I know what you’re all thinking. With a name like Psycho Beach Party, how can you go wrong? The answer is, you just can’t. Is it a cinematic marvel? Lord no, but it’s an incredibly enjoyable ride.
What I think I find most interesting is that most movie spoofs tire out at some point. It just becomes something you’re so familiar with that it actually takes effort to laugh. With Psycho Beach Party, I never really lost focus on the movie. The premise of Gidget meets schlock and camp is admittedly pretty out there, but they manage to pull it off.
Perhaps one of the greatest strengths that they have is the cast. The movie was released in 2000 so it was before most of these people became big names (such as Amy Adams and Lauren Ambrose) or even people who were relatively big at the time (I could put the actors and actresses names here but I’m going to stick to the roles you know them as… Aunt Zelda from “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” and Xander from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”). It’s easy, especially when doing a 50s movies spoof, to ham it up, but there’s no real surprise in that. Anybody with a camera can do that. There’s something to be said about knowing when to be incredibly over-the-top and when to pull it back just at the right moment. It takes skill and there’s a lot of reliance on timing with this movie, but it’s clear from the very beginning that this movie is in good hands with its cast.
Another thing that I brought to the movie, that most people probably don’t, is my knowledge of the movies that it’s spoofing. True, everyone has at least a minor understanding of the movies of the decade, but I took a class on drive-in cinema last summer. this doesn’t make me an expert by any means, but I’m probably more aware of some of the mockery that’s a direct reference to certain movies. Then again, this movie can still be enjoyed without having seen stuff like Beach Blanket Bingo and Gidget but it just adds to it.
Psycho Beach Party may not have anything new or important to say, but it’s fun and doesn’t pretend to be anything else. It’s refreshing to see some old faces (especially when Lauren Ambrose goes all ghetto) in something so unabashedly pointless. I’m sure you could read into it and find some sort of socio-cultural message, but with this movie that’s far from the point. For the first time in a long time, I can say just sit back and enjoy.