As we’re sure you know, the teenager was invented in the early ‘50s in order to sell records. But they also frequented drive-in movie theatres, so by the mid-‘60s a whole new genre was created: The Beach Party Film. Starting with, er, Beach Party (1963), they were “comedies” (although humour has apparently changed a great deal since then) that featured teenagers, music, surfing, amusing dancing and inevitably, Frankie Avalon. For aficionados of horror, we might draw your attention to Del Tenney’s rather fun Horror of Party Beach (1964) or the actually pretty dreadful Beach Girls and the Monster (1965). As far as the rest are concerned... well let’s just say we watch these things, so you don’t have to. But in 1965 beach party pioneers American International Pictures decided to extend the idea, as the audience got older. They dropped the whole beach thing and gave us Dr Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine. Not a grain of sand in sight but there might be a bit of Frankie Avalon. Actually, rather a lot of him. But do not despair because we also get no less than Fred Clark and Vincent Price himself as the titular doctor. This might be good.
Dr Goldfoot has built a machine that produces robots of young women in gold bikinis- quite literally off a conveyor belt, they don’t have names, they have numbers. Now we suspect some of you have already decided whether they want to see this or not. We know who you are. As the doctor is a villain (he’s Vincent Price after all) he trains these robots in various fields of study by placing a thing with wires on their head, while stood next to a retro-computer (is there any other way?) and sends them off to seduce and marry the world’s richest men so he can get his hands on the money. We can’t be bothered to tell you any more plot than that and to be perfectly honest, there isn’t any.
Any problems? Well, it isn’t actually funny and there’s rather too much weapons-grade misogyny on display. But is it a total write-off? Well that’s the funny thing, there is actually much to be amused by here. Most of it involves laughing at rather than with but, for example, the gag where Price disconnects a robot (we forget her number) from the head-piece to see what she has learned about music is hilarious, if only because it’s the sort of thing The Simpsons has spoofed so many times. Subject of which, Price is actually having a ball here and keeps the thing afloat by virtue of his comic timing (Fred Clark, so brilliant in Hammer’s Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb, is having an off-day and Frankie Avalon is consistently awful, we’re afraid). There are also a couple of Vincent Price movie in-jokes and The Supremes do the theme song. So, if you’ve had a few to drink and you’re in the right mood, this genuine period piece might keep you entertained.
Bizarrely this was such a hit in Italy that Mario Bava directed a sequel. No, really. Can you guess what we’re doing next?
Are we allowed to say Number 8 was our favourite?
DR GOLDFOOT AND THE BIKINI MACHINE (1965) / CERT: PG / DIRECTOR: NORMAN TAUROG / SCREENPLAY: ROBERT KAUFMAN, ELWOOD ULLMAN / STARRING: VINCENT PRICE: FRANKIE AVALON, DWAYNE HICKMAN, SUSAN HART JACK MULLANEY, FRED CLARK / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW