Charles Locher was among the busiest B film bit players in Hollywood. He debuted in a movie called Women Must Dress (1935), followed that same year by a red herring walk-on in Charlie Chan in Shanghai. Mysterious Avenger and The Clutching Hand were among many to follow. Beginning with a plum part in John Ford's The Hurricane, Locher, alias Lloyd Crane, found a niche. The role of Terangi, a South Sea islander, propelled the actor along an enjoyable rut of quasi-Polynesian parts that secured his place as one of B filmdom's most visable faces.

Around this time, he chose the nom de celluloid Jon Hall, and stuck with it. His pseudo-Samoan good looks helped Hall nab a fistful of sarong-wearing roles. As an island stud or half-caste boat skipper, he rose to substantial second-string fame opposite luscious Maria Montez, the Dominican siren then making money hand-over-fist for Universal. As fans of film history know, anyone with an accent can pass as a member of any ethnic group as far as Hollywood is concerned. This lent credibility to Montez' appearances opposite Hall in camp classics like Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves, Arabian Nights, and, most notably, Cobra Woman. The teaming was B film magic. Hall was a bonafide matinee idol. He married and divorced both radio singing star Frances Langford, and exotic Duck Soup leading lady Raquel Torres. The tiki film trend crested in the mid-40s and Hall aged gracefully into other roles.

By 1952, Hall could slip easily into the part of Dr. Tom Reynolds, better known to low-grade filmgoers as Ramar of the Jungle, a character he assayed through five threadbare films. Soon after, Hall said farewell to filmdom for several years.

This otherwise impressive B movie track record pales beside the single film for which Hall should be enshrined in the schlock flick hall of fame. In 1964, he directed and starred in The Beach Girls and the Monster, aka Monster From the Surf. This one has every ingredient a B budget connoisseur could hope for. Shimmying go-go girls, a fireside folk hootenanny, a philandering, money-grubbing, man-hungry wife, a rubbery looking monster in an ill-fitting suit and surfing. Lots of surfing. Endless footage of surfing. All accompanied by the same echo-laden, "Pipeline"-esque guitar track. It's cool the first 27 times you hear it.

Most memorably, the film boasts original songs by Frank Sinatra Jr., though exactly what part of the surf-drenched score he composed is a mystery. Sinatra himself is not heard. In fact, the 'title' tune, Monster from the Surf, is sung by a puppet ('He tries to drive a woody, but he ain't no goody. Yeah, yeah, yeah').

Hall plays a marine biologist who'll stop at nothing to ensure that his son follows in pop's watery footsteps. Donning a shredded, makeshift monster suit, he's driven to murdering a wiggling nymphette or two. By film's end he is mortally wounded, leading the fuzz on a prolonged car chase along the cliffs that snake about the California coast. At this point, a cop shouts repeatedly into his walkie-talkie to be on the lookout for a 'white MG!' Cut to stock footage of a vintage black sedan caroming down the cliff side, carrying our erstwhile surf monster to his death.

Hall wasn't the only bench-warming thespian to try his hand at exploiting the teen drive-in market. You may be surprised at the likes of those tempted from retirement to test the teen beat. Sample some of these less-than-respectable additions to the resume's of aging screen stalwarts.

Flesh Feast (1968)
The slinky pulchritude of Veronica Lake catapulted her to unparalleled stardom in the early-40s. 25 years later, she's a biochemist breeding flesh-eating maggots. To avenge the Nazi war atrocities exacted upon her kin, she lures der furher himself to her Florida sanctuary.

Acting: C-
Atmosphere: D-
Fun: C-

The Slime People (1962)
Former second lead Robert Hutton popped up in a string of low-rent horror flicks in the late-50s and early-60s, Man Without a Body and The Vulture among them. Here, he directs and stars in a fog-bound caper detailing a subterranean invasion of dripping algae monsters. The budget-concealing fog aids the game cast greatly.

Acting: B-
Atmosphere: C
Fun: B+

"Monsters walk the Earth in ravishing rampage of clawing fury!"
Invasion of the Animal People

"Terror creeps from the fringe of fear to the pit of panic!" -
The Black Torment

"Their motors are flaming, their Mamas are on fire!"
Savages From Hell

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