Robert Lee King
Lauren Ambrose as Florence “Chicklet” Forrest
Thomas Gibson as Kanaka
Nicholas Brendon as Starcat
Matt Keeslar as Lars
Beth Broderick as Mrs. Ruth Forrest
Kimberley Davies as Bettina Barnes
Charles Busch as Captain Monica Stark
Amy Adams as Marvel Ann
Per Mademoiselle magazine (quoted on the front cover of the dvd) Psycho Beach Party was supposed to be a blend of “a 50’s psychodrama, a 60’s beach movie and a 70’s slasher film.” I was intrigued. My interest was piqued. I had an extra $5 to blow.
Psycho Beach Party starts at a Drive-in where we meet Florence Forrest (Lauren Ambrose), a typical teenage girl wondering why all of the teenage girls around her are becoming more sexually aware. She and her best friend seem to be the only ones at the Drive-In that are actually watching the movie. Two very important things happen at the Drive-In however; one, we witness a teenage girl getting her throat slashed by an unseen assailant and two, we witness innocent Florence become a very not innocent alter personality that we later learn is Anne Bowen.
The next morning Florence and her friend are being interviewed by Captain Monica Stark (Charles Busch) about the murder. Florence doesn’t remember anything about the night before and is scooted along by her mother (Beth Broderick) because they have beets to pickle at home. We also meet Lars (Matt Keeslar) a Swedish exchange student that happens to be staying at the Forrest’s home.
Next we go to the beach where we meet the surfers led by Kanaka (Thomas Gibson) that Florence wants desperately to be a part of. Kind of sort of accepted with the nickname of Chicklet given to her, she eventually learns to surf and unwittingly introduces Kanaka to Anne. While all of this is going on teenagers are being taken out. The possible suspects seem endless as the groups prepare for a big beach party and the police try to corner the culprit. And yes, that is about it story-wise.
If you are old enough to remember the specialness of Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon or you know who I am talking about when I mention Moondoggie, Gidget and the Big Kahuna, then Psycho Beach Party is for you. It is a perfectly fun spoof of the 60’s beach movies. It even has a Anne Margaret look-a-like dancing around during the opening and ending credits. Charles Busch (writer and actor) took his off-Broadway play of the same name, and did a very good job, with the help of director Robert Lee King, of adapting it from the stage to the screen. The collection of recognizable actors/actresses was well done as well. Thomas Gibson (Criminal Minds), Nicholas Brendon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Beth Broderick (Sabrina the Teenage Witch) and Matt Keeslar (Scream 3) but the real star of the film is Lauren Ambrose (Six Feet Under, Torchwood). She played the role of the innocent “Chicklet” and transitioned into the sexually aggressive Anne with purposeful campy perfection.
Only one problem with Psycho Beach Party: Although it nailed the 60’s beach movie, it is only mediocre on the 50’s psychodrama and 70’s slasher film. However, if you like Rocky Horror then you should enjoy this.