Schlock Value: Malibu Beach (1978)
Grab a few buds and throw some beer in a cooler, because school’s out and it’s time for summer vacation! This week, I watched Crown International Pictures’ 1978 teen sexploitation flick, Malibu Beach. Written and directed by Robert J. Rosenthal (The Pom Pom Girls, The Van, Zapped!), Malibu Beach follows a handful of high school kids as they spend their first weekend of the summer boozin’ and cruisin’ around the beautiful beaches of Malibu, California. There are beach bums, bikini-clad babes, fast cars, house parties, and so much more.
As the last school bell rings, a herd of teenagers empties out into the parking lot and we’re introduced to Dina (Kim Lankford), a beautiful young girl on her way to start her summer job as a Malibu Beach lifeguard. There’s also Bobby (Animal House’s James Daughton), a blonde-haired, blue-eyed hunk who spends the majority of the movie driving around in his Jeep, vying for Dina’s affection, Dina’s ditzy friend Sally (Susan Player), and Bobby’s slimy dickhead of a friend, Paul (Michael Luther), who wants nothing more than to get a little action from anyone who’s willing. Out on the beach, as the kids are kicking back and relaxing on the sandy shores of Malibu, an antagonist (if he can even be called that) develops in the form of Dugan (Steve Oliver): a body-building, motorcycling douchebag lunkhead.
When he’s not pumping iron or wandering the beach looking for troublemakers so he can dish out his own brand of vigilante justice (mostly empty threats and shoves), he’s looking for someone to love. After a failed date with a high school teacher leaves him feeling lonely and depressed, Dugan sets his sights on Dina, which causes plenty of friction with Bobby. Conflicts include a few scuffles, a game of chicken with a borrowed police cruiser, and a swimming challenge which ends with one of them nearly getting eaten by the fakest-looking shark ever committed to celluloid (complete with a Jaws theme rip-off). And that, in a nutshell, is Malibu Beach.
It’s a great little slice-of-life film that mostly coasts on nostalgia as it follows the cast of characters around town, hanging out on the beach, going to parties, skinny dipping, and getting into all sorts of various mischief. All the while, Bobby’s rivalry with Dugan propels the film forward as best it can, but that’s okay. The characters are likable enough (although one has to wonder how anyone could like Paul, who at one point in the film straight up grabs a woman by her breast, explaining, “all it is is a tit!”). There are plenty of fun set pieces, and the theme song is a sugary little pop number that’ll instantly get your foot tapping, however the real joy of watching Malibu Beach is what’s happening between the scenes.
For example, in a rare case of truth in advertising, the film features a recurring gag wherein a dog sneaks up on a sunbathing girl and steals her bikini top right off her back, causing a now topless girl to chase him down the beach. This doesn’t just happen once or twice, either. Robert J. Rosenthal & Co. went back to that well a total of seven times to make sure they reached their boob quota in this otherwise sleaze-free flick. There’s also a pair of police officers who are supposed to be monitoring the beach activity, but of course, they’re both totally incompetent. The younger of the two spends the majority of the film getting stoned out of his mind and eating Cracker Jack.
This is possibly the most plotless film I’ve watched for Schlock Value. I mean, it pretty much strings together a bunch of scenes with a few loose threads, and by the end, no one ever really changes. There are no consequences for any of their boneheaded choices, and there’s really not much of a story arc save for a few cemented relationships (even Dugan gets a happy ending), but what it lacks in substance, it makes up for in pure, unadulterated silly summertime fun. It is 100% the movie you expect it to be, and honestly, there’s something to be said for that. So, next time you return from a day down the shore, throw some popcorn in the microwave, pour yourself a drink, and give Malibu Beach a spin. You’ll be glad you did.
Malibu Beach can be found in Mill Creek Entertainment’s Drive-In Cult Classics Vol. 3 set.