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Total Crap: 18.18%

1 review, 5 user ratings

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Beach Party at the Threshold of Hell, The
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by U.J. Lessing

"Party at Ground Zero!"
4 stars

“The Beach Party at the Threshold of Hell” isn’t your run-of-the-mill independent film about the apocalypse. Yes, it has a lot of weird characters. Yes, it’s obvious that a major studio didn’t fund it, and yes, there’s a ton of cartoon violence and blood. But the film’s true strength lies not in carnage or humor but in its epic folktale structure. When it comes to low budget sci-fi films, suspension of disbelief is, at best, difficult, but I was pulled in by the film’s dynamic narrative.

Directed by Kevin Wheatley and Jonny Gillette, “Beach Party” presents itself as an educational record documenting the rebirth of America after its nuclear annihilation in 2077. It seems that two decades after the devastation (when the radiation cleared) an orphan, Tex Kennedy (Kevin Wheatley), emerged from his fallout shelter and with the help of two human-looking robots, hatched a plan for rebuilding the union. Together, they traveled into a forbidden section of the wasteland in an attempt to broadcast a message to the surviving population (most of them still living underground) making allies and enemies along the way.

The large mystery is how New America was ever born from such a dysfunctional and violent group of players. Everyone is a complete mess thanks to living in dank bunkers for 20 years (Or in the case of the robots, waiting restlessly outside for their masters to emerge).

The story is smartly driven home by a clever narration, wonderful animated intervals, detailed maps, and best of all, fictional experts who interrupt the story to provide insights into the motivations behind characters such as King Remington, Cannibal Sue and Mr. Jackal.

The result is a bizarre post-apocalyptic epic with shades of Homer, Virgil and Joe Lansdale. Imagine the cast of “Repo Man” attempting to cast the one ring into the fires of Mordor and you’ll get the idea.

The fast paced editing and cinematography of Cameron Pearce keeps the story moving at a brisk pace and prevents the chronicle from ever feeling too contrived. Locations are also brilliantly used as the characters move through hostile environments.

The humor of “The Beach Party at the Threshold of Hell” unfortunately isn’t as even as the narrative. Some of the comedy is quite funny: A moment involving one of Kennedy’s psychotic adversaries and a chainsaw is a clever bit of satire on maniacal villains who gleefully slaughter their own men. Other gags went on a bit too long: like Kennedy’s anger and violence towards one of his robots.

Ultimately, “The Beach Party” is a delicious slice of post-apocalyptic pie. The ending hints at future episodes leading to the rebirth of a New America. Until then, I’ll be eagerly waiting in the bunker in my backyard.

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originally posted: 10/29/06 07:39:55
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2007 San Francisco Independent Film Festival For more in the 2007 San Francisco Independent Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2007 Independent Film Festival of Boston For more in the 2007 Independent Film Festival of Boston series, click here.

User Comments

8/24/20 Bronwyn Blanchard Boredom on a silver splatter 1 stars
10/27/07 liketheindies Cool film, saw it twice, way funnier the second time, 4 stars
3/06/07 David Pollastrini I like the title 3 stars
11/01/06 Film Fanatic An Extraordinary Rollercoaster Ride of a film. Can't wait for the sequill! 5 stars
10/26/06 SeanC Thinks its cool and cutting edge but is actually dull and incoherent 1 stars
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  19-Oct-2007 (NR)
  DVD: 15-Jul-2008



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