The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Surf Nazis Must Die (1987)

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I know what you're thinking: "Poirier, you're like 725 posts and over four years into this blog, and this is your first Troma flick? What's wrong with you?" Honestly, I don't know. I wanted to wait on them initially, because most of them I see more as independent films than DTV-- Surf Nazis Must Die for instance screened at Cannes. Then you may remember in 2010 the readers voted to do Hong Kong films instead of Troma for a multi-week feature I did. After that I went on hiatus, and when I came back, I wanted to concentrate on some of the great bad action of the 80s and 90s, just to get my passion back for the blog. Now it's September 2011, and I think it's time to break the seal and start hitting some of these bad boys which were so influential to me growing up, and made me love low-budget cinema; and I can't think of a better place to start than Surf Nazis Must Die.

Surf Nazis Must Die takes place in an LA ravaged by an enormous earthquake. In the aftermath, gangs have taken over the beaches, and one gang in particular, the Surf Nazis, are extremely vicious and equally ambitious. As they assert their brutal hold over the shore, they kill a man named Leroy, and his mother living in a nursing home is pissed. It proves to be a fatal error on their part.

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I loved this one. For sheer gore fans, this probably won't cut it-- think of it as the anti Hobo with a Shotgun-- but it works as an exploitation flick, and the gore will get there, you just need to wait until the end. I like that, that they don't spend all their nickels at once, but they also don't bore you as they're readying us to spend them. Great sets, great costumes, great music, cool characters, sinister villains, and some really exceptional surfing scenes. For any new directors looking to do a modern take on exploitation, look no further than right here.

One interesting plot device that I liked here was that we saw much more of the villains-- the Surf Nazis-- than we did of the heroine, Mrs. Washington. It made for an interesting dynamic, because we certainly weren't rooting for the Surf Nazis, but the beats in the film kind of played out where we were seeing scenes and character development with the baddies that we'd be expecting the heroine to go through. Especially the end scene, where Mrs. Washington is chasing Adolf and his girl, it's like the roles are reversed.

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As I mentioned above, the surfing scenes in this are great. We find out in one of the featurettes that they were shot by a professional surfing cinematographer, and they were done in Hawai'i instead of California, where the rest of the film was shot. That too added a different element, made it more like exploitation films from the past, where a gang rode motorcycles or surfed or did some other kind of marginal sport, and parts of the film would be dedicated just to them plying their craft.

Speaking of the Troma DVD, it has all kinds of great stuff, from deleted scenes, to interviews with director and producer. For a movie like this, the story about the process is always almost as fun as the movie itself. I got the DVD on sale from Troma's website in 2000 for like $5, and looking at their website, that's still the DVD they offer, only now it's $6. Not a bad deal.

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Do you recognize the handsome devil on the right? It's DTVC favorite Ted Prior! He has no real speaking line, doesn't run around without his shirt and shoes killing people, and definitely no scalping. It was just a cool novelty, he played a member of one of the rival gangs, the Designer Wave, and in fact, I didn't notice him until I saw his name in the credits. See kids, it pays to stay for the credits.

As I mentioned above, the DVD from the Troma website for $6 pre-shipping is the way to go. Don't download it to iTunes, don't stream it on Hulu, don't let your VHS nostalgia get the best of you. The DVD has all the extras, it's the director's cut, why mess around?

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0094077/

11 comments:

  1. I remember renting this and Taking it All Off (another great movie) on VHS in the late 90s. I haven't had the chance to see the DVD, but the movie is definitely worth a rental at the very least. Troma knows cheese, and Surf Nazis Must Die delivers.

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  2. Oh yeah, this is excellent. I originally caught it on VHS as well, and while I don't begrudge anyone sticking with that, I personally thought the extras and the price of the DVD make it the better buy. Definitely, though if you don't want to make the purchase commitment, at the very least, this is a must rental, stream, etc.

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  3. Classic Troma flick! Haven't seen this in ages. Will have to watch it again soon.

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  4. Yeah, I hadn't seen it in ages either, but it's worth revisiting. One of the good things about having a blog, it gives us a further incentive to go back to these.

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  5. OH, man....
    This one is a real gem. I remember I first saw it on Joe Bob Briggs' Drive In Theater, and it changed my life!

    Great stuff right here.

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  6. No joke, this was the fifth DVD I ever owned. Right after Blade, Psycho, The Thing, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Surf Nazis was in great company. You're right. I need to go back and review this.

    Also, if you're taking suggestions on further Troma reviews, Troma's War has always been a favorite of mine. I'd love to see your take on it.

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  7. Oh yeah, this is a life changer. One of those that's that good. I believe it was one of the first I ever bought as well. Speaking of Troma's War, check out Lloyd Kaufman trying to promote it on Morton Downey Jr.

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  8. Remember watching this a while back - yep on VHS - it's not bad as Troma movies go (you can do a lot worse) but I never thought it quite lived up to its title in the way The Toxic Avenger did.

    Gotta agree Troma do awesome DVDs. My friend and I spent practically a whole day going through all the extras on Cannibal The Musical.

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  9. Havent seen this one yet, but by the looks of your review it's better than I expected it to be.

    Highly recommend The Toxic Avenger films, those films are a fun bag of Troma craziness.

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  10. Oh yeah, Troma know how to make quality DTV films, you should do Sgt. Kabukiman NYPD next.

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  11. I mentioned on the Facebook page what my plans are for future Troma posts. Now that we've dumped the announcements page, that's always the best place to go to find out what I have coming down the pike. Just hit the like button and you're there.

    Cannibal the Musical was a fantastic DVD, and one of the first ones I remember a friend buying-- which got me on board with the DVD revolution. VHS is great too, but when you get something loaded with goodies, it just adds that extra level-- maybe the VHS nostalgists need to buy both!

    All the Toxic Avengers are great, but I love part IV, because it has Corey Feldman credited as "Kinky Finkelstein". It doesn't get much better than that. Maybe sometime in the future I'll do a Toxie week.

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