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Psycho Bach Party

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Psycho Bach Party

Starring: Lauren Ambrose, Thomas Gibson
Director: Robert Lee King
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 95 Minutes
Release Date: August 2000
Genre: Comedy

*Also starring: Charles Busch, Nicholas Brendon, Kimberley Davies, Danni Wheeler, Nick Cornish, Andrew Levitas, Beth Broderick, Nathan Bexton

Reviewer Roundup
1.  Steve Rhodes review follows movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review
2.  Harvey Karten read the review ---

Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

Could the virginal Florence Forrest (Lauren Ambrose) be the "Butcher of Malibu Beach?" With her innocent smile, milky white skin and tomato-colored hair, she certainly doesn't look like a likely candidate. But with her split personality, her alter ego, a foul-mouthed, sexual predator named Ann Bowman, might be the guilty party.

If there ever was a film genre ripe for parody, it is those goofy 1960s beach movies. Robert Lee King's PSYCHO BEACH PARTY, written by Charles Busch and based on his play, satirizes these old movies. Laughing along with PSYCHO BEACH PARTY is silly fun. With not a pretentious bone in its body, the movie pokes fun at the kids' raging hormones and at the homosexual subtext of that genre. In PSYCHO BEACH PARTY, however, the gay humor angle goes way above subtext.

With a hall of mirrors effect, the story features many movies within movies, all of which are watched -- where else? -- at the drive-in theater. Opening with an Ed Wood-film wannabe, a horror movie about a blonde waitress with 3 heads, starring Bettina (Kimberley Davies) as the middle head, the camera cuts back to reveal kids too busy making out in the cars to watch the movie.

After the first of a series of murders, we switch to a sleazy go-go dancer as the opening credits roll. Then it's off to day at the beach where the buff boys surf and the bikinied girls ogle them, and vice versa.

Florence, deemed less than a chick, earns the nickname of "Chicklet." She wants to be a surfer like "The Great Kanaka" (Thomas Gibson) but is informed that "surfing is a man's domain. No minnows in the shark tank."

Movie star Bettina, who rents a house near the surfers' beach, immediately catches the boys' eyes. "There's some prize tomatoes in that tin can," one of them remarks when they first lay eyes on her, wearing a revealing top. The movie is full of such deliciously dopey dialog. Another over-the-top interchange occurs between Florence and Starcat (Nicholas Brendon), a college student who, with his three psych courses, is already referred to as "doctor." "If we were at war with the Soviet Union, I wouldn't even let you into my bomb shelter," she tells him in her version of the ultimate put-down.

The picture is wonderfully campy entertainment that doesn't ask anything of its viewers. Just kick back and let the laughs begin.

PSYCHO BEACH PARTY runs 1:35. It is not rated but would be an R for language, sexual situations and comic violence. It would be acceptable for most teenagers.

Copyright 2000 Steve Rhodes

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