"Surf Nazis Must Die"

A woman in black lingerie and a guy in a Tarzan outfit offer a probing examination of the Nazi mentality: This is what director's cuts were made for.

Published October 31, 2000 4:00PM (EST)

"Surf Nazis Must Die"
Directed by Peter George
Starring Gail Neely, Barry Brenner, Dawn Wildsmith
Troma Digital Video; full frame (1.33:1)
Extras: Interviews with director and producer, introduction by Troma president, "lost" footage, behind the scenes at Troma, trailers

"All the modern movies of any merit have their roots in 'Surf Nazis Must Die,'" proclaims Lloyd Kaufman, president of low-budget movie factory Troma Films. If for some strange reason you dispute that conclusion, then this and other Troma movies are not for you. If, however, you can appreciate the cheerful goofiness in Kaufman's not-very-serious cinematic outlook, then you will find much to enjoy in the DVD "director's cut" of this classic study of surfing, Nazis and a pistol-packing mama's revenge.

"Surf Nazis Must Die" is about as high concept as they come. In the near future, a gang of Surf Nazis holds sway over the beaches of Southern California. When their members callously murder a beachgoer named Leroy, his mother -- known in the film as Leroy's Mama -- arms herself to the teeth and sets out to deliver on the promise of the film's title (arguably the single best thing about the movie). With little more than table scraps for a budget, "Surf Nazis Must Die" features rotten acting, cheesy action and effects, a grainy picture and poor sound. It is, in short, a typical Troma film -- not quite in the same league as "Toxic Avenger," perhaps, but no less a treat for fans.

The DVD is chock-full of extras, delivered, not surprisingly, in scatter-gun fashion. Interviews with director Peter George are buried here and there, and viewers must resign themselves to hunting through all the materials -- much of it promos for Troma and the studio's other movies -- to receive the full scope of George's insights as to the genesis of his "Surf Nazis" director's cut. About 20 minutes of extra footage was added for the disc version, mostly generic surfing shots from Hawaii, along with "stuff that probably should have been in the original version." George's artistic integrity rings through loud and clear.

Viewers who require some historical context will be thankful for a brief behind-the-scenes exchange between a woman clad in black lingerie and a musclebound hunk dressed as Tarzan but identified as Beowulf. "Nazis are fascists from Germany who exterminated millions of Jews," the woman explains.

"Holy shit!" Beowulf replies.

"Surf Nazis Must Die" is the sort of film Ed Wood might have made if he were active today, except he'd be the only one not in on the joke. Troma's Kaufman, on the other hand, maintains a well-practiced straight face as he tells viewers this is "a movie that is, admittedly, low budget and basically what we would call exploitation." Yup. Basically.

By David Lazarus

David Lazarus covers business and technology for the San Francisco Chronicle.

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