Psycho Beach Party (2000) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

The Robbins Recipe: 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. 


The breasts of the police detective are seen in a sex scene, but this must be a body double inasmuch as the part is played by a man!

Amy Adams, as the perfect in-crowd chick,  is briefly bottomless is a funny scene which really doesn't show much.

Busch did manage to find a part for himself, 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 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. I'd have to say that it rarely succeeds.

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 at the moment. 

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. 

DVD info from Amazon.

  • widescreen, good transfer

  • full-length commentary

Psycho Beach Party (2000) is distributed by Troma in the US, but was not produced by them, and is made from a play. It is a spoof of Gidget and other beach party films, cheap slasher films, thrillers, and other genres. 

We have breasts from a body double for Charles Busch, who plays a female police captain, and a short but cute look at Amy Adams, when her boyfriend accidently pulls off her bathing suite bottoms. She is wearing a crotch patch (image 1), but we get a great look at her buns, and a hint of bush  from behind as she runs off, hand covering her front, and plastic food basket covering her rear.

The film is high camp and lowbrow humor, but got quite a few laughs from me, and I will give it a  solid C in the exploitation/spoof genre. 

The Critics Vote

  • Apollo 64/100

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 6.4 
  • With their dollars ... unlike Rocky Horror, its spiritual predecessor from stage to screen, it never found its audience. It grossed only a quarter of a million dollars, and never made it beyond 11 screens.
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C- (Scoopy) to C (Tuna).

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