The Beast That Killed Women (1965)

'Starring Miami Beach's loveliest nudists.' Despite its come-on title, this is one of the dullest nudie quickies ever shot (against plenty of stiff – or, rather, limp - competition). In a frame story, survivor Byron Mabe is interviewed by a cop ('just one more question... do you think it could have been an ape or maybe a gorilla?') and recounts without much excitement or enthusiasm gruesome events he has recently witnessed at a Florida nudist camp where a rampaging gorilla has slaughtered some sun-worshippers. It has a stilted, improv feel as hordes of vaguely pretty young things get undressed, stroll around, huddle in bed, sit about on chairs, get dressed again and wander some more – with the usual sports ('There's a man we need for the volleyball game') and square-dancing interludes – all the while gabbing about how horrible the killings are, without doing anything sensible like getting the hell out of there.

Though Mabe and his wife are the de facto leads, they have little to do with the gorilla plot, and a lot of women with thick accents (including some black girls, which was unusual) chat in a matter-of-fact-terms about finding mangled bodies or organising a barbeque as if they were equally everyday occurrences. That travelogue music and chirpy birdie soundtrack found on all these things accompanies much of the posing, but what's missing is any action. As usual, nudity is clean-living and wholesome (the sexes shack up in different barracks at the camp) and even brief scenes of the gorilla-suited stuntman attacking women have no erotic or sadistic charge. It's as if director Barry Mahon realised how mind-numbing regular nudity was and threw in the killer gorilla plot in a desperate attempt to liven things up without bothering to think up any way of making even this sensational stuff exciting. The beast is shot dead ten eternal minutes from the end of this slow hour-long picture, and a silent shot of two cops visiting (arresting? condoling?) the gorilla's owner is thrown in among feeble jokes about a nudist embarrassed when a nurse hangs about while he wants to put his pants on and the usual 'back into the pool' stuff. We should at least have had a rant where the beast's owner turned out to be a nudist-hating puritan.
KIM NEWMAN

First published in this form here.


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