17 September 2002 | mmarshal
Arguably the second best film in the series
O.K., O.K., I must take some exception with the two prior reviews in this thread. Bikini Beach has a lot more going for it those pieces implied.
First, Frankie Avalon finally earned his AIP pay in this picture. While I really don't care for his 60s greaser college kid character in most of the other beach Party movies, here his dual roles (as "Frankie" the surfer who takes Dee Dee (Annette) for granted and as English invasion artist the "Potato Bug") are enjoyable to watch. He shows his reach as an actor far beyond what one would expect in a B movie like this.
Secondly, for anyone interested in the history of drag racing, the strip scenes are interesting; textbook mid 60s drag environment. Few if any other examples of that are available in American film.
Third, the music. Much better than what was in the movie that preceded it ("Muscle Beach Party" was one of the weakest of the series in terms of music) and many that followed. In Bikini Beach, you get to hear Annette sing a duet of a Styner-Hemrick ballad ("Because You're You") with Avalon that is good (if you have a copy of her Bikini Beach LP, her solo version of this song on it is arguably one of the most hauntingly beautiful recordings she ever made). The "house club band" at Big Daddy's in this film is the Pyramids, arguably one of the better now-forgotten west coast groups that played the role of the house band in these movies. Their instrumental version of "Fingertips" is classic early 60's surf instrumental. And a very young Stevie Wonder actually appears at the end.
Fourth, the infamous Candy Johnson (the fringe-wearing, wild blond go-go dancer character who, with the swish of her hips, could put a man in a daze and send him flying through the air) finally comes of age in this movie, the club fight scenes actually feature her. As do the closing credits, where she fractures the camera lens at the end.
Does all this make "Bikini Beach" a work of art? Heavens. no, but it's a heck of a lot better than Muscle Beach Party, Pajama Party, How to Stuff a Wild Bikini and the Ghost in the Invisible Bikini. In other words, out of the seven AIP Beach Party Movies, this is definitely in the top two or three (only bettered by Beach Blanket Bingo and arguably Beach Party).