Troma are probably the most famous of the studios producing the 80’s version of B movies- trashy, sometimes inventive and often gory low budget exploitation flicks. The Toxic Avenger is their best known movie, but Surf Nazis Must Die is a close second.
It’s “the future”, and California is a state in chaos after a huge earthquake (but not such chaos that little old ladies and other folk don’t wander blithely around to have their bags snatched). The beaches belong to the gangs, and biggest and baddest of the gangs are the Surf Nazis. As their leader, “Aydolf”, gets pretentions of greatness (as great as surfers with swastikas on their wetsuits can get, anyway), the other gangs try to fight back. However, it’s not until they piss off the wrong little old lady that the Nazis meet their match.
The film flips between looking just as cheap as you’d expect and weird, arty cutting. Of course, the cuts tend to get pretentious around the point that a more expensive action scene would be required. Most of the budget went into a couple of practical effects and the surprisingly good surfing footage. It certainly wasn’t spent on the actors or any extras- the gangs which are supposedly so terrifying have three members each, apart from the Nazis, who are so powerful because they have a roster of eight. They did manage to find a few suitably decrepit buildings for the post apocalypse, though, so sometimes you can suspend disbelief for a little while.
Despite all of the above, I enjoyed Surf Nazis. There’s an ambition there, hamstrung by a budget which wouldn’t cover the coffee on a bigger production.
Plus, I’d really like a van with shark’s teeth (but not the swastikas) painted on it.