The Ghost In the Invisible Bikini (1966)

This beach movie features no beach. Sure, it’s the sixth and last of the AIP beach genre films, but right now it’s the perfect movie for the abject pit of despair that I’ve found myself in tonight.

Mr. Hiram Stokeley (Boris Karloff!) has just died and has to perform just one good deed in the next day so he can go to Heaven. He asks for Cecily (Susan Hart, the wife of AIP co-founder James H. Nicholson) to help him stop his lawyer Reginald Ripper (Basil Rathbone!) from stealing his estate from its rightful owners Chuck (Tommy Kirk) and Lili (Deborah Walley, the Gidget star who was once married to Blood Island star John Ashley).

Ripper has hired his daughter Sinistra (former Miss Scotland and Fabian bau Quinn O’Hara), J. Sinister Hulk (Maytag man Jesse White), Chicken Feather (Benny Rubin) and Princess Yolanda (beach party regular Bobbi Shaw) to kill off our hero and heroine, while Eric Von Zipper (Harvey Lembeck) and his Malibu Rat Pack get involved.

This was originally called Pajama Party in a Haunted House, which is a pretty great title too. It’s the only beach party movie without Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello, but it does have Nancy Sinatra right at the start of her fame, as well as George Barrows in his ape suit, Italian starlet Piccola Pupa and The Bobby Fuller Four.

Originally announced in the end credits of Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine (under the title The Girl in the Glass Bikini, it was retooled after AIP producers hated the initial cut. All of the scenes with Karloff and Hart were added in, with Hart superimposed over existing footage and Karloff appearing mostly by himself on a soundstage.

This film arrives at a time before hippies would change the world. It’s kind of ironic that Eric Von Zipper’s motorcycle crash would find its way into another AIP film that would more accurately reflect the latter half of the decade, the Billy Jack-introducing The Born Losers.

You can watch this on Amazon Prime.

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