The Social Experiment: ‘Surf Nazis Must Die’

Jon McCallum is John Carpenter for SPF 50 connoisseurs.
By    June 23, 2015


Torii MacAdams is in pre-production with A Vamp’s Ire

“Who rules the beaches?”
“Surfers rule!”
“Who rules the surfers?”
“Surf Nazis! Surf Nazis!”

Surf Nazis Must Die, a 1987 film distributed by Troma Entertainment, has a simple premise: a massive earthquake has created chaos in beachside towns, and roving gangs have come to power. The Surf Nazis are foremost among them. The film is standard, pre-CGI, b-movie schlock. The plot is almost incomprehensible, the special effects budget (like most 80’s b-movies) had just enough money for gallons of fake blood, a couple explosions, and an unscientific beheading. The acting is wooden.

As for the actual filmmaking, the highest praise I can give is that the primary antagonist, an appropriately new wave version of Adolf Hitler, gets ample time on a surfboard–a memorable, bizarre image. The best thing about the film in its entirety, though, is the soundtrack by Jon McCallum.

In the late 80’s and early 90’s, McCallum worked as a lower profile John Carpenter. The synthy, paranoiac sound is similar, but there’s a wide gulf in quality between the films they scored; Carpenter’s work is rightfully canonized, McCallum composed the soundtrack for a film called Terror Eyes. McCallum’s soundtrack for Surf Nazis Must Die is the platonic ideal for a gritty 80’s cinema: its timbre is black light colored, the long, synth lines are dusky. The obvious highlight of Surf Nazis… is “Nobody Goes Home,” a high-pitched, chaos-inducing guitar riff, but the entirety of the album is perfect for soundtracking knife fights on the beach. If Surf Nazis are to die, then they should die backed by tinny keyboards nostalgists/revivalists strive to recreate.

Those looking to avoid wasting 83 minutes of their lives watching Surf Nazis Must Die can purchase the soundtrack on Strange Disc Records.

We rely on your support to keep POW alive. Please take a second to donate on Patreon!