House band in this film: The Bobby Fuller Four (Bobby, bassist and brother Randy Fuller, guitarist Jim Reese and drummer Dalton Powel). Fuller’s band was very hot in the L.A. club scene in 1965, which likely led to their casting.
After an appropriately creepy sounding Baxter title instrumental piece (which is full of one of his favorite instruments, the theremin) the major characters and basic storyline (an attempt to rip off the beneficiaries of an estate, watched over by wigged apparition Susan Hart, the gal wearing the "invisible bikini," left) are introduced.
After the gang shows up, the first vocal piece we abruptly jump into is Nancy Sinatra (fully clothed, no bikini) rocking out the gang with Geronimo beside the pool (again, sorry, no beach at all in this picture), backed a somewhat silly-looking Bobby Fuller Four (to say they're overacting is an understatement). The song itself is pure junk food: quick, enjoyable and completely unfulfilling; presumably, the title of the number has something to do with what the kids scream as they dive into the pool. As dispensable as the piece is, Nancy is a joy to watch; the beautiful 25 year old (who looks 17-18 at best, this lady aged well and decades later still appeared much younger than she was) has massive screen presence, to the degree one wonders why her film career didn't subsequently go farther than it did.
After more intermediary nonsense involving Eric Von Zipper, we go back to pool, where the Fuller group is blasting away at some hot but unnamed instrumental number, while the kids all dance, albeit they're doing that while playing with some silly rotating-ball on a stick toy-thing. The whole scene sort of comes across as a hula-hoop contest (which at first appearance seems rather dumb, but the gimmick has grown on me over time, perhaps because my six and nine year old children think it's pretty cool ). As mindless as the sequence is, it offers a brief opportunity to appreciate what Fuller and his boys could do. Their piece is full of nasty sounding fuzz guitar and the "wall-of-sound" chorus really rocks. Per the recommendation I made about listening to the title number in Beach Blanket Bingo, the best way to really appreciate what is going on musically here is to crank up the volume. Once you do, you'll begin to understand why the subsequent demise of this band (Fuller died -- under mysterious circumstances -- just a few months after Ghost was released) is to this day seen a huge loss; rock historians actually place Fuller right up there with Buddy Holly, in the "oh, what could have been" context.
O.K., now for some casting/storyline points to avoid potential future confusion (again, the script here is a mess, and it's easy to get lost): Nancy Sinatra (Vicky) likes Aron Kincaid (legitimate estate heir "Bobby," a.k.a."Goo Goo"), but he's repeatedly drawn away by Quinn O'Hara ("Sinistra," right) who is Basil Rathbone's Conspirators Ripper and Sinistra ("Reginald Ripper," also right) daughter. Ripper is a felonious attorney who -- as a corrupt executor -- is attempting to rip off the estate, with the assistance of his evil-and-sexy-but-completely-blind-without-her-glasses daughter. The scene where Sinistra meets Bobby is amusing, after dad insists that she take off her glasses, she starts off flirting with the wrong guy, and when she finally starts hitting on Bobby, she intentionally ignores Vicki (which leads Sinatra to continually whine "I'm Vicky....I'm Vicky.....I'm Vicky").
If not, don't worry. The scriptwriters will fix that soon enough.
After Sinistra "seduces" Bobby, she takes him into the haunted mansion and starts her attempts to knock the heir off. After mixing him a potent cocktail, she misses the fact it is dissolving the glass it's in, but Bobby notices and begins to catch onto the fact this girl is...er...strange (left). Ghost Hart sends him a subliminal message to run, and he does. Sinistra doesn't notice, however (she's misplaced her glasses) and starts mixing him another drink. This is the setup for a brief but amusing musical number, Don't Try To Fight It Baby. Quinn O’Hara makes minor history here, by virtue (a) of being the first woman in the series to sing a solo piece while wearing a bikini and (b) executing the closest thing to a dead-on Marilyn Monroe imitation AIP ever produced (right). The song itself is almost folk-bluesy in nature, a moderate tempo number that Quinn sings in a breathy, almost spoken soprano as she bumps and grinds (in relatively blatant fashion, PG-13 by contemporary standards) around a suit of armor she thinks is Bobby. Given a genre focused on pretty bodies, the beach and music, it's interesting that AIP didn't get around to scripting in this presumably basic element (a song from a temptress in a bikini) until the final film.
We then cut to the driveway, where Reggie's bumbling co-conspirators are showing up. They consist of a rather haughty character named "Princes Yolanda," played by Bobbi Shaw, who is accompanied by Buster Keaton replacement Benny Rubin (Keaton was originally cast to appear here again as Shaw's incompetent partner, but became seriously ill with lung cancer as production started, dying just when it was concluding in February 1966). They are followed by Von Zipper and his gang (right), who have tracked the conspirators. Amusingly, the audience is presumed to understand that happened because they already know -- from having seen Pajama Party, of course -- that Von Zipper is obsessed any character played by Bobbi Shaw. The motorcycle gang senses the conspirators are after something, so they spontaneously decide to break into the "haunted house" to look for "the money"....yawn....
...well, somehow we end up in the girls bedroom, where the female segment of the "good kids" are. Among them is perky little Italian singing import Piccola Pupa – who had a short but hot mid 1960s trajectory (during her brief period of visibility she even made it to the Ed Sullivan Show), cast here as an "exchange student," which was a quick way for the screenwriter to come up with an excuse for her obvious accent. However, you don't hear any Italian as this fourteen year old bounces around the girl’s bedroom, belting out the upbeat ballad Stand Up And Fight (left). Like O'Hara, Pupa is wearing a bikini (a modest blue one, as opposed to the low cut, glittery gold job O'Hara has on) but as the saying goes, no one ever remembers who came in second. Presumably, the verses of Piccola's number have something to do with convincing Nancy Sinatra to be more aggressive (ergo, more provocative, ergo, will you please put on a %#*&$!! bikini) in her attempts to wean her love interest Bobby away from Sinistra. However, the song is really just an excuse for another tacky cheesecake display, as Piccola wiggles and jiggles in her bikini while prancing on beds and chairs. She's a more seasoned singer than O'Hara, though, which distracts us somewhat, so the number isn't quite as "obvious" as what we saw earlier.
Shortly thereafter, we're back out by the pool at night, again with the The Bobby Fuller Four and the dancing gang. Similar to the group featured in the prior movie, this band had a true hit ( “I Fought The Law” ) which we'd love to hear, but the script calls for something else, which in this case is the upbeat ballad Make the Music Happy. It's not as bad as one might think, and we even get to hear a full verse of the thing before the editing pulls us away for more dull Tommy Kirk-Deborah Walley storyline (these two really come across as an appendage in this film, given neither sing a note in it). Fortunately, that sequence is brief and then we're back to the musical number by the pool. Everyone here is having fun except Nancy Sinatra, who -- now finally in a bikini (Piccola's ballad must have worked) -- is sitting forlornly by herself, surrounded by wildly dancing kids. However, Bobby reappears, having been terrified by Sinistra; he smiles at Nancy, they walk towards each other and then........a thunderstorm breaks out and drives everyone inside.
We then enter almost twenty Villians Jesse White and Basil Rathbone acost ingénue minutes of total mish-mosh De Deborah Walley silliness, which really doesn't doesn't warrant much discussion. Suffice to say it involves the reading of a will, an escaped mad gorilla, mysterious hands appearing out of walls, a haunted dungeon-like "wax museum," monsters popping out of closets, Eric Von Zipper bumbling things as usual, an old Perils of Pauline style "villains-tie-the-ingénue-to-a-platform-slowly-heading-towards-a-roaring-buzzsaw" sequence (above and right) and the inevitable fistfight. If this all sounds quirkishly engaging and entertaining, it really isn't; confused, disconnected and forced are more appropriate descriptions. There is music behind all this (Baxter having fun with that theremin again), but it's not particularly memorable.
After the villains are defeated, the ending credits this time take a different direction than the predecessors. No crazy dancing solo chicks, no repeat of an earlier sequence. Instead, we get a pajama-ed Bobby Fuller and his group playing an instrumental reprise of Geronimo down in the dungeon/haunted wax museum, which is now populated by wildly dancing kids. It's happy ending time as Walley and Kirk and Kincaid and Sinatra all dance together, even joined by a pair of the wax "dummies" at the end.
And that's the peculiar close to a unique series of films.