THE I WAS A TEENAGE JUVENILE DELINQUENT ROCK 'N' ROLL HORROR BEACH PARTY MOVIE BOOK: A COMPLETE GUIDE TO THE TEEN EXPLOITATION FILM, 1954-1969 by Alan Betrock (St. Martin's: $11.95, paperback; 160 pp.). If you're a film buff, the reaction you have when someone mentions titles like "So Young, So Bad" or "High School Confidential!" will determine whether this is the book for you. If there are goose bumps (or at least a brief frisson ), then "Beach Party Movie Book" might be just the thing: a sort of literary junk food just for hard-core junkies. But if you experience no such reactions--or indeed if you are inspired to visit the bathroom by such cinematic fare--then steer well away from this partially inspired, mostly mawkish ode to the '50s/'60s B-grade exploitation film.
As Alan Betrock says throughout his text, the taste for teen exploitation fare is an acquired one, one that relishes the campy and dotes on the unconsciously inept. But the author may have defined his area too neatly, for teen films as a genre spill over into horror films (which, despite the overweening title, are mostly ignored here), science fiction/fantasy films (likewise sidestepped) and a number of others. Further, because he insists on apologizing for his subject, Betrock evinces his discomfort with his half-hearted attempt to thus limit himself. Even though his documentation is solid--and the assembled cultural arcana do make one wonder why we think of the '50s and early '60s as "normal"--Betrock doesn't make us interested enough in the genre to make this profusely illustrated softcover worth the effort.