What happens when you take psychological suspense films and merge them with 60's beach party movies? You get Psycho Beach Party -- a modern, warped homage that gives hope to spoof flicks -- especially in the days of eye-travesties like Epic Movie. The film is by no means a modern marvel of satire, but it is a fun, gender-bending, groovy surfing send-off to the old and loved, yet terrible movies of the past.
Psycho Beach Party focuses on Lauren Ambrose, pre-Six Feet Under, as Florence Forrest. A social outcast along with her friend Berdine, Florence is in those itchy years of puberty – she's starting to fall for boys, but is still stuck in the awkward innocence of youth. It also doesn't help that she's also got a tough, wonder-woman-Donna-Reed mom named Ruth (Beth Broderick). Florence's innocence is soon to change, however, because dead people keep popping up, and boy-crazy Marvel Ann (pre-Oscar nomination Amy Adams) needs a drive to the beach so that she can hit on a cute surfer named Starcat (Buffy's Nicholas Brendon).
Florence ends up joining Starcat's surfing circle, which includes two obviously gay, yet totally delusional surfers, a guy with one testicle and another who suffers from psoriasis. They dub her "Chicklet," and she learns to surf under the tutelage of Kanaka (Thomas Gibson). Unfortunately, a wrench is put in her upward mobility – she has split personalities. Any time she gets worked up, circular objects begin to spin in her eyes and she snaps into her alter ego -- Ann Bowman, a saucy, deep-voiced sexual dynamo. (On the odd occasion, she also turns into Tyleen, a sassy black girl.) As Ann, she growls over those who put Florence down, but she mainly bides her time in an off-screen kinkfest with Kanaka, who in one scene proudly displays "Ann Bowman Rules" carved into his butt cheek.
To sweeten the pot even further, there's the squeaky-voiced B-movie starlet Bettina Barnes (Kimberley Davies) who has starred in movies like The Pizza Waitress with Three Heads (scenes of which are shown at the beginning of the movie). She's moved into a haunted house on the beach that has a creepy past -- the previous owners were murdered by their young son there. Finishing off the cast are two Splendor alums -- Kathleen Robertson and Matt Keeslar. She plays Rhonda, a paralyzed girl whose initial sweetness always gives way to the snarkiest meanness and bitterness, and he plays Lars, a Swedish exchange student, living with the Forrest family, who throws around a terrible accent.
With all the cast in place, the movie flies all over the place with its twists, yet remains anchored in its surfer, beach party roots. There are a number of faux surfing scenes where the surfers hang ten in front of video of ocean waves, and of course, no beach party movie would be complete without the party. In this case, it's a luau that has a dance-off between Bettina and Marvel-Ann, as well as a virgin ceremony that looks a lot like the luau ceremony in Grease 2. If you like camp and quirk, and a great selection of 90's talent, you can't go wrong with Psycho Beach Party. At the very least, it's prime for a drinking game or a Mystery Science Theater treatment.