Retro Review: ‘Surf Nazis Must Die’
Before they were rebranded with stupid names like the “alt-right” Nazis were unequivocally scum in all forms of media. Any: comic, video game, or in this case movie which needed a villain any and all audience members could hate, Nazis were who they went with. There is a trap that this becomes an easy out to vilify an antagonist with little effort. In 1987, the Troma released Surf Nazis Must Die does exactly this by making a beach movie where in order to get the audience to hate the bad guys they seemed to simply go “meh, make ’em Nazis”.
In a bit of a knock-off of the Warriors, the California coastline has been divided up by groups of colorful and themed gangs. The one gang which rules the waves with an iron fist are the Surf Nazis led by the commanding Adolf. They have no intention of staying in their section of the beach and are violently expanding out taking down any other surfers looking to harsh their evil mellow. With power having gone to his head, Adolf kills an innocent African-American man, inciting his elderly mother to take revenge on the Surf Nazis.
Let us just say this movie takes itself far more seriously than a movie called Surf Nazis Must Die ever should. One would suspect that those tuning in to watch this flick are looking to see said Surf Nazis die in campy and violent ways as the title implies. The film was even distributed by outrageous B-movie studio supreme Troma Entertainment. However, this film moves at a snail’s pace throughout it’s runtime. Director Peter George seems far more concerned with capturing the imagery of the beach atmosphere and trying to make some kind of philosophical point than he is with giving audiences kickass action and surfing Nazis.
Some cult films benefit from the fact that the filmmakers play it deadly serious, but this is not one of those. Surf Nazis Must Die commits the ultimate B-movie sin of being boring. What should be a simple revenge film where Nazis die horrible and violent deaths gets lost in an eternity of talkiness and coastal cinematography. When an action scene does happen instead of cheering we go “finally, something happens”. This is a shame because this movie could have been a lot of fun of they had taken it in a different direction.