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1987, dir. Peter George
84 min. Rated R.
Starring: Gail Neely, Barry Brenner, Robert Harden, Dawn Wildsmith.

Review by Noel Wood

Ah, the lovely beaches of California...after the "big one". That's our setting for the cult classic SURF NAZIS MUST DIE, which is kind of like MAD MAX crossed with THE ENDLESS SUMMER.

Now, for our Tribute to Troma here at MCFTR, I'm trying to primarily focus on films produced in-house by Lloyd Kaufman and the gang. However, I'll also be touching upon some of their more famous "pickups"; films that were distributed by Troma after being made independently. SURF NAZIS is one of the better-known pickups in Troma's library. But even if you know the difference between Troma's originals and pickups, it's still pretty tough to distinguish this film from the real McCoy. All of the best elements are there: colorful characters, innovative violence, moral depravity, and all the other stuff that really makes Troma tick.

SURF NAZIS MUST DIE takes place in a post-earthquake near future, where the beaches have been overrun with gangs of surf punks. The most dominant gang, the Surf Nazis, are run by a guy named Adolf, indoctrinate their "jugend" at a young age, and paint swastikas (often backward, but whatever) all over everything. They also don't like minorities (or for that matter, anyone.) Yeah, there ain't much difference between them and the party that overtook Germany in the early part of the 20th century.

One rival gang isn't satisfied with these bullies running roughshod all over the coast, so they try to eliminate them. The Pipeliners, as they call themselves, fail miserably at this task, failing to get a foothold on the beach. The Nazis just seem superior: they have better equipment (surfboards with switchblades built in!) and dirtier fighting techniques (they even beat trained samurai.) For the most part, the Nazis have free reign. They drive around in their shark-mouthed van, steal purses from old ladies, and bash the heads of people they don't like. A man by the name of Leroy Washington tries to thwart the actions of the Nazis one day, and meets a gruesome fate as a result.

But while Leroy may have just seemed like just another victim to Adolf and his crew, he winds up being the worst mistake they ever made. You see, the Nazis weren't counting on Leroy to have a vindictive, bloodthirsty mama, who breaks free from her nursing home to build up an arsenal to extract revenge for the loss of her son. Before you know it, she's not only hauling around a Walther P-38, but a collection of explosives as well.

Hilarity ensues. And I mean that. Mama going on her tear is worth the price of admission alone. The climax comes a scene in which we quickly learn what happens when you get run over by a speedboat. Ouch.

SURF NAZIS MUST DIE's biggest flaw is that it's too tame. Yeah, there are some extravagant scenes of sex and violence, but for the most part it's pretty slow. I can deal with this, because there are a lot of beautiful shots, and it sets it apart from your proptypical post-apocalyptic genre flick. While the film is in a vein similair to THE WARRIORS, WATERWORLD, and DEATH RACE 2000; it's a very different movie. Perhaps having such a colorful title indicates that this film be more than it actually winds up being, but I had no problem with the slower pace. Maybe it's because I watched it on a particularly lazy Sunday afternoon.

The synth-driven soundtrack works fairly well to set the post-apocalyptic mood, but it might just cause your head to explode if you're subjected to it for too long. But it does underscore some breathtaking surfing sequences, which would seem completely out of place if this were any other movie. They really don't have a lot to do with the story, but they look cool and help to remind you that these aren't just Nazis, they're Surf Nazis.

In a way, this film seems like it would be a prime candidate for an MST3K skewering. It actually reminded me in a way of the James Earl Jones/Kim Catrall/Rae Dawn Chong opus CITY LIMITS, which was also brutalized in an early episode of that show, but it's far more entertaining.

In other words, SURF NAZIS MUST DIE is a bad movie. But it's that special type of bad movie that should be witnessed by everyone. If you go in expecting CITIZEN KANE, you're going to be disappointed (probably in a lot of things besides this movie, because that indicates that you're retarded.) But if you want a fun little B-movie that lives up to the Troma name despite being produced by an auslander, then SURF NAZIS is the movie for you.

Rating: Four out of five Toxies.


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For questions, comments, or the occasional stalking letter, send mail to Noel Wood. Please give proper credit when using any materials found within this site.

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