“Why Me All the Time?” or The Neptune City-Saturn Town Review #6

27 Jul

As the fleeting summer begins to draw to its abrupt close with the finale of awaiting August, the iconic imagery of American International Pictures Beach Party films still flood the dreams and television screens of the nostalgic, offering the “endless summer” of one of the most enjoyable and timeless motion picture series from American cinema.  

While the charming drive-in duo of “Frankie and Annette” will always pleasantly haunt the California surfs with their music and wholesome Archie Andrews/Andy Hardy shenanigans of the “Gidget” set, it is the delirious performance of their arch-nemesis Eric Von Zipper (played with such likable stupidity by the talented Harvey Lembeck, of Sgt. Bilko fame) who always ends up stealing the show (just like Herbert Lom in the Pink Panther series).

While all of the films in the amazing and sidesplitting Beach Party epic are certainly worth watching, the purpose of the present installment of “The Neptune City-Saturn Town Review” is to point out just a few highlight films in the notorious career of Eric Von Zipper. If you enjoy these, you will certainly enjoy the rest of the canon.

BEACH PARTY (1963) Von Zipper and his motorcycle gang are introduced in this first installment of the series. See Hollywood great Bob Cummings teach Eric Von Zipper “the finger,” a gag carried on through the rest of the films.

PAJAMA PARTY (1964) One of my personal favorites. Von Zipper and friends are up to their usual tricks as they crash super cute Annette Funicello’s pajama party; with Tommy Kirk as a Martian and Buster Keaton (my favorite silent movie star) as an Indian chief. This film also introduces the lovely Bobbi Shaw to the regular Beach Party cast.     

BEACH BLANKET BINGO (1965) Probably the most famous of the series, and extremely enjoyable. Outrageous and hilarious “madcap chase” and Perils of Pauline homage, with a whole lot of scene stealing from Timothy Carey in the role of South Dakota Slim. Von Zipper sings.

THE GHOST IN THE INVISIBLE BIKINI (1966) The final outing for the Beach Party gang, minus Frankie and Annette. Von Zipper in a haunted house.

DR. GOLDFOOT AND THE BIKINI MACHINE (1965) Sort of a prelude to THE GHOST IN THE INVISIBLE BIKINI, it only features a brief cameo of Von Zipper in Dr. Goldfoot’s clutches at the end, but the scene is still extremely hilarious. Dwayne Hickman, Susan Hart, and Vincent Price are at their best.    

Well, that’s all for now, and remember: “Freedom is Ink on the Page.”             

      

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