Teen Movie Retrospective: The Teensploitation Sixties

The teen exploitation films, or ‘teensploitation’ films, of the 1960s were produced as an anecdote to the thought provoking Rebel Without A Cause style films with the aim of providing cheap thrills through “lurid tales of gangs, hot rods, and sororities” for teens on dates or out with friends at drive-ins to enjoy (Rollin, Twentieth Century Teen Culture by the Decades).

The many guises of the teensploitation film include rock’n’roll films, sci-fi, monster, zombie and hot rod styles, the style which arguably was the most popular however, and definitely the most memorable of the late 1950s and 1960s teensploitation era, was the beach party movie. In films such as Gidget, The Girls on the Beach, The Horror of Beach Party, The Ghost In The Invisible Bikini and the beach party films featuring Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon, clean-cut images of youth were shown having fun in the surf, sand and sun.

Through such teensploitation films teens went from simply being the subject matter in a movie to being the target audience for a film; that is filmmakers were directly “targeting this [teen] market by drawing on aspects of teen culture” for profit “by catering for teenage interests, tastes and concerns” (Neale, Genre and Hollywood). The teensploitation film targeted teens in need of fun times, rather than thought provoking odes such as Blackboard Jungle, when they were having a night out with friends - and this was the purpose of the fun-in-the-sun movies featuring Frankie and Annette.

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