Grindhouse Classics : “The Beast That Killed Women”

Posted: January 15, 2013 in movies
Tags: , , , , , , ,

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So, like, what’s this one all about, then?

Actually, believe it or not,  the title of director/”star” Barry Mahon’s 1965 nudist camp “thriller” The Beast That Killed Women is something of a misnomer — it might more appropriately be called The Beast That Killed Naked Women. And really, there’s not much more you really need to know beyond that, but since you asked —

Part Miami Beach video travel brochure (in the days before there were such things as “video travel brochures”), part “naturist expose” (an old trick filmmakers used to employ to show a lot of skin in their flicks without running afoul of the law in the days before hardcore, or even softcore, porn was legal), and part standard-issue “dude in a gorilla suit on the loose” -type story, The Beast That Killed Women tries to be a lot of different things and succeeds at precisely none of them.

For one thing, the skin on display isn’t just far less than titillating, it gets downright dull after about 10 minutes (thankfully the film’s total runtime is only 60 — but be warned, it completely runs out of gas after about 30); for another, even by the dismally/gloriously low standards of 60s nudie pics, the “plot” is stark in its ineptitude (wife unhappy with her lack of an all-over tan convinces her hubby to sign them up for a week (I think) at a Miami nudist resort, but no sooner do they get there than an escaped ape with a taste for female flesh starts terrorizing the place — finally, a reasonably attractive female police detective volunteers to go “undercover” — as in, without covers — to capture the run-amok monster); and lastly on our list of things this flick does poorly, the ape suit is almost surrealistically cheap and unconvincing. Here’s visual proof if you doubt me —

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Still, the movie does have its “charms,” I suppose, if we’re using that term loosely enough — the cast is completely uncredited (although I recognized Dolores Carlos, a second-tier mainstay in these type of pictures, as the wife who’s the nominal star of the proceedings); there’s a laughably absurd scene where the cops bring a body on a stretcher through a nudist volleyball game (truth be told, the filmmakers see fit to regale us with no less than three separate naked volleyball scenes, for whatever reason) and everyone just keeps playing; director Mahon does double duty as both a cop and the curiously slack-mouthed gorilla; and the film manages to pull off the amazing feat of making Miami Beach look like the dullest place in the world even though there are nude bodies on display all over the place.

Honestly, I’m hoping the whole thing was shot in a day, otherwise there’s absolutely no excuse for how limp (pun definitely intended) it all turned out.

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Curious as it may sound, though, the fact that this movie sucks doesn’t mean that the DVD it’s contained on, a double-bill from Something Weird Video that finds it paired with The Monster Of Camp Sunshine, is a total bust. On the contrary, it’s pretty good — provided you survive the main feature itself. For one thing, the just-mentioned Monster Of Camp Sunshine is a solid slice of inept cinematic unintentional weirdness that really deserves a review of its own (so I’ll get to it soon, I promise), and for another, it’s loaded with a genuinely bizarre grab-bag of extras that includes six different “archival short subjects,” ranging from the 1920s through the 1960s, all with a nudist theme; there’s a huge gallery of drive-in exploitation poster and advertising art; there’s a generous helping of other “nudie cutie” trailers in addition to the trailers for both of these flicks; there’s a selection of those cool old-school “let’s all go to the lobby”-type intermission ads — the list is pretty much endless. You can play either movie by itself, or go  the “Drive-In Experience” route, which allows you to watch both back-to-back with trailers and ads shoehorned in at the start and in between the two features. It’s all pretty goddamn awesome, it must be said.

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Our final verdict, then, is a pretty schizophrenic one — the worst thing about The Beast That Killed Women, the DVD, is The Beast That Killed Women, the movie.

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