I admit to having a bit of a soft spot for AIP’s beach party movies. Frankie & Annette…the villainous Eric Von Zipper…it’s goofy fun! Their success led to many copycats, and eventually this film. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the final nail in the coffin of the beach party genre…1967’s “It’s a Bikini World.” Though it was eventually distributed by American International Pictures, this film was actually produced by another small studio and sat on their shelves for several years before finally being releases.
The producers tried to copy AIP’s formula but the results are dismal. Instead of Frankie Avalon we have Tommy Kirk playing cocky chick magnet Mike Samson. When mike spots new girl Delilah (Deborah Walley) he immediately invites her to “join the party.” Wink wink. But Delilah is a modern girl and won’t put up with his chauvinistic attitude.
Later, Mike overhears Delilah talking with her gal pal Pebbles (Suzie Kaye). Pebbles thinks Mike is irresistible, but Delilah would be fine with a guy who was uncoordinated and awkward, just so long as he isn’t so full of himself…like Mike. So Mike hatches a plan to win her over by playing the role of his dorky brother, Herbert. Of course, Delilah starts to fall for Herbert. She may be a modern girl but, just like Lois Lane, apparently slapping a pair of glasses on a guy is enough to convince her that he’s a completely different person.
But Delilah is also out to prove that Mike isn’t as great as everyone thinks he is. The owner of the local hangout, Daddy (Sid Haig), is putting on a series of races…skateboards, speed boats…so Delilah sets out to beat Mike in the contests. Of course, she always asks Herbert to cheer her on, but he always inexplicably disappears right before race time. Though he keeps beating her in the contests, Mike soon starts to realize that he really has feelings for Delilah. Now he has to come clean and reveal that Herbert is really Mike.
Let me just say it, this movie is bad. Boring from start to finish. It seems that the filmmakers simply tried to copy everything they could from AIP’s playbook…but it just doesn’t work. Tommy Kirk and Deborah Walley just don’t have the appeal of Frankie and Annette. Bobby “Borris” Pickett (yes the “Monster Mash” guy) appears as Mike’s pal Woody…a blatant ripoff of the character played by Jody McCrea in the AIP series, but without the humor. About the only thing they got right by copying AIP’s series was booking some solid musical acts. Bands like The Animals, The Gentrys, and The Castaways appear, but even they seem to be sleepwalking through their scenes. It’s nowhere near the energy that, say, Little Stevie Wonder brought to the AIP films.
I guess the film’s biggest problem is simply the lack of fun. With Frankie and Annette, everyone’s invited to come hang out with the cool kids. In “It’s a Bikini World,” the cool kids are jerks. After all, Mike is pretending to be someone else to lure Delilah to his apartment. Delilah doesn’t come off much better, going to great lengths to try and humiliate someone she decided she didn’t like after one brief meeting. Whatever happened to “hey kids, let’s have a party down at the beach?!?!” I guess The Animals sum up the experience pretty well in their scene by playing the song “We Gotta Get out of This Place.” I’ll bet many a theater goer felt the same way while watching this one.