Question, what do you get if the California coastline is destroyed after an earthquake causing all of the beaches to be in a constant state of unrest and bloody chaos? Well the answer is simple, you’d get the Peter George / Troma cult feature Surf Nazis Must Die.
This is a film that (even by Troma’s legendary standards) is mindboggling crazy when compared to most other cult features. Think a crazed version of Walter Hill’s The Warriors, mixed with a dose of low grade Blaxploitation and you’re very nearly close to what Surf Nazis Must Die is about. Actually that’s a bit of a lie because even though the concept is on the top of the Troma wacky list, it does have a tendency to be a tad boring and dull at times (a crime which a genre film must never commit).
The plot focuses on a set of almost apocalyptic beaches, now over run with gangs. One particular group includes a band of Neo-Nazi’s lead by the rather unsubtly named Adolf (Neo-Nazi’s seem to be a recurring motif in the films of Attack From Planet B at the moment). After defeating all of the rival gangs in the area, the Surf Nazi’s now own the beach with a tyrannical grip.
Meanwhile a young oil well worker called Leroy is going for a run across the beach, unfortunately this is the biggest mistake he’s about to make. The surf nazi’s decide to taunt and kill him for trespassing on their patch. Leroy’s mother (who’s shacked up in an retirement home) hears of her son’s violent death. Devastated and filled with hatred she sets out for some good, old-fashioned justice. Escaping her retirement home and armed with a gun and grenades, she sets out to right wrongs and take down the Surf Nazi’s.
With such a gonzo concept how could an exploitation feature like this fail? Well rather frustratingly it does in places, because at even a miniscule 83 minutes it feels severally slow at times. Even though this is a Troma film, it was only really distributed by Kaufman and Co. As its not an in-house production it lacks the satirical wit and juvenile (yet likeable) humor that they’re known for. It’s a shame because one would be lead to believe that with a name like, Surf Nazi’s Must Die, that there must be an element of tongue in cheek humor or satirical jibes. Alas there is very little of either and because of this Surf Nazi’s suffers.
Thankfully it does have a few plus points; for starters the character of ‘Mama’ (played by Gail Neely) is straight out of a Blaxploitation feature. Her badass nature and ability to cause violent trouble is right up there with any number of Pam Grier heroines. Admittedly Mama is the only plus point to this film, it’s just a shame when she’s not on screen, the rest of the film lags. And with great lines like, “Taste some of Mama’s home cookin’, Adolf!” or “Keep talkin’ white trash, but I’m more interested in something that’ll take the head off a honky at 20 paces!” you’ll wonder why she’s not in the film more.
When it comes to the disc itself, the film looks as good as its likely to, while not being overly impressive. It still manages to retain an almost VHS quality about it (just without the tracking problems), which adds to the low budget experience of it all.
For the DVD extras, Arrow Video has once again done the best they can with such a niche film. While they are not as plentiful as either of the other Troma releases, there are a few interesting extras. First up is a brief introduction from Troma president Lloyd Kaufman (whose as madly likeable as always), this is followed by two separate (and quite brief) interviews with director Peter George and producer Robert Tinnell. The extras are rounded out with a handful of brief deleted scenes (named Six Lost Surf Scenes) that add little to the overall Surf Nazi experience.
As always Arrow have provided an alterative reversible cover, with artwork by the horror poster genius Graham Humphreys. Finally fans are treated with to an informative booklet, this time by always-reliable critic Calum Waddell.
Ultimately Surf Nazis Must Die wants to be like a gangland Street Trash, with little plot and crazed hijinks, trading on its exploitation roots. But as you can guess from the above comments, its really not. Now don’t get me wrong I love a good Troma exploitation film as much as the next person, but this just doesn’t hit all the fun buttons of what one might expect from them. Certainly it’s worth a watch, but you’ll be hard pressed to find another reason to keep watching. A handful of good moments do not fun films make.
Gail Neely … Eleanor ‘Mama’ Washington
Robert Harden … Leroy
Barry Brenner … Adolf
Dawn Wildsmith … Eva
Michael Sonye … Mengele
Joel Hile … Hook
Directed By … Peter George
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