Sunday, October 24, 2010

Ghost in the Invisible Bikini 1966 ***

Dir: Don Weis

Stars: Tommy Kirk, Aron Kincaid, Boris Karloff, Nancy Sinatra, Harvey Lembeck, Monstro the Gorilla

This is not the most obscure of films, but in terms of what it provides for bizarre enjoyment, it's tops. This is considered one of the AIP "beach" films, but it's missing several ingredients - there's no Frankie, no Annette, and no beach. But it compensates, does it ever, with Boris Karloff, Basil Rathbone, and a haunted house, just for starters. Not an awful lot of movies have scenes of biker gangs, go-go bikini dancing, ghosts, gorillas, dungeons and wax statues, but this one does, and more.

The main plot involves Karloff as elderly Hiram Stokely discovering he is dead and that he has to do a good deed or he goes to the bad place. So he oversees a weekend get together of relatives to make sure the inheritance goes to the right place. One thing leads to another and soon groups of teens are doing the monkey and every other current dance out by the swimming pool, to the swinging sounds of Nancy Sinatra and the Bobby Fuller Four. The song performed there, "Geronimo", is probably the best song in the picture, per se, but a couple of the other songs are well worth it due simply to their strange incongruity. For instance, at one point baddie Basil's daughter, the shapely Sinestra, is supposed to use her feminine wiles to fool heir Kincaid into drinking some poison. Only trouble is, gee whiz, Sin loses her glasses and ends up singing her song to a suit of armour, shimmying nicely all the while.

A circus caravan with a gorilla shows up, and then Eric Von Zipper and his bikers as well, and soon all sorts of hallway hijinks are taking place in the mansion as secret passageways are uncovered. Everyone winds up in the secret dungeon where, after some Perils of Pauline action with a mill saw - in which a young heiress is nearly cut off from the will, as it were - all is well and the youngsters start a kah-razy dance party in the dungeon. Oh, yeah, and all the while the former Mrs. Stokely, who died many years ago, is appearing as a ghost in an invisible bikini.

This is no masterwork of acting, and there are practically no close-ups, except on Boris, with many extended stationary longshots. But the flick is definitely groovy fun.

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