Category Archives: Frankie Avalon

Blu-Ray Review: How To Stuff A Wild Bikini (1965).

Directed by William Asher
Produced by Samuel Z. Arkoff & James H. Nicholson
Written byWilliam Asher & Leo Townsend
Director Of Photography: Floyd Crosby
Film Editor: Eve Newman
Titles: Art Clokey

Cast: Annette Funicello (Dee Dee), Dwayne Hickman (Ricky), Brian Donlevy (B. D. “Big Deal” McPherson), Buster Keaton (Bwana), Beverly Adams (Cassandra), Harvey Lembeck (Eric Von Zipper), John Ashley (Johnny), Jody McCrea (Bonehead), Mickey Rooney (J. Peachmont “Peachy” Keane), Marianne Gaba (Animal), Len Lesser (North Dakota Pete), Irene Tsu (Native Girl), Arthur Julian (Dr. Melamed), Bobbi Shaw (Khola Koku), Alberta Nelson (Puss), Mary Hughes, Mickey Dora, Frankie Avalon, Michele Carey, Elizabeth Montgomery, The Kingsmen


The merits, or lack of them, of the Beach Party movies may be the embodiment of “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” To me, these things are treasure all the way. I love these stupid movies, so I was overjoyed to learn that Olive Films was bringing How To Stuff A Wild Bikini (1965) to Blu-Ray.

How To Stuff A Wild Bikini is one of the later ones — some consider it the last “official” one, and admittedly things were getting a little tired by this point. But many of the key people and elements are in place — Annette, Eric Von Zipper, Bonehead, Animal, surfing, Rock N Roll, Mary Hughes and so on. Buster Keaton is a welcome addition — he’d been in a couple of the previous ones. Instead of Timothy Carey as South Dakota Slim, we get Len Lesser as North Dakota Pete. Frankie’s on hand, but he’s limited to not much more than a cameo.

It goes something like this. Frankie’s away  Tahiti in the Naval Reserve. While he’s enjoying the company of the local girls, he wonders if maybe Dee Dee (Annette Funicello) is behaving as badly. A witch doctor (Buster Keaton) sends the beautiful Cassandra (Beverly Adams) to the beach to catch the eye of Dwayne Hickman, a young advertising man who’s taken a shine to Annette.

Cassandra creates quite a splash at the beach — all the surfers go nuts for her, an executive (Mickey Rooney) wants to use her to sell stuff, and Eric Von Zipper (Harvey Lembeck) and the Ratz and Mice turn up. It all winds up with a bunch of nonsense on motorcycles, along with a cameo from Elizabeth Montgomery.

Annette Funicello with The Kingsmen.

Some terrific musicians and bands make their way through these films, from Dick Dale to Stevie Wonder. This time around, we get The Kingsmen, the Portland garage band whose “Louie Louie” is the one you hear constantly. A soundtrack LP for the picture had two songs by The Kingsmen, one being the title tune.

And if all that’s not enough, the titles are by Art Clokey, the clay animation guy behind Gumby.

Dee Dee (Annette Funicello): Men! They’re all beasts!
Animal (Marianne Gaba): Yeah. But isn’t it wonderful?

Olive Films has brought How To Stuff A Wild Bikini to Blu-Ray, and it looks splendid. Having seen these things on TV countless time growing up, it’s a revelation to see them on Blu-Ray. Floyd Crosby’s Panavision photography makes the most of the wide screen and saturates the Pathecolor, and it’s all perfectly presented on this Blu-Ray.

Some might consider this a waste of high-definition technology, but this is the only way to see these movies. It’s gorgeous and highly recommended. Now, where’s Bikini Beach (1964)?

Leave a comment

Filed under 1965, AIP, Annette Funicello, Buster Keaton, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, Elizabeth Montgomery, Frankie Avalon, John Ashley, Mickey Rooney, Olive Films

Blu-Ray News #237: How To Stuff A Wild Bikini (1965).

Directed by William Asher
Starring Annette Funicello, Dwayne Hickman, Brian Donlevy, Buster Keaton, Beverly Adams, Harvey Lembeck, John Ashley, Jody McCrea, Mickey Rooney, Len Lesser, Bobbi Shaw, Michele Carey, The Kingsmen, Frankie Avalon, Elizabeth Montgomery

Okay, so maybe the whole Beach Party thing was starting to run out of steam by the time they got around to How To Stuff A Wild Bikini (1965). But who cares? All the elements are in place, from Frankie and Annette to Eric Von Zipper (Harvey Lembeck) and Bonehead (Jody McCrea) to the later addition Buster Keaton (as Bwana in this one).

It’s plenty stupid and tons of Pathécolor, Panavision fun. And I’m so stoked that it’s making its way to Blu-Ray from the folks at Olive Films. They did a tremendous job bringing Muscle Beach Party (1964) and Beach Blanket Bingo (1965) to high definition — let’s hope they get around to Bikini Beach (1964). Coming (in off the curl) in late June.


Filed under 1965, AIP, Annette Funicello, Buster Keaton, Elizabeth Montgomery, Frankie Avalon, John Ashley, Mickey Rooney, Olive Films, William Asher

RIP, Dick Dale.

Dick Dale (Richard Monsour)
May 4, 1937 – March 16, 2019

Dick Dale, The King Of The Surf Guitar, maybe the inventor of Surf Music — and easily the loudest musical performance I ever experienced, has passed away at 81. He’s seen here in Muscle Beach Party (1965) with Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon.

Dale’s 1963 single “The Wedge,” when played at maximum volume, is one of Mankind’s greatest achievements.

Leave a comment

Filed under AIP, Annette Funicello, Frankie Avalon

Blu-ray News #40: Panic In Year Zero! (1962).


Directed by Ray Milland
Starring Ray Milland, Jean Hagan, Frankie Avalon, Willis Bouchey

Ray Milland directed this AIP picture about a family that’s on a camping trip when an atomic bomb is dropped on L.A. They end up having to take on all sorts of human vermin as society begins to fall apart. If there’s a moral to the story, it might be to be sure to take a shotgun along on a camping trip.

Panic In Year Zero! (1962) is in black and white ‘Scope, features a score by Les Baxter and was shot at the Iverson Ranch — no wonder I’ve always had a soft spot for it. It was sometimes paired with Roger Corman’s Tales Of Terror (1962).

Kino Lorber has announced it for Blu-ray release in early 2016 — if mankind lasts that long!



Filed under 1962, AIP, DVD/Blu-ray News, Frankie Avalon, Kino Lorber, Les Baxter, Ray Milland, Roger Corman, Vincent Price

Bikini Beach (1964)

Bikini Beach HS

Directed by William Asher
Produced byJames H. Nicholson and Samuel Z. Arkoff
Co-Producer: Anthony Carras
Screenplay by William Asher, Leo Townsend and Robert Dillon
Photography by Floyd Crosby, ASC
Film Editors: Fred Feitshans and Eve Newman
Art Direction: Daniel Haller
Music Score by Les Baxter
Music Coordinator: Al Simms

Cast: Frankie Avalon (Frankie & Potato Bug), Annette Funicello (Dee Dee), Martha Hyer (Vivian Clements), Don Rickles (Big Drag), Harvey Lembeck (Eric Von Zipper), John Ashley (Johnny), Jody McCrea (Deadhead), Candy Johnson (Candy), Danielle Aubry (Lady Bug), Meredith MacRae (Animal), Delores Wells (Sniffles), Donna Loren, Little Stevie Wonder, The Pyramids, The Exciters Band, Janos Prohaska (Clyde), Timothy Carey (South Dakota Slim), Val Warren (The Teenage Werewolf Monster), Keenan Wynn (Harvey Huntington Honeywagon), Mickey Dora, Gary Ushes, Roger Christian, Mary Hughes, Salli Sachse, Patti Chandler, Boris Karloff (The Art Dealer)


The green metal-flake Volkswagen made its way through the drive-in lot toward the concession stand, its redline tires crunching in the gravel as it prowled in search of the best vantage point. Passing by the Beatnik Bandit, the Deora and the Silhouette, it found its spot, parked and waited for the feature to begin.

$(KGrHqZHJDgFG8V7eTe6BR5EKcPutg~~60_35The concession stand was a shoebox. The screen tower was my parents’ console TV. And the patrons were my Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars. That’s how I saw my first Beach Party flick, Bikini Beach (1964).  It made quite an impression on an eight-year-old kid from South Georgia: I thought life on the California beaches was really like that. I was hooked, and Bikini Beach remains one of my favorite films to this day.

At the time of its release, the critics’ nightmares were coming true: the AIP Beach Party films were becoming a series. And with this third one, they’d truly hit their stride. It’s got surfers, chicks in bikinis, rail dragsters, Beatle satire, Gary Usher songs, Boris Karloff, Don Rickles, Timothy Carey, Eric Von Zipper (Harvey Lembeck), Deadhead (Jody McCrea) and Candy Johnson.

All that, plus a fake monkey who surfs and drags. A masterpiece of Dumb.

bikinilobby1Frankie Avalon plays two roles this time. He’s Frankie the happy-go-lucky surfer, of course, and he’s The Potato Bug, an obnoxious British pop star. He handles the part surprisingly well, turning in a Terry Thomas-ish performance (aided by hysterical fake teeth). He does one satirically Beatlesque tune (complete with the prerequisite “yeah-yeah-yeahs”), playing a cool double-neck Danelectro guitar. Of course, the two Frankies end up competing for Annette’s affection. Annette loves Frankie, as we all know, but if he’d only settle down! (I have to stop here to mention that for some people, such as my wife, the Potato Bug subplot is the cinematic equivalent of Chinese water torture.)


Meredith MacRae and Annette Funicello.

Annette: “I’d always hated the beach. The sea air made my hair frizzy, and as for surfing-forget it. In almost every picture, the director would call for a shot of me running down the beach, board tucked under my arm, then leaping gracefully into the surf and paddling out. But back then boards were over six feet long and weighed upward of twenty-five pounds. I tried several times, but the most they ever got out of it was a totally winded Annette gasping in the sand, my board lying several feet behind me.”


Millionaire Harvey Huntington Honeywagon (Keenan Wynn) is out to get the kids this time, using a chimp named Clyde (actually Janos Prohaska in a monkey outfit) to show up the gang (and teenagers in general) by outdoing them at surfing, drag-racing, etc. Plot-wise, that’s pretty much it. But we’re not here for the plot, are we? Just know there’s a fiery dragster crash, Timothy Carey as a pool hustler named South Dakota Slim, a Boris Karloff cameo, and it somehow ends with a chase that has Eric Von Zipper zipping around in a twin-engine go-kart like a bat out of hell.

Bikini Beach EVZ kart

Bikini Beach seems like a Panavision time capsule of teenage life in Southern California in the early 60s — fed through AIP’s powerful exploitation machine. You’ve got the surf culture, complete with the instrumental surf music that would soon be laid waste by the British Invasion (which itself is represented by The Potato Bug); the drag-racing and custom car sequences featuring a number of real cars and drivers; even go-karting is represented. And some of SoCal’s finest were on hand as technical advisors (sometimes with credit): “TV” Tommy Ivo, a 50s TV star who turned to drag-racing in the 60s; legendary surfer Mickey Dora, surf-hot rod songwriters Roger Christian and Gary Usher; and Von Deming, “West Coast Go-kart Champion.”

Bikini Beach Big Drag

Don Rickles does a lot for this film, returning as Jack Fanny (from 1964’s Muscle Beach Party) — who’s now changed his name to Big Drag, ditching the bodybuilding scene for the drags and the arts. “…I got out of the Fanny business. That’s all behind me now.” (Smart move, Jack.) His club, Big Drag’s Pit Stop, is where the kids all hang out.

Don Rickles: “They’d shoot the entire picture in a couple of weeks. Fourteen days from start to finish… One problem: I was working clubs up in Hollywood at the same time. I’d get home at 4, grab an hour’s sleep and head out at 5 for a 6AM call at the Malibu Pier. When the camera started rolling, my eyes started rolling back. I was out of it.”

Timothy Carey is hilarious and a little creepy as South Dakota Slim, a creepy nut-job pool hustler. He’d have a bigger part in the next Beach movie, Beach Blanket Bingo (1965). To see him share a scenes with Harvey Lemback (as Eric Von Zipper) is terrific.

Ivo model box

Some great cars get screen time here. First, check out Clyde’s dragster. It’s The Showboat, a four-engine Buick-powered dragster owned by “TV” Tommy Ivo. The Showboat has four slicks and when it hops off the line at Big Drag’s Dragstrip, it smokes up the entire track. How did anybody see to steer the thing? (A model of the car was available from Revell.) However, it turned out that four engines were not necessarily an advantage: due to the extra weight, it was slower than Ivo’s twin-engine machine.

Bikini Beach Mantaray

Frankie and Annette check out Dean Jeffries’ Mantaray in Pamona.

Dean Jeffries’ showcar, the Mantaray, also appears. The Potato Bug cruises up to the dragstrip in it. That’s actually Jeffries, in the Bug’s duds, behind the wheel. Jeffries is also the creator of the Black Beauty from TV’s The Green Hornet. All the racing scenes were shot at Pamona Raceway, using footage from the ’64 Winternationals (including a run from “Big Daddy” Don Garlits).

S111-300The music’s always great in these things, but a real highlight here is an appearance by The Pyramids, the crazed bald surf band from Long Beach known for their hit “Penetration.” They do two songs, “Record Run” and the boss instrumental “Bikini Drag.” (Both tunes finally appeared on a Pyramids compilation CD from the good people at Sundazed.) Donna Loren sings “Love’s A Secret Weapon,” backed by The Exciters Band as Candy Johnson does her incredible gyrations. The Exciters Band, who backed Candy for her nightclub act, serves as the house band whenever The Pyramids aren’t around. “Little” Stevie Wonder also appears, singing over the end credits.

Bikini Beach Donna L Candy J

Donna Loren sings, as Candy Johnson does her Candy Johnson thing.

The story goes that The Beatles were contacted about appearing in Bikini Beach, but by the time production got underway, the Fab Four had appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show and were now demanding far more than AIP’s $600,000 budget would allow. So The Beatles became The Potato Bug.


AIP’s Jim Nicholson, contest winner Val Warren and Famous Monsters’ Forrest J. Ackerman.

Around this time, Famous Monsters Of Filmland magazine held a monster makeup contest with the winner getting the chance to appear in an AIP film — and AIP getting their movie plugged in FM. The winner was Val Warren, which explains why there’s a werewolf drinking milk at the pool hall with South Dakota Slim and Eric Von Zipper. Given the tone of the film, he’s right at home.


The great Floyd Crosby was Bikini Beach‘s director of photography — and he keeps things bright and colorful throughout. Around the same time, he was shooting AIP’s Corman/Poe series, which gave him a chance to really experiment. (Floyd is also former Byrd David Crosby’s dad.)

I watch Bikini Beach about once a year. There’s something about it that just makes me happy. It’s dumb, it’s funny, the music’s great, the cars are cool, it’s got Timothy Carey in it. It’s available on a great-looking DVD from MGM (and as part of a set of all the Beach Party movies). I long for the day when it’s available on Blu-ray. Then, all will be right with the world.

bikini-beach-movie-shoot cropped

Patti Chandler captured in Panavision and Pathécolor.

beach-party-frankie-annetteThis post is comin’ in off the curl as part of the Beach Party Blogathon hosted by Speakeasy and Silver Screenings, June 8-12, 2015. Be sure to check out the other posts offered up by bloggers and gremmies from all across the web. And do the wise thing: apply plenty of sunscreen.

SOURCES: A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes by Annette Funicello, and Rickles’ Book: A Memoir by Don Rickles


Filed under 1964, AIP, Annette Funicello, Boris Karloff, Don Rickles, Frankie Avalon, Timothy Carey, William Asher

Blu-Ray News #15: Four From American International Pictures (And Olive Films).

AIP logo scope

Olive Films has announced four terrific titles from American International Pictures (AIP) for February release on Blu-ray.

Frankie Annette drivein

Muscle Beach Party (1964)
Directed by William Asher
Starring Frankie Avalon, Annette Funicello, Luciana Paluzzi, John Ashley, Don Rickles, Jody McCrea, Dick Dale, Candy Johnson, Morey Amsterdam, Buddy Hackett, Little Stevie Wonder

Beach Blanket Bingo (1965)
Directed by William Asher
Starring Frankie Avalon, Annette Funicello, Deborah Walley, Harvey Lembeck, John Ashley, Jody McCrea, Donna Loren, Linda Evans, Timothy Carey, Don Rickles, Paul Lynde


The Wild Angels (1966)
Directed by Roger Corman
Starring Peter Fonda, Nancy Sinatra, Bruce Dern, Diane Ladd, Michael J. Pollard, Gayle Hunnicutt, Dick Miller


Psych-Out (1968)
Directed by Richard Rush
Starring Susan Strasburg, Dean Stockwell, Jack Nicholson, Bruce Dern, Adam Roarke, The Seeds, The Strawberry Alarm Clock

This is some of the stuff that rotted my brain as a kid. Essential.

Leave a comment

Filed under 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, AIP, Annette Funicello, Buddy Hackett, Dick Miller, Don Rickles, DVD/Blu-ray News, Frankie Avalon, Olive Films, Peter Bogdanovich, Peter Fonda, Roger Corman, Timothy Carey, William Asher