I was admittedly sucked in by Something Weird's drive-in DVD set, The Beast that Killed Women and Monster of Camp Sunshine by its "monster nudist" theme. Both of these mid-sixties psychotronic pics are set in nudist camps - monsters and nudity: two great tastes that go great together!
If you're like me, the only extensive movie experience you've had with nudist colonies was in the Inspector Clouseau classic, A Shot in the Dark. So viewing these two low-budget gems (along with the selected archival short subjects from the 20's-50's that Something Weird has included in this bargain package) would be, perforce, an educational experience. With that in mind, I sat and viewed the first of this DVD double bill, Barry Mahon's The Beast that Killed Women (1965).
Mahon was a prolific auteur of "adults only" movies in the sixties. In '65 alone, according to Michael Weldon's Psychotronic Film Guide, he put out ten other features. Of course, if they all were as short as Beast (which barely clocks in at over an hour), that stat's a little less impressive, particularly when you consider that this flick has maybe fifteen minutes of poorly miked, barely discernible dialog.
Beast stars Delores Carlos and Byron Mabe (the director of She-Freak!) as a couple visiting a Miami nudist camp to work on their tans. Unfortunately for the duo, the weekend they pick is the same one that an escaped gorilla chooses to show up on grounds and start slaughtering campers (well, one camper actually, but perhaps the plural in the movie's title refers to earlier slaughters that we haven't been privileged to see). How the beast escaped or why it's attacking nudists in their grass huts at night is never explained (perhaps the ape is a hard-core social conservative?), though we're given a soundless scene near the end of the pic where the cops arrest an unnamed woman with a large cage in her home.
The big draw, however, is the nudist camp stuff - of which writer/director Mahon gives us plenty: shots of nekkid babes strollin' past the camera, a slew of pointless scenes featuring two half-clothed gals in bunk beds nattering on (as best as I could tell through the garbled soundtrack) about how frightened they are plus the obligatory pool & volleyball scenes. (In the latter, the unclothed athletes seem to spend more time tossing the ball back and forth over the net instead of actually playing v-ball.) Most of these sequences are dialog-free with nature sounds - birds tweeting, frogs croaking - overlaid for that vital au naturel feel. Only about half feature real half-frontal nudity, however, since nearly all the men (including our leading man) and a good portion of the women appear in shorts or swimsuits. At one point, for instance, we're treated to an ineptly choreographed square dance sequence that you just know would've been ten times more entertaining if the dancers weren't wearing summer clothes.
The film opens with a credit indicating that it features members of a real Miami-based nudist colony, but apparently some of 'em were a wee bit shy. When the gorilla goes after his one successful victim - a blonde wearing red capris pants and a top - I was half expecting the director to do a Monty Python-esque chase scene, the lady conveniently losing clothing on tree branches as she ran through the woods. No such luck, however, though the moment where the man-in-a-monkey-suit does a fireman's carry with his victim was pretty risible.
Mahon also pads his pic with several scenes featuring leading man Mabe in the hospital. He and his wife get attacked by the gorilla midway into the movie, so while the lady remains at the camp, we get to watch the guy banter with cops and a sassy nurse, then spend time watching the Jello on his tray jiggle. (I'm guessing Mabe took a lotta notes on Mahon's directorial techniques.) We also see the local cops set their trap for the creature - using an unfortunately clothed policewoman as bait, then barely responding in time to her screams when the big monkey goes after her.
The movie ends happily with a scene of camp regulars returning to the scene of the crime once the monster has been shot and destroyed. Where slasher flicks of the 70's and 80's regularly inferred that the violent deaths of their horny teen victims were the consequence of their "immoral behavior," in Beast the presence of a rampaging gorilla is just, at most, a temporary inconvenience. A testimony to the endurance of the human spirit. . .