Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine

April 17, 2013 at 12:54 am (8 Heads, Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine – 1965 – United States

American International Pictures’ Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine parodies spy flicks of the era (i.e. Goldfinger). Its charming cast consists of Vincent Price, Frankie Avalon, Dwayne Hickman, and Susan Hart, with cameos by Annette Funicello (R.I.P.), Harvey Lembeck, Deborah Walley, and Aron Kincaid. These actors should be familiar to fans of AIP’s Beach Party series (Beach Party, Muscle Beach Party, Bikini Beach, Beach Blanket Bingo), with which Dr. Goldfoot shares its wacky sexy sense of humor.

In San Francisco “the day after tomorrow”, Dr. Goldfoot and his undead assistant Igor build a race of smoking hot robots to seduce and rob the Earth’s richest men. Dwayne Hickman and Frankie Avalon are the buffoonish heroes-by-circumstance. Infiltrating Dr. Goldfoot’s mortuary lair, they are subjected to medieval tortures, complete with footage from The Pit and Pendulum (1961). Their escape climaxes in an exhausting chase sequence through every San Francisco landmark the producers could afford, including the Golden Gate Bridge, Lombard Street, and the West Portal Tunnel.

Dr. Goldfoot’s tacky brand of slapstick features folks endlessly falling down and banging their heads. A dude continually bashes into a low-hanging lamp. Another dude steps on a rake and it swings up and smacks him in the face. The constant frequency of these dumb jokes is exhausting. Only Vincent Price’s dry sarcastic wit evokes any laughter, and his deadly arsenal of gizmos is graphically memorable. Opera glasses conceal spring-loaded poison spikes. A lipstick tube fires disintegrating lightning. And a briefcase launches a burly arm with a boxing glove.

I’m a huge fan of AIP’s Beach Party series, so consider my opinion carefully. That said, I think Dr. Goldfoot is great—or at least better than the sum of its parts. It isn’t especially funny, but the unpretentious zaniness is energizing. The cast is lively and charming, and the abundance of babes is titillating. It may be nostalgia, but the flick has a certain indefinable earnest quality that I find endearing.

Despite costing a million dollars to produce (expensive beside AIP’s other thrifty efforts), Dr. Goldfoot wasn’t especially popular in America. But it was a smash in Italy and Mario Bava directed the resulting sequel, Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs.

Rating: 8/10 Shrunken Heads. Don’t miss the funky claymation opening by Art Clokey (of Gumby fame) with a groovy theme by The Supremes.

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