Vintage Beach Party Movies

Do you remember The Simpsons episode where Bart breaks his leg and can’t go swimming with the neighborhood kids? In the Rear Window parody, he isolates himself and becomes paranoid that Flanders killed Maude. If you’re stuck inside this summer, I know a guaranteed way to keep that from happening– beach party movies.

The fun film category wasn’t meant to be deep or meaningful. And its writers and directors knew it. Perhaps that’s why their existence and popularity stayed within the mid 1960s. Yet, watching older media is a great way to create depth in one’s own life by learning from the past. Here are 5 beach party films to hang ten with this summer and check out how fashion, music, and attitudes have changed.


Beach Party (1963)

Beach Party film poster

Beach Party, credited with starting the beach party genre, featured elements that became standard. These characteristics include young people and their interests, 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 (1964)

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 (1965)


Beach Ball film poster

Another characteristic of beach party movies is the use of original music. Many bands and musicians of the era appeared in these films 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 (1965)

Village of the Giants film poster
IMP Awards

Although many beach party movies tended to stick with the routine formula, some like Village of the Giants and The Horror of Party Beach, veered into horror and science fiction. 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 (1967)

It's a Bikini World film poster

It’s a Bikini World was one of the last beach party movies and also somewhat broke away from genre norms of avoiding social issues. Writer/director Stephanie Rothman noted that typical female roles were passive and created a character whom 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, if you also have a broken leg– 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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