I like fast, witty dialogue; I also like drag queens, bad science fiction films and out-there storylines. So naturally, Psycho Beach Party fills me with a joy that can’t be contained. It tells the tale of surfer-girl wannabe Chicklet (Lauren Ambrose), who worries that she may be a serial killer when her multiple personalities emerge at the sight of circles. Yes, that’s the actual plot. Here are five reasons why you need to watch this one (because seeing is believing).
|You’ll make those faces too.
#1 – Chicklet’s personalities
Chicklet is a mild-mannered girl that wants to surf. Her alternate personalities are a bit more varied. From a femme fatale to sassy cashier, the variations are abrupt and have absolutely zero fucks left to give. Which makes them hilarious.
#2 – Funny one-liners
There are jokes about psoriasis and only having one testicle, witty quips against cops and a colorful description of what sex feels like for a girl in an era when it wasn’t socially acceptable for a girl to enjoy herself. It’s surprising at first because you don’t expect half the shit that comes flying out of everyone’s mouths. Just roll with it. It’s great. I won’t spoil them here, despite that I really, really want to.
#3 – Charles Busch as Monica Stark
I have to hand it to drag queens: they take some of the most difficult aspects (aesthetically speaking) of dressing the way we’re used to seeing women dress and make it look damn good. Case in point: I had to teach myself how to walk in high heels (the first few times… not pretty), I loathe and detest pantyhose, and Christ did it take a while to find a red lipstick that actually works with my skin tone. So I tip my hat to Charles Busch, who not only pulls off these things, but also manages to nail full 1940s glamour. Much like Guy Pearce, Busch looks better in a dress than I do. Utmost respect from yours truly. Couple that with the fact that he hits all the high points of playing a tough woman in full melodramatic form, and it sings.
|You know, come to think of it, Busch kind of sounds like Bea Arthur.
#4 – It’s an unabashed rip on multiple genres
When I was in fifth grade, a friend and I had fun alternating between viewings of Psycho and the Frankie Avalon/Annette Funicello vehicles. This film not only combines those two genres, it manages to throw in a third love that still gets me weird looks: 1950s B-grade science fiction drive-in movies (sometimes, the people you love just don’t get you). So not only is it a complete smart ass in its script, it combines many of my great loves genre-wise. A campy murder followed by a guitar-driven surfing scene? Homoerotic gags concerning the all-male surfer flicks? A glasses-clad girl that finds deeper meaning in the cheesiest of cheese fests?Yes please, especially the last one. Where do I sign, and may I bring a dish to pass?
#5 – Beth Broderick
She has the single greatest line in the film. I’ve been known to shout it when I don’t have my kids around. Especially in the car. In all seriousness, she really is one of the best parts of this film. She’s got a great “bitch, please” facial expression that I need to master.
|I cackle now when I see this woman.
There you have it: five reasons to watch this campy, strange little gem. If you wind up liking the sense of humor in this one, check out Die, Mommie, Die! as well. Go forth and view!