Monster From Bikini Beach (2008)

DVD Cover (Retromedia)
Darin Wood Darin Wood
David Ainsworth David Ainsworth
Betty Chiang Betty Chiang
Sid Garcia-Heberger Sid Garcia-Heberger
Liesel Hanson Liesel Hanson
Bethany Hidden Bethany Hidden

5.1 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Genres: Creature Film, Detective Film, Horror, Natural Horror
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Review by Chad
Added: December 18, 2008
Monster from Bikini Beach is one of those rare beasts that, with just a quick glance at the title, most movie fans can decide whether or not it's a disc that belongs on their shelf. Just look at the three key words in there: "Monster", "Bikini", and "Beach." Do you want to see a monster movie that takes its inspiration from the beach movies of the fifties while also serving up plenty of bikini-clad hotties and a fair amount of T&A? You do? Well, this film promises all of that, and it sure as hell delivers on all accounts. Now, I knew going in that I would enjoy something like this; after all, what's not to love about a monster from the sea devouring scantily-clad beach bunnies and leaving a trail of gore and entrails in its wake? What shocked me was how well it was done and how well it not only made the material work, but how it also managed to elevate said material far beyond the level of enjoyment that it rightfully should have delivered.

There are two main stories taking place throughout the duration of the film, with a minor third that serves to tie the two main points together later on. It all takes place in the pleasant little town of Camaroville, a beachfront community that has a major monster problem on its hands. You see, there's this monster that mauls nubile young women for no apparent reason, and... well, do you really need anything else to have a bona fide crisis? This leads us to photojournalist Archie Barclay (Galen Howard) and news reporter Raquel Vanvanderzander (Stephanie Hyden), two lovable young scamps who are itching to expose this story for slightly differing reasons; Archie is fascinated with the concept of monsters and wants to prove that his collection of clippings from the Weekly World News is legit journalism, while Raquel simply wants to make a name for herself with the biggest story of the century. A monster will bring them together, but love may very well bring them even closer... if they can survive. Aiding them in their mission are the local noodlers Noodlin' Stu (Keith Letl) and Fanny Jo (Liesel Hanson), two citizens of the deep south who see a giant monster from the sea as a personal challenge to their noodling skills.

Meanwhile, a crooked detective by the name of Sammy Payday (Stephen Vargo) has decided to all but ignore the ever-growing number of murders in favor of tracking down a huge shipment of cocaine that has turned up missing after someone crossed the local mob and died for their troubles. Though the identity of this now-deceased rat is known to all, the location of his stolen goods is not... and if Sammy can get his hands on it before the mobsters do, he'll be able to blow this crummy little town and live the good life with his main squeeze Boom-Boom (Laura Stahl) down on a Mexican beach for the rest of his years. The only thing standing in his way is the fact that Boom-Boom wants to shake her ass and win a trophy at the local Go-Go-A-Thon, and as our investigative heroes will soon discover, a building full of half-naked women shaking what their mamas gave them will prove to be too much of a temptation for the aquatic beast.

As you can no doubt tell, there's a lot of different pieces working together to tell the tale of this booty-hungry monster, but surprisingly, almost all of it works; the seemingly-unrelated stories come together at the appropriate time and their integration makes complete sense in the grand scheme of things. Think of it as a fifties monster movie meets a sixties beach movie meets a seventies detective film with a hearty helping of modern-era gore and T&A as told in a pulp magazine. It's an unlikely combination, granted, but it works. All of this leads to an unlikely conclusion that you probably won't see coming, but again, it fits in perfectly with the universe that these filmmakers created.

To further sweeten the deal, both of the separate stories are interesting in their own little way prior to the grand finale. The love interest angle between Archie and Raquel is admittedly a little corny, but it never feels out of place and the two actors do make it work out far better than it could have. There's some fine writing on display here, and these two play off of one another nicely to make the already good script that much better. On the other side of the fence, I particularly enjoyed Sammy Payday as the deplorable detective who cares about nothing other than lining his own pocket with a little green. Again, the writing for this story is great, and yes, Stephen Vargo makes the character work. I also have to give a special mention to Liesel Hanson as the Southern gal with a thing for catfish, as even though she wasn't one of the main characters and didn't get a whole lot of screentime by comparison, she managed to steal a couple of scenes with her timing and line delivery.

The special effects are of the "man in a rubber suit" variety and this is really quite noticeable, but to fault the film for this would be a little silly. You see, this aspect of the movie is a blatant homage to those old, cheesy monster movies that your parents likely grew up with, and when you consider that those movies featured monsters that were just as silly as the one found here... well, it wouldn't be a proper homage if they had created this bad boy with CGI wizardry. This is not to say that the monster is completely without charm as it does look quite good with all things considered, but you're really not going to want to go into this one expecting Cloverfield.

Again, this is a release that you only need to read the synopsis for to tell if you're going to enjoy it - it's an homage to those classic monster movies with some detective tomfoolery thrown in to add to the bizarreness, it features plenty of female flesh for the guys in the audience, and of course, there's a lot of bloody entrails being splashed around. It also features a great storyline to tie all of this together, and while I'm sure that this movie isn't for everyone, it'll certainly get a thumbs up from any of you who read this review and thought that it sounded interesting. It doesn't aim to please everybody, but its target audience will damned sure get a kick out of it. 9/10.
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Christy Savage #1: Christy Savage - added 12/22/2008, 03:13 PM
Thanks so much for the kind words, Chad!
We really appreciate the feedback and the positive review!
-Christy, MFBB Producer
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