Terror on the Beach (1973)

Man, Dennis Weaver can’t catch a break when he’s in a Paul Wendkos movie. In The Ordeal of Dr. Mudd, he’s imprisoned for treated John Wilkes Booth. And in Cocaine: One Man’s Seduction, McCloud is blasting nose candy right past his trademark mustache. But here, it’s Last House on the Left or Straw Dogs as a TV movie, with Weaver and his family — argumentative son who doesn’t want to go to college, wife who feels frumpy and nascent women’s libber daughter (Susan Dey!) — going up against an ersatz Manson Family on a beach vacation.

The leader of this group, Jerry, is played by Scott Hylands, who would much later play Dr. Mercurio Arboria, the kindly creator of The Arboria Institute in Beyond the Black Rainbow. He uses psychological warfare, bugs in the family’s RV and a PA system to drive the nuclear unit to madness and eventual revenge.

The cast also includes Michael Christian (Eddie from Poor Pretty Eddie), Roberta Collins (Matilda the Hun from Death Race 2000), Jacqueline Giroux (Snow White in Cinderella 2000 and Linda from Gary Graver’s Trick or Treats) and Carol White (Spider from Chained Heat). If you ever wondered why I love TV movies so much, it’s because there’s such a crossover between them and the exploitation trash I love with an equally impure devotion.

This never gets as crazy as it should, but the scene where the hippies sing back the nursery rhymes that the family had been singing in the privacy of their RV is really unsettling. This could have been even stranger, but hey — it was a movie you got to watch for free.

You can watch this on YouTube.

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