Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.
Australia/USA, 2000. New Oz Productions, Red Horse Films, Strand Releasing. Screenplay by Charles Busch, based on his play. Cinematography by Arturo Smith. Produced by Virginia Biddle, Jon Gerrans, Marcus Hu, Victor Symis. Music by Ben Vaugn. Production Design by Franco-Giacomo Carbone. Costume Design by Camille Jumelle. Film Editing by Suzanne Hines.
The original stage play, which became something of a cult favourite, reaches the big screen with mixed results. It features hilarious parodies of old beach movies and horror flicks, but it also indulges too much in star casting and high production values to be the true camp classic that it wants to be. Lauren Ambrose (in a role originally played by a drag queen on stage) is a teenager who just wants to fit in with everybody but has to settle for being a big geek with another big geek for a best friend. When she decides to take up surfing, a mostly boy-dominated sport, she finds herself with a new group of friends but is still unable to shake her strange propensity for occasionally blacking out and displaying a split personality. When teenagers in the neighbourhood start turning up dead everywhere, Ambrose thinks she might be the culprit, taking comfort only in the arms of the surfing hunk she adores (Nicholas Brendon) and the surfing guru (Thomas Gibson) who likes her alter ego more than the real her. Lots of great send-ups of fifties Americana, plus a supporting role by original playwright and screenwriter Charles Busch as a nosy female detective make for an incredibly shallow and forgettable but strangely enjoyable experience.