Troma's Surf Nazis Must Die takes its apocalyptic story to the beach where a neo-nazi gang takes over and tries to rule the world, until a mother from a nursing home, armed with weapons sets out for vengeance. That synopsis sounds like the best movie ever made, but unfortunately, Troma lacked the funds here to make any of that action or fun, and instead, the film plays out like a long, slow surfing movie with barely any entertainment. The audio and video components are barely passable, but the extras are fun to watch. For Fans of Troma Only.
Troma movies hold a very special place in most cinephiles' hearts for their wild and pure silliness to put literally anything on film. Troma really is the ultimate Godfather of cult movies and they haven't stopped making these cinematic phenomenons for decades. In 1987, Troma capitalized on the success of Mad Max, A Clockwork Orange, and The Warriors with their version of that trio of films titled Surf Nazis Must Die. That's a title that paves the way for something so satisfying and fun, that Surf Nazis Must Die might be the best movie ever made. Unfortunately, the crew at Troma was not working with any sort of budget and any action or violence fell by the wayside. Instead, the 83-minute run time is filled with ridiculous scenes of dialogue and people glancing menacingly at each other, which is funny for a few minutes but runs out of steam very fast. This is a case where the title and poster of the movie are much better than the actual film itself.
With a Surf Nazis Must Die title and its setup, anyone could expect and assume a non-stop action film with big elements of comedy and violence, especially from the likes of Troma. That's just not where the cards lie here though. Most of the time, the film is riddled with zany characters yelling or looking at people to turn into their next victims. Any action or violence is mostly saved for the final few minutes of the movie, and even then it's sub-par and completely unsatisfying. Usually, Troma delivers in these areas with low-budget practical effects that just ooze over-the-top silly gore and blood, but with Surf Nazis Must Die, everyone missed that memo.
Its story really does set up something action-packed as a giant earthquake rocks the coast, and plunges its people and city into pure chaos. Many gangs are created that pay homage to the previous three movies that are mentioned above with one trying to lead the pack - The Surf Nazis, led by a guy named Adolf, of course. The Surf Nazis work with other gangs to take total control and spread their mission of hate and violence throughout the movie. They even murder a guy named Leroy on the beach,w which sets a big part of the story in motion. Leroy's mother named Mama Washington leaves her nursing home and arms herself with grenades and guns, resulting in a tale of revenge. This murder-grandma story sounds like the best movie ever made, one that Quentin Tarantino would be proud to put his name on.
Sadly, that story and its execution never live up to the hype, fun, or violence. Instead, Suf Nazis Must Die is more of a letdown in the Troma world and would be best served with a side of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 riffs. Even with its undertones of grieving over a loved one and regaining independence, this Troma film doesn't exude the chaotic and gross charm it's known for.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Surf Nazis Must Die rides the wave to Blu-ray, courtesy of Troma with one Blu-ray Disc that is housed inside a hard, blue plastic case. There is no cardboard sleeve here. The artwork features the cast of the film in various poses that has a purple and red color palette. There is no insert or digital code here.
Surf Nazis Must Die comes with a 1080p HD transfer on Blu-ray that has all the issues one might expect from a Troma release. Set in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, this image has a muted color palette. Partly from its low-budget source where other elements are from a quick Blu-ray transfer process, the colors are washed out for the most part. Primary colors of the '80s color palettes in the clothing and the contrast of a blue ocean and orange sand come through decently, but nothing is vivid or rich. In fact, colors are on the warmer side of the spectrum throughout.
The detail isn't particularly sharp either, but rather flat and soft. Even close-ups aren't as detailed as they could be. There are murky and bleed black levels as well, along with noise galore and a grainy film look that fluctuates. Warps, scratches, dirt, and debris are still present as well. This isn't the best-looking image, but it goes hand-in-hand with a Troma release.
This release comes with a Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 audio mix that gets the job done enough. Sound effects are zany but don't bring the heft of a low-end bass rumble with it. The song choices are always fantastic and are the loudest element in the mix. Dialogue is satisfactory but is hindered by the source material and low-budget recording. It is almost always drowned out by the music choices which is fine. There isn't a ton of ambient noises and there is no nuanced balance or directionality. This is a plain and simple audio mix.
There are about 49 minutes of bonus features included here, most of which don't have anything to do with the movie itself. Some of the stories from the set and the people coming back to discuss the production are a lot of fun.
Surf Nazis Must Die is all bark and no bite. Its title and poster artwork together allow a certain amount of hype and expectation of some of that good Troma violence, comedy, and nudity. Sadly, most of the film is lacking in those three elements and its 83-minute run time feels a lot longer due to its slow-paced nature. The video and audio presentations are sub-par, even for Troma, but the bonus features are mostly delightful. For Fans Of Troma Completists Only.