• The Horror Of Party Beach (Severin Films) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Severin Films
    Released on: August 27th, 2018.
    Director: Del Tenney
    Cast: John Scott, Alice Lyon
    Year: 1964
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    The Horror Of Party Beach - Movie Review:

    A lot of people will remember this title as much for the photo comic adaptation as for the movie itself, likely the most popular and most recognizable of Tenney’s output. A ridiculously campy affair, The Horror Of Party Beach may wears its obviously low budget on its scaly sleeve, but it’s a picture with a lot of weird, wonky charm.

    The movie begins in familiar fashion when a gang of careless, environmentally insensitive seafaring types dump barrels of toxic waste into the ocean. What they don’t realize once they’ve dumped their goop and headed for shore is that the waste has seeped down to the floor of the sea and landed on top of an old human skull. This, in turn, morphs into a sort of Gwar-meets-The-Creature kind of monster that starts multiplying fairly quickly.

    Back on dry land, Hank Green (John Scott), a local football hero, is fighting with bikers on the titular Party Beach. It seems they can’t agree on something, and if details aren’t so important, what matters to the audience is that it’s come to fisticuffs. Little does the distracted Hank realize that Tina (Marilyn Clark), his pretty young girlfriend, has wandered off and since been slaughtered by one of the toxic waste ocean monster things that has come to the beach looking for food. Hank is pretty upset until he meets the even prettier Elaine (Alice Lyons). She puts him in touch with her dad, a scientist named Dr. Gavin (Allen Laurel). He figures things out pretty quickly:

    “Of course! This creature needs the ordinary necessities of human life - proteins, fats, sugars and so forth. But since his organs are so decomposed it needs the only food which can keep it alive.”

    And of course, the only food that can keep it alive is… human blood!

    Gavin brings in the local cops to hunt down and kill the creatures before they kill again. Unfortunately, the creatures have already started spreading across the area, killing off hobos and pretty girls alike with reckless abandon…

    Rarely can a movie so seamlessly combine bad monster costumes, twisting teenagers, bikers, gore, football hunks and surf music with such fantastic results. Sure, the movie is completely ridiculous but just try not to have a whole lot of fun while sitting down with this one. The creature design is the stuff of legend, about as goofy as it gets, and they’re not really so much menacing so much as they are just funny looking. None of that stops the actors from trying their damn best to look as scared as they can once they emerge from the murky ocean depths, however, which leads to some mighty impressive acting from the cast of generally unknown actors and actresses, the kind that never really appeared in much else of note.

    The film is well-paced and it features some pretty cool music thanks to The Del-Aires who contribute tracks like The Zombie Stomp, Drag and Wigglin’ Wobblin’ to name only three. The movie went on to become one of the more popular episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000, but there’s definitely something to be said for seeing this one in its original form, sans wisecracking robots. The movie also serves as a weird time capsule of mid-sixties Americana, working in surf and beach movie elements alongside the monster movie tropes and bad effects work. The end result is a deliciously stupid brew.

    The Horror Of Party Beach might not be high art, but it sure is great entertainment.

    The Horror Of Party Beach – Blu-ray Review:

    Severin Films brings The Horror Of Party Beach to Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.78.1 widescreen taken from a new 2k scan of the original 35mm negative. This was a movie made fast and cheap, it’s never going to look like a million bucks, but Severin’s Blu-ray does offer fans a pretty substantial upgrade over the 2006 DVD that came out via Dark Sky Films (which, to be fair, looked just fine for its time). There’s a few small scratches and some white specks here and there but nothing too serious in terms of print damage, at least nothing to the point of distraction. Detail is considerably improved over the past DVD edition, texture and depth as well. Black levels are solid and shadow detail is fine, save for scenes that were clearly just poorly lit to begin with. We get clean whites and a nice grey scale while the picture exhibits no problems with noise reduction or edge enhancement issues.

    The only audio option for the disc is an English language DTS-HD Mono track, though subtitles are provided in English. It’s not going to blow you away but it sounds fine. Dialogue is clear, levels are fine. Things sound a bit flat now and there but there’s a bit more depth to the track than what was on the DVD and it might sound a bit cleaner here too.

    Extras start off with Return To Party Beach: A Retrospective Documentary On The Horror Of Party Beach, a sixteen-minute piece narrated by Tom Weaver that charts the course of Tenney’s career up to and including this feature. We not only learn about the director but also about the rubber suit, the locations the music, the casting and quite a bit more. The late Tenny’s wife, Margot Martman, is interviewed here a fair bit and she’s got some fun stories to share about the production.

    Up next is It’s The Living End: An Encounter With The Del-Aires. This all too brief four-minute featurette is a quick interview with band members Bobby Osborne and Ronnie Linares who speak about how they got into music in the first place, their early band efforts and then eventually working on this picture. Fun stuff, and they even perform their signature track Zombie Stomp before it’s all over and done with.

    In Shock & Roll: Filmmaker Tim Sullivan On Rock & Roll Horror Movies, we get, you guessed it, a sit down talk with Sullivan lasting eight-minutes in which he talks about the importance of some of the earlier AIP beach movies, how it kinda-sorta made sense for these films to crossover with horror pictures being made around the same time and what makes some of the stand out entries as quirky and interesting as they are.

    Carried over from the 2006 DVD is a nine-minute featurette in which Del Tenney sits down in front of the camera for a nice interview segment. Here he discusses his filmmaking career, how he got his start as a movie maker, dealing with distribution issues and budgets, and more. While some of the material here is also covered in the commentary tracks, it’s nice to see the jovial Tenney as he tells his stories, he comes across as a genuinely nice guy.

    Rounding out the extras is a trailer for the feature, menus and chapter selection. Unfortunately, the audio commentary that Tenney delivered on the aforementioned Dark Sky DVD release has not been carried over for this Blu-ray release.

    The Horror Of Party Beach – The Final Word:

    The Horror Of Party Beach is as seriously goofy as it is good natured monster movie fun. Severin’s Blu-ray release is a good one, offering up the film in a nice high definition presentation and with some decent extras as well. This one is a blast.

    Click on the images below for full sized The Horror Of Party Beach Blu-ray review screen captures!