I was really excited when I saw Fox Movie Channel was going to show this rare "beach party" movie, since it has never been officially released. I think I should have saved my excitement for something else, since Surf Party should have been titled Dull Party.
Surf Party was the first release by another studio trying to compete with American International Pictures' much superior Beach Party which, in my opinion, was the weakest entry in the AIP series anyway, but was still a masterpiece compared to Surf Party. I could even get over the fact Surf Party was shot in black and white, IF the movie had been entertaining. Surf Party has more in common with 1960's "Where The Boys Are" than it does with AIP's "Beach Party", since it involves a trio of girls (much like the four girls in "Where The Boys Are") looking and finding love at the beach. Surfing just happens to be a subplot of the movie. I guess you could classify Surf Party as "The Chick Flick of Beach Party Movies".
I won't rehash the plot, but if you're interested CLICK HERE for a summation of the story. One of the reasons for watching Surf Party was to check out the musical acts. Jackie DeShannon, one of my favorite female singers, not only sings two songs in the movie,"Glory Wave" and “Never Comin' Back", but also stars as one of the three girls looking for love. Unfortunately, Ms. DeShannon was sorely lacking in the acting department and the two songs given to her were nothing special and not worthy of her talent.
Bobby Vinton, the leading male star of the movie, comes off a little better with his song," If I Were An Artist", since it's suitable to his style of crooning. As a side note, Vinton got cast in Surf Party, because his agent wanted him to have the part Frankie Avalon got in Beach Party. It's hard to imagine Vinton could have handled that part with the light touch Avalon brought to his role in AIP's Beach Party Series.That's not to say his acting ability wasn't good, since in Surf Party he was as good and better than a lot of the other actors. I read somewhere he got paid a flat $750 for his part in the movie which is a real shame.
Patricia Morrow (Peyton Place) sings "That's What Love Is", The Routers perform "Crack Up" and Ken Miller sings "Pearly Shells". The Astronauts (a surf band originally from Colorado!) perform the theme song over the credits and play "Fire Water" in the movie, both are great surf music songs. Their performance of "Fire Water" is probably the highlight of Surf Party. So unless you're like me and just have to see every "Beach Party" movie ever made or you're just a big fan of Vinton's or DeShannon's, I would pass on this movie and look elsewhere for your evening's entertainment.