1 / 5 stars
The 1980s is the decade that gave us a new film genre: the cable movie. These were recent B-movies that hardly played in theaters — especially with the death of the drive-in — and were quickly relegated to the late night programming of HBO, Showtime and Cinemax. I had first seen this Quirky Queue entry as a young teen, on a mainstay of those cable days, “Joe Bob Briggs’ Drive-In Theater.” On the show, Joe Bob (actor John Bloom) would rate films according to the amount of gore, frequency of deaths, and number of pairs of boobies contained in the movie. Unfortunately, Troma’s Surf Nazis Must Die (1987) contains painfully few of these B-movie bright points. (Click on the movie poster for the big version.)
In the not-too-distant future, a devastating earthquake has left most of Southern California in ruins. While society tries to rebuild, gangs of violent surfers fight for control of the beaches. The gang we follow is a bunch of neo-Nazis who’ve taken the names Adolf, Eva, Mengele and Hook. There’s even one named Smeg which I’m pretty sure is one of those gross swear words I can never remember the meaning of.
The Surf Nazis end up murdering an African-American man who is helping with the area’s rebuilding efforts. The man’s mama (TV commercial veteran Gail Neely) leaves her rest home, buys a host of weapons and hunts down the gang, one by one. Sorrowfully, this great B-movie plot is a total pile of boredom. Most of the movie is filled with long shots of beaches or graffiti-ridden buildings, broken up by scenes of surfing, or gang member Hook sharpening, you guessed it, his hook.
The plot takes a half-hour to begin; yet, the film is only 83 minutes long. When Mama finally begins to fulfill her oath of revenge, there’s barely 20 minutes left. And after the Landscape Channel is interrupted by poorly choreographed fight scenes between oddly dressed surfer gangs, the amusing, albeit short, climax just isn’t worth it.
There are a couple of funny moments — such as Mama’s trek to the gun store — but there just isn’t enough happening to really deliver the camp factor. Surf Nazis Must Die isn’t nearly as, dare I say, charming as most Troma productions (The Toxic Avenger series, Class of Nuke ’Em High).
There are 10 or so deaths, but it seems like only two or three due to poor cinematography. Not much gore. One pair of boobies. This gets my lowest rating. Thanks Joe Bob.