Thursday, July 04, 2013
A Pretty Ghoul In A Bikini
AIP pretty much wrapped up its Beach Party series in 1966 with the financially and creatively unsuccessful THE GHOST IN THE INVISIBLE BIKINI. There isn’t a beach to be seen anywhere. In fact, all the action takes place in a haunted castle with a swimming pool.
After shooting was completed (early titles included THE GHOST IN THE GLASS BIKINI and BIKINI PARTY IN A HAUNTED HOUSE!), producers James Nicholson and Samuel Arkoff considered the film unreleasable, so they hired Boris Karloff (FRANKENSTEIN) to work one day and Susan Hart (DR. GOLDFOOT AND THE BIKINI MACHINE) to do two weeks of wraparound segments and random nonsense that editor Ronnie Sinclair could insert (Sinclair may have also directed the reshoots). With AIP unable to convince Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello to sign up, the film was a bust, and the studio turned to auto racing for its next “Beach Party” picture, FIREBALL 500.
Karloff is Hiram Stokely, a corpse who can only get into Heaven by performing a good deed on Earth. Peering through a crystal ball (the ill Karloff films all of his scenes while sitting), he tries to prevent Chuck Phillips (Tommy Kirk, returning from PAJAMA PARTY) from being cheated out of his inheritance by sleazy lawyer Reginald Ripper (Basil Rathbone, who didn’t enjoy working with so many kids). Hart’s ghost randomly pops in to commit mischievous acts against Ripper and his comic sidekick Jesse White, returning from PAJAMA PARTY as J. Sinister Hulk.
Director Don Weis stumbles through the usual rock songs, slapstick, dancing, and goofy fun, and none of it cuts together very well. The fragmented production is quite evident and isn’t helped by the fact that, because of the nature of the visual effects, Hart had to wear an unflattering blond wig. Chuck tries to get frisky with sweet redhead Lili (actress Deborah Walley accidentally calls Kirk “John” once), while blond Goo Goo (Aron Kincaid, sorta playing the Jody McCrea role) falls under the spell of sinister redhead, uh, Sinestra, who’s played by the show-stopping Quinn O’Hara.
It was a good year for Nancy Sinatra, who had this, THE WILD ANGELS, and “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’” in 1966. Here, she sings “Geronimo,” backed by the Bobby Fuller Four. Also with Patsy Kelly, Francis X. Bushman, the annoying Piccola Pupa, Andy Romano, Bobbi Shaw, Benny Rubin (in a role clearly written for the late Buster Keaton), Luree Nicholson, Salli Sachse, Patti Chandler, and, of course, Harvey Lembeck, trotting out Eric Von Zipper for the last time.