The Beach Girls and the Monster (1965)

Completed in April 1964, “Surf Terror” had to wait over a year before finally being issued under the more exploitive title “The Beach Girls and the Monster,” quickly making its way to TV screens under still another, “Monster from the Surf” (this version featuring about 7-8 minutes of added footage). Former matinée idol Jon Hall, remembered for “The Hurricane,” “Invisible Agent,” “The Invisible Man’s Revenge,” and numerous camp vehicles opposite Maria Montez, stars in his final screen appearance, doubling as both director and cinematographer. Following on the heels of Del Tenney’s better known “The Horror of Party Beach,” both films’ reliance on black and white contrast with the sun drenched colors of AIP’s ‘Beach Party’ series. After a nice opening murder done by the titular monster from a cave, the film quickly bogs down with the silly beach antics of the teens, the lowest (or highest) camp moment coming when ‘Kingsley the Lion’ does his rendition of “There’s a Monster in the Surf,” joined by super cutie Elaine Dupont, courageously squealing with abandon. The domestic drama finds Richard Lindsay (Arnold Lessing) losing interest in following in his father’s footsteps after a car crash that cripples his artist friend (Walker Edmiston). His disapproving father, eminent oceanographer Dr. Otto Lindsay (Jon Hall), suggests that the marauding creature may be an African fantigua fish, which he says is capable of walking on land, and can grow to 100 lbs. Otto believes that those harmless teens are capable of murder, while his wife of five years (Sue Casey) rejects him while flirting outrageously with all the other males around, even her stepson Richard. Judging by these events, the twisted climax is perfectly fitting, almost apologizing for the lame monster suit. Hall still looked fit and trim just seven years earlier in “Hell Ship Mutiny,” here nearly unrecognizable, sluggish and overweight. No great shakes in terms of acting or directing, an almost appropriate conclusion to his career, low brow adventure films and the cheesy series RAMAR OF THE JUNGLE, Hall’s one last acting credit a 1965 PERRY MASON (he committed suicide in 1979, suffering from terminal cancer).