• Surf II (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: May 29th, 2021.
    Director: Randall M. Badat
    Cast: Eddie Deezen, Lnida Kerridge, Terry Kiser, Eric Stoltz, Jeffrey Rogers, Lyle Waggoner, Peter Isacksen
    Year: 1983
    Purchase From Vinegar Syndrome

    Surf II – Movie Review:

    A sequel to a movie that never existed in the first place 1983’s Surf II is like a beach movie mixed with a Troma movie all filtered through the semi-raunchy lens of the eighties teen sex comedy movies that were all the rage during that decade.

    The plot, such as it is, revolves around Chuck (Eric Stoltz) and Bob (Jeffrey Rogers), a couple of teenaged surfers who notice that a few of their friends have started acting strangely, almost as if they’ve been turned into zombies somehow. A few subplots that don’t go anywhere and a little bit of poking around town later, they learn that their dads, who work for the Buzzz Cola Company (long before The Simpsons featured a similarly named product!), are dumping toxic waste into the soda they distribute on behalf of an angry nerd named Menlo Schwartzer (Eddie Deezen) who was wronged by the cool kids a while back. Since then, he’s turned his nerdy girlfriend Sparkle (Linda Kerridge) into a hot chick and figured out a way to control the surfers he hates so much.

    Local cops – Chief Boyardee (Lionel Waggoner) and Deputy Underwear (Ron Palillo) – aren’t any help so, teaming up with their ditzy girlfriends Lucinda Sue (Lindy Sue O'Finley) and Cindy Lou (Corinne Bohrer) they enlist the aid of the local high school science teacher named Beaker (Peter Isacksen) to crack the case and ensure that the annual surfing competition goes off without a hitch!

    Far dumber than that brief plot synopsis can possibly make it sound, Surf II cares not enough logic, consistency or even plotting. Rather, it’s an ‘everything and the kitchen sink’ type of film, one that is constantly throwing things against the wall to see if they’ll stick. More often than not, they do not stick, but a few land pretty nicely (Beaker is frequently very funny and Deezen does his thing with an unreal amount of ‘zany’ enthusiasm). There are a few running jokes that are ground into the dirt (the use of ‘bow bow’ and ‘can you relate?’) being the two most obvious examples, but then, the film features a cameo from Dick Dale, the undisputed king of surf guitar, and supporting work from Ruth Buzzi and Cleavon Little , so it’s hard not to like it. The cast are a big part of what makes this as fun to watch as it is. Young Eric Stoltz plays the long haired surfer guy pretty well, while Waggoner and Palillo are amusing as the cops. Deezen, being Deezen, doesn’t so much chew the scenery as dropping a bomb on it but you kind of want that when he’s the lead in a movie and it’s fun to see him play the bad guy.

    The scenes where people actually engage in surfing in this movie earn full marks for being legitimately well shot, there’s some very good footage here. The film also features a pretty killer soundtrack with contributions from The Beach Boys, The Stray Cats, Talk Talk, Wall Of Voodoo and even The Circle Jerks all standing out.

    Most of the gags are cheap and crass – there’s a goofy man ass joke or two and Palillo is constantly drooling over the girls in the film. Boobs come into play a few times for now other reason than to have boobs come into play (truly, that’s reason enough), and the film features a remarkably disgusting scene where two heavy set dudes have an eating competition involving stuff that’s washed up on the beach.

    Surf II – Blu-ray Review:

    Both cuts of Surf II arrive on region free Blu-ray from Vinegar Syndrome in AVC encoded 1080p high definition framed at 1.85.1. The director’s cut, which runs 1:40:12, takes up 30GBs of space on the 50GB disc, while the theatrical cut, which runs 1:25:52, takes up 24.6GBs of space on the 25GB disc. There’s some print damage noticeable on both versions, “newly restored from long lost 35mm elements,” but overall they look very nice. Grain is heavier in some scenes than others and there is one spot in the director’s cut where some more noticeable damage appears for a few seconds but overall the image is stable. Colors are nicely defined here, black levels are quite good and there’s solid detail and texture evident throughout. Compression is never a problem and the transfers always look nice and film-like.

    Audio chores are handled for both versions of the film by 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Mono tracks in English with optional subtitles provided in English only. The tracks sound pretty clean. Levels are balanced and there are no problems with any hiss or distortion to note. Optional Dolby Digital 2.0 tracks, also in English, are also found on the each disc.

    Extras included on the disc housing the Director’s Cut of the film include a commentary with writer/director Randall M. Badat moderate by Vinegar Syndrome’s Brad Henderson. They start by discussing how this is Badat’s original cut of the movie and how the two versions are pretty dramatically different. He talks about how this version morphed into the theatrical cut and the reasons behind the two cuts, how they assumed this version was lost after the recut and how, in short, this version contains “less boobs and more Eddie!” He also covers where some of the ideas for the movie came from, the film’s distribution history, the use of stock footage in the movie, the use of surf footage in the movie, the music used in the movie, how everyone involved in the shoot was ‘in on the same joke,’ casting the picture, how they had to get Cleavon Little to the set every day as he didn’t drive, how the title Surf II was decided on, the Eddie Deezen/Jerry Lewis connection, getting Dick Dale in the film (most of his performance is lost in the theatrical cut, same with the beach party scene) and lots more. It’s very interesting stuff.

    The director’s cut also features a second commentary track, this one with with Eddie Deezen. This track is as zany as you’d expect, Deezen is quite the character, and he jumps right in commenting on his love of The Beach Boys, noting that this was the first movie he ever got top billing in and the first movie he ever played a bad guy in. He goes on about how he got along with pretty much everyone one set (he seems to have loved everyone he worked with!), how great the surfing footage is, how he had his character’s nickname changed from Stinky to Bunny, his personal love of Daffy Duck and how he puts him into all of his performances, how he brought the umbrella hat he wears in the movie from his own wardrobe and more.

    This disc also includes a sixty-five-minute documentary on the history of the film entitled The Stupidest Movie Ever Made: Drinking The Drink Of Surf II, which features interviews with writer/director Randall M. Badat, producer George Braunstein, assistant director Scott Easton, composer Peter Bernstein, costume designer Carin Berger, casting director Fern Champion, along with actors Eddie Deezen, Peter Isacksen, Linda Kerridge and Joshua Camden. It covers some of the same ground as the commentary tracks but since it involves a few people who weren't involved in those tracks, it also covers a fair bit of original ground. All of the interviewees give us a bit of background information on their careers and talk about how they get involved in the film before then telling some fun stories about what it was like on set, their thoughts on the film, its legacy and lots more. It's very polished and nicely put together and also quite interesting!

    A behind the scenes still gallery and an original twenty-one-minute sizzle reel video are also found on this disc (essentially a highlight reel meant to generate interest in the film).

    The disc with the theatrical cut features a commentary track with an unnamed moderator and Randall Badat. They point out some oddities in the credits, discuss the back of the VHS packaging, the differences between the two cuts and why those two cuts were made, the different actors that pop up in the movie in big parts and little parts alike, the fake ambulance arcade game scene, how great the cast members all were to work with, some of the effects work in the film, Badat’s own surfing experience, having to destroy a functioning vintage car, how and why so many great acts wound up on the film's soundtrack, the presence of Devo video star 'Spazz Attack' and other members of the L.A. punk scene of the eighties, meeting Dick Dale (who had a tiger cage in his house) who spoke about himself in the third person and lots more. Again, the recurring theme on this and the other commentary and interviews is that everyone had an absolute blast making this movie.

    This second disc also features a commentary track with film historians Zach Carlson and Bryan Connolloy, the authors of Destroy All Movies, a guide to punks on film. They note that Surf II is one of the best depictions of eighties punks, compare it to other punk movies of the era, the locations used in the film, how important Johnny Bighead's presence is in this movie, Peter Isacksen's genuine awkwardness and his work directing the eighties Munsters reboot, how great Deezen is in the movie, the faux-split screen sequences in the movie and how great they are, what Eric Stoltz was doing in this film, how Linda Carriage came to the United States and played Eddie Deezen's love interest only to go back to Australia shortly afterwards, the gross eating competition between 'Fatboy #1' and 'Fatboy #2,' how finding Eddie Deezen under a table in a restaurant would be a dream come true, how impossibly hard to find the film's soundtrack is (because it was never officially released!), how the surf competition in the end compares to ski movies of the time and lots more.

    This release also comes with an embossed slipcover, some reversible cover sleeve art in addition to a really nice insert booklet that contains writing on the film by the late Mike McPadden, Zach Carlson and Joe Bob Briggs – all very much worth reading.

    Surf II - The Final Word:

    Surf II is every bit as dumb as it sounds but it’s pretty much impossible not to have a good time with this movie, particularly if you’ve got an affinity for eighties teen movie nonsense. Vinegar Syndrome offer up both the theatrical cut and the never-before-released director’s cut version alongside a massive making of documentary, four commentary tracks and few other extras as well, making this one quite the package for fans of junk food cinema!

    Click on the images below for full sized Surf II (director's cut) Blu-ray screen caps!

    Click on the images below for full sized Surf II (theatrical cut) Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Jason C's Avatar
      Jason C -
      Love this flick and never thought we'd get a decent release. The rest of the Halfway to BF titles can dissappoint and I still be happy paying $200+ just to have Surf 2.