Plot: Frankie (Frankie Avalon) is on assignment for the Navy and while he has a girl to keep him company in Tahiti, he worries that his steady girlfriend back home might not be faithful in his absence. As he is across the world, he hires the services of local witch doctor Bwana (Buster Keaton) to whip up some voodoo to keep an eye on her, in case some other guy has ideas. But while Dee Dee (Annette Funicello) isn’t the type to cheat on her beloved, a young man named Ricky (Dwayne Hickman) has shown an interest and this has Frankie all lathered up. He implores Bwana to help, so a little more magic brings a distraction in the form of Cassandra (Beverly Adams), a gorgeous young woman who will keep Ricky all tied up. But will the plan work or will Ricky step in to fill Frankie’s absence with Dee Dee?
Entertainment Value: These 60s beach movies are often wacky and this one is no exception, with a voodoo conjured bikini, a persistent pelican, Len Lesser as a violent greaser, and a wealth of awkward, often hilarious musical numbers. This is about as campy and over the top as it gets, but I think it is a fun movie and has that 60s beach vibe down to a science. Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello are both on deck here, but there’s a large supporting cast behind them and a number of famous faces pop up in smaller, but memorable roles. The narrative is ridiculous, as Frankie cheats on his girl, but is concerned that she might do the same, so of course he turns to a witch doctor for some voodoo spells of protection. All of this unfolds in a silly, slapstick approach that never tries to be serious and just aims to provide some laughs, as well as set the mood with those outrageous musical routines. The sun and fun are the focus, so while the entire movie is hokey, it is also brisk and fun, provided you appreciate camp cinema or old school beach movies. I had fun with this one and I think it holds solid replay value to boot, so it earns a recommendation.
The cast here is a loaded one and while I wish Buster Keaton had a role more suited to his legend status, most of the performances are fun to watch. Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello are of course beach movie royalty, so their presence adds a lot, though since she was pregnant at the time, the bikini time is absent for Funicello here. But it is worked into the narrative quite well, since she is shown as a good girl who covers up even on the beach. Frankie was in hot water at the time as well, thanks to some money disputes, so his role has limited screen time. He remains a central part of the movie, but he isn’t around all the time in this one. In any event, it is fun to see these two in their signature genre and while some of their costars steal the show at times, having Frankie and Annette is a boon to the movie. I have to mention Len Lesser as well, who is just hilarious as North Dakota Pete, an over the top and colorful role that he throws himself into. The cast here also includes Mickey Rooney, Dwayne Hickman, John Ashley, and Beverly Adams.
The Disc: Olive Films has issued How to Stuff a Wild Bikini on Blu-ray, in a rock solid treatment that looks quite good. The print seems to be clean and that lets the colorful visuals do their work here, with vivid colors and a tropical spectrum accented with bright bursts of rich hues. I found detail to be strong, with even fine detail at a high level and when compared to my old DVD edition, this new Blu-ray blows it out of the water and is an improvement on all fronts.
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