The beach movie has come a long way from the days of Frankie & Annette, Gidget and The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini.
On second thought, maybe it hasn’t changed at all. They’ve always been about the same things: babes, beefcake, and trying to get laid without getting sand in your nether regions.
Of course, the beach films of yesteryear could only hint at it, but you knew that beneath the Aquanet and Brylcreem, those kids were waiting to sexually explode (in between having to dodge all those giant radioactive insects so prominent in that era).
The beach films of recent times don’t have to hint at anything, and can be as blatantly sexual and nuded up as they want. And they don’t have to tiptoe around the "love that dare not speak its name" either, although if you read between the lines of those 60’s films, we were always there, usually represented by an overly-enthusiastic kid who was never really interested in the girls, and for some reason always wore a fisherman’s hat.
You know the guy I mean.
But there’s one thing that the beach films of yesterday and today definitely have in common. Most of them are terrible. But there’s "terrible" and there’s "fabulously terrible."
The first beach film I recall seeing pretty much traumatized me for life. It was called Blood Beach, and I saw it on late night HBO in the mid-80’s. I was 11-years-old and seeing people dragged beneath the sand by a toothy cucumber put me off the beach for years (and to this day I still hate the feeling of sand beneath my feet).
And I knew if I was ever attacked by that creature, I’d be in awful trouble, because I didn’t have a heaving bosom. The monster in the movie usually had trouble dragging some of the larger-chested girls under because their chests would get stuck, as if they were spring-loaded.
Skinny little me? I’d slide down like oysters on the half shell.
So where am I going with all of this? Basically, I hate the beach, and rarely venture onto its deadly granules. But I love beach movies, especially if, like Blood Beach, they transcend the genre and become cult classics.
All of the guilty pleasures on the following pages have something to recommend them, whether it’s beefcake, music, beefcake, sharks, or beefcake.
A lot of beefcake.
Summer Lovers flopped when originally released in 1982, but has become one of the great guilty pleasures of all time. But is it really a guilty pleasure?
After all, it features gorgeous Greek scenery (it’s one of those films that makes you want to book a villa immediately), one of the greatest soundtracks of the 80’s, and a young Peter Gallagher at his absolute hottest (back when the caterpillars above his eyes were still in their luxurious larval stage). I hear it also had a couple of actresses in it.
BEEFCAKE SCALE (out of five):
It gets a 3 on the beefcake scale, for Peter (and the pause button on the dvd player). It only scores a 1 on the guilt scale, because there’s really no reason to feel guilty about watching it (well, except for the dialogue).
Dismissed as a Blue Lagoon ripoff when it was released in 1982, Paradise stands just as tall as its predecessor when it comes to bad movies. Actually, Paradise is probably a notch above Blue Lagoon.
It featured a beach, a desert (complete with oasis), a leading lady willing to sing the title song in a hideous dress, and a reflecting pool made exclusively for Phoebe Cates’ legendary breasts. Speaking of which, unlike The Blue Lagoon, where the underage Brooke Shields had to hide behind a chest merkin, Phoebe strutted around freely … as did costar Willie Aames.
It’s a question our greatest minds have pondered without resolution – Christopher Atkins or Willie Aames? I’m willing to bet Christopher would win in a landslide.
People loved his blond curls and Adonis physique (not to mention a certain, um, self-pleasuring scene) while Willie was like the road company version. Still, Willie had his fans (including me).
It receives a 4 on the Beefcake scale for the multiple Willie sightings, and it gets 2 on the guilt scale, because while it’s not a very good movie … well, neither is The Blue Lagoon.
Return to the Blue Lagoon
And now we present the award for the most unnecessary sequel of all time. A 16-year-old Milla Jovovich (before she became the kick-ass action queen we all adore) and a 20-year-old Brian Krause starred in what was basically a PG-13 version of The Blue Lagoon.
So is there anything that makes it watchable?
Brian was hot, but aside from him, the only reason to watch this is to see what The Blue Lagoon would be like on The CW.
It gets a lowly 1 on the beefcake scale and a high 4 on the guilt scale. Let’s be honest, if you’re going to remake a movie, why remake The Blue Lagoon? And if you are going to remake The Blue Lagoon, why make it PG-13? What’s the point?
From Justin to Kelly
Okay, it’s ranked #22 on the IMDB Bottom 100, but that’s only because it’s the most misunderstood film of the last decade. It’s not about spring break in Miami Beach, or horrible songs lip-synched badly. It’s about a deeply disturbed man at the very beginning of his madness, in the best film of its kind since Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer
Believe me, if you look at the film the way I described it, you’ll see why it’s one of the great guilty pleasures. Trust me.
Where The Boys Are ’84
Now we’re talking! How do you update a classic beach movie from the 60’s? With actresses who epitomize the 80’s! Add in one of the hottest slabs of 80’s beefcake, and you have a beach classic. Let’s break down the goodness ..
Lisa Hartman – I’m pretty sure she made this after she was killed off of Knot’s Landing, but before fan pressure forced the producers to bring her back. And I’m also pretty sure that I’m the only person in the world who owns two Lisa Hartman albums.
Lorna Luft – Lorna starred in the one/two punch of Grease 2 and this film, instantly making her my favorite diva in that family. Yes, I said it.
Lynn-Holly Johnson: Add Robby Benson and they could call it … wait for it … Sand Castles.
Wendy Schaal: She laid an egg trying to replace Herve Villechaize on Fantasy Island, but is currently finding steady work as Francine on American Dad. Is that a step up?
Russell Todd: One of the great hunks of the decade, Russell starred in Friday the 13th Part 2 (as a camp counselor who, as I recall, died), and in the classic Chopping Mall. And he was enough to make a 12-year-old feel … tingly.
BEEFCAKE SCALE :
Russell’s hotness brings it a 3 on the beefcake scale, and while the movie surrounding them isn’t that great, the ladies are guilt-free.
One of the most well-known of the 80’s beach movies, Hardbodies is notable for only one thing – Grant Cramer. Before this he was best known as the guy who gave Helen Hunt that fateful dose of drugs. Now he’s best known for flashing his bits (perhaps accidentally) in a bad 80’s beach movie
BEEFCAKE SCALE :
It gets a 3 on the beefcake scale for Grant’s exposure, but a 4 on the guilt scale, because it’s not really worth sitting through the whole movie for that 10 seconds.
Laguna Beach: A Love Affair
Laguna Beach: A Love Affair represents one of my favorite guilty pleasure genres – softcore skinfests with a storyline (or as I like to call them "wang with words"). The combination of painful acting, stilted dialogue, and hot naked guys is jarring and hilarious.
BEEFCAKE SCALE :
Yeah! The first perfect score. It gets a 5 on the beefcake scale because, well, duh, and it gets a 5 on the guilt scale because, well, duh.
Fraternity Vacation is a typical dumb teen beach movie, but a few things make it stand out. It stars future Oscar winner Tim Robbins, who would follow this up the following year with Howard the Duck. Plus it also featured Amanda Bearse and Stephen Geoffreys, who previously starred together in Fright Night.
Amanda, of course, would later become one of the first celebrity lesbians to come out in the 90’s (before k.d., Melissa, and Ellen).
Meanwhile, Stephen’s career would later become the subject of much conjecture. I’ll leave it at that.
Best of all, Fraternity Vacation featured the dual hotness of Leigh McCloskey and Matt McCoy.
BEEFCAKE SCALE :
It earns a solid 3 on both scales. Some nice beefcake, and as dumb beach movies go, you could do worse.
Spring Break Shark Attack
Well, it does exactly what it says on the tin. Justin Baldoni and Riley Smith (in his best performance since Voodoo Academy) star in this made-for-TV snoozefest. It also stars 3-time Emmy winner Kathy Baker, proving that there really are no roles for women over fifty.
There is some fun to be had, though, in wondering just how long Justin’s sleazy character will last before being chomped. I was off by five minutes.
It gets a 1 on the beefcake scale, but only because Justin is shirtless until he’s chewed in half, but it gets a 4 on the guilt scale because … it’s called Spring Break Shark Attack.
Do you have any beach favorites you’re mildly embarrassed to say you like? Or would you like to proudly tout a favorite and let us mock it? What’s your guilty favorite beach flick?