Take your clothes off and scream!
It's another case of The Murders at the Rue Nudist Colony, as a giant hairy ape (no, not the local poolside lothario) is terrorizing the skin-showing citizens of Camp Sunstroke as they sleep in their Viet Cong prison camp style bungalows. While hospitalized with advanced monkey burns, a young man regales the police with his ribald tall of wife Betty, her desire for an even, all-over tan, and their descent into the primitive, South Florida sun worshippers hell, only to come face to chest with The Beast that Killed Women (or more appropriately, the Guy in an Ape Suit who Offs One Miss and Scares A Couple More). The police call out their super-elite gorilla strike force and the business suit clad fuzz, along with their own high-toned J Fred muggable Mary, tour the resort for a little evidence tampering. Guns blaze, accents become foreign and inconsistent, and scantily clad women argue about who gets the top bunk bed. Turns out all the monkeyshines are some rich woman's fault.
Meanwhile, a drippy doctor discovers that his formula for Ale 8 imparts his lab rats with the fiendish desire to leap at his nudist nurse and force her out the window in a manic mouse desire to kill. He then does what any responsible research expert would do with a quart of the volatile potion—he hurls it into the Hudson River sealed up in an old Dijonnaise jar. The potent potable pollution relaxes its mind and floats downstream to Camp Sunshine, an upstate nudist colony run by the outlandishly southern accented Susanna (who won't cry for me or anybody). When a fisherman releases the heady brew into the local skinny dipping hole, the antebellum broad's non-nature loving halfwit/brother, Hugo, takes a mighty fistful and starts acting like Jeb Stuart, ready to march through the resort with an axe on his knee (not a banjo). Eventually, that great savior of all madmen on the loose movies, the archival armed forces stock footage, shows up to blow the buffoon to kingdom come.
Both The Beast that Killed Women and The Monster of Camp Sunshine are classic examples of movies that exist for a sole purpose. No, they are not trying to showcase cinematic competence, intricate plot, fine acting, decent sound recording, or kindergarten level day/night continuity. In the case of both films, it's all about the boobs (with a little about the butt thrown in for good measure). These pre-freedom censorship testers tried to get away with as much as possible within the confines of the known court cases and understood the bare body boundaries inside and out. That is why towels, tables, trees, hats, knees, and carefully placed beach balls seem to circumvent any and all crotch shots, as do the odd, uncomfortable ways the men and women sit. There is so much leg crossing and knee bending going on here that the cast seems in need of a good orthopedic surgeon, or a group incontinence drug, ASAP. Beast is the better of the two films, if only because it offers its bodkin bounty in all its lascivious living color tones. Byron Mabe gives the performance of a nap time as he is required to do very little except lay in bed and eat cherry Jell-O. The rest of the cast is standard issue Camelot era sunbathers who vary in size and sexuality from voluptuous to vile, svelte to overly stocky. The entire monkey plotline is a mere ploy to spend long periods of times with women of inconsistent sex appeal discussing the concept of fear, bed sharing, and the oddly barren living conditions in the park's barracks.
Schlock director Barry Mahon must have fancied himself another Hitchcock, or at least was too unimaginative to experiment with the camera, since the extended chase scenes in Beast between victims/police/errant ape have an odd rhythm and specific repetitive shot sequence to them. Cut to chimp running up path. Cut to police running up path. Cut to chimp running past trees. Cut to police running past trees. Cut to chimp entangled in vines. Cut to…you get the idea. But at least The Beast that Killed Women is entertaining for its 61 minute running time. While starting out with a weird, warped promise, The Monster of Camp Sunshine degenerates into a series of Roaring Twenties musical cues, Civil War folk songs, and faux silent movie title cards. Opening with a Monty Python meets "Hello Skinny" animation montage that showcases obtuse stop motion cut-outs and the image of a strange older man humping the skyline of New York City (or something that at least could be interpreted as such), we soon find ourselves in the closest thing to a Doris Wishman movie that the late, great lady never made. Dialogue is looped, inappropriate facial expressions fail to match up with soundtrack sentiments, everything and everyone in NYC looks gritty and tired, and the nudity here falls into the Renee Taylor/New Leaf School of "please God don't let them out" disrobing. After the initial mouse martial arts, the movie stumbles and just seems to limp along until military stock footage and dozens of repeated shots hopefully put the monster, and us, out of our misery once and for all. At only 74 minutes, this is one long ass movie.
Offered in a seemingly now dead, but very much missed Drive-In Double Feature DVD format, Something Weird Video turns this title into a true nudist smorgasbord. As part of an interactive "night" at the local passion pit or viewed individually, the added material offered runs the unclothed gamut from a scientific and sociological study of nudist culture to a particularly insane short (perhaps an excerpt from another nudist classic) entitled Nude Fashion Show. To get an idea of what this flesh feast is like, imagine your grandmother, your maiden aunts, and several of the country club's blowsier members wearing outlandish platinum wigs and modeling furs and stoles au natural, and you comprehend the magnitude of the queasiness involved here. As for the films themselves, The Beast the Killed Women and The Monster of Camp Sunshine are presented in full frame, near pristine transfers with only trace age defects. The shorts all suffer from various source issues, as does all the linking drive-in material. Unlike other SWV Double Features, the intermission and preview banter is a tad more generic and uninteresting than usual. Still, when selected for an overall presentation, the effect is fine. While not up to the standard of some of the more captivating nudie cutie films of the '60s, The Beast that Killed Women / Monster of Camp Sunshine proves that baring it all is not the only thing that takes guts in the life of a sun worshipping health nut. Agreeing to appear in exploitation movies also tests one's epidermal fortitude.
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