The bad movie that is so bad it makes bad movies look good
While the previous two films I have reviewed on this blog are bad, I could argue that they are basically watchable for the so bad it’s funny factor. Not so much for Surf Nazis Must Die.
Despite having the best name this side of Snakes on a Plane, this movie is completely unwatchable. If you sat through Avengers: Endgame and thought, wow, three hours went by so fast, well this film is less than half that run time and feels four times as long.
The acting is abysmal for the entire duration. The cinematography does not work. The editing is off balanced and has some of the most jagged cuts I have ever seen in a movie. Roger Ebert famously walked out of this film after 30 minutes but my favorite reaction to this film, and perhaps the most on the nose is one provided by film critic Janet Maslin. She said, “Not even the actors’ relatives will find this interesting”.
The plot, what there is of it to call a plot, is meandering and dull. Apparently there was an earthquake, but we only know about that because sometimes people on the radio in the background mention it, and sometimes people in the film say things like, “The beaches have changed because of the quake”. Since film is a visual medium, you would expect to see some visual evidence of this so called earthquake but it pretty much looks like they just found cheap or abandoned locations to film on.
It’s supposed to boil down to a revenge plot where a man is murdered by surf Nazis and his mother breaks out of her retirement home to cause havoc to those who did her wrong. That plot could have kind of worked but it really doesn’t.
There’s a vague sense that there is a territorial turf war between rival surfing gangs on a beach in California. The Surf Nazis want to unite and dominate the gangs for… reasons? They have a guy who randomly has a harpoon gun, a dude that has a hook for a hand, and… you know what? There’s no point in really describing these people because they are utterly ridiculous. You would at least think we could find out why the guy with the hook hand has a hook in the early part of the movie. Instead, the film makers chose to wait until the last ten minutes to have the guy mention that a shark ate it. Nobody cares by then.
There is no character development for any single character in this film. None. These people are at best a caricature of a person. The best and only sympathetic character in the whole thing is Mama. This is the mother of the man who is killed by the Surf Nazis about a third of the way into the movie.
She goes to a harassed store clerk who sells her some grenades and a gun and she makes trouble for the Surf Nazis, ultimately killing them all. That sentence was about fifty times more exciting than watching it unfold on film.
The shots in the movie last far too long. There’s horrible synthesizer music throughout the whole thing that is supposed to build tension and be dramatic. It doesn’t come close.
The action, what there is of it, is slow and clunky. The fight scenes feel like these guys are just kind of slow motion wrestling. At least with The Toxic Avenger and certain other movies like it, you get a bit of a gore fest going on to maintain your interest somewhat. Most of the fights are bloodless and most of the deaths are off screen. The one supposedly shocking bit is toward the end when a speed boat decapitates a woman but the head floating in the water looks so fake it’s really kind of pathetic.
The one and only thing I can give credit for is that the Surf Nazis do die, so I guess it lives up to it’s title?
There are a lot of bad movies floating out in the ether and there are a fair number of them that I would say, if you are into it, are still worth a watch for one reason or another. This is absolutely just not one of them. Even if you are a fan of low budget B films, this one is not worth the effort.
I don’t want you to get the impression that in my dungeon I only have these cult classic films to watch and not be entertained by. People with a lot of money, resources, and access to quality actors, directors ans screenwriters also make terrible mistakes. So for my next film review, I will be delving into the first of the Michael Bay cash grab series, Transformers.
Until next time, don’t trust anyone who has a hook for a hand while visiting my dungeon. Just smile, nod and walk away while you still can.