Matty splashes about with the second film made for Full Moon’s sexy subdivision and its sequel.
The second movie made for Full Moon’s erotic subdivision Torchlight Entertainment but the first released (for whatever reason, US distributor Paramount switched it and Test Tube Teens From the Year 2000 (1994) around), David DeCoteau’s BEACH BABES FROM BEYOND is a low to middling experience. There’s some good on display: DeCoteau’s muse Linnea Quigley submits an excellent comic turn as the film’s villainess, and the support she receives from Albert Mitchell (a regular of DeCoteau’s work of the period, having also appeared in the aforementioned Test Tube Teens and the sizzling Naked Instinct (1993)) as her slimy attorney is likewise brilliant. The parade of bikini-clad lovelies and sculpted Adonises that DeCoteau casts his camera over as they frolic on the sand are very easy on the eye too, and the helmer’s patented segues into fantasy during Beach Babes’ sex scenes are genuinely stirring, both of mind and within the ol’ netheregions. Sadly — and almost perversely so — it’s here where Beach Babes From Beyond starts to unravel.
A director completely in tune with his subconscious, DeCoteau has always demonstrated a flair for and a deep understanding of oneirism that, when paired with his love of sensuality, often results in an explosion of powerful images. And despite going all out at the insistence of Full Moon chieftain Charles Band, DeCoteau was contractually obligated to deliver Paramount something with an R rating; the long and the short of it being that, irrespective of the super spicy unrated cut that was slapped onto promo tapes sent to stateside video dealers in fall ‘93 (the same cut that used to play on Cinemax, and the same cut where the racy ‘additional footage’ packaged as an extra on 88 Films’ now discontinued UK DVD came from), the most widely available version of Beach Babes is maddeningly pruned and re-shaped. Instead of red-hot romping (the best of which is Mitchell’s daydream dalliance with the gorgeous Nikki Fritz, wherein the sorely missed starlet merrily showcases why she became such a favourite among scholars of VHS and cable era erotica) we get extended dialogue exchanges that do little to alleviate Beach Babes From Beyond’s dawdling pace.
While the unrated Beach Babes is hardly essential and certainly in the bottom half of DeCoteau’s resume, it at least has purpose. Stripped of the titillation, the tedium of Beach Babes From Beyond is all the more apparent. For instance, though the film is tailored to AIP’s classic beach party movie formula, emphasising music and teasing themes of teenage freedom and sexuality (topics usually well within DeCoteau’s wheelhouse), the script is flatly written and packed with dead air, leaving DeCoteau to flounder for large, plotless chunks before he can bring the actual story — about a trio of horny extraterrestrial hotties who crash-land on Earth and help save beach bum Joe Estvez’s surf shack from the clutches of Quigley and Mitchell — to a close. DeCoteau’s promo-like swimsuit contest might be a stylish and rousing sign off but it’s hella sluggish getting there, even with the admittedly quite funny gimmick casting of Don Swayze, Jackie Stallone, and Joey Travolta, who join Martin Sheen’s brother Estevez in the B-movie friendly relative stakes.
Shot on location in Mexico but you’d never be able to tell; in keeping with its dull screenplay, Beach Babes From Beyond also suffers the ignominy of being lumbered with a gloomy, overcast look in several key moments that renders it anything but exotic. Of course, it’s unfair pinning that on anyone; Gods they may be but David DeCoteau and Charles Band still can’t control the weather. And when the clock’s a-ticking and there’s film primed in the camera — well, you’ve quickly gotta shoot, shoot, shoot…
USA ● 1993 ● Erotic, Comedy, Sci-Fi ● 74mins (R)
Joe Estevez, Linnea Quigley, Albert Mitchell, Roxanne Blaze (as ‘Sarah Bellomo’) ● Dir. David DeCoteau (as ‘Ellen Cabot’) ● Wri. Bil Kelman (as ‘Alexander Sachs’)
Incidentally, ‘quick’ is the operative word for the equally monotonous BEACH BABES 2: CAVE GIRL ISLAND. Not the till-ringing hit Full Moon were hoping for, Beach Babes From Beyond nevertheless did enough business in video stores and on cable to warrant the backing of a hastily assembled follow-up. Lensed in five days, exactly half the schedule of Beach Babes numero uno, and for a fraction of the first film’s already low quarter of a million-ish budget, DeCoteau’s Beach Babes 2 is cheap but not entirely cheerful. Again, there’s a few things of note: porn star Roxanne Blaze makes a welcome return as top birra space totty Xena, and the jaw-dropping vixens that flank her (Stephanie Hudson and Tina Lawrence, who take over the other ‘beach babe’ roles from Nicole Posey and Tamara Landry, respectively) are similarly luscious. The fellas they knock boots with are suitably studly, with Stefan Galio (who posed for Playgirl shortly after Beach Babes 2 wrapped — he’s in the September 1994 issue, for the record) the standout thanks to his Herculean physique and engaging presence. And per Quigley’s performance in Beach Babes 1, Beach Babes 2 has another nifty tongue-in-cheek bad guy in the form of ex DeCoteau stalwart Lenny Rose.
Recognisable for his bit parts in DeCoteau’s Lady Avenger (1988); Dr. Alien (1988); American Rampage (1989); Murder Weapon (1989); Ghost Writer (1989); Puppet Master III (1991); Test Tube Teens From the Year 2000; and the original Beach Babes (as a different character, but visible only in the R rated re-edit), here Rose relishes the bigger status afforded him, eliciting a couple of quality laughs with his game mugging and pratfalls (the funniest involves the dad-bodded actor flouncing about in black speedos and shark slippers — it’s not sophisticated but it tickles a rib). The beret-wearing, megalomaniac owner of the titular isle, Rose plans to imprison Blaze et al and use them as meat in his “interactive brothel” — and with hidden cameras and voyeurism factoring into DeCoteau’s tableaux, it’s tempting to see Rose’s gibbering loon as a cheeky, metatextual dig at the kind of socially awkward mouth-breathers who are generally considered softcore’s demographic.
However, beautiful people; Rose’s histrionics; and a stockpile of earthy, swirling passages of dry-humping choreographed with DeCoteau’s typically astute feel for sexiness (a climactic UFO-set tussle, replete with the sort of tongue-y, girls-kissing-girls canoodling that fifteen year-old hetero lads dream about, is a stunner in its uncut form) are not enough to carry the film the distance. Like Beach Babes 1, between the talent, shtick, and stylised shagging, Beach Babes 2 is an extremely slight picture that, ultimately, finds DeCoteau treading water for much of its duration. Its script (penned by ‘Mark Michelini’ — I’m tipping a pseudonym for either Matthew Jason Walsh or DeCoteau himself) is as threadbare as its predecessor; a niggle worsened by Beach Babes 2’s limp photography. Given DeCoteau’s mastery of style (hell, even the nuts n’ bolts framing of four day wonder Nightmare Sisters (1988) isn’t without a modicum of elan), it’s a real shock. Operatic wham-bang-banging aside, the rushed compositions are flat and unimaginative; they’re brighter than the drab first Beach Babes (the sun comes out at the twenty-five minute mark), but they lack the rhythm, flair, and poise that defines the rest of DeCoteau’s oeuvre.
Finished by summer 1994, Beach Babes 2 was initially on Paramount’s slate for a 1995 video release until Full Moon’s split with the studio put the breakers on it. Alongside DeCoteau’s definitive Torchlighter, Blonde Heaven (1995), Beach Babes 2 was quietly nudged straight-to-Cinemax and eventually tumbled to VHS as ‘Cave Girl Island’ in 1998, by which point Full Moon had cosied up with The Kushner-Locke Company, and Torchlight, which Band had tasked DeCoteau with overseeing, had morphed into the DeCoteau-less Surrender Cinema. The threatened Beach Babes 3 never materialised.
A tragic postscript: Beach Babes 2’s Tina Lawrence was murdered on Sunday 11th October 2015 by her thirty-two year-old boyfriend, Randall Tradaway, in a harrowing murder/suicide. Tradaway had recently stopped taking his medication for an undisclosed mental illness and shot Lawrence in a domestic dispute before turning the gun on himself. Lawrence was forty-seven.
USA ● 1995 ● Erotic, Comedy, Sci-Fi ● 76mins (Unrated)
Roxanne Blaze (as ‘Sarah Bellomo’), Stephanie Hudson, Tina Lawrence (as ‘Tina Hollimon’), Lenny Rose ● Dir. David DeCoteau (as ‘Ellen Cabot’) ● Wri. ‘Mark Michelini’
Portions of this review appear in Matty Budrewicz & Dave Wain’s forthcoming book, “Schlock & Awe: 2,001 Forgotten Films of the ’90s Rental Realm”.
Follow Matty on Twitter @mattybudrewicz