There’s basically two kinds of movies you get from Troma. There’s the ones they make themselves that are chock full of unappealing nudity (yes, such a thing exists), cartoonish violence & gore, and more detailed depictions of gross bodily functions than you probably ever wanted to see (or hear) in your lifetime. And then there’s the other kind, the independently made oddities which Troma occasionally picks up and distributes. Mercifully, for my tastes anyway, Surf Nazis Must Die is one of the latter.
Which isn’t to say it’s a good movie. It’s so poorly paced, oddly edited, and awfully acted that it couldn’t be considered a good movie even if it were the only movie ever made and there was nothing else to compare it to. But at least it’s not vomitus. And, believe it or not, if you catch Surf Nazis Must Die in just the right mood, it’s got a couple of things that make it kind of interesting and (almost) enjoyable to watch. For one thing, there’s the throbbing electronic score by Jon McCallum (who, in a telltale sign of just how low budget this movie is, also did the special effects makeup) which manages to create a singular cohesive atmosphere for the film (which is good, because the script sure doesn’t). So if you’re a fan of all those old John Carpenter inspired synthesizer soundtracks, then this one isn’t to be missed. (Of course, if you don’t care for the bloop-bloop bleep-bleep school of scoring, this one will surely make you jam pencils into your ears.)
And then there’s the strange comic book universe the movie creates for itself, sort of like the one you find in Walter Hill’s The Warriors, although admittedly not depicted quite as successfully. As in The Warriors, the back alleys of Surf Nazis Must Die are populated not with Bloods, Crips, Latin Kings or other such real world gangs, but rather with outlandish bands of costumed cretins. There’s The Pipeliners, The all-Japanese Samurai Surfers, and the fashionably attired Designer Waves. And, of course, there’s the Surf Nazis themselves, all adorned with face paint and swastikas and driving around in their shark mouthed van. It’s funny goofy and all the better because the cast plays it dead serious.
Also like in The Warriors, the catalyst for everything that happens in Surf Nazis Must Die is the attempt by one guy to unite the various factions into one undefeatable army. And just like in The Warriors, there’s simply too much distrust and egoism and personal agendas spread amongst the individual gangs for the plan to ever reach fruition. Which works out well for everyone in post-big one California because, after all, who wants to be ruled over by guys with names like Adolph, Mengele, Brutus, Hook, and Smeg? But such internal bickering can be disastrous for groups where unity is considered a fundamental requirement, like say the Body of Christ which is the Church. That’s why Paul scolds the Corinthians in this week’s second reading. “For it has been reported to me about you…” he writes, “that there are rivalries among you. I mean that each of you is saying, “I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,” or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.” Is Christ divided?”
During a 2009 address for the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, Pope Benedict XVI explained that the “greatest danger” to the Church is not external persecution, but the “negative attitudes” of the world that can pollute and “infect the Christian community” from within.” Among the specific dangers he pointed out were selfishness, vanity, pride, and love of money, all things which can lead to disharmony. That’s why the Catechism warns us, “Christ always gives his Church the gift of unity, but the Church must always pray and work to maintain, reinforce, and perfect the unity that Christ wills for her.” We must always be vigilant about our own hang-ups when we assemble, lest we go the way of the Surf Nazis.
Not literally, of course, as in the Church being taken down by a plus sized African American grandma armed with more firepower than Rambo, but you know what I mean.