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May 10, 2024 84 mins

In this episode of Weirdhouse Cinema, Rob is joined by Seth Nicholas Johnson of Rusty Needle’s Record Club to discuss 2000’s “Psycho Beach Party,” a sendup of 1960s beach party movies and their cultural ideals, starring Lauren Ambrose and written by Charles Busch, who also co-stars. 

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Speaker 1 (00:03):
Welcome to Stuff to Blow your Mind, a production of iHeartRadio.

Speaker 2 (00:13):
Hey you welcome to Weird House Cinema. This is Rob
Lamb and you know, at this very moment Joe is away.
So I reached out once more to Seth Nicholas Johnson
of Rusty Needles Record Club to discuss a film here
on Weird House Cinema. Seth, welcome back to the show.

Speaker 3 (00:29):
Thank you for having me again, Always happy to return.

Speaker 2 (00:31):
Now, this is an interesting pick. This is not a
film that I was familiar with at all. It is
I guess you might describe it as an overlooked Jim
the Year two thousand's Psycho Beach Party, a wonderfully campy
comedy that takes the nineteen sixties beach Party movie by
way of a little seventies horror and uses this to

(00:55):
like a send up of gender norms, pop culture, astro turfing,
of diverse Russian and more, while also just firmly committing
to laughs. Seth, I had never even heard of this
film before you brought it up in email. Could you
share your history with this film?

Speaker 3 (01:11):
Like? Where did you?

Speaker 2 (01:11):
Where did you learn about this? Because I feel like
this is one that it doesn't seem like it was
appreciated as much when it came out, and it seems
like it was ahead of its time, and it doesn't
seem like it has the cult following it deserves.

Speaker 3 (01:25):
Agreed, Agreed on all counts. I have to give all
credit to my wife. Back when her and I were
first dating, we were living down in Los Angeles, and
she told me how much she loved this movie. I
also had never heard of it, and so on a
date one night, we went on a little DVD hunt.
We had to scour Los Angeles trying to find a
copy of this. We eventually found a copy at one

(01:47):
of the best record stores that ever existed in Meba Hollywood,
And yeah, we watched it, and it immediately became just
a perennial household favorite of ours, and we just watched
it whenever we had the chance. And yeah, I have
to ask her where she first heard of it, too,
because this does seem like a chain of like, all right,
who's the one person who knew someone who was like,

(02:09):
you know, a grip on the movie, who told their
friend and it just kind of continued on. But yeah,
I mean, honestly, there's there's quite a few people of
note in this film too, So maybe that's kind of
where she first came across it, but I'll ask her later.

Speaker 2 (02:25):
Yeah, yeah, yeah. There are a number of folks that
are very talented folks in here that went on to
some really great things. And also, I guess depending on
how connected or into the off Broadway and ultimately Broadway
a scene of the eighties and nineties you happen to be,
you also might have a leg up on knowing about

(02:45):
this movie. I guess the other main thing that might
draw folks into this particular film is that it is
a parody of sixties beach movies, and we're gonna have to,
I think, unpack that for a lot of listeners. So
we certainly have listeners out there who know the way
around sixties beach movies. But I think even if you
haven't watched a lot of them, you probably have some

(03:07):
idea of what we're talking about here. There are a
lot of common elements. Bikinis, romance, oftentine romance, there's comedy,
there's surfers, there's rock and roll. Occasional appearances by other
subsets of youth culture, you know, so pre hippie generally
with beat nicks and greasers, maybe some bikers and more

(03:27):
and Seth, I'm delighted that you have done a much
deeper dive into the world of beach movies. Give us
a little primary here on the beach movie so we
can better appreciate what is being lampooned and subverted in
this picture.

Speaker 3 (03:44):
Not too long ago, I went on quite the beach
movie binge. I'm not sure kind of what got it
in my head, but I decided that, like this entire
genre was unexplored territory for me, and so I decided
to watch them all. And first of all, there is
a very specific, i guess, cinematic universe of beach movies
that are primarily focused on the actors Frankie Avlon and

(04:07):
an Nett Funicello. And I literally think if you pull
up the Wikipedia page on this, it's probably something like
twelve movies. And they just keep going and going and going,
and they are so much better and so much stranger
than I thought they would be. So, for example, here's
the few of my favorites. There was one called Pajama

(04:29):
Party from nineteen sixty four Tommy Kirk Old Disney actor
favorite you know from like you know Old Yeller and
many other hits. He plays a martian named Go Go
who he is in an advanced scout for a Mars invasion,
and of course he has to kind of disguise himself
as like a local teenager and he kind of learns,
you know, the fun of like being an earth teenager

(04:52):
at the beach, and that ultimately, you know, dissuades him
from destroying the Earth. Another one which I think a
lot of people have heard of. It's such a ridiculous title.
It's called Doctor Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine. This is
from nineteen sixty five, still the same film series. It
stars Vincent Price as a mad scientist and he builds

(05:12):
an army of female robots to rob rich, gullible men,
and of course that ties into Frankie and Annette having
their own melodrama as well. And well, one more I'll mention,
let's see one more year later The Ghost in the
Invisible Bikini from nineteen sixty six, again same film series.

(05:33):
In this one, Boris Karloff is a ghost that needs
to perform one good deed before he can finally get
into heaven. These just they're the strangest franchise of films.
I mean, I think Buster Keaton appears in nearly every
single one of them for one reason or another. And
there's also this reoccurring character I love he is. His

(05:56):
name is Eric von Zipper, and he's the dim witted
leader of a biker gang, and he is often referred
to both outside and inside the movies as a middle
aged teenage delinquent. And I think what what they were
doing is in the sixties, the idea of the rebel
without a cause, greaser motorcycle gang was now long in

(06:19):
the tooth. So the concept was that, hey, what happens
to all these what happens to the previous generations youth?
Where does it go? Do they just stay? You know,
these leather clad biker gangs that are gonna be middle
aged teenage delinquents. And it's just I suppose, perhaps a
subtle dig at their parents, perhaps, But it's a far

(06:44):
better film series than I ever would have realized. And
I'll throw in one more because I think it ties
in directly to what we're talking about today. There's also
a series all about Gidget. The first film was called
Just Gidget, and then there were many many others which
you can go into if you like. And this film
is almost a direct Gidget parody, like all of the

(07:06):
setup of her like befriending a gang of surfers who
then give her like a cute scene nickname, and you know,
falling in love with one of them, all that stuff,
that's all pure the first Gidget film. So yeah, I
would say in many ways, I when I first saw
this movie, I had not seen Gidget. I had not
seen any of the beach Party Frankie in Anette films,

(07:29):
and so I just took this almost like as its
own creation. I knew obviously the beach parties had existed,
but after seeing those, I'm like, oh, this is nearly
direct parody. Yeah.

Speaker 2 (07:40):
I think the original sort of brainstorm title for this
of what would become Psycho Beach Party was Gidget Ghost Psychotic.

Speaker 3 (07:49):
And are you talking about I hope not getting too
far ahead of us here, but talking about the original play,
Is that correct? Yeah?

Speaker 2 (07:56):
Yeah, from what I read before it even really solidified
as a play. Apparently Charles Bush, who will get into
a lot of these shows they would do, they would
put it on like a different show with you know,
a lot of like diverse like drag elements, and other
like comedic elements, and then they would sort of tease
what the next one might be, but in kind of
like almost kind of an arrested development, you know, closing

(08:18):
credit style. It's not necessarily something they planned to produce.
They would just be like, next next week's show is
going to be a gidget goho psychotic And apparently they
just once the idea was unleashed, they were like, oh,
what if we did it, what would it consist of?
And it grew from there.

Speaker 3 (08:36):
The only reason I knew this was a play originally
was that at some point when I was looking it
up online, I saw a poster for it that was
not the film poster, but we had the same title
Psycho Beach Party, but I believe the date said nineteen
eighty seven, and I was so confused. I'm like, oh,
was this based on something else? Did they perhaps originally

(08:58):
make it in eighty seven, et cetera. And then as
soon as I do a little bit of research and like, oh,
it's all the same. It just at least this poster
is from eighty seven because they were doing it that
long ago. That's how long this play took to become
a film. I'm sure you'll talk about that soon.

Speaker 2 (09:13):
Yeah, yeah, I think that would have been the original run,
the original off Broadway run, And if memory serves when
I was looking around, I believe there have been more
recent productions of it. I think one was either done
in or came through Atlanta at some point, but again,
it was totally off my radar at the time, so
I didn't know about it.

Speaker 3 (09:31):
I'd be very curious to see a stage version of this.
I honestly don't really know how they would do it.

Speaker 2 (09:39):
I think one of the great things to keep in
mind about this movie's humor and perhaps sort of the
origins of the play. I think it summed up well
in actually a letterbox review that I ran across by
the late Eli Hayes, who was a real prolific letterbox reviewer,
and if you spend any amount of time on that website,
you'll probably run across reviews that he did. So it's

(10:00):
just a very brief write up, but he summarizes this
film as being quote a relatively neglected, should be contemporary
cult classic of burlesque, lampoonery and maximal camp. So yeah,
I mean, obviously it's a very campy film. It gets
into some subversive elements and some social commentary, but the

(10:21):
laughs always come first, and I think the burlesque observation
is key here as well. It's that kind of like
at times body humor, but the pasties are on too,
so it's not going too far, and it's again laughs first.

Speaker 3 (10:35):
That's very true. Yeah, I like that.

Speaker 2 (10:37):
Now, coming back just real quick to Gidget.

Speaker 3 (10:39):
Yeah.

Speaker 2 (10:40):
I don't have a lot of experience with the beach
movie a beach party movie genre myself, but when you
start reading about it, everyone points to the gidget movies.
They kind of point to nineteen fifty nine's Gidget starring
Sandra d who would go on to be in The
Dunwich Horror, among other things. This was general This is
generally regarded as the beginning of the beach movie crazy,

(11:00):
and it spawned the sequels Gidget goes Hawaiian, Gidget goes
to Rome, so that's where we get the natural continuation
of that Gidget go Psychotic. There are also a couple
of TV movies, but it goes on from there, like
there are Elvis movies that are clearly beach party movies,
and there are a There are also some other genre examples,

(11:22):
two that come to mind for me, and these are
the two that I had really seen before because they
were on Mystery Science Theater. Three thousand would be nineteen
sixty four as the Horror at Party Beach, which is
both a beach party movie and a monster movie with
ridiculous monster and a musical performance by the dell Airs.
Another example that I really like is the nineteen sixty

(11:43):
seven film Catalina Kaper, also featured on Mystery Science Theater.
That one had Tommy Kirk in it and a musical
number on the Beach by Little Richard. Pretty amazing, so
that one's worth checking out, if for nothing else, for
Tommy Kirk, for Little Richard, and I believe there's a
scene where like surf dudes battle beat Nick, not beat Nicks,
they battle greasers on the beach.

Speaker 3 (12:04):
So again that must have been a reoccurring theme of Hey,
that that's your generation, mom and dad, we're on the
beach now.

Speaker 2 (12:13):
And it does seem to I wonder if the subtext
too there is kind of like, oh, the previous generations
counterculture group, they never integrated, They're always going to be
outsiders and maybe they're a little bit losers, you know.
It kind of ties in with kind of like the
straight laced veneer that you get in the mainstream sixties
pictures of this this era before you know, the more

(12:34):
counterculture hippie movement really becomes more standard.

Speaker 3 (12:39):
That's a good observation.

Speaker 2 (12:40):
Yeah, all right, well, let's go ahead and listen to
the audio from the trailer for Psycho Beach Party. I
guess we are the only ones watching the movie.

Speaker 3 (12:53):
These guys have only on their minds.

Speaker 1 (12:57):
Want a winner. Check with the splat person.

Speaker 2 (13:07):
He should I unpack my gongles. I intend to unpack my.

Speaker 3 (13:17):
Alright, guys, come on, that's an.

Speaker 2 (13:23):
I like to say this, but I think our little
chicken maybe the butcher melody.

Speaker 3 (13:26):
Beach hardy till you drop dead.

Speaker 2 (13:32):
I hope you put some baccino that scratch.

Speaker 3 (13:37):
Psycho Beach Party.

Speaker 2 (13:38):
That's the most exciting story idea I've.

Speaker 3 (13:41):
Heard in years.

Speaker 2 (13:51):
Now. I'm not sure if we used all that, we
might have had to cut a little of that out.
Some of it might not have worked out of context.
But hey, if you want to go watch Psycho Beach
already before continuing with this episode. Fortunately, it is widely
available for digital rental or purchase. It's currently streaming on
TB I believe. If you don't, I think you have to,
you know, deal with some ads. There. Also Strand Home

(14:13):
Video put out a multi format disc in twenty fifteen,
which of course includes the Blu Ray. I know there
was a DVD director's commentary at some point because I've
seen it reference, so I'm assuming it might be on
that disc.

Speaker 3 (14:25):
I'm holding it right here in my hand, and yes,
it is on this disc, and I've listened to it before,
and you you got some nice insights on there. Oh cool?

Speaker 2 (14:33):
Is it? Is it just Charles Bush or is there
someone else in there as well?

Speaker 3 (14:36):
I remember it being just Charles Bush. And this is
the era of DVD also where they would be like, oh,
we're including a fun music video and like original trail,
you know, like the classic DVDs of the early early
two thousands, where they weren't quite sure what to do
with all that extra space on the disc. They just

(14:56):
kind of filled it with stuff, you know, whatever was
sitting around. I kind of like that.

Speaker 2 (15:01):
But yeah, I bet that's a great commentary track because
I didn't get to listen to that, but I did
check out like an old nineteen ninety three fresh air
Terry Gross interview with Bush.

Speaker 3 (15:11):
That was really cool.

Speaker 2 (15:12):
It was very short, but it was insightful. And I've
got a few other things on YouTube where he's talking
about his past and his projects and so forth.

Speaker 3 (15:20):
He's definitely had a pretty amazing career, that's for sure.

Speaker 2 (15:22):
Yeah. All right, well, let's talk about the people involved here,
starting at the top with the director. The director is
Robert Lee King. I don't have a birth date on him,
American writer and director whose father, Robert L. King, worked

(15:45):
on the screenplay for the nineteen seventy two Disney film
Now You See Him, Now You Don't, starring Kurt Russell
and Caesar Romero. Robert Lee King. However, the sun here
only has a handful of movie credits. Nineteen ninety one
short titled The Disco Years, which he also wrote, two
thousand and two She Gets What She Wants with Michael McKean,
and he also co wrote that one. And then there's

(16:06):
twenty Eleven's Bad Actress, which he directed. That one features
Beth Broderick. More on her in a minute, and Ryan Hanson,
who a lot of you know is Kyle from Party Down.
All right, but then we come to the writing credit
here for the screenplay, also the original play of which
he adapted. This is Charles Busch, who've already been talking about.

(16:29):
Born nineteen fifty four, writer, director, actor, and drag performer
who initially made him a name for himself in off
Broadway theater, often in drag performances, where he apparently initially
found his voice.

Speaker 3 (16:44):
Again.

Speaker 2 (16:44):
I listened to this nineteen ninety three Terry Gross interview
with Bush, and in that and again, this is the
way before the movie Psycho Beach Party comes out. But
Psycho Beach Party does exist at that point. Unfortunately, at
least in the clip I heard, Terry didn't get a
chance to ask him about that production. But at any rate,

(17:04):
in that interview he says that, Okay, he's doing like
various characters on stage, and I think in like a
one man show he was doing. But most of the
male characters, he said, felt very locked down, very static,
And it was in the female characters that he was
able to really bring everything to life. And so that
becomes like part of major part of his work moving forward.

(17:25):
His first big off Broadway hit was nineteen eighty four's
Vampire Lesbians of Sodom, a very provocative title that He
says that the New York Times in their their advertisements
for local theater, they were very hesitant or even refused
to use the full title. He says, you could have
called it vampires, lesbians or sodom and they would have

(17:45):
been cool with it. But he put all of them
together and it's gonna make people want to push the
elite button.

Speaker 3 (17:52):
That's great.

Speaker 2 (17:54):
I've not seen this, and it hasn't been adapted, to
my knowledge, into any kind of like film or TV property,
but it's apparently a series of comedy skits throughout time
about a pair of immortal vampires who keep encountering each other.
So it's like, you know, biblical sodom all the way
up through like mid eighties Las Vegas.

Speaker 3 (18:14):
I'd only heard of this because in an interview that
I saw with Charles Bush, he was describing that this
was the play that he was in the middle of
actually performing and was already a success and already a hit.
And then after they would finish their off Broadway performances
of Vampire Lesbians of Sodom, they would be invited to

(18:35):
go perform like these little one act plays, like on
tiny little stages, like just you know, a little hole
in the wall type places, and because he loved stage
time and loved to perform, he always said yes, he
always took them up on it. And those little ideas
there are eventually what turned into Psycho Beach Party. Nice Nice.

Speaker 2 (18:54):
So among the performances to follow coming out of Off
Broadway Easte Performances and the like was this concept for
gidget go psychotic. You know, I saw this interview where
Bush says it, you know, initially wasn't fully developed or
a full fledged idea, but just kind of a humorous teaser.
But it then grows into Psycho Beach Party, which initially
ran eighty seven through eighty nine, with Bush himself playing

(19:17):
the role of Florence Chicklet Forrest, the gidget character here,
and it was a hit with audiences. You know, it's campy,
over the top, a send up of beach party movies,
you know, has some social commentary in there and more.

Speaker 3 (19:31):
Now.

Speaker 2 (19:31):
Bush also had some early TV and screen credits as
an actor. Notably there's nineteen ninety three's Adams Family Values,
in which we see him as in Drag as Countess
cousin of Phasia DuBarry. I haven't seen this Adams Family
movie in a long time. But you know, I looked
up some stills and there she is, like standing in

(19:51):
the background at a funeral perhaps, or it could be
any other function since it's the Adams Family, right. He
also was on Let's See nineteen ninety Wars, it Could
Happen to You, nineteen ninety seven's Trouble on the Corner,
and eight episodes of HBO's ODZ between nineteen ninety nine
and two thousand. During this time, there were efforts to
bring Psycho Beach Party to the screen, but it apparently

(20:13):
took a long time, and it wasn't until two thousand
that it finally comes out. You know, so late nineties
before this thing finally begins to roll in earnest and
then they end up shooting it in twenty one days,
which pretty pretty tight schedule even for a film you
know like this that you know, it doesn't have space
stations or anything like that in it. They cranked it
out in it and it looks good for.

Speaker 3 (20:33):
Sure, you know, even like we'll talk about this when
we talked about the movie, even like little kind of
just esthetic choices that are made throughout this film. Sure,
it's not a high budget affair, but like the visual
effects that are thrown in there, the sets, everything was
done with care and with attention, even if it isn't
a high budget film.

Speaker 2 (20:53):
Yeah, there's clearly a lot of love for the cinema
of the time period that they're referencing, and even with
a limited by you know, it's not one of these
things where you watch it and you're like, this could
just be mistaken for a product of the nineteen sixties,
Like it's not, you know, it's not that level of recreation,
but the homage is still very strong, and you totally
get it. It's a it's a it's a great callback

(21:13):
to those films now as we reference already. The film
was seemingly not a hit. I don't think it made
its money back. Critical reviews were also kind of mixed.
It looks like and I'm not sure again that it's
truly established the cult following that it's that it's that
it deserves at least not to not to the degree
that you know, it feels like it should have because
you look at some of the I don't know, I

(21:35):
feel like some of the elements here it strongly reminds
me of me of say, John Waters movie or an
episode of say Strangers with Candy, which is probably a
solid comparison to be made there, given the time period
and the sorts of humor you could get away with
during during this period.

Speaker 3 (21:50):
Yeah.

Speaker 2 (21:50):
Absolutely, So it really feels like this one should be
circulating more so to whatever small extent we can help
raise awareness for Psycho Beach Party. Then, you know, I'm
very much in favor.

Speaker 3 (22:02):
And you know, it's it's easy to watch things on
too Be. Anyone can just pop open two Beat anytime
watch something. Not an ad for two B, but I
if they wanted to, I'd throw an ad for two B.
Two Be's a great channel. I think I watched them
more than any other streaming service these days. Yeah.

Speaker 2 (22:18):
Yeah, so it's out there, it's available, and you don't
have to watch it in some sort of degraded format
or anything. Now, continuing on about Bush just a little bit,
since he's, you know, sort of this the central dreamer
here behind this for this project.

Speaker 3 (22:31):
Now.

Speaker 2 (22:31):
The same year, in two thousand, one of Bush's plays
made its Broadway to debut with the Tale of the
Allergist Wife. It was apparently a big hit, even earning
him a tony nomination, and he won the Outer Critics
Circle John Gasner Award for Outstanding Play.

Speaker 3 (22:48):
Right on that piece, I'd actually be pretty curious to
see perhaps some more mainstream work from Bush, because this
is the only piece of media I've consumed that he
has written. I wonder if this same campy, off kilter
take is just kind of prevalent throughout his work. I'd
love to see more.

Speaker 2 (23:07):
Actually, I suspect so I think the basic premise of
the Tale of the houris Wife is maybe less wacky,
But I mean I assume that that the same sort
of comedy is still present there right now. Film wise.
In two thousand and three, Mark Ruckner directed an adaptation
and Bush adapted it of his play Die, Mommy Die.

(23:27):
This starred Bush, but it also had Natasha Leone and
Jason Priestley. He pinned a Very Serious Person in two
thousand and six, and in twenty twenty one he co wrote,
co directed, and starred in the sixth reel his book
Leading Lady, a Memoir of the most Unusual boy, release
just last year.

Speaker 3 (23:46):
Oh that's fun.

Speaker 2 (23:48):
Yeah, So let's see. Let's get into the cast a
bit here. So again, Bush played the role of Chick
Lit in the original stage performance. But I've heard him
acknowledging in a couple of different formats that, Okay, by
the time they were actually able to make the movie,
he felt like he was too old for the part,
even though traditionally you have people who are too old

(24:10):
for the part playing the teenagers and beach movies.

Speaker 3 (24:13):
Yeah, if I'm just doing the simple math in my head,
he would have been thirty or so when he was
performing Chicklets in the stage play, so he would have
been over No, No, I guess a little under fifty ish,
around fifty ish when this movie was in production.

Speaker 2 (24:28):
Yeah, And he's said elsewhere that like, okay, you know,
the role of chick Lit doesn't have to be a
drag performance. It just that's how it worked out, right,
So we end up with the excellent Lauren Ambrose playing
Florence chick Lit forest Here born nineteen seventy eight. Just
a delightful and energetic performance, just just absolutely perfect, delivering

(24:51):
just this you know, get pitch perfect, g golly all
American girl. While also, as we'll discuss, you know, she
gets we get into these alternate personalities, and she's able
to just really throw herself into those as well, and
she gets to sing a little opera because Ambrose apparently
is trained in opera. Now, a lot of you are
going to be familiar with her from her work as

(25:12):
Claire Fisher on HBO's Six Feet Under. She was great
on that, and let's see. More recently, she acted in
a couple of series that I haven't watched yet. One
is the Apple series Servant and the highly regarded Yellowjacket series.
Other credits include two thousand and nines Where the Wild
Things Are, twenty eleven's Torchwood Mini series, and twenty twelve

(25:33):
Sleepwalk with Me.

Speaker 3 (25:35):
I'm gonna throw in a couple others my personal favorites too.
In nineteen ninety eight, she had a I don't know
if it's actually a hit or just a hit with
people who are children. In nineteen ninety eight, it's the
high school graduation comedy can't hardly wait, a classic amongst
my age group, but I don't know if it was
just a flash in the pan or not. And more importantly,

(25:56):
she plays the character Special Agent Einstein from The X
Files during seasons ten and eleven. I don't know if
this is absolutely true, but this is the way my
wife and I always interpreted it that they were trying
to make a backdoor pilot for basically, hey, what if
you know Scold Mully, No, not Molly and Scolder, Scully

(26:19):
and Molder, what if they left the show, could we
replace them with two new actors and kind of like
just keep the show going with like a brand new
set of FBI agents because her character, Agent Liz Einstein,
was absolutely a Scully replacement, Like it was just a

(26:40):
redheaded young FBI agent who was very skeptical of everything
she saw, et cetera, et cetera. And I really dug her.
In fact, anyway, I could go on for X Files
all day, but I'll skip past it. But between that
role can't hardly wait six and six feet under. I
have real affection for Lauren Ambrose. I think she's great now.

Speaker 2 (27:00):
X File season ten and eleven. Was this like original
X Files run or is this like a return run?

Speaker 3 (27:06):
Yes, this would have been right at the new revival
back in gosh, I don't even remember what year this was,
but yeah, back when the X Files were just coming
back and like the future of the X Files is
an uncertain thing. They're only doing like six episodes per season.
Et cetera, et cetera. I assume they were attempting to

(27:27):
do a backdoor pilot to see what if these new
characters continued on the show instead of having, you know,
these actors who are clearly not as interested in sticking
around and are too busy with their own careers. That
was my guess. But anyway, I'm speculating entirely on that.

Speaker 2 (27:47):
Okay, it would have been The X Files and Next
Generation or something.

Speaker 3 (27:50):
Exactly, which I definitely would have watched.

Speaker 2 (27:53):
All Right, Well, anyway, I'm interested to check it out
because she's terrific in this just you know, she's awkward,
she's she's confident, and she's able to really pour herself
into these over the top alternate personalities as well, for sure.
All right, who else is occupying this beach party world? Well,
of course we have the surfers, and the leader of
the surfers, the alpha, or so it seems on the beach,

(28:14):
is Kanaka, played by Thomas Gibson born nineteen sixty two.
This is Greg from Darman Greg, which ran a bunch
of seasons twenty five through twenty sixteen. He was also
on Chicago Hope, Actor of Stage, Screen and tv AT.
Their credits include ninety twos Far and Away, ninety nine's
Eyes Wide Shut, and two thousands The Flintstones in Viva

(28:34):
Rock Vegas. I don't remember who he played in that one.

Speaker 3 (28:39):
I did see. I was doing some research on this
movie and he was apparently filming Flintstones in Viva Rock
Vegas simultaneously while he filmed this movie. And there were
even one or two scenes that were supposed to be
Kanaka scenes, but because he was busy in the Flintstones movie,
they had to just give the scene to somebody else.

Speaker 2 (28:58):
Oh wow, so he's good in this see he plays again.
It's on one level, this is our you know, macho
surfer alpha. But like I think most of the characters
in this film, there's a buried web of desire that
runs counter to gender stereotypes and social standards. Yeah, pretty

(29:19):
much everyone in the film has some sort of like
sexual or gender repression going on here.

Speaker 3 (29:26):
I would say the whole movie in many ways is
intentionally queer coded. And there's basically, yeah, the whole concept
of no matter what someone looks like on the outside,
there's something inside of them that makes them other or
perhaps just feel like an other and it being the
repressed nineteen sixties. You know, hopefully the world has gotten

(29:47):
better since then and people can express themselves a bit
more freely, we hope.

Speaker 2 (29:52):
Yeah. At the same time, again, I'll stress that everything's
played for laughs here, so you know that, don't go
into it expecting like a really you know, in a
deep contemplation of these themes. I mean, I think there
is depth there, but also everything is played for laughs
for sure. All right. We also have the character star

(30:17):
Cat now Starkat is a SYCH dropout turned surfer dude
who's very much a part of the Kanaka cult there
on the beach, and he is played by Nicholas Brendan
born nineteen seventy one. Yep, it's Xander from Buffy, the
Heart and Soul of the Scooby Gang. Yeah, it's a
fun performance. He gives it is all here. This was

(30:38):
only his I think second film role, following Children of
the Corn three in ninety five, and Buffy would have
kicked off in ninety seven. So he's worked on plenty
of other projects over the years, and it's still active,
though I think mostly smaller productions.

Speaker 3 (30:52):
I wonder if he was the biggest star at the time. No,
well no, Darbyn Greg right, no, no Starvin Greg hadn't
started well no, no, anyway, he could have been.

Speaker 2 (31:04):
He might have been the biggest, the biggest star of
the time. Yeah, because Buffy would have been in earnest
at that point.

Speaker 3 (31:11):
And some of these other actors who will mention very
soon were not stars yet. So I think when I
first saw this movie, he was the biggest star to me.

Speaker 2 (31:21):
Yeah, all right, let's see host we have Okay, we
have a character by the name of Betina Barnes. This
is a screen starlet who has run away from the
studio system and her agents and so forth, and she's
living incognito or trying to in a creepy old beach
house with a dark history. And this character is played

(31:42):
by Kimberly Davies born nineteen seventy three, active on screen
from the mid nineties through twenty twelve, with credits that
include small roles in nineteen ninety nine Stormcatcher in two
thousand and ones made, as well as one shots in
such TV shows as Silk Stockings and Friends. It seems
like her longest gig, however, was two hundred and thirty

(32:02):
seven episodes of the Australian soap opera Neighbors from ninety
three through two thousand and five. So it's a pretty
fun performance here.

Speaker 3 (32:10):
Definitely a spot on understanding of what the role is
and then delivering that to the audience on the screen.

Speaker 2 (32:18):
All right. Also the Forest family, chick Litz family. They
have a Swedish exchange student, a hot Swedish exchange student
living with them, by the name of Lars, which is
generally you know, played for I like everything played for laugh.
There's a lot of exchange student humor here, and Lars
is played by Matt Kessler. Born in seventy two, Kessler

(32:41):
was active from mostly from ninety four through twenty ten,
after which he retired from acting to pursue a career
in science. I Believe I've read, with just a brief
return for a guest shot on the TV series Grim
in twenty fifteen, but his credits include ninety four's Quiz Show,
ninety six is Waiting for Guffman, ninety eight's The Last
Days of Disco, two thousand Scream three, and Ooh this

(33:02):
one kind of flew under my radar until the last minute.
But he was in the two thousand Dune miniseries on
Sci Fi in which he played fade Rotha Harkanan, so
a major role in the Doom miniseries that I completely
blinked on until the last minute.

Speaker 3 (33:18):
Here he was missing his horn rimmed glasses so we
couldn't recognize him.

Speaker 2 (33:23):
Yeah, yeah, yeah, the horn room glasses would have worked
worked great in Dune. That mini series did have a
lot of great costumes in it, but I don't remember
this performance so much from it, but I've been very
tempted to go back and check it out with all
the Dune enthusiasm happening now. But it also has some
i think rather rough cgi in it, so I'm a

(33:45):
little hesitant.

Speaker 3 (33:46):
How far did that mini series gets into the book series.

Speaker 2 (33:49):
Well, they did Dune and then they came back and
did one titled Children of Doune, which adapts the second book, Messiah,
as well as the third book.

Speaker 3 (33:57):
Children of Dune. Okay, so they pretty much did just
the original trilogy more or less.

Speaker 2 (34:04):
Okay, right, Yeah, the big the big hurdle is when
you get to God Emperor of Dune with the giant
sandworm human Space Emperor, and that's that's that's more of
a hurdle we'll see how far they get with the
current efforts.

Speaker 3 (34:18):
I feel like Dune is in many ways very similar
to the Chronicles of Narnia, where many people want to
attempt to adapt the whole thing and everyone runs out
of gas after like two or three They're like, eh,
you know what this is. This is getting to be
a lot of work. We're just gonna stop now.

Speaker 2 (34:35):
Yeah. Yeah, it's and anytime Dune is, I mean, Dune
is is so successful. And again, I like, I just
saw the other day on an article where there's studios
are re looking at other Herbert novels. You know, they
want to get in on that that huge Frank Herbert payday.
But I'm also thinking it's like, all right, I haven't
read all of Frank Herbert's other books, but you know,
it's like, not everything is going to be Dune. Not

(34:58):
everything in the Dune series is what you're expecting from Dune.

Speaker 3 (35:02):
But I would love it if Denis Villaneu actually completes
the complete Dune saga. I can't for a second believe
that he will, but I would love it if he did.
I think that would be an incredible feats of filmmaking.

Speaker 2 (35:17):
I think Messiah is gonna happen. I hope so Dune
part three, if you want to call it that, And
if he gets that far, I will.

Speaker 3 (35:26):
Be very pleased. Agreed. Yeah, it'll at least feel like
a complete story if he finishes Messiah.

Speaker 2 (35:32):
Yeah, all right, let's see the rest of the cast.
Oh no, there's Chicklet's mom. This is Missus Ruth Forrest,
played by Beth Broderick, and it's interesting. One of her
other key roles of note was playing Sabrina's mom on
the ninety six through two thousand and three Sabrina the
Teenage Witch series. She also directed three episodes of that show.
She started out in her career I think more and

(35:54):
more like Erotic Fair and then some sex comedies. There's
a spoof of women's prison movies in their titled slam Girls,
and then you know, this would have been early in
mid eighties, before transitioning increasingly into TV roles. She also
pops up in film. She's in nineteen nineties, The Bonfire,
The Vanities, and Yeah. She acted in such TV shows

(36:14):
as Murphy Brown, Hearts of Fire, The Five Missus Buchanans.
She plays one of the Buchanans in that I think
CSI Miami Lost Sharp Objects, which we'll come back to
in a second, and two episodes of The Chilling Adventures
of Sabrina. I believe these are crossover episodes in which
they kind of like travel back to the previous adaptation.

Speaker 1 (36:33):
Wow.

Speaker 3 (36:35):
I watched quite a bit of that series, but I
never finished it. I definitely never saw that, and that
sounds fascinating.

Speaker 2 (36:41):
Yeah. I didn't make it that far either, but was
impressed with what I had seen.

Speaker 3 (36:46):
Interesting.

Speaker 2 (36:47):
All right, we've been talking about people that went onto
big things. One of them is Amy Adams, who plays
marvel Anne, who is I guess she's kind of just
not maybe not the Queen Bee of teenage social world,
but she's up there. She's definitely one of the cool
beach girls.

Speaker 3 (37:03):
As a very very side note from what I heard,
marvel Anne on the original stage play was also a
drag role, and I'm assuming just like when they adapted
the whole play, they're like, oh this doesn't need to
be drag either, Okay whatever. Yeah.

Speaker 2 (37:21):
Yeah, Charles Bush I saw in one interview where he's like,
oh yeah, part of me was like, oh, now I
can finally get all my friends cast all my friends
in this and then he's like, oh, no, we're all
too old, but yeah, we have Amy Adams here born
seventy four, six time Oscar nominee. This is only her
second film or TV role. She started out in Dance

(37:43):
in Theater and after this film did a lot of
TV and smaller film roles, even popping up in one
episode of Buffy. I don't remember her from that either,
before hitting it big in Spielberg's two thousand and two
film Catch Me If you Can. Subsequent movies include Let's
See There's June Bug. That was two thousand and six,
I think, two thousand and nine's Doubt, twenty eleven's The Fighter,
twenty thirteen's The Master, twenty fourteen's American Hustle, twenty sixteen's

(38:07):
The Arrival. In twenty nineteens Vice, she played Lois Lane
in the DC Snyder Verse movies and was nominated for
an Emmy for the twenty nineteen series Sharp Objects. So
it's one of these you know, she's great in it,
but it's also one of those roles that it's just
interesting because you know how big she's going to become,
and you can and you can see the tools already present.

(38:28):
In her craft for sure. The queen Bee of the
high school is played is Roda, played by Kathleen Robertson.
This is a Canadian actress with a lot of TV
and film credits, including a series regular role on season
six of The Expanse. She was also in Bates Motel
and earlier on a series called Maniac Mansion. All right,
but okay, so I don't think we've really hinted at

(38:49):
this yet, but this is a murder film as well.
This is in addition to being a send up of
sixties beach comedies, it's also a little bit of a
send up of seventy slasher picks.

Speaker 3 (39:01):
Right. Oh, for sure, there's some Jello influences that are
very very obvious, and I think perhaps too, I think
there are some obvious like Scooby Doo references as well,
where they've just heightened the what if Scooby Doo was
a Jello film? I think that kind of ties into it.

Speaker 2 (39:19):
Yeah, so since we have crimes, we also don't have
to have an investigator. That investigator is Captain Monica Stark
played by Charles Bush. So, as we pointed out earlier,
it considered himself too old at this point to convincingly
play chicklet, So he wrote himself a new character, Captain
Monica Stark, a no nonsense police investigator. And this is
also very much a drag performance played for camp and

(39:42):
for humor.

Speaker 3 (39:44):
Now.

Speaker 2 (39:44):
In that ninety three Fresh Air interview, again predates this film,
Bush stated that he thought, at least the time of
drag performances is often falling into sort of two broad categories,
like the beautiful and the stylish, and then something that's
maybe a bit more intent intionally lurid. I'm not sure
if these classifications really hold true today, because i mean,

(40:05):
I'm one hand. Drag performance has certainly always been a
part of human performance culture, but it's also come a
long way in American culture over the past few decades,
and Bush played a big role in popularizing and elevating
it early on. So at any rate, he said in
ninety three that his performances, he felt fell somewhere in between.
And I'd say I'd see Starkling's more classy, you know,

(40:28):
more of a classic Hollywood feminine strength kind of a role,
but of course again with lots of camp layered on,
and ultimately for laughs.

Speaker 3 (40:36):
Yeah, for sure.

Speaker 2 (40:37):
Oh and then of course it's a beach party movie,
so the music is incredibly important, and Seth, you're you're
more plugged into it, into the music scene than me,
so you'll have to jump in and talk about some
of these acts. You know more brought them than me.
But the main score here is composed by being American

(41:01):
musician and music producer who's been associated with a number
of bands and tons of releases over the years, going
back to at least the late seventies, of note being
what the Ben Von Combo, the Ben Vn Quintet. His
nineteen ninety seven album Rambler sixty five is apparently of note,
as he recorded it entirely in his car, a nineteen
sixty five Rambler American. So were you familiar with Ben

(41:25):
Vaughn prior to this picture.

Speaker 3 (41:26):
Only by name, not by something that I had personally
listened to. But someone who I had personally listened to
is also involved in this movie. But we'll get to
that soon when it.

Speaker 2 (41:38):
Comes to scores for Ben Vaughn. Weirdly enough, one of
the earliest credited scores ninety six is a Sue Hart
produced and co written Hong Kong action film titled Black Masks,
directed by Danny Lee and starring Jet Lee. He's one
of like three credit composers on that. But I think
this has more to do with music changes made for
release in the UK and in the US, so I'm

(42:00):
going to mark that one is uncertain. But his scores
certainly go back to ninety seven's Lewis and Clark and George,
then Psycho Beach Party, and you followed this up with
work on TV's Third Rock from the Sun, that seventies show,
that eighty show and Grounded for Life makes sense now.
The soundtrack is also of note here. The film score
features several tracks by Love Strait Jackets, who also appear

(42:24):
in the film. They get to perform at the titular
beach party that happens late in the picture, you know,
very much in the style of you know, having Little
Richard pop up in your your old beach party movie.
And other artists featured on the soundtrack include man Or
Astro Man, The Fathoms, The Halibuts, four Piece Suit, and
the Hillbilly Soul Surfers.

Speaker 3 (42:46):
I would say Low Straight Jackets is a band I'm
very familiar with. They've been around for such a long
time now. I think they have somewhere around thirteen or
fourteen albums at this point, and it's just, you know,
it's such a fun genre, and you know, being a
beach rock surf rock band, just kind of deciding that

(43:08):
that's the route you're gonna go down. In many ways,
it seems very limiting, but I think in many ways
it's also very liberating that once you're kind of in
that realm, you can just kind of like mess around
all you want as long as you kind of hit
certain like, you know, as long as you have like
certain tropes that you revisit every once in a while,
everything else is free game. And a quick shout out

(43:30):
to an Atlanta based surf rock band, I really like
the Mystery Men very very good. Yeah, yeah, yea.

Speaker 2 (43:36):
I guess, like you said, it's kind of a decision
to never be You're never gonna go after like super
mainstream popularity. But if you succeed in this genre, you're
gonna have You're gonna have a place moving forward. You're
always people are gonna keep coming back to you for
this particular sound, this particular vibe, and.

Speaker 3 (43:55):
I think it never quite reached the level of like
mainstream success that turned it into something that could kind
of like fall by the wayside, like for example, it
took something like SKA. SKA suddenly became mainstream popular at
one point, and therefore there was a backlash and suddenly
people hated SCAT. Come on, how could you hate SCA?

(44:18):
But it happened thanks too many you know, swing dances
and too many gap commercials and all that kind of stuff.
So that being the case, surf rock never really got
that like mainstream success, and so therefore it's always just
kind of like been this like casual fun thing that
everybody likes in the background, just for funnel throughout. Another
surf rock band I really love this is a band

(44:40):
called La Louse La Luz and they're from Seattle, and
they are often called surf Noir, which is very fun,
very very very slow. I mean, honestly, just picture what
you think surf music out of Seattle would sound like.
That's what they sound like, kind of sad, depressed beach music.

Speaker 2 (45:01):
That's a great point on SKA. You know, I hadn't
thought about this before, but I listened to a number
of the channels on Soma FM, which anyone out there
if you want a nice alternative to mainstream radio without
ads in multiple music genres. Some of them is a mainstay.
I love them and I try to support them, but
they'll occasionally, you know, they'll they'll sneak some SKA into

(45:24):
if he's one of their channels or or one of
their sub shows, and yeah, there is. I hadn't really
thought about it, but there is this kind of sense
where like SKA was just ragged on so much that
to enjoy it you kind of have to sneak it
in under the radar, sometimes alongside like you know, sort
of other reggae inspire.

Speaker 3 (45:43):
Genres, right right, But you know, people can't deny, you know,
the specials are amazing, so is you know, uh Operation Ivy,
you know, like like there's some amazing perennial hit SKA
out there. I actually, I'll throw out another little plug.
There was an amazing little documentary I saw called I

(46:04):
want to say it's called pick It Up. I'm gonna
google that to make sure real quick, but it was.
It was really good actually, And also I'll throw out
a quick little plug. There's a documentary I saw not
too long ago called pick It Up SCA in the nineties,
and it goes through all of like the stages between
like you know, first wave SKA, second wave SCA, third

(46:28):
wave SKA and it's like backlash against that and hopefully
what's coming now, which is fourth wave SKA and hey,
another plug for someone who's not paying me. It's on
Tooby go watch it.

Speaker 2 (46:41):
Yeah, yeah, I think I When it comes to surf music,
I do listen to a little bit of surf music
here and there on Soma FM, but I'm not really
familiar with a lot of the band specifically. I do
occasionally like look up and see who's playing. I know
the Blue Hawaiians are featured a lot there, but so
they probably were playing jackets as well. I listened to
a bunch of them while working on the notes for

(47:02):
this episode, and in particular I was really taken with
a great horror themed surf album from twenty thirteen titled
Mondo Zombie Boogaloo. They're one of three artists on there.
There's the Flesh Tones, Southern Culture on the Skids, and
lots straight Jackets and it's a lot of fun. There
are tracks of I think Southern Culture on the Skids

(47:23):
has a track about the Tingler on there. I know
that song yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, Tingler Blues, I think
Southern culture on the skids. By the way, their first
EP was nineteen eighty four's Voodoo Beach Party, so they
have a little bit of that beach party DNA as well.

Speaker 3 (47:38):
Very nice.

Speaker 2 (47:47):
All right, Well, let's let's jump into the plot of
the film. I don't think we're gonna go blow for
blow on everything here, but there's a lot of fun
stuff to talk about. Well, let's go to the Psycho
Beach Party.

Speaker 3 (48:00):
All right. In the very beginning, we are already in
a movie, in a movie. We don't know that yet,
but we are. The screen is black and white. We
are in uh, what seems like a oh, I'm going
to say, like a late fifties you know, kind of
like schlocky b movie drive in film. And it's ridiculous.

(48:20):
We're in a fifties diner where we see a greaser
man trying to talk to the woman that he loves,
who can he can only see her face. She's a
what is a pizza what are those called when you
serve people food waitress? A pizza waitress.

Speaker 2 (48:36):
But she's like, there's like a tiny window, right, She's
in the back and it's almost like she's been if
you're familiar with bow not bower birds, hornbills the way
a male hornbill will put the female hornbill like in
the tree and like fill in, so the feeds her
through a tiny hole. It's like that kind of vibe.
It's strange.

Speaker 3 (48:54):
It's like she's like behind the register at the front
of a diner, except there's a huge partition that blocked
off everything except her face. And this man cannot hold
back his affection and his need to see her, so
he tears down the partition, and oh no, she is
a three headed mutant. And the two other heads are
the fakest heads you've ever seen. They are essentially rubber

(49:18):
Halloween masks, just kind of like glued to each shoulder.
And we now see that this is a film within
a film, and we are at a drive in, and
we are going to be introduced to some characters in
pretty quick succession. At this drive in, we see little
glimpses of what happens on the screen, and we'll get
to know this character who's playing on the screen a

(49:40):
little bit later. But yeah, suddenly her two heads are
gone and she's a giant attack of the fifty foot
woman style monster, and like where'd her heads go? I
always wondered that, like why when she got bigger, did
she lose the other two heads?

Speaker 2 (49:54):
Yeah, I know, I guess in a way, it's kind
of reminding you that nobody here except for let and
her friend are actually here to see the movie. Everyone
is here to at least make out, So it doesn't
matter that that everything is out of whack on the screen.
But again, it's mostly played for last. But I also
kind of like the the tableau here at the beginning

(50:15):
of like here's this guy and you know, he's having
to look through this little screen to see this the
woman that he's in love with. It's like you can
only you know, view her through this like thin window,
this thin frame. And then when that frame is torn away,
it's too much for him, like he loses his mind,
she goes on a rampage. Like It's probably like a

(50:37):
nice way to summarize sort of the shackles of nineteen
sixties and or just general mainstream American culture as seen
by people by everyone who has any any kind of
inclination to break free from those confines.

Speaker 3 (50:52):
That's a good interpretation. I like it. So, as you mentioned,
we have our protagonist Florence aka chick Lit. I'm sure
we will call her both throughout our discussion here, but yeah,
Florence and chick Lit are the same person. However, at
this point in the movie, she is not chick Lit yet.
She is just Florence. She's there with her friend, I

(51:12):
forget her nerdy friend's name, but anyway, her Dean I believe,
played by Danny Wheeler Nice Burdeen. Yes, So Florence and
her very nerdy friend Berdein are at this drive in,
and as you mentioned, they're the only ones. They're not
on dates. They're just two friends trying to watch the
movie while everyone else is making out around them and
being very sexually charged, et cetera, et cetera. So they

(51:34):
are frustrated with this situation in general. But as Florence
goes up to the concession stand, we do get a
quick kind of introduction to many little characters all over
the place. We see this gang of surfers hanging out
in one car. We see our main Xander character. He
is on a date with some girlfriend of their school.

(51:57):
We meet the popular girl Marvel, and she is very
enticed with this boy. She doesn't know the Xander character.
We slowly, not slowly, we briefly pass by the Swedish
exchange student, who of course knows Florence, and we meet
him briefly. It's actually kind of fascinating because they quickly
throw you into all of this. It's not a traditional

(52:18):
structure for introducing characters. It's very much just like almost
like an overture to the film we're about to see
with very little, like hand holding, very little. There's plenty
of exposition, but it's not traditional exposition. It's just it's
almost just like a pile of exposition that you are
expected to kind of sift through and catch up quickly.

(52:39):
And it works, It works just fine. Yeah, yeah, So
we are given a very subtle hint during this scene
of the character. Florence suddenly goes into a bit of
a trance, and then more or less she just kind
of like disappears from the scene. We aren't really sure
what's happening, what's going on, It's just we know something

(53:01):
happened to Florence when she was up at the hot
dog concession stand at this drive in theater. Then very
quickly afterwards, we see that someone has been murdered.

Speaker 2 (53:13):
That's right, first murder of the film, and it won't.

Speaker 3 (53:15):
Be the last, absolutely not. And what we'll get more
into the reasons for these murders later on, but at first,
all we know is that someone has been murdered. So
now we are thrown into the opening credits and it
is a go go dancer, and that's exactly what you need.
Surf music and a go go dancer while the opening
credits go on. It kind of reminds me of like

(53:36):
the opening credits for like do the right thing, you know,
or like Rosie Perez is dancing along to it. It's
that kind of just extended solo dancer over music while
you are being introduced to all the actors and directors
and and whatnot.

Speaker 2 (53:50):
It's very aggressive. She is dancing right at you, daring
at you the.

Speaker 3 (53:54):
Viewer, much like Rosie Perez and do the right thing.
Then we are back and suddenly there is an investigation
going on. We see the police captain investigating the murder
along with a uniform cop and it's all very I guess,
it's all very procedural, like there's nothing like had the

(54:18):
ordinary that's going on, but it's all everything is everything
that we explain throughout this whole movie is going to
be very tongue in cheek, very intentionally corny. But here's
the compliment I can give to this entire movie, which
I really think is outstanding. Everybody's giving the same level
of a corny delivery. Therefore, it's clearly intentional. Everything is

(54:41):
happening in a very molded, very directed way, and therefore
it works perfectly. Like to compare it to something that
doesn't work, think about the movie Batman and Robin Right,
the Joel Schumacher second Batman movie from him. That movie
is incredible if you only watch Uma Thurman playing a
Batman sixty six character like she she understood the assignment.

(55:04):
She got it. Uma Thurman delivered the Batman sixty six
character that I think Joel Schumacher was looking for, whereas,
you know, no offense to every other actor in the movie.
They did not. You know, George what's his name, George
Clinton played Batman in that movie. Cloney, Yeah, thank you,

(55:24):
George Clooney. He was absolutely playing as like a jaded
ninety Hollywood star, like that's not the role. He needed
to be Adam West in that film, and he didn't. Anyway,
Everyone in this film knows that it's Batman sixty six.
Everyone is camping it up, all giving the same style

(55:46):
of delivery, and it's really wonderful. This is going to
be a bit of a strange association, but I do
mean it. This movie is almost a trauma film, but
it's like a G rated trauma film, which by comparison,
is still in R but compared to trauma, it never
goes that extreme, but it's still it feels like a

(56:11):
gentle light trauma film for the family. That's what it
feels like. The pasties are on exactly. Yeah, the bur
last click you mentioned, so the murder investigation is happening
in the background throughout this film. We will we will
check in more with the police captain as things go on.
But Florence and Burden are now at the beach and

(56:34):
Florence sees all the surfers and she decides that she
really wants to be a surfer. You know, she wants
to go do this, but everyone is telling her she
can't because of her gender. They're saying, no, you can't surf,
you're a girl. Get out of here. And ultimately she
goes up to this same group of gosh I has
to call them a gang a crew. Yeah, I suppose

(56:55):
a surf crew is the best word for them. None
of them are particularly intimidating. This is where I'm gonna
keep calling him Xander. This is where Xander and all
his surf friends are all hanging out. Gosh, I want
to say, there's like five of them, and they're all
more or less, you know, the same kind of guy.
So they inform her that they're definitely not gonna teach
her how to serve. Florence because they're like boss, the

(57:19):
like the head surf bum. The Great Kanaka would think
that they were, you know, being completely ridiculous if they
were teaching some girl how to surf. So Florence, being
a driven female protagonist, goes no, no, no, I will
go talk to the Great Kanaka and I will convince
him to teach me how to surf because I am driven.
So she goes off. She's being very proactive when she

(57:41):
goes and finds the Great Kanaka in his very archetypical
surf bum shack. Then when she goes in there, he
gives the same reaction at first, go away, go away,
get out of here. You know, I'm not interested in
like hanging out with like a teenage girl and teaching
her how to serf. This is ridiculous because I think
even in this context her his character, the Great Kanaka

(58:04):
is supposed to probably be in his oh thirties at
least right late twenties, early thirties.

Speaker 2 (58:08):
Yeah, because he's the king of the beach here, and
so he's been around probably a bit too long, literally
taky shack on the beach.

Speaker 3 (58:15):
For sure, and so therefore he's like, no, get out
of here, I'm not going to teach you. But then
at this point we see another one of these spells
that Florence experiences a bit of a blackout but a
bit of a something. We still aren't quite sure what's
going on, but what was teased at in the earlier scene.

(58:36):
And suddenly we see that she has thrown herself into
a completely different personality named Anne Bowman, and Bowman is
now in charge, and Anne Bowman is a is a
no nonsense, you know gosh in many ways that is
referenced later very much a dominatrix type role, very much
an I'm in charge, shut up, I'm getting my way.

(58:58):
I'm in Bowman, you know, Yeah, and.

Speaker 2 (59:01):
Very much an old Hollywood kind of vibe too, like
that kind of like an old Hollywood vixen vibe, but
with these with these kinky corners as well, where she's like,
I'm gonna what if I put you on a leash
and walk you down the beach? And he's excited and
terrified by this at the same time, but he's like, like, like,
that would be great.

Speaker 3 (59:19):
What would the guys say? Though, it's almost like a
Tululah Bankhead performance, very very big and yeah, no no,
so yeah, he has no interest in Florence, but a Bowman, Hey,
this is great. So he decides he will keep her around.
He will teach her, not because he likes Florence, but
because he likes Anne Bowman, this alternate personality of hers

(59:43):
that is somewhere deep inside of her. So this continues,
and it's confusing. No one really knows how to deal
with this, including the audience. But he brings her down
to the beach and shows her to the guys and goes, no, no, no,
we're hanging out with her. She's gonna she's gonna be
a part of our crew and we're gonna do this. Uh.
She learns how she's introduced to, you know, the gang,

(01:00:06):
and everything's going fine, but quickly they still tease her
for for for being a girl, for not being very
good at surfing yet to all that stuff, and they
give her the nickname of chick Lit because yeah, she's
a chick, but she's not even a full chick. She's
a chick flat.

Speaker 2 (01:00:22):
And of course obviously it sounds a bit like Gidget,
so it works. We also get all these great scenes
of the actual surfing, which I couldn't get enough of
because it's like, it's, I guess this is in keeping
with the old beach movies, right, it's a it's a
combination of actual beach surfing footage and then these totally
fake blue or green screen sequences, right.

Speaker 3 (01:00:45):
Yeah, no, it's it's all completely phony and very fun.
And so yeah, she embraces it. She goes, yeah, I'll
be chick Lit. You know, I'm in for this. This
is this is gonna be fun. Uh So, now at
this point we're starting to kind of sow the seeds
of what's going to come as like the murder mystery
aspect of this, and Florence aka Chicklet aka and Bowman

(01:01:10):
is definitely like the first, let's say, potential killer. They
set up several, well a few potential killers, and Florence
is definitely the first one, with her discussing how when
she goes into these alternate personalities, the Florence character blacks out. Basically,
she goes through these spells of not knowing what's happening

(01:01:32):
at all. Therefore she could be doing anything during that time.
So not even Florence herself knows if she is this
potential killer that the police captain is investigating.

Speaker 2 (01:01:42):
Yeah, she didn't even know why it occurs. We the viewer,
we quickly realize that it seems to be triggered by
sexism to a large degree. But then also we eventually
realize and Kanaka realizes this is a little bit later on.
Am I be getting hit myself here? But it's something
about circle patterns as well.

Speaker 3 (01:02:03):
Yeah, it's it's a triggering method that kind of kicks
off from multiple personalities, of which she has at least
three or four. I think we definitely see around four
of them, but perhaps more in like rapid succession at
some points.

Speaker 2 (01:02:17):
Yeah, an Bowman's the main one, but there's another one
that I think she says is based on like a
cashier at the local grocery store.

Speaker 3 (01:02:25):
Yeah. Yeah, a strong willed woman.

Speaker 2 (01:02:28):
And I don't I kind of get the impression there
might have been more in the original stage version of this,
because again Bush's specialty was like multiple.

Speaker 3 (01:02:36):
Characters, right, Yeah, I feel like there was at least
one that was speaking Spanish. I feel like there was
at least one that was an opera singer that you
mentioned earlier. Yeah, there were a few in there, but
and Bowman is the main one for sure. So we're
back at the beach, and this is setting up more characters.
There's like this spooky old beach house that has like
a lot of rumors about it, and they see that

(01:02:58):
there's this beautiful who is staying in this what's considered
to be like a cursed house. It turns out that
it's Betina Barnes, the actress that played the three headed
woman in that drive in movie. From the beginning of
the film, she is renting this house and staying there,
and she's staying a bit incognito, just trying to like,
you know, have like a nice separation from her Hollywood life.

(01:03:21):
But she very quickly befriends the surf crew and more
specifically Burdeen is that's her name, Yes, the nerd friend
of Florence. She's feeling a bit neglected by Florence with
her finding her new friends with the surf crew, so
Berdein becomes like the Gal Friday, the assistant personal assistant
to Beatina Barnes. And so that's setting up like another

(01:03:43):
like you know, b story happening throughout this movie. So
lots of clues, lots of backstories, lots of setting up
all these different little threads and potential red herrings, et cetera,
et cetera. But ultimately we are setting up four killers. Okay,
we're going to kind of skip the middle of the
Scooby Doo episode and kind of kind of get towards

(01:04:04):
closer to the end. The four killers that are being
set up. I mentioned Florence, I mentioned Betina Barnes. They
never really give Betina Barnes much of like a motive.
It's just basically that she's like an outsider, that she
is just like like she by coincidence, has arrived around
the same time these murders are happening. The other character
is Florence's mom. We only see these little bits and

(01:04:24):
pieces of her, but she's strongly implied to be a
killer just because she's quite the stickler, quite quite regimented,
which ties into the kind of victims we are getting,
which I'll get into soon. Yeah. Then the fourth and
last is the Great Kanaka. Once again, barely any reasons
are given why the Great Kanaka is considered a suspect

(01:04:48):
in this but the Captain is definitely investigating him as
one of the four potential killers. I suppose it's just
because he's a loner on the beach and he could
kind of like get away with whatever he wants, et cetera,
et cetera. We also see in a flashback that he's
a former police officer and he was the partner of
the police captain and they had a romantic relationship that
fell apart because of her ambition to raise higher and

(01:05:11):
blah blah blah and not just be a housewife and
all that stuff.

Speaker 2 (01:05:14):
Yeah, there's there's not There's not a love triangle in
this film. It's more of like a love cat's cradle
because we have chick lit kind of pursuing starcat Aka Xander,
and Xander is pursuing marvel Ann and I believe dating her,
but also like all the male characters are enraptured by
Betina Barnes, right, And and then we have Anne Bowman,

(01:05:36):
the an Bowman personality is in this sexually dominating again
played for comedy relationship with Kanaka. And then, like you said,
we learn that Kanaka was previously in a steamy relationship
with Captain Monica Stark. So there's there's a lot of
intricacy to this scenario.

Speaker 3 (01:05:54):
And to make it even more complex, because why not
two of the members of the surf crew are clearly
in love with each other. Oh yeah, and at every
opportunity they will oil each other up and wrestle on
the beach, and you know, it's revealed they're somewhat aware.
They're like like they they almost want to tell each

(01:06:14):
other they love each other. They almost want to just
be a couple. But you know, it's it being the
repressed nineteen sixties. They haven't quite found a way to
get there yet. But it's it is funny. They're homoerotic
wrestling on the pose. Yes, just just it comes out
of nowhere. It just lasts for a very long time,

(01:06:34):
and we even see later on, Like I said, this
whole movie is very queer coded. Bettina attempts a kiss
with Florence pretty late into the film as well, and
it does seem, like you said, a cat's cradle. Everyone
wants something, and everyone's a little repressed, and no one
can quite just say what they want. No one can

(01:06:57):
can quite just kind of get there and be honest
and communicate openly and in many ways just kind of
be themselves. That's that's not really in anyone's DNA at
this point in this story. So more more kills are happening,

(01:07:17):
and during each of these murders it's very jollo and
by that I mean all we see is that the
camera is the killer's perspective, and we see a gloved
hand performing these deeds, whether it be a stabbing with
like a butcher's knife, or whether it be a gosh,
what's what are some other murders, they're all pretty ridiculous.

Speaker 2 (01:07:37):
Yeah, I don't even remember if we see the method
necessarily in like Rhoda's murder, the wheelchair bound sort of
queen Bee of the high school social scene, but like
she's just we see her in the next scene is
like they found her body. Her head very faith looking
is just on top of the one of the wheels
of the wheelchair spinning in circles.

Speaker 3 (01:07:56):
That's that's right, And so this is a great time
to talk about the kill counts and the reasons why s. Yeah,
you mentioned Roda. Roda is like, honestly, she's like the
school mean girl more or less. Like I would say,
anytime you talk to her, she's going to say something
cutting and insulting to anyone who she's talking to. She's
not a nice woman at all. And then we have

(01:08:18):
let's see, one of the beach guys has psoriasis, and
the only way we know that is because he's the
one who's always wearing a T shirt because he's embarrassed.
And then the other one is this other guy who
there are many references to his testicles. That's just like
he's like psychic through his testicles or something. It's many
references are made to this that don't quite make sense,

(01:08:41):
and I don't think it's supposed to. And then we
had the woman from the drive in at the beginning.
So those four are the four victims that we are
given throughout this film. What the police captain discovers is
that each victim has some sort of like biological otherness
to them, something is making them not the average American

(01:09:05):
straightforward person, which of course seems to be like this
ongoing theme about here is that, you know, what's the appearance,
what's the facade, what are we really? What are we inside?
Et cetera. So the first victim from the drive in,
she had a hairlip, the second victim, as I mentioned,
he had psoriasis, the third victim he only had one testicle.

(01:09:25):
And then the fourth victim, as you mentioned, Robert, she
was in a wheelchair. So so there was something quote
unquote wrong with them, and by wrong in the eyes
of the killer, just means not average, not perfect.

Speaker 2 (01:09:39):
So we're looking for someone Monica Stark in particular, Captain
Monica Stark is looking for somebody who is really down
on outsiders, on anyone that's not fitting the thin definition
of what a a quote unquote normal person should be
in this, you know, this sixty cinematic film world. And
of course that means that chick Lit's mom is pretty

(01:10:00):
high up on the suspect list. And for me, as
a viewer, like you know, if this war were indeed
an Italian horror film, I would be like, oh, well,
it's chick lit, right, we were investing this much time
in someone's mental illness, like they're probably going to be
the killer unless you go for the twist. But it's
probably going to be her, but not in this film,
Like we like chick lit too much. I feel like

(01:10:21):
she's safe. But the mother seems to be the prime
suspect that they're building up. And so that's where I
thought it was going.

Speaker 3 (01:10:27):
And ultimately the police agreed with you. At a point
later on in the film, all these killings have happened,
all of the set up, all these red herrings, everything's
going on, Like I said, very Scooby do. If you
like Scooby Doo, you'll like this. The police eventually arrest
Florence's mother. They go, no, you are the killer. We
know that you've done all these things. That's it. You're

(01:10:49):
going to jail. And it all kind of I would say,
it fully pieces together, but like all the puzzle pieces
kind of formed together. So Florence has like this memory
of herself when she was younger, where her mom like
you know, she liked to like, you know, meet the
sailors at the port and like, you know, I guess

(01:11:10):
just be promiscuous.

Speaker 2 (01:11:11):
Yeah, but she was a patriot.

Speaker 3 (01:11:12):
Yes, that's true. She was a patriot in her promiscuity
and all of this, I guess just had like a
sort of an effect on Florence as a child. Ultimately
she was pushed aside often so where mother could go
off and be a patriot. And so this led to

(01:11:33):
a traumatic event that happened in Florence's very very very
young childhood that she had completely blocked out, which was
that her and her little brother, which we didn't even
know she had, were playing on the swings. Florence, I guess,
pushed him too hard and she went over the top
of the bar and just flew off like a bottle
rocket like it definitely the most ridiculous death in this fiel.

Speaker 2 (01:11:57):
Oh yes, this is played so over the top and
for laughs, is this is not a pet cemetery in
this sequence? This is more like a scene from Matilda.

Speaker 3 (01:12:07):
Oh yeah, you know, it's looney Tunes for sure. I
think there are literal smoke lines from the boy flying
off the swing set. So yes, she accidentally was involved
in her little brother's death and this affected her and
I think perhaps kicked off this whole multiple personalities disorder
for her that she was repressing these memories and hopefully

(01:12:30):
blocking them out as a way to deal with them.
So this is all sad, and she's worried about this,
and her mom has just been arrested. Like a lot's
going on. She's not having a great evening. So I'm
not sure if you all remember early on we mentioned
that there is a Swedish exchange student staying in the
house with them. His name is Lars. Lars goes here,
I'll drive you home, Florence, come on, let's get out

(01:12:52):
of here, so that they leave, and oh, we got
some twists coming. Big twist, Lars is the killer. Spoilers,
I'll take that back. Spoilers, Lars is the killer. And
ultimately it turns out that when we were referencing that
beach house earlier in this film, the one that was

(01:13:14):
like cursed, that there was a big murder spree that
happened there where very Michael Meyers esque. It was the
young son who was fed up with all of the
what he viewed as like weaknesses in his family, all
the abnormalities, like I believe what did they say, like
you know, one was deaf or something like that, Like
each family member had a non average, you know, physical thing,

(01:13:39):
and he hated that. He just wanted to be normal.
He wanted everyone to be normal, et cetera, et cetera,
et cetera. So he killed his whole family and he
went on the lamb. So he's continued this that this
has been his serial killer thing that he's been doing.
His real name is Larry, He's not from Sweden. This
is a whole facade. Now. He thought Florence was a

(01:14:00):
perfectly average, normal American girl, and that's what he is
fine with. He wants everyone to be normal. But in
the revelation that she has a multiple personality disorder, he
now has to kill Florence too. So now it's a
big chase that they end up at the drive in again.
I love the symmetry of the film starting at the

(01:14:21):
drive in and ending at the drive in, very very
nice filmmaking there, and you know, chase and chasing, running, running,
all that kind of stuff, and Lars is he falls
off the top of the drive in screen and falls
to his death. Everything is resolved, happy ending, right, Everyone's
everyone's happy. This is all I think.

Speaker 2 (01:14:40):
Monica like shoots him off of it. It's like she's
up there too.

Speaker 3 (01:14:43):
Right, So yeah, it's it's a it's a whole action
running around scene. But yeah, there we go, happy ending.
The killer has been dealt with. But wait, twist, this
entire film was a delusion inside Florence's head. She is

(01:15:04):
in a modern mental health institute and she is receiving
electroshock therapy. She's looking around at her and everyone around
her are characters that are inside of this psycho beach
party story, like I believe Roda was like the nurse
who was like applying the electrodes, and we get a
bit of a wizard of Oz like oh and you
were there, and you were there. We got one of

(01:15:24):
those moments. And then twist, twist, twist. It turns out
this is a movie in a movie in a movie,
and we see a couple of youths at a modern
drive in watching this film, the film of Florence inside
the mental institute. So they're upset about this. They're like,

(01:15:48):
what's it was all a dream? What a terrible ending?
This is corny, And then we are treated with a
final scare in which Anne Bowman jumps out of the
back seed of their car wielding a butcher knife. Yea
then we cut to the go Go Dan serum, we
get some credits. I love it.

Speaker 2 (01:16:08):
Yeah, they just to drive home that this was all
about laughs guys. Yeah, and I also I do love
that the initial twist of like, oh no, it's the
electroshock scenario. It does seem to reference, of course overtly
the Wizard of Oz that they and you were there
and you were there, but also nineteen eighty five's Returned

(01:16:28):
to Oz, in which electroshock therapy is plays a major
plot point in the you know, the non Oz portions
of the film. Yeah, so yeah, they they ended with laughs,
end it very broadly and ridiculously, you know, repeat yourself.
It's just a show that's sort of a feel. But yeah,
this one was. This was such a fun film, you know,

(01:16:49):
never a dull moment, a lot of a lot of laughs,
and not everything necessarily lands. And this is I think
I've got to come back to the Strangers with Candy compare,
and you know, like this is this is again a
nineteen eighties like late eighties comedy that was adapted to
a two thousand comedy film. So not all the comedy,

(01:17:12):
especially since it's you know, it's kind of burless dragstyle
humor of the time period. Not everything's going to necessarily
translate as well to for modern viewers, but for the
most part it works really well. And yeah, if you're
if you're a fan of things like Strangers with Candy,
if you're a fan of John Waters films and anything
like that, I highly recommend it. I think it's a
really fun flick.

Speaker 3 (01:17:33):
It definitely deserves a larger audience. So even if you
listener want to be just one more person who has
said that they've seen Psycho Beach Party, I recommend that
you do that.

Speaker 2 (01:17:43):
Yeah. Yeah, if you're fans in any of the actors
are creatives involved here, are definitely worth looking them up.
And if you just just want to want a surf movie,
you just want to go to a beach party, and
we do get a beach party. Late. We didn't really
talk about this much, but this is this whole scene
where there the surfers are going to do a virgin
sacrifice to some sort of a god, and of course

(01:18:04):
chick Lit ends up she's going to be the virgin sacrifice,
but then goes into Ann Bowman mode mid sacrifice, and
they're like, oh, and Bowman's not a virgin. We can't
do this shuts the whole thing down.

Speaker 3 (01:18:16):
And there's of course a dance off between Tina Barnes
and marvel Anne, which is really wonderful. I mean, like
all the tropes from a beach movie are in here,
and yeah, we skipped over pretty much all of the middle.
So there's a lot to enjoy and have unfold for you,
even if you've heard our description.

Speaker 2 (01:18:36):
Yeah, and if you know the spoiler, it doesn't matter.
Does not really depend on.

Speaker 3 (01:18:41):
Knowing or not knowing this, I mean it is it
does feel actually like like I said, very Scooby Doo
and like, wait, who's the killer that person that we
saw once an hour ago?

Speaker 2 (01:18:50):
What?

Speaker 3 (01:18:51):
Yeah, yeah, it doesn't really factor in. I think. I
think the way they discover it is they see a
picture of the child who you used to live in
the house and they get out a felt tip pen
and draw the horn rimmed glasses. Yeah, fars I have
the photoco like it's him, so good, so good.

Speaker 2 (01:19:14):
Yeah all right, Steph, Well, I've got I got a
two part question for you. First of all, on Rusty
Needles Record Club, have you ever discussed surf beach party music?
And either way what have you been talking about recently
on Rusty Needles Record Club and where can folks.

Speaker 3 (01:19:29):
Listen to it? Yes, we have discussed surf and beach
music in particular around let's see what have been around
Halloween of this last year. One of the things I
love about the nineteen sixties is that a lot of
trends happened around the same time, and so they all
kind of overlapped. Like you know, there was there was

(01:19:52):
a monster craze in the nineteen sixties at the same
time that there was a beach craze happening. So there
are a lot of gosh, what's what's the word for it,
I guess synergies. And so we were covering a lot
of the the monster craze, beach music and surf music
from the nineteen sixties this last October, and gosh, it's fun.

(01:20:15):
It's such a fun, fun genre. In fact, as long
as I'm talking about sixties movie monster surf music, I
will mention one of my favorite compilations of that era.
It's a three disc set called Halloween Nuggets Monster Sixties
A Go Go Oh. It's like every novelty sixties surf

(01:20:37):
monster song that's ever existed all in one collection. It's incredible.
So yeah, yeah check that out. Halloween Nuggets, Monster Sixties
A go go have a good time.

Speaker 2 (01:20:47):
Oh wow, I just looked this up. This this does
look amazing.

Speaker 3 (01:20:50):
It's really good and if you can't track that down.
It was very much inspired by these series of compilations
called Lux and Ivy's Favorites, which was just a fan
made compilation of all the music that Lux and Ivy
from the Cramps really enjoy. There are I think eighteen
volumes of it at this point. Another place you can

(01:21:12):
get really good just kind of like spooky out there,
like psychobilly and like surf music. So yeah, anyway, if
you like music, talk, that's what I do on Rusty
Needles Record Club every week. And what have we been
up to lately? To answer your other question, Robert, we
are currently doing a alphabetical trip through the record store
where each week we are going one letter deeper into

(01:21:35):
the alphabet and we're trading between our listeners, myself and
my co host and deciding which album is next. So
let's see. We did o Toboke Beaver this last week,
an incredible punk band from Japan. I believe next week
we're doing the Pete's Dragon soundtrack, which is utterly ridiculous.
Oh wow, and the ultimate goal. If you've never heard

(01:21:57):
my show before, Rusty Needles Record Club is a show
where I am going to listen to every single album
that has ever existed. I am greedy in my music
consumption and I must hear it all and then I
must talk about it with my friends, because that's what
I enjoy doing. So so far, so good, so far.
I am on track to listen to every album ever made.

(01:22:17):
We do one episode per week, every Friday, and it
is one album per episode, and it's a fun time
and ultimately we are very genre agnostic, and it's just
about being a music fan. It's about loving all music
and wanting to hear everything that's ever been So that's
that's Rusty Needles Record Club. It's a fun series.

Speaker 2 (01:22:37):
It's a noble suit and yeah, I encourage the listeners to,
if nothing else, check in and just take a look,
because whatever genre you're into, there's a very good chance
you guys have touched on it at one point or another.

Speaker 3 (01:22:49):
Very true. We want it all, we'll cover it all
all right.

Speaker 2 (01:22:53):
Well, Seth, thanks for coming on the show. Again and
chatting about movies. I'm sure we'll ask you back again
in the future. Here just a reminder to everybody out there,
Weird House Cinema occurs Fridays in the Stuff to Blow
Your Mind podcast Feed. Podcast Feed is primarily concerned with
science and culture, but on Fridays we set aside most
serious concerns to just talk about a weird film on

(01:23:15):
Weird House Cinema. If you want a list of all
the movies we've covered thus far, as well as sometimes
a peek ahead at what's coming out next, go to
letterbox dot com. It's l E T T E R
B O x D dot com. Our user profile on
there is weird House, and there is in fact a list,
and it's fun to interact with. If you can, you know,
divide things up by genre a decade, and just in general,

(01:23:37):
you know, you can give your own little reviews and
cataloging and wish lists for films that you've watched or
wished to watch in the future. Thanks as always to
jj Possway the excellent Jjpossway for producing this show, and
if you want to get in touch with us, you
can email Joe and myself at contact at Stuff to
Blow Your Mind dot com.

Speaker 1 (01:24:03):
Stuff to Blow Your Mind is production of iHeartRadio. For
more podcasts from iHeartRadio, visit the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts,
or wherever you listen to your favorite shows.

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Robert Lamb

Robert Lamb

Joe McCormick

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