Film Review : Surf Nazis Must Die (1987)

IMDB Score – 3.3
Netflix Watch Instant

Directed By – Peter George
Starring – Gail Neely, Robert Harden, Barry Brenner, Dawn Wildsmith, Michael Sonye, Joel Hile, Gene Mitchell, Tom Shell, and Bobbie Bresee

When the grandson of a gun wielding woman is murdered by neo-nazi surf punks in the post-apocalyptic future, this grandma hunts them down for some bloodthirsty revenge.

So Vern over at Video Vortex asked me to watch and review a film produced by the wonderfully disgusting and critically lauded Troma, which has been made infamous by it’s Toxic Avenger series and various other cult flicks. He suggested “Surf Nazis Must Die” which is streaming on Netflix and I accepted the challenge.

You can visit Vern’s musings on Troma HERE

Guys, I’m going to spoil the shit out of this so this is your warning.

Having only seen the first Toxic Avenger film(one of my first reviews), I could only imagine what kind of filth I was in store for. It turned out that while the film was equally as appalling in terms of story, acting, camera work, production value, moral compass, knowledge of history, and rampant sexism/racism…it wasn’t nearly as good as Toxie. The first Toxic Avenger film had a sort of ambition that, even though the film is a garbage pit, I can’t remember seeing a film that was so funny and random. I’ll take a bad 80’s film over a modern comedy any day. Perhaps this is just because I have a strange sense of humor, but I find the attempt to make interesting cinema and coming out with horrendous slop hysterical. While the premise behind Surf Nazis is certainly insane, the villains just didn’t do enough heinous acts as I would have expected from Neo-Nazis. I wasn’t kidding when I said there was no knowledge of any historical logic. There is no explanation or even a hint of why they are Nazis. They don’t practice the Nazi philosophy or engage in any acts against people they find inferior. They are simply a bunch of hooligans who occasionally surf and cause damage and physical harm…who just so happen to have swastikas plastered all over their clothes. The leader of the group is named Adolf and while he spouts the occasional German word and Nazi high sign from time to time, there really isn’t any other tie in with Nazis. It’s like they picked something evil to act like and then forgot how to act like them. The gang it turns out is just a bunch of goons.

The setting of the film is “sometime in the near future” which says a lot considering that can be pretty much anytime from now and the year 3057. There was apparently an earthquake in California which displaced everybody along the coast and killed 80,000 people. You would think that the scenery would be a little bit more destroyed but there isn’t really anything resembling a chaotic wasteland besides the fact that there is not a single police officer in sight. Apparently they all just decided to move their squads to Ohio. That however does not deter little old ladies from going to the beach, where these gangs hang out, and getting mugged by these Nazis. The whole earthquake back story doesn’t make a dicks worth of sense but that isn’t why I’m watching this film. I’m watching it because these Nazis fucking SURF.

They literally surf all day. The film is filled with about six different surfing montages that last a couple minutes and are set to 8 bit 80s music. It was like Blue Crush if Kate Bosworth was a Nazi. Then, somebody burned their surfboards and these nice and charming Nazis decided to become actual murders and end up murdering this elderly black ladies son. Black lady then decides to get revenge and fucks up the Nazis little uprising. Does that sound rushed? Well, it was rushed for me as I looked down for one second and all of a sudden there is an older black lady killing a bunch of Nazis. The story isn’t important anyway. These films are enjoyed because of the little bits of humor stuffed into the actors performances and the complete what the fuck moments in the script. For instance…

– Adolf, the leader of the Nazis, was TOTALLY the inspiration for the voice of Daniel Plainview from “There Will Be Blood”. Daniel Day Lewis owes that Oscar to Adolf.
– There is a Nazi with a hook for a hand. His name is Hook
– At one point, a rival gang member utters the brilliant line, “What’s this all about Kraut?”
– Speaking of rival gangs, they’re the highlight of the film. They include bikers, fashion surfers, sewer pipe dwellers, samurai surfers, and skateboarding kids. The meeting that they had was amazing.
– “What? Nobody wants to slamdance?”
– The black lady is shown her sons corpse for identification and during the viewing the coroner asks her is he could get her anything. YEAH! CAN I GET A ICE COLD PEPSI WHILE I LOOK AT MY DEAD SON?
– One of the younger Nazis has a mom who is fully aware of her sons activities yet treats it like he’s been caught smoking cigarettes. ARE YOU GOING TO HANG OUT WITH THAT NO GOOD ADOLF NAZI GANG LEADER AGAIN?

There were some pretty great humorous scenes but I honestly wanted a bit more gore. This is what Troma is famous for along with the cheesy dialogue and bad acting and I feel like I only got two thirds of that wonderful mixture. Would I recommend seeing this film? Yes. I would. Why? Well, because it’s batshit insane and you need to balance your movie viewings so that you don’t raise your expectations to a level that can’t be matched. If you watch a couple of shitty 80s movies, the next Michael Bay film might look a little better in your eyes. Actually, no. I take that back. Troma is WAY better than Michael Bay.

Bad Movie Rating – 3/5





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Documentary Review – The Act of Killing (2013)

IMDB Score – 8.3
Rotten Tomato Score – 95%
Netflix Watch Instant
Academy Award Nominee for Best Documentary

Directed by – Joshua Oppenheimer, Christine Cynn, and Annonymous
Starring – Anwar Congo, Herman Koto, and Syamsul Arifin

A documentary that challenges former Indonesian death squad leaders to reenact their real-life mass-killings in whichever cinematic genres they wish, including classic Hollywood crime scenarios and lavish musical numbers.

What makes a great documentary? I used to think it was just the ability to find great footage and develop the story around it. Lately it has been the ability to portray humanity for what it really is…a continually evolving machine of good and evil. It helps when the subject matter is interesting to the viewer but what I want most in a documentary is a view of life on this planet that is not normally seen and certainly not understood. Joshua Oppenheimer knocked the genre on its ass this year when he released “The Act of Killing”.

The film centers are Anwar Congo, a former deathsquad leader who claims to have killed over one thousand people from 1965 to 1967. Over one million people were murdered during this time period. They were killed when the military took over the government and claimed that anybody practicing communism would be put to death without trial. Some of these people were actually communist but most were killed on the slightest whim by a death squad/youth member if they thought they were a communist. Some Chinese residents were killed on the spot just because they were Chinese. These killings were not only allowed but completely backed by the national government. Villages were burned down, women were raped, and the murders were of brutal and sadistic fashion. The people who carried out these murders are not behind bars. They were not put to death. They are the stars of this film.

When I used to watch the History Channel before it became a reality television network for rednecks without teeth or clothes that fit, documentaries and mini series would run constantly of WW2. Nazi’s marching up and down streets with hate in their eyes backed by the screaming lunatic that was Adolf Hitler filled the screen. We all know about the Nazis and what they did. I’m not going to explain that. I bring this up because what is happening in Indonesia right now is the little brother to what happened in WW2. The big difference here is that the Nazis are no longer in control. The same regime that put these murders into effect is still in charge today and the general public still laud these murderers as heroes. This backwards ass fantasy world is alive and well and brought to light by Openheimer and his crew. They follow Congo, a charismatic old man, and his partner Herman, a younger and more chaotic man as they recall their past and bizarrely reenact these stories on camera. They have convinced themselves that they are going to be on the big screen flaunting their stories of murder for all to see and appreciate. Bizarre is not a good enough word to describe these reenactments. They are completely surreal and whacked out fantasy garble unfolding before Oppenheimer and his crew. The crew, who are being told these stories of murder as if they were daily anecdotes occurring on the way to work, have to shut off their intuition to interfere and keep the camera focused on their subjects. The end result is one of best collection of truly terrifying real characters that even the great fiction writers of our day couldn’t come up with.

The film is shot through mostly steadicam shots fixated on the subjects at hand. There are no talking heads dictating what the viewer is going to experience. The film travels through one nightmare to the next as these men are paraded around town by governing officials and asked to be on television talks shows where they boast about their countless murders to cheering fans and adoration. Reenactments occur in the streets with actors being cast on the spot and who seem to be forced into portraying the victims of these murders during their last moments. Children are crying and some are laughing during these “scenes”. It’s as if the children don’t know how to feel since they were not around to witness the actual horror but are instead told through stories. The emotion on their faces goes completely unnoticed by the youth leaders and former gangsters as most of the children are asked why they are so upset. I mean, it was only an act!

Like the Nazis before them and their northern neighbors, the North Koreans, the entire population of Indonesia is either completely brainwashed into thinking this genocide was essential to their history or are scared to mention the fact that their government is made up of a bunch of war criminals. I asked what is essential in a good documentary and the answer is still up for debate, but there is no doubting that “The Act of Killing” is a one of a kind look into a culture that is centered around killing and yet sees no problem with it at all. It’s a chilling film that must be seen and can be seen if you have a Netflix account.

5/5




Film Review : The White Ribbon (2009)

IMDB Score – 7.7
Rotten Tomato Score – 85%

Academy Award Nominations
Best Cinematography
Best Foreign Language Film

Winner of the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival

Directed By – Michael Haneke
Starring – Christian Friedel, Leonie Benesch, Ulrich Tukur, Ursina Lardi, and Burghart Klau├čner

Strange events happen in a small village in the north of Germany during the years just before World War I, which seem to be ritual punishment. The abused and suppressed children of the villagers seem to be at the heart of this mystery.

If I were to name five of my favorite directors living today, Michael Haneke would not only be on that list but would be near the top. Cache is one of my favorite films of all time and I enjoyed his recent film Amour. He’s notorious for being extremely bleak and brutal in his portrayals of life but in that creates some of the most beautiful films modern cinema has ever seen. He tackled sexuality in The Piano Teacher, Alzheimer’s disease in Amour, and even torture in both versions of Funny Games. He is literally a director that makes people both fascinated and dreadful to enter a theater for two hours. This is why I love him. I love being moved and poked and prodded for a response whether good or bad. I love that he almost always leaves his viewers with more questions than answers. Lastly, I often fall in love with his camerawork. His work requires repeat viewings and while I have only sat through The White Ribbon once, I’m sure I’ll be seeing it again.

Filmed in black and white as if to automatically distance the viewer from any sort of emotional attachment to these characters. The rosy and lush countryside of Germany is now transformed into a bleak landscape reminiscent of Bela Tarr’s The Turin Horse. This is ultimately a much easier view than Tarr’s work but that is saying something all together. This is not an easy watch. Events start to unfold from the get go as the town doctor is thrown from his horse due to wire being strung across two trees. The mystery of the event only begins a series of strange occurrences that take place over the rest of the film.

Haneke is famous for his static shots where he lets the viewer play voyeur over the scene. While his technique is not used as much as his previous films we are still treated to long takes of this small German village operating as its inhabitants go about their daily lives. You really get a sense of how certain events can spread like the plague to other villagers when you live in such a small town. The children, who are really the main focus of the theme lash out and get the full force of their parents as we are treated to a view of a generation which will soon grow up to be some of the most evil people in history, the Nazis. These kids are ages five through fourteen in 1913. Do the math.

The White Ribbon ended up being a character study of how foul people can be and how witnesses of such events can keep their mouths closed for so long. The symbolism of Nazi Germany is a subtle, under the skin type affair that ties this film in a horrible bow. I highly recommend this film to people who can stomach slow burns and realistic yet disturbing events.

4.5/5