5 Summer Beach Movies

Beach Chair

Do you remember that Simpsons where Bart breaks his leg and can’t go swimming with the rest of the neighborhood kids? A parody of Hitchcock’s Rear Window, the episode features Bart isolating himself and growing paranoid Flanders killed Maude. If you’re stuck inside this summer, don’t let this happen to you! Much like that 20 year old Simpsons episode, it’s always good to revisit the past to see how it holds up. Here are five 1960s beach party films to hang ten with and check out how fashion, music, and attitudes have changed.


Beach Party film poster


Credited with starting the beach party genre, Beach Party featured elements that became standard: young people and their interests, a light-heartedness, and simple storylines albeit if a bit silly. This first film stars the popular pairing Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello, Funicello being one of original Mouseketeers of The Mickey Mouse Club.


Surf Party film poster


You know you’ve hit it big when you’ve got imitators. Surf Party, released less than a year after Beach Party, is known as the first “ripoff” of the latter. While Beach Party and most of the genre’s films were released by AIP, Surf Party was released by Fox. This studio put out three films of the sort which were notably in black and white.


Beach Ball film poster


Another characteristic of beach party films is the use of original music. Many bands and musicians of the era appeared in these movies including Stevie Wonder, Sonny and Cher, The Beach Boys, and James Brown. Beach Ball features the performances of The Supremes, The Four Seasons, The Righteous Brothers, The Hondells, and the Walker Brothers.


Village of the Giants film poster
IMP Awards


Though many beach party films tended to stick with the routine formula, some like Village of the Giants and The Horror of Party Beach veered into horror and scifi. Others even tried to parody spy movies. Giants stars some names that are still recognizable today (Beau Bridges, Ron Howard, Toni Basil). Additionally, its theme song was used as the title music for Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof.


It's a Bikini World film poster


One of the last beach party films, It’s a Bikini World also somewhat broke away from genre norms of avoiding social issues. Noting typical girl roles were passive, writer and director Stephanie Rothman created a character who challenges her male counterpart. Not only does World get feminist plot cred but it’s also said to be the only film of the category directed by a woman.

Revisiting the past doesn’t just let you see how society has changed; it also allows you to measure how much you have grown. So make sure– that once you can– to make and save all the memories you can! So that one day you can look back and think… what the heck was I wearing?

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