Some movies confound me.
Take, for example, writer / director Randall M. Badat’s 1983 comedy Surf II. For starters, there is no Surf I… this is a stand-alone movie. Then there’s the strange blending of genres, merging a surf flick with a teen monster movie (zombies, to be precise). And despite its rather impressive cast, including a young Eric Stoltz (making only his second big-screen appearance, after 1982’s Fast Times at Ridgemont High), the film is a jumbled mess, with only the framework of a story and no genuine attempt to string scenes together in any logical way.
Surprisingly, none of this prevents Surf II from being an entertaining film. I was scratching my head as I watched it, but smiling for hours after it ended.
Chuck (Stoltz) and Bob (Jeffrey Rogers) are gearing up for the big surf contest. But when two bodies wash ashore, police chief Boyardee (Lyle Waggoner) threatens to close the beach and cancel the competition.
To make matters worse, Jocko O’Finley (Tom Villard), a friend of Chuck’s and Bob’s and the brother of their girlfriends Cindy Lou (Corrine Bohrer) and Lindy Sue (Lucinda Dooling), has been acting strange, dressing like a punk rocker and drinking everything from motor oil to the very disgusting Buzz soda.
What nobody knows is that Menlo Schwartzer (Eddie Deezen), who is seeking revenge against all surfers, has changed the formula for Buzz. Now, whoever drinks it will become a mindless zombie! With the help of Chuck’s dad (Morgan Paull) and Bob’s dad (Biff Maynard), as well as his reluctant girlfriend Sparkle (Linda Kerridge), Menlo intends to make Buzz soda the official soft drink of the surf contest, and enter his zombie hordes as contestants! If Chuck and Bob do not stop him, Menlo may even take over the entire town.
Surf II was not Eric Stoltz’s finest hour. He’s passable as Chuck and nothing more. And despite being a comedy, the film doesn’t have all that many laugh-out-loud moments. In fact, I’m struggling to remember a single one. What it does have, though, is Eddie Deezen as a mad scientist. His scenes are the film’s most entertaining.
In addition, there are a handful of WTF moments scattered throughout Surf II that are so outlandish they’re almost intriguing. The best has Tom Villard’s Jocko, in full zombie mode, hanging out on the beach with his fellow punks. Chuck’s and Bob’s good friend, the always mute Johnny Big Head (Joshua Cadman), sits down across from Jocko, as if challenging him to an eating contest. With that, they start consuming seaweed, discarded debris, and pretty much everything they can get their hands on, each trying to out-do the other.
I also got a kick out of Cleavon Little, who plays high school principal Daddy-O, a clear (and pretty witty) reference to Glenn Ford’s schoolteacher in the ‘50s classic Blackboard Jungle. Also turning up in supporting roles are Ruth Buzzi (as Chuck’s mom) and Welcome Back, Kotter’s Horshack, Ron Palillo, who plays Chief Boyardee’s deputy. Another strength of Surf II is the music, which features hit tunes like The Beach Boys’ “Surfin’ U.S.A”, Thomas Dolby’s “She Blinded Me With Science”, and “Talk Talk” by the band of the same name.
When reflecting on Surf II in the 2010 book Destroy All Monsters, writer / director Badat said “We set out to make the most brain-dead movie of all time. In that regard, I believe we succeeded”. Sure, Surf II isn’t a great movie, or a smart one. In fact, it’s bad and kinda dumb. But in a fun way.
Rating: 6 out of 10
Yo, Doc! How's it going brother?ReplyDelete
I've been a fan of you and Jay and all the rest since The Weekly Horror Movie Podcast. And, of course, the horror sweetheart himself, Gregamortis over on Land of the Creeps. I hardly ever reach out, but I've gone by such monikers as Shenanigan Flanagan and Lord Phantasma the few times I have. You can just call me Cole though!
I'm re-listening to some of the old Weekly Horror Movie Podcast episodes, hearing you talk about the blog, and I decided I'm gonna have a go at catching up on some of these movies you've covered, horror and otherwise. There's a whole wealth of insight on this awesome blog that I haven't tapped into and I'm psyched to get started.
But anyways man, I'm so glad to find you still posting here. I might end up leaving comments on years old posts as I dig into this awesome journey you've taken, so keep an eye out for me haha. Keep the blog up forever dude! Fans like me appreciate the hell out of what you do over here.
Thank you so much for the kind words, and for being such a great listener over the years! I do remember you, and am both humbled and honored you decided to check out my blog.
Please do leave comments on older posts... I would love to hear your opinions of the movies.
Thanks again for the awesome comment, and all the best to you, my friend!