. Dr. Gavin rushes off to help Elaine, bringing a small case of sodium with him. Elaine tests the water for radioactivity, and the monsters chase her. She trips between two rocks and injures her leg. Dr. Gavin arrives and throws sodium at the monster attacking Elaine, killing it. Another monster attacks, but Dr. Gavin is out of sodium and must defend his daughter himself. Hank, who is bringing more sodium, is stopped by a police officer, who leads him to Fingel's Quarry. Hank saves Dr. Gavin by killing the monster attacking him, and the group then kills all the remaining monsters.
Hank visits Elaine, whose leg is recovering, and they kiss while music by The Del-Aires plays on the radio.
Unlike the beach party movies filmed up to that time, this film was shot in black & white and on the Atlantic coast. Produced in Stamford, Connecticut, the beach scenes were filmed in an area of town called Shippan Point.
The biker gang in the film was played by the Charter Oak Motorcycle Club of Riverside, Connecticut.
The monsters for the film were constructed at Gutzon Borglum's (Mt. Rushmore) sculpting studio. There were two monster suits, and when they dried, one was too small for the stuntman. Production assistant Ruth Glassenberg Freedman had a son, Charles Freedman, who was 16 at the time. He fit perfectly into the suit and thus portrayed a monster in the film.
The advertising for the double feature of "Horror of Party Beach" and "Living Corpse" capitalized on a gimmick first utilized by director William Castle, in which some newspaper advertisements included a call-out that stated "For your protection! We will not permit you to see these shockers unless you agree to release the theater of all responsibility for death by fright!" and theaters were encouraged by the distributor to have patrons sign a "Fright Release" before they took their seats. The trailer for the double feature also included this claim.
Although billed in its promotional material as "The First Horror Monster Musical," all the songs heard in the film are presented as either soundtrack music or source music, as opposed to the style of a traditional musical with songs sung by central characters of the story. In addition, Ray Dennis Steckler’s The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed Up Zombies made the same claim only a few months earlier.
As a tie-in, a monographic fumetti comic book by Wally Wood and Russ Jones detailing the film's story was released by the Warren Publishing Company under its Famous Films masthead. It had a 35-cent cover price.
Edward Earle Marsh (aka Zebedy Colt) composed the film’s soundtrack; Wilfred Holcombe is credited as the musical director. Marsh and Holcombe wrote three songs that are performed in the film: "Joy Ride", "The Zombie Stomp", and "You Are Not a Summer Love."
Gary Robert Jones and Ronnie Linares, both of The Del-Aires (a Paterson, New Jersey rock band who play themselves as a local band), wrote one song together, "Drag," and one song each: "Wigglin' Wobblin'" (Jones) and "Elaine" (Linares). The Del-Aires performed all six songs in the film. 
In popular culture
In addition to the above-mentioned appearances in the book The Fifty Worst Films of All Time and the television series Mystery Science Theater 3000, the punk band Sloppy Seconds's song "The Horror of Party Beach" from their 1989 album Destroyed details the plot of the movie.
- The Horror of Party Beach at the Internet Movie Database
- The Horror of Party Beach interview with Del Terrey, The Del Tenney Double Feature DVD, UPC 030306773193.
- "Mystery Science Theater 3000 Unofficial Episode Guide: Season 8". The Satellite News. Retrieved 2006-05-08.
- Chad Plambeck, Bad Movie Planet November 15, 2009
- The Comic Book Database
- Glenn Erickson, DVD Savant
- "The Dynamic Del-Aires". Bad Movie Planet. Retrieved 2006-05-08.