• Surf Nazis Must Die (88 Films) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: 88 Films
    Released on: August 27th, 2018.
    Director: Peter George
    Cast: Gail Neely, Robert Harden, Barry Brenner, Dawn Wildsmith, Michael Sonye, Tom Shell
    Year: 1985
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    Surf Nazis Must Die – Movie Review:

    Set in the not too distant future, a massive earthquake has turned Los Angeles and the surrounding area into a wasteland. This wasteland is ruled by the surfers, and the surfers? They’re ruled by the Nazis. Or so one of the fascist boarders tells a rather buxom young woman he meets on the beach one day. Yep, there’s a gang of surf Nazi’s making trouble for good people led by a greaseball named Adolf (Barry Brenner) and his best dame Eva (Dawn Wildsmith). The group pillages the surrounding area looking for cash and for loot to fence through a local pawn shop… but when they’re not doing that? They’re fashioning giant hooks and riding the waves.

    One day, a young black man is unfortunate enough to cross their path only to meet vicious end. His mother, Eleanor 'Mama' Washington (Gail Neely), may enjoy spending her golden years playing poker at the retirement home she’s just moved into, but once she learns of her son’s murder? She loads up her pistol and sets out to get revenge…

    Not nearly as good as the title or the original VHS cover art (thankfully used once again on this Blu-ray release), Surf Nazis Must Die still has its moments. The biggest problem with the film is the pacing. There are long stretches of people surfing – which makes sense when the movie is about… surfing – but it feels like padding and rarely adds anything to the story. The revenge aspect of the story isn’t particularly believable, but it is fun. Mama Washington is an obese geriatric and a very unlikely candidate for an instrument of bloody revenge, but we like her and want her to see that justice is served. The film’s finale, where she’s zipping around on a speedboat taking on all comers, is ludicrous but thoroughly enjoyable. Even at just over eighty-minutes, however, the movie feels about ten minutes too long.

    Performances are reasonably bonkers, not a bad thing when you’re making a movie about surf Nazis. Barry Brenner is actually pretty solid as the leader, bossing around his minions and making sure they obey his every command. Dawn Wildsmith, who should be familiar to fans of eighties B-movies from her appearances in films like Alienator, Star Slammer, and Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers) is pretty fun (and fun to look at) in her part as his main squeeze. Supporting work from Michael Sonye (better known in some circles as Dukey Flyswatter!) is Mengele Joel Hile as Hook are also worth mentioning. Gail Neely often steals the show, however. She’s large and in charge and not about to take any shit from any Nazis. You’ve got to appreciate that, and she delivers a very enthusiastic performance. It’s not always good or even believable, but she is at least a lot of fun to watch.

    The film has some decent gore, particularly in its last twenty-minutes or so and benefits quite a bit from a genuinely awesome synth score that comes courtesy of John McCallum (who also scored Futureshock and fucking Miami Connection!). Seriously, the music in the movie is often times the best part. Had the pacing been better, the movie would have been more engaging, but as it stands, if this isn’t Troma’s best picture, it’s far from their worst.

    Surf Nazis Must Die - Blu-ray Review:

    88 Films brings Surf Nazis Must Die to region free Blu-ray framed at 1.85.1 widescreen in AVC encoded 1080p high definition taken from a ‘2K Scan and Restoration from Positive Elements.’ The movie presented on a 25GB disc and takes up just over 19GBs of space. The films is a grainy one, know that going in, but it’s certainly very watchable here. There is mild print damage in the form of white specks evident throughout and it isn’t too hard to spot small scratches here and there but the color reproduction is pretty strong and if detail never hits reference quality it does easily surpass the previous domestic DVD release that Troma put out years ago.

    The ‘Restored DTS-HD MA Stereo Audio’ track, in English, sounds pretty solid. Dialogue is clean and clear that score… damn that score is so good and it sounds really nice here. Some scenes sound a little flat but otherwise, no issues here. Optional subtitles are provided in English only.

    New to this release is Smeg's Lament, a newly shot 2018 interview with actor Tom Shell that clocks in at just under thirteen-minutes. He talks about his familiarity with Troma and how he enjoyed their work before getting involved in Surf Nazis, and then what it was like auditioning for the part. He talks about his thoughts on the character that he played, what he tried to bring to the part, how he wound up with bleached blonde hair in the movie, and the importance of being able to adlib and improvise during the shoot. He also talks about the permits that were needed (or not), his surfing experience, how most of the bigger surf scenes were shot with a second unit in Hawaii, and how he got along with the cast and crew members he worked with on the project.

    Carried over from the older DVD release is a brief four-minute interview with Director Peter George wherein he notes his thoughts on the film and shares some stories from the shoot. He talks about the original concepts for the film, how it evolved into what it finally was, and which locations were used for the movie. Also on hand is a quick two-minute interview with Producer Robert Tinnell where he talks about the intensity of the shoot and how much work it was and how a spontaneous football game broke out once night after wrap. Neither is really all that in-depth but if you haven’t seen them before they’re worth checking out.

    Also found on the disc is seven-minutes of deleted scenes from the ‘director’s cut’ of the movie with audio commentary from Peter George who puts all of this material, which only exists without audio, into context. There’s some interesting stuff here, including some back and forth between the different Nazi characters and some character development between Mama Washington and her son. He also talks here about how and why the term ‘Surf Nazi’ came to exist and why it was used for the movie.

    Alsoo on the disc is an ‘episode’ of Troma’s Edge TV is also here, hosted by a guy in a loincloth calling himself Beowulf and a pretty blonde named Jane Jensen – this was an intro on the old DVD release. Aside from that, look for the film’s fun original theatrical trailer, menus and chapter selection.

    Surf Nazis Must Die – The Final Word:

    Surf Nazis Must Die is definitely lesser ‘vintage’ Troma but it has its moments as well as its problems. Still, the movie has a nostalgic appeal for those of us who remember renting the tape after being lured in by that fantastic cover art. 88 Films’ Blu-ray release offers a nice upgrade over the past domestic DVD release and includes some supplements covering the film’s background. A Tromasterpiece it is not, but its fans will appreciate the Blu-ray upgrade.

    Click on the images below for full sized Surf Nazis Must Die Blu-ray screen caps!