Pajama Party (1964)

The fourth in the American-International Pictures beach films — the others are Beach Party, Muscle Beach Party, Bikini Beach, Beach Blanket Bingo, How to Stuff a Wild Bikini and The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini — this may have been based on the Joseph Barbera comedy play The Maid and the Martian. AIP was supposed to make that movie, never did and one of Annette Funicello’s songs on her album Pajama Party was titled “The Maid and the Martian,” so we can probably assume that they just stole the idea and made a movie on their own.

This was choreographed by David Winters of Shindig! and Hullabaloo. At the time, both Teri Garr and Toni Basil were his students.

This movie is full of songs, nearly a jukebox musical, with Annette Funicello performing the title song, “It’s That Kind of Day” and “Stuffed Animal” while dueting with Tommy Kirk for “There Has to Be a Reason.” Dorothy Lamour sings “Where Did I Go Wrong” and Dr. Pepper Girl Donna Loren has a tune called “Among the Young.”

Speaking of Dr. Pepper, the days of product placement were not just in the 80s. The soda is all over this movie to the point that I was dying for some of those 23 flavors*.

Tommy Kirk has come from the planet Mars — his name is Go Go — and must prepare our planet for invasion. His power pack doesn’t work and he has to be saved by the rich elderly Aunt Wendy (Elsa Lanchester, The Bride of Frankenstein herself). She’s in trouble herself, as her neighbor J. Sinister Hulk (Maytag Man Jesse White), Chief Rotten Eagle (Buster Keaton!?!) and Swedish sex-bomb Helga (Bobbi Shaw) are trying to steal her money.

Eric von Zipper (Harvey Lembeck) is in this, riding his motorcycle and attempting to ruin the lives of folks like Connie (Funicello). She’s in love with Big Lunk, but soon falls for our alien invader and her love saves our Earth.

Look, any movie that has Don Rickles and Frankie Avalon as Martians is going to be just fine for me. But some nights, I must confess, I lose sleep thinking about AIP beach party movies. Why do they have old comedians from the 20s and 30s in them? How did we go from movies like this to Easy Rider in just five years? What did people think knowing that Vietnam and the Civil Rights changes were happening and these innocuous movies kept coming out?

*Supposedly, they are amaretto, almond, blackberry, black licorice, caramel, carrot, clove, cherry, cola, ginger, juniper, lemon, molasses, nutmeg, orange, prune, plum, pepper, root beer, rum, raspberry, tomato and vanilla.

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