Thursday, June 2, 2011

Blue Crush 2: The Girls of Summer

I admit it: I’m old enough to remember the sensation caused by Gidget, the Sandra Dee movie about a pert teenager who takes up surfing and finds love on the beach at Malibu. Not that I was ever fond of big waves myself. (A snooty male cousin from New York City—discovering that I neither surfed nor rode a motor scooter—immediately wrote me off as a poor excuse for a California girl.) Nonetheless, Gidget and all those beach party movies that followed gave me vicarious golden memories of sun and sand.

Today’s beach movies roam farther afield. I’ve just returned from a preview screening of the direct-to-video Blue Crush 2, which goes all the way to South Africa to show surfers in their native habitat. The predictable but endearing story involves a troubled Beverly Hills teen who flies to Durban, South Africa to visit the old surfing haunts of her free-spirited mother. She stumbles into a friendly group of local surf bums, and things (mostly good things) start happening.

Blue Crush 2 is, surprisingly, a bit of a throwback to the Sixties: a paean to the joys of communal living. The residents of the film’s surfside shantytown—a ragtag collection of joyous young people—could have come from the cast of Hair, but without the politics. There’s even an old bus painted in rainbow colors that rolls out on a surfer’s version of the Magical Mystery Tour. Another surprise is the use the film makes of its South African setting. In the world of Blue Crush 2, racial tensions and social inequities are virtually nil. But our glimpses of local sights are a feast for the eyes. (Kids playing exotic instruments! Elephants lumbering past our California girl as she heads for the beach! Fantastically gorgeous shorelines and waterfalls!) Moreover, these surfers come in all shapes and colors, with our blonde heroine quickly becoming Best Friends Forever with a black African surfer chick who easily matches her in beauty and charm. The South African tourist board must surely be pleased.

Like the original Blue Crush, this is a female empowerment movie with an obvious appeal for young girls. When Gidget discovered surfing, she was breaking into a man’s world: the guys at the beach ultimately accepted her as a cute and talented mascot. Here, however, the ladies truly rock the waves, and no one questions their right to be there. It’s also refreshing to see a hardbodies-in-bikinis flick in which sexual attraction is not the main point. The wisps of romance here don’t go beyond a few soulful kisses. Surf’s up—that’s the real point.

Blue Crush 2 was produced and directed by the indefatigable Mike Elliott, who as Concorde-New Horizons head of production in the Nineties made scores of genre films with titles like Body Chemistry II and Bloodfist IV. (He also played many a cameo role. I’ll never forget him as the driver of a chicken truck who falls prey to the monster in Carnosaur. Those twitching cowboy boots sticking out from under the disabled truck—-Oscar material, for sure.) Blue Crush 2 is certainly a change of pace. Instead of bloodshed and gratuitous sex, it’s got ocean spray and enormous curling waves. It’s so cool and refreshing that I wanted to towel off after the final fadeout.


  1. Sounds like Endless Summer, which we watched over and over again on Fridays in high school art class while our teacher waxed his surfboard in the back.

  2. Ah yes, growing up in Santa Monica is like that!

  3. Is that Richard Harrison to the right of Sandra Dee? It sure looks like him. I think he was in at least one beach type movie before heading to Italy to do gladiator movies and westerns.

    Speaking of beach movies, have you seen DON'T MAKE WAVES (1967) with Tony Curtis, Claudia Cardinale and Sharon Tate? I'm fond of this one mainly for its cast. And that horrible mess surrounding Tate--we would never see her full potential. One of Mae West's musclemen is in it, too--Reg Lewis, who also (briefly) went to Italy to star in Sword & Sandal movies.

  4. Sorry -- I thought I answered this a while ago. It's definitely not Richard Harrison. Instead it's Cliff Robertson, future portrayer of the young John Kennedy in "PT 109," future Oscar winner (for "Charly"), and the guy who ended up blowing the whistle on David Begelman at Columbia in 1977. Quite a career!

  5. Oh, okay. It looked like a young Richard Harrison to me, lol! Speaking of Robertson, I have an old Southern Screen magazine (one of the Shaw Brothers own promotional mags from back in the 50s-80s) where Robertson (with beard and mustache) was having dinner with Run Run Shaw and touring the studio. Portions of the article that are in English mention both those movies. I have the magazine handy here amidst a stack of them nearby if you'd want to see the pics. Actually, I think I scanned at least one of them for a future article showing various famous celebrities at Shaw's including John Wayne, Gregory Peck and Elizabeth Taylor among others.

  6. Sure -- I'd love to see those pics!

  7. can anybody tell me who the black chick with the lip piercing was who did'nt have a major part but was shown thou out the movie is plz.....

  8. Hi Bella,

    I don't know, but I can certainly ask the filmmaker.

  9. Here's a follow-up for Bella, directly from producer-director Mike Elliott (Thanks, Mike!):

    "That is Suthu Makiwane, (playing the role of Chewbacca). Suthu (pronounced Soo-Too) is a surfer who lives in Durban, South Africa. She is the real deal - the only truly black South African female surfer. And she's a pretty good surfer - though she does not surf in the movie. She came in to read for the part of Pushy and, when she did not get the part, we wrote the role of Chewbacca for her. "Chewbacca," by the way, is surfer slang for any black surfer. She is a very hip girl with a TON of surfer attitude. She is smart and funny, too."

  10. I haven't seen either Blue Crush movie - but it's terrific that a Corman Graduate has achieved such success - and Mr. Elliott has now died in that chicken truck in at least TWO movies - the original Carnosaur - and again in the exact same scene when it was manhandled into Raptor - the Carnosaur redux with Eric Roberts and Corbin Bernsen! Do you suppose he got another check in the mail for the use of the footage in the second movie? ;)

    I love the Frankie and Annette Beach movies - and there's a full blown retrospective celebration blog post lurking in the back of my mind - but in the meantime, I did feature one of my faves in a post - here's a link, should anyone care to check it out:

    1. Thanks, Craig. I've emailed Mike Elliott that someone out there actually saw both "Carnosaur" and "Raptor," and recognized his contributions in both. He hasn't responded yet -- maybe he'd rather not be reminded of his death-scene-times-two!

  11. Here's what Mike Elliott had to say: "Hmmmm... I just looked at the trailer for Raptor... yes, indeed, I am in it. In fact, I am the in the opening shot. I am the first person killed in Carnosaur and also Carnosaur 2... I did not know I was in Raptor! I guess I have to see it, now. What an honor!" Craig, I'm sure Mike is very grateful to you for making the connection!