Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Monster of Camp Sunshine (1964)

Directed by Ferenc Leroget
Starring Deborah Spray, Sally Parfait, Harrison Pebbles

"The motion picture that follows is a fable. In it there are many nudists, but only one monster. In life, it is generally the other way around."

Marta and Claire are two mismatched roommates. Marta (Sally Parfait) is a nurse in a lab that experiments on mice and rats. Claire (Deborah Spray), on the other hand, is a full-of-herself model, a blowhard that says stuff like "Does it shock you, that I pose topless?" to couldn't-care-less photographer's assistants. One fateful day at work, Marta accidentally lets a white super-rat escape from his cage. He and a few of his buddies go berserk, and hop all over the jittery nurse. In her panic to get away from the rodents, she falls out the window, and ends up hanging by her fingers, several stories up, from the ledge. Luckily, a doctor, Harrison (James Gatsby), comes rushing in at the last moment to save her.

Clearly frazzled by the experience, Marta tries to relax at home. Claire can see her friend is at wits' end, so she schedules a quick vacation to their favorite spot - a nudist camp, Camp Sunshine.

Turns out that the prim and proper Marta is actually a long-time nudist, and recruited the formerly uptight Claire into her alternative lifestyle the year before. In fact, Claire owes her success as a model to Marta. Without her and Camp Sunshine, she would have never let go of her inhibitions.

We flash back to Claire's first visit to the camp. At first, she is too shy to frolic naked, but after fortifying her nerves with some cigarettes (there's a lot of smoking in this movie), she drops her towel and lets it all hang out. She feels pretty good about waltzing around starkers, but she is somewhat disturbed by the one non-nude member of the camp - a leering fatty named Hugo (Harrison Pebbles).

Susanna, who runs the camp, explains to Claire that Hugo is her dimwitted but harmless brother. The way he menacingly waves his shears around would suggest otherwise, but whatever. Susanna keeps him around to do gardening and maintenance work, and it's just better for everybody if he stays buttoned-up.

So, that was last year. Meanwhile, Marta runs into the Dr Harrison on the street. He explains to her that the incident in the lab was a million to one event. Seems as though the rats were exposed to an accidental chemical compound that made them aggressive. He assures her that said compound has been destroyed. And by "destroyed", he means he dumped a jar of the stuff into the harbor.

Naturally, the chemicals end up leaking into the lake at Camp Sunshine. Also naturally, this happens while dumb ol' Hugo is wading in the water, trying to spear fish with a stick. Thirsty, he sucks up a handful of water and starts screaming like a gorilla.

Unaware of the mayhem going down at Camp Sunshine, Claire and Marta prepare for their trip. Before they leave, Claire calls her photographer friend Ken and tells him that she'll model that 'topless bathing suit' he asked about. "After all," she says, "I am a nudist." He asks her to bring his timid secretary along with her. He thinks it might break her out of her shell. I think Ken just wants to see his secretary naked. Claire agrees. More the merrier, and all that.

The girls show up at Camp Sunshine (which, by the way, is just somebody's front yard) to find it abandoned. Marta wanders around looking for Susanna or some sign of life while Ken, Claire, and his prissy assistant set up camp. They get a hibachi going, and a topless Marta plays a zither. Susanna shows up and they all try to goad the secretary into stripping. She refuses and wanders off.

Meanwhile Hugo, who is now some sort of bewigged mutant, chomps on a cucumber while chained to the wall of a shed. Hearing voices, he struggles to break free of his bonds. Eventually, he snaps the chains and gets outside. He grabs an axe and trundles off into the woods.

Miss Non-nude, enjoying her solitude, finally feels good enough to peel off her clothes and go skinny dipping. Then she suns her naked flesh on the grass, while Hugo, axe in hand, looms in the background.

Susanna finds out that her brother has gotten loose, and tells Marta about the chemical spill. Marta smartly suggests they talk to a doctor, pronto. And so they do.
Marta calls Harrison and tells him what's up. Turns out he's just about finished with his antidote for the rats, so he takes a jug full of the stuff and hauls ass over to Camp Sunshine. Harrison also calls his army buddy to back him up.

Susanna and Marta decide not to tell the others about the monster, because they don't want to ruin the evening. Besides, it's Claire's birthday, so they have to throw her a little moonlit outdoor party. Unfortunately, as the curious silent film title tells us, "The monster invited himself" to the shindig, as well.

Hugo and his axe fuck the party up but good, but he has no idea what hell he's unleashed. In a finale too incredible to accurately describe, Hugo finds himself battling a gun toting guy in his underwear, naked women with banana cream pies, a paratrooper, mortar fire, and an entire army division. Despite this apocalyptic climax, everybody lives to frolic in the nude again. Well, except for Hugo. He gets turned into a rock.

Fun, dumb, and mostly incomprehensible, Camp Sunshine is low-grade 60's trash sure to please monster-nudie fans. And who doesn't like a good (or bad) monster nudie?

PS: The credits list the camerman/men as Motley Crue!

Clip: Monster of Camp Sunshine trailer!

Monster of Camp Sunshine is available from Something Weird Video.

- Ken McIntyre

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