Man of the Moment


Sean William Scott


Kindly direct email to:
dorianwright [at] gmail[dot]com


"Reading his blog is like watching a beloved 50's Rat Pack Vegas act"--Larry Young
"One of the few comics blogs I always make time for"--Antony Johnston
"Dorian Wright is intelligent and slightly bitter, like a fine coffee."--Kevin Church
"Absolutely huggable."--Bully
"It's always fun to see Dorian be bitchy."--Chris Butcher




www.flickr.com
pomobarney's photos More of pomobarney's photos


Current Diversions






Archives

Doctor Who
Paperback Book Club

200404   200405   200406   200407   200408   200409   200410   200411   200412   200501   200502   200503   200504   200505   200506   200507   200508   200509   200510   200511   200512   200601   200602   200603   200604   200605   200606   200607   200608   200609   200610   200611   200612   200701   200702   200703   200704   200705   200706   200707   200708   200709   200710   200711   200712   200801   200802   200803   200804   200805   200806   200807   200808   200809   200810   200811   200812   200901  


Comment Policy
Offensive, harrassing or baiting comments will not be tolerated and will be deleted at my discretion.
Comment spam will be deleted.
Please leave a name and either a valid web-site or e-mail address with comments. Comments left without either a valid web-site or e-mail address may be deleted.

Atom Feed
LiveJournal Syndication LOLcats feed

This page is powered by 


Blogger. Isn't yours?

Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Think Of This Before You Act 

Labels: ,



|

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Paperback Book Club: Beach Party Edition 



Gidget Goes to Rome, 1963, Frederick Kohner
There are no Beach Party books in my collection, so you'll have to settle for a (ugh) Gidget book.




Beach Bums
MoonBully brings us some Beach Party inspired MST3K shenanigans.

Meanwhile, the DJ of Armagideon Beach brings us two musical interludes inspired by the Beach films.

Labels: ,



|

Friday, August 01, 2008

Beach Party: Alternate Takes 


Back to the Beach, 1987



Back to the Beach is a strange entry in the "Beach Party" genre. It is not, strictly speaking, a continuation or sequel to the original Beach Party canon. Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello are not playing the same Frankie and Dee-Dee characters we've seen in five previous films. No, this time out, they're playing a former teen idol/surfer and current used-car dealer and his wife, a former Mousketeer, named "The Big Kahuna" and Annette, who travel out to California with their teenage son to visit their college-age daughter. While there they sing songs with some popular personalities of the time, run into several 60s television sitcom actors, all set against some particularly garish 80s costuming. The intent is to spoof the Beach Party films, but this iteration lacks all the charm of the originals. It's as if the producers of those horrible "[ADJECTIVE] Movie" films that come out every year managed to get the cast of the film they're allegedly parodying to appear in the film. In fact, those garish 80s costumes are very appropriate, as the film exploitive nature and cynical pandering are a pretty good approximation of the 80s.
There are really only two redeeming features to the film at all: Annette sings a cover of "Jamaica Ska" with Fishbone, and a spiritual successor to Eric Von Zipper manifests in the person of Zed, an 80s movie caricature of a surf punk. The role is played with the right dash of comedy and charsima by Joe Holland, in what was sadly his only film role.










Psycho Beach Party, 2000


A far better parody/tribute to the Beach Party films is Charles Busch's drag dramedy. It blends the surf antics of the original films with a giallo-esque approach to a thriller, black-gloved killer and all. The film is very knowing, with nods to psycho-analysis, women's lib, postmodern film theory and homoeroticism that would have been out of place in a period film, but are played straight here, without any faux-ironic winks to the audience. We as the audience are in on the joke, but the characters aren't. It's not a flawless film; it suffers quite a bit from "adaptation-itis" and it's roots as a stage production come through from time to time. It also helps, heavily, if you're already clued in to the genres being poked at and some of the nuances of drag comedy and contemporary camp.
Plus, it has Matt Keeslar in it:

Labels:



|

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Many Moods of Deadhead 













Labels: ,



|

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Epic Fails of Eric Von Zipper 











Labels:



|

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Brief Guide To What Passes For Beach Party Continuity 

Definately not a joint...

Beach Party, 1963


In the first film in the series, Frankie takes his girl-friend Dolores to what he thinks is a romantic get-away at the beach for summer vacation. Dolores, however, got a case of cold feet and decided to invite all of her and Frankie's friends in order to prevent him from catching her alone with her guard down. As Dolores puts it, she's close to being a woman, and she's "not getting any closer until I'm a wife." Unknown to the gang, anthropologist Professor Robert Sutwell is conducting a study of the mating habits of American teenagers, suspecting some connection between them and the primitive cultures he's used to studying. Which, surprisingly, comes off very politically correct for 1963. Frankie, unable to get anywhere with Dolores, decides to make her jealous by flirting with Eva, the voluptuous waitress at Big Daddy's. While there, the gang runs into both Eric Von Zipper and his gang the Rats, who is prevented from manhandling Dolores by the timely intervention of Professor Sutwell, who incapacitates Von Zipper with the Himalayan Time Suspension Technique. Dolores decides to get back at Frankie for flirting with Eva by letting him think she's interested in "Bob", much to the annoyance of Bob's assistant Marianne, who has long carried a torch for him. A series of comic misunderstands leads to Marianne ending up with Robert, Dolores ending up with Frankie, and the gang saving the Professor from a rumble with the Rats. Eva ends up with Von Zipper.
  • Frankie's side-kick, played by John Ashley, is named Ken.
  • Dolore's pal, played by Valora Noland, is named Rhonda.
  • Candy Johnson shows up and shimmys frequently.
  • Mike Nader appears as a surfer boy, but isn't given any lines.
  • Morey Amsterdam appears as Cappy, owner of Big Daddy's, and unofficial patron for the surf-kids


I've had dreams start like this...

Muscle Beach Party, 1964


The gang returns to the beach, only to discover that their shack is now next door to a gang of muscle-headed body-builders straight out of an issue of Physique Pictorial. And no, the fact that the body-builders are wearing pink shorts and capes when they're introduced isn't the slightest bit gay-baiting, not at all... The body-builders are coached by Jack Fanny, played by Don Rickles, and Peter Lupus, fresh off a stint of Italian gladiator films, plays the pride of Jack's stable, Flex Martian. Julie, a beautiful and wealthy widow, has sailed her yacht to Malibu, and is conspiring with her business manager, S.Z. Matts, played by Buddy Hackett, to buy Flex out from Jack. However, after seeing Frankie engage in a bit of night surfing and singing, Julie falls in love with him instead, and makes plans to wisk Frankie away as her latest play-thing with the bribe of a recording contract. After pissing off his friends, who think he's getting a swelled head, and Dee-Dee, who hates seeing him with another woman, Frankie realizes that Julie is just using him, and the whole story winds up with a rumble in Cappy's recently rebuilt restaurant between the surfers and the body-builders.
  • Dolores is now Dee-Dee.
  • Ken is now Johnny.
  • Rhonda is now Animal, and she's been given a personality trait. It is "boy crazy."
  • Candy's ability to cause disasters to befall other people by shaking her hips at them is established.
  • Mike Nader still doesn't have any lines.
  • Donna Loren first appears as a hanger-on to the surf crowd. Dr. Pepper ads show up occasionally during musical numbers.



Taking a screenshot of Candy Johnson is HARD!

Bikini Beach, 1964


A new vacation starts, and the beach gang find themselves squeezed between hostile forces. On the one hand, there's the Beatle-esque British rocker Potato Bug, setting up camp at the beach and making a play for Dee-Dee. On the other, there's Harvey Huntingdon Hunnywagon the Third, owner of the local retirement home, using a trained chimpanzee to attempt to turn the public against the surfers by proving that mentally they're on the same level as a primate, thus allowing him to buy the beach cheaply to expand his retirement community. And then there's the return of Eric Von Zipper and his Rats and Mice, eager to help HHH3 in his quest to discredit the surfers, and given an opportunity to do so when Frankie challenges the Potato Bug to a drag race, allowing Von Zipper and company to sabotage the Bug's dragster and frame Frankie for it. Luckily, 3H3 gets his mind turned around by the timely intervention of local pro-surfer school teacher Vivian Clements and Von Zipper accidentally sabotages Frankie's dragster, leading to a rumble between the surfers and the bikers at the recently rebuilt Cappy's place.
  • Jack Fanny has retired from managing body-builders and now runs Cappy's and the drag strip under the name Big Drag.
  • Animal is now played by Meredith MacRae. It's implied that she's now Johnny's girl-friend.
  • Frankie Avalon plays both Frankie and Potato Bug, a portrayal that never quite feels like it's meant to be a nice parody of the Beatles. As is one of the rules of comedy, the fact that Frankie and Potato look exactly alike is never commented on, even when Frankie disguises himself as Potato.
  • Mike Nader still doesn't have any lines.
  • Von Zipper's sociopathic henchman South Dakota Slim puts in his first appearance and plays pool with Von Zipper. Really. That's pretty much it. Also, Von Zipper hangs out with a were-wolf. I told you he was the greatest villain ever.


It's just ice-cream on his face, I promise

Beach Blanket Bingo, 1965


The gang's vacation is interrupted when a lady sky-diver lands just off-shore. Frankie swims out to rescue her, not realizing that the lady in question is a pro, and this is all a publicity stunt cooked up by Bullets, the manager of pop singer Sugar Kane, who substituted for the sky-diver, Bonnie, shortly after landing. Frankie being Frankie, he's all too happy to play along with Bullets and his publicity scheme, even though Von Zipper, Sugar Kane's biggest fan, is incensed that she's hanging out with the beach bums. The gang all get it into their head that sky-diving is much more fun than surfing, so they head out to Jack Fanny's latest enterprise, a sky-diving school he runs under the name big drop, where they meet Bonnie and her possessive, jealous boyfriend, the curiously familiar looking Steve. Naturally, a love quadrangle develops between Steve, Bonnie, Frankie and Dee-Dee, as in the pair Frankie has run into a woman more scheming than him and a man more jealous than Dee-Dee. Deadh-I mean, "Bonehead" has too much sense to go sky-diving, so he stays at the beach, where he nearly drowns after hitting his head in a wipe-out. Luckily he's saved by Lorelei, a mermaid. Yes. No one believes him, though, as they all saw Sugar Kane pulling him out of the water. And then things get weird. Frankie is falsely accused of rape by Bonnie. Bonehead is suspected of killing Lorelei when the gang spots him burying the clothes she wore to attend a party with Bonehead on land. And Sugar Kane, thinking it's another of Bullets publicity stunts, gets kidnapped by Von Zipper, only to end up tied up to a log about to be shredded by South Dakota Slim. Everything works out in the end, though in the form of a chase scene between surfers and bikers rather than a rumble.
  • This time around, Animal is played by Donna Michelle. She still doesn't get to do much other than keep Dee-Dee from talking to herself.
  • Deadhead is now Bonehead.
  • Mike Nader finally gets a speaking part, promoted to Frankie's new side-kick, Butch.
  • John Ashley plays sky-diving instructor Steve. No one notices that Steve looks exactly like their friend Johnny, who is curiously absent. It's really quite creepy.
  • That whole "Frankie is accused of rape/Bonehead is suspected of murder" thing is really way out of tone with the rest of the films.
  • Von Zipper's Mice finally get names. Puss and 'N Boots. Yes, really.


Token bikini girl shot

How to Stuff a Wild Bikini, 1965


Frankie is off on a tropical island, doing a stint with the Coast Guard Reserves. While he's there, he's busy making time with a native girl, but he wants to be sure that Dee-Dee isn't doing the exact thing he's doing while she's alone back home. The local witch doctor whips up a spirit, Cassandra, to keep the boys occupied, but unfortunately she shows up at the beach at the same time as a couple of ad executives, "Peachy" Keene and his junior associate Ricky, played by Dobie Gillis himself, Dwayne Hickman, looking for the perfect girl to be part of their new ad campaign to improve the image of motorcycle riders. Ricky is far more interested in Dee-Dee, relishing the challenge she represents, as opposed to Cassandra who rather throws herself at him. Von Zipper gets involved, due to his crush on Cassandra, and he employs his newest henchman North Dakota Pete, first to try to get Ricky out of the picture and then to cheat in a motorcycle race to determine whether the Von Zipper/Cassandra team or the Ricky/Dee-Dee team will represent the ideal "couple next door" image of motorcyclists. In the end, Frankie gets Dee-Dee back and everyone else ends up with, well, nothing.
  • It's formally established that Dee-Dee is short for Delores. Because "Delores" has two Ds in it, I guess.
  • Marianne Gaba is our Animal this time around. That makes four Animals in five films.
  • Johnny, Butch and Bonehead don't get to do much this time around than lip-sync to songs.
  • We get our second gay-joke of the series.

Labels:



|

Monday, July 28, 2008

Why I Love the Beach Party Movies 

It should seem surprising that a series of forty year old, cheaply made teen sex exploitation comedies should easily rank as amongst my favorite films of all time. I'm not one to romanticise the sixties; for any one who wasn't a straight white heterosexual male Protestant of middle class or better they were a pretty lousy time to try and get by, and the social changes that made improvements for anyone who didn't fit that description couldn't get there fast enough, but the pop culture, and even the fringe culture, of the early half of that decade have an unselfconscious, unironic naivete that's very appealing. There's also a certain sly subversion that bubbles up here and there. The physique magazines claimed to be about healthy exercise, but if you're in on the gag, you know better. The same is true of pop songs of the era, which sound innocent enough, so long as you don't actually think about the lyrics. And then there's the exploitation films of American International pictures. Oh, sure, it looks like these are just movies about the romantic hi jinx of all-American kids having fun at the beach...and then you notice that the plot of each film is essentially Frankie trying to get into Dee-Dee's pants.

There's more to recommend the films, to be certain. There's plenty of eye candy for horny teen boys, in the shape of all those pretty girls in bikinis running around. Not to mention the frequent appearance of Candy Johnson and her perpetually shimmying dresses...

For myself, there's the not inconsiderable male eye-candy as well. Chiefly, there's Jody McCrea, but the other fit young men populating the beach movies aren't too bad to look at either. Frankie's okay, and no one can smarm his way through a film quite like him, but there's something faintly unconvincing about his casting as Alpha Male of the surf pack. I can't quite explain the appeal of McCrea. In most of the films that loosely make up the Beach Party series he's given the thankless task of playing the comic relief, Frankie's dopey girl-crazy side-kick that's perpetually unaware of just how stupid he is. But he's infinitely more engaging as an actor than John Ashley, as Frankie's other side-kick whose name the producers could never quite settle on, or Mike Nader as "extra who occasionally gets to say a line", the only other male actors to regularly put in appearances as surfers in the films. To go back to my earlier statements, it's the unironic performance, coupled with a genuine charisma, that makes it work.


There's the pop music, of course. While the films, by necessity, tend to focus on early surf music, notably with the appearance of Dick Dale in the first few films, a significant amount of branching out occurs. There's Donna Loren, of course, belting out a number from time to time, a Dr. Pepper bottle usually conspicuous somewhere in the shot, and Little Stevie Wonder puts in some time as well. There's also, of course, almost obligatory songs from Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello.

Ah, Annette. The first, last and only Mousketeer to ever have anything remotely like talent. She occupies a strange place in the Beach Party films. Simultaneously the object of lust and the enforcer of strict social norms. It's Annette's Dee-Dee character who utters the frequent mantra of no sex before marriage, turning each entry in the series into essentially what Jay Presson Allen once referred to as a "delayed fuck" film. But she really is the heart and soul of the films. She's that sweet, innocent core, that bedrock foundation of "traditional values" that allows the debauchery to go on. Without Annette there to remind us of what a good girl looks, acts and sounds like, we might stop and realize that those teenagers are...*gasp-shock-horror* BALLING!

Plus, she sings kind of purty.

But it's not all horny teenagers. The cameo and recurring comedy bits are added value. If nothing else, the producers of the Beach Party films deserve credit for keeping food on Buster Keaton's table. Oh, sure, you've got your Vincent Price, Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre walk-ons, and the featured appearances of Don Rickles, Morey Amsterdam, Buddy Hackett and Paul Lynde. But you've also got the greatest comedy villain of all time. Harvey Lembeck as the low-rent Marlon Brando, Eric Von Zipper.

Only missing out on one of the Beach Party films, Eric Von Zipper sets the standard for incompetent menace. From ambitious plots to kidnap pop princesses, to the far more mundane goals of simply, finally, getting one over on those surf-bums for once, Von Zipper is the villain that can never quite catch a break, more of a risk to himself than anyone else, and in deadly danger from getting poked in the forehead with a finger. The Beach Party films just wouldn't be the same without the misplaced optimism of his mantra, "I am my ideal." A few decades later, that phrase would reek of pop psychology bluster, but here it's a mark of just how disconnected from reality Von Zipper is.

All these details add up. The films, as a whole, work on a variety of levels; time capsule, subversive cinema, unintentional social commentary, and slightly naughty yet ultimately wholesome fun. In that light, it's pretty much a necessity that a Beach Party Week exists.

Labels:



|

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Beach Party Week 



Because, why not?
Feel free to play along.

Labels: ,



|

Featured Links

Blue Marble Bounty
Hallowed Tree Furniture
Jed Dougherty
John's Journal
Inner Light Community Gospel Choir

Latest Links

Society of Dave
Waimea
Stuff Geeks Love
Armagideon Time
Living Between Wednesdays
Benjamin Birdie

Comics Blogs

New Comic Weblogs Updates

Absorbascon
Again With the Comics
All Ages
Artistic License
Bahlactus
Batfatty Vs. the Chocodiles
BeaucoupKevin
Bear in the City
Benjamin Birdie
Bispectacult
Blockade Boy
Bloggity-Blog-Blog-Blog
Broken Glass Makes Me Laugh
Bully Says
Chaos Monkey
Clea's Cave
Collected Editions
Comics212.Net
Comics-and-More
Comics Ate My Brain
Comics Fairplay
Comic Treadmill
Crisis/Boring Change
Dave's Long Box
Delenda est Carthago
Doctor K's 100-Page Super Spectacular
Eddie-torial Comments
Fandamentalist
Flesh-Head's Treehouse
Gay Comics List
Gay League
Milo George
Giant Fighting Robot Report
Glyphs
Gumpop
Heroes & Villains
House of L
House of the Ded
The Hurting
In Sequence
Inside Out
Invincible Super-Blog
Irresponsible Pictures
Isotope
Jog-The Blog
Johnny Bacardi Show
Kid Chris
Lady, That's My Skull
Ledger Domain
Let's You and Him Fight
Living Between Wednesdays
Mangablog
Mangatalk
Metrokitty
Motime Like the Present
Near Mint Heroes
Neilalien
Noetic Concordance
Of Course, Yeah
one diverse comic book nation
Polite Dissent
Precocious Curmudgeon
Pretty, Fizzy Paradise
Prism Comics
Progressive Ruin
Project Rooftop
Random Happenstance
Random Panels
Read About Comics
Revoltin' Developments
Ringwood
Roar of Comics
Seven Hells
Silent Accomplice
Snap Judgments
So I Like Superman
Sporadic Sequential
Super Underwear Perverts
Suspension of Disbelief
Trickle of Conciousness
Vintage Spandex
Welt am Draht
When Fangirls Attack
Word on the Street
Written World
Yaoi 911
Yet Another Comics Blog


Comic Creators and Publishers

AiT/PlanetLar
Bloodstains on the Looking Glass
Boom! Studios
Boytoy
Brit Doodz
Channel Surfing
Comic Book Heaven
Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba
Ferret Press
Tim Fish
Flaming Artist
Kaja Foglio
Gelatometti
Steve Gerblog
Hembeck.com
Highway 62
Hobotopia
Illusive Arts
Innocent Bystander
Ralf Koenig
The Less Said The Better
Steve MacIsaac
Man's Adventure
Meatcute
Grant Morrison
Mostly Black
neilcomics
Studygroup12
SUPERFRANKENSTEIN
Tom of Finland Foundation
Viper Comics
Mike Wieringo's Sketch Blog
X-Ray Spex


Web Comics

Adam and Andy
Best of Friends
Captain Confederacy
Deep Fried
Dork Tower
Fancy
The Gay Monsters
Get Your War On
K Chronicles
Kyle's Bed and Breakfast
Nodwick
Pass Fail Studios
The Rack
Split Lip
Tom the Dancing Bug
Waimea
The Web Comic List


Culture & Politics

Advocate
Kevin Allison
Armagideon Time
Dario Argento
BBC News
Big Bad Blog
Brian's Drive-In Theater
Camp Blood
Captain Corey
Center of Gravitas
A Child of Atom
Cinebeats
Commerical Closet
Paul Cornell
Crocodile Caucus
Culture Pulp
John Oak Dalton
Dark, But Shining
Dark Loch
Dave Ex Machina
Philip K. Dick
Digital Digressions
Feminine Miss Geek
Film Experience Blog
Final Girl
Fortean Times
Gay Gamer
Gaymer
Gay Porn Blog
Rick Gebhardt's World
Get Off The Internet
Good As You
Homefront Radio
Insufficient Homosexual
Joe My God
Jumbotron6000
Chris Karath
Kung Fu Monkey
LeftyBrown's Corner
Little Terrors
Ken Lowery
Miraclo Miles
Mr. Dan Kelly
My Three Dollars Worth
No Sword
Phil Ochs
One Hundred Little Dolls
Or Alcoholism
The Outbreak
Outpost Gallifrey
Pop Culture Gadabout
Psychbloke
Pulp of the Day
Queerbeacon
The Rude Pundit
Screw Bronze
Society of Dave
Sock Drawer
Something to be Desired
Starrfucker
Street Laughter
Stuff Geeks Love
Tales from Treasure Island
TangognaT
TBogg
Terry Pratchett
This Boy Elroy
This Modern World
Toner Mishap
Towleroad
Trusy Plinko Stick
Turning the Light Around
TLA Video
Unnatural Devotions
Vintage Beefcake
Warren Ellis
Wax Banks
Where Threads Come Loose
Where Threads Come Loose-Links
Whiskey and Failure
Wisse Words
You Know What I Like?





© 2007 Dorian Wright. Some images are © their respective copyright holders. They appear here for the purposes of review or satire only.