August 7, 2012

Filthy Review - 'Surf Nazi's Must Die'

Surf Nazi’s Must Die (1987)

Review by Jude Felton

If films could win awards based solely on their name, Surf Nazi’s Must Die would win every time. It’s one hell of a name, and if nothing else it immediately grabs your attention, it sure grabbed mine back in the day. Curious as to what this wonderfully named movie would deliver, I rented it when I was a wee teen. Now, I have to admit, upon watching the film I loathed it, and it has taken until this brand new Arrow Video release for me to revisit it.

Watching Surf Nazi’s Must Die again has really brought to my attention what a strange beast it is. Playing out as a weird hybrid of Mad Max and Point Break, it is set in a Los Angeles that has been ravaged by an earthquake, which strangely enough has left all oil pumps 100% intact and in working order. In the midst of this chaos we find the Surf Nazi’s; one of many gangs that look to control the beaches of this devastated town.

In-between scenes of surfing and strange macho posturing, mainly on the side of the pseudo-philosophical Surf Nazi leader Adolf, the gangs bitch and moan at each other, and internally, as Adolf tries to unite the gangs, with the Nazi’s in charge of course.

The main focus, and reasoning behind the title, though is the revenge aspect of the movie, which is brought on when a jogger is murdered. This incites the wrath of the jogger’s mother, Mama Washington, who despite being in a nursing home, decides to go on a gun crazy rampage in order to get the culprits responsible.

Surf Nazi’s is all very strange, the movie goes for long spells without anything actually happening and takes its good time to get to the meat and bones of the story. It is quite humorous in a surreal way, and it is fun to point out the film’s many plot oversights. For example; if the earthquake was bad enough to devastate the city, surely it would have caused a tidal wave? People do seem to be getting on with their lives as normal, yet the police seem to have just upped and left. Although I will admit that this is mentioned by one of the cast.

The film is a low budget affair and it does show for the most part. There are a few nice visual aspects, such as the washed out look which lends a surreal authenticity to the film’s setting.

To recommend the film though is a tough one. It is certainly a curiosity piece, which should be seen at least once. This is a strange and trashy film that is just so god damned weird! Gail Neely, as Mama, is great fun in her role, and I would have liked to have seen more from her. In most revenge flicks the crime that incurs the revenge usually takes place near the beginning of the film. Here though, it is a fair way in.

Like I say, it’s a strange beast of a movie and it isn’t really that good at all. However, Arrow Video have weaved their magic and delivered a release that the film probably doesn’t deserve. There is some great new artwork, which takes away the faux-comedic style of the previous artwork (this is not an intentionally funny movie) and replaces it with some new artwork by the ever excellent Graham Humphries. If you do like the original artwork you’ll be happy to know that the sleeve is reversible.

Aside from the new artwork, also included is a couple of interviews; one with the director Peter George, and one with producer Robert Tinnell, some lost scenes, a trailer and an accompanying booklet. Like I said, Arrow has given it better treatment than it deserves and it certainly is a release for the collector. The casual viewer? Well, they may run screaming!

Surf Nazi's Must Die is available now from Arrow Video and can be purchased here.

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