Category Archives: Beach Party

The Complete Beach Party, Part Six: Ski Party

AIP takes a break from the beach with Ski Party, a stepchild of sorts to the Beach Party franchise. Most of the gang is missing, and those who do show up – Frankie Avalon, Deborah Walley, and Bobbi Shaw, plus Annette Funicello in a cheeky cameo – play all-new characters. It’s a chance for the studio to capitalize on the series’ name while trying something a little different.

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The Complete Beach Party, Part Five: Beach Blanket Bingo

Rather than run out of steam this deep into the franchise – especially after the momentum-killing off-shoot Pajama PartyBeach Blanket Bingo reinvigorates the series. This is a lively cinematic party, doubling down on the anarchy of Bikini Beach (like that film, Bingo was written by Leo Townsend and director William Asher) and giving everybody, especially the supporting players, a chance to shine with a wide variety of subplots that miraculously fit together into a tight, cohesive whole.

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The Complete Beach Party, Part Four: Pajama Party

So it’s come to this: the Tommy Kirk one.

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The Complete Beach Party, Part Three: Bikini Beach

Anarchy rules in Bikini Beach, which gives us more of everything. More jokes, more songs, more musical guests, more Eric Von Zipper, and more storylines. There’s even more ending, a mammoth finale that explodes into a crosstown chase and barroom brawl that pays tribute to, then fully eclipses, the chaos of Keystone Kops-style silent comedy.

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The Complete Beach Party, Part Two: Muscle Beach Party

The anything-goes vibe continues in Muscle Beach Party, which kicks off with a comic strip featuring Michael Dormer’s “Hot Curl,” then tosses its opening titles against a mural of Dormer’s surf culture art. Right from the beginning, even before we get to Frankie and Annette, we get an acknowledgment from the filmmakers to its young audience: we’re in on the subculture, too, kids, and we dig it.

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The Complete Beach Party, Part One: Beach Party

Beginning a new series on American International’s entire Beach Party series and related films. Surf’s up, Big Daddy!

It’s about as specific as a subgenre can get: teenage surf musicals from American International Pictures starring Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello. Beach Party was intended to be AIP’s rip-off of big studio titles Gidget and Where the Boys Are, but it quickly became its own beast thanks to a heavy serving of anything-goes comedy and near-plotless freewheeling. The film was a table-turning hit that left the big studios imitating AIP with titles like Ride the Wild Surf. The studio, always eager to capitalize on a trend, served up six sequels and a string of related titles over the next three years.

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