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Psycho Beach Party

Gidget goes schizoid in this campy send-up of '50s beach movies crossed with B grade horror thrillers.


Surfers wipe out big time as hacked up body parts keep washing up in this kooky over-the-top spoof. Drag diva Charles Busch plays police Capt. Monica Stark, hot on the trail of a serial killer. Her chief suspect is sweet Chicklet, a plucky bobbysoxer who wants to surf with the beach boys. What psychosexual trauma in Chicklet's childhood subconscious is causing her personality to fracture into that of a toxic vixen?


Lauren Ambrose ("Can't Hardly Wait") comically pinballs from one goofball genre cliché to another as she plays the squeaky clean Chicklet and split personalities such as a black girl from the streets and a villainous femme fatale. In a droll, nuanced performance, Busch lampoons the tough-but sensitive woman cop with a secret past. Other cast members -- "Dharma and Greg's" Thomas Gibson as a rhyming hep cat, Matt Keeslar as a sinister Swede -- revel in rampant parodies, mock bad acting and faux innocence infused with a twisted gay sensibility.


Robert Lee King's adaptation of Busch's Off Broadway play is awash in kitsch, giddy homoeroticism and bold colors. Not unlike John Waters' "Serial Mom" or a twisted take on "Pleasantville," this savvy satire of Americana features fun sequences of beefcake wrestling, dance contests at a Hawaiian luau, trashy shock-value gruesome appendages and cheesy special effects as sound stage surfers ride the waves before a filmed backdrop.

Bottom Line

More music, more dance and more Busch would surely have enhanced this frivolous punch-drunk escapade.


Starring Lauren Ambrose, Beth Broderick, Matt Keeslar, Nicholas Brandon and Amy Adams.

Directed by Robert Lee King. Produced by Marcus Hu. Screenplay by Charles Busch. Released by Strand Releasing.