Amy Adams – bare booty in the poignant cinema treasure Psycho Beach Party
The movie is not good, but isn’t actually as bad as it sounds. It’s a campy genre parody of those Frankie and Annette films, and sorta ends up as Bye-Bye Birdie meets Rocky Horror Picture Show.
The catch phrase: party ’til you drop. Dead.
This play has been around for more than a decade as a high camp off-Broadway revue with a pretty good cult following. The playwright, Charles Busch, was also the star of the play as Chiclet, a Gidgety tomboy on the surface, but a deeply demented S&M queen with a ghetto rap in her alternate personalities. The play made great use of a campy “aw-shucks, Moondoggy” rap from Chiclet most of the time, carefully echoing the beach flicks of the 60’s.
The key hook to the play was that a biological male transformed on cue from the gee-whiz tomboy into Tallulah Bankhead. A lot of the play’s humor is lost by the fact that the movie Chiclet is a real female.
Busch did manage to find a part for himself in the film, however, as the (female) investigating police officer, which gave him an opportunity to do at least a little drag-queen schtick, in an almost flawless mimicry of throaty 50’s actress Eve Arden.
The plot is pretty much irrelevant. A psycho is killing people at the beach, and Chiclet, as a well-known psychotic and schizo, is the prime suspect. Here’s a clue for the clueless: she didn’t do it.
I assume they hoped for high camp drag queen cult status, ala Rocky Horror, but the surf music parodies aren’t that good, and I guess there’s a bear market for drag queen comedies. The film tries to get some humor from deliberately cheesy special effects (surfing against a chroma-key backdrop, for example), some old-style sets that look like that “Zsa Zsa Gabor in outer space” movie, and the suggestion that pretty surfer boys just like to see each other undressed.
Note my use of the word “tries.” I’d have to say that it rarely succeeds. I did laugh a few times, but I don’t recommend the film. All the schtick is used up in the first twenty minutes, and everything after that is just stretching out the running time.