Before ‘Spring Breakers’: 1963’s ‘Beach Party’ Caused Parent Panic

beach party poster

'Frightening manifestation of the culture of our age'

This year, aging enfant terrible Harmony KorinesSpring Breakers” lit up the specialty box office charts while drawing abundant plaudits, as well as a fair amount of gnashed teeth. As Michael O’Sullivan of the Washington Post noted, “Once a year, St. Petersburg is awash with thoughtless, unpleasant people making poor decisions. This spring, Korine is one of them.”

One of the great joys of the Variety archives is black-and-white proof that there are no new ideas — or new outrages — under the sun. Count back 50 summers, and you find the Technicolor precedent for “Spring Breakers” in the trendsetting 1963 AIP teen comedy “Beach Party,” which Variety warned “many adults might find a frightening manifestation of the culture of our age.”

But Variety also clearly saw the pic’s seasonal hit potential, calling it “the perfect summer attraction for the teenage set … scored throughout with a big twist beat … (and) the kind of direct, simple-minded cheeriness which should prove well-nigh irresistible to teenagers.”

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