Saturday, April 18, 2009

Surf II (1984, Randall M. Badat)

Eddie Deezen, the evil nerd out to turn Hermosa Beach surfer teens into mindless minions with toxic soda pop in Surf II is easily the least disgusting star of the film including Eric Stoltz. He and everyone else are equally disgusting in Badat's writing/directing one-off which resembles a Mad magazine parody with equal offensiveness and the major vibe of an inside joke. You sort of want Deezen to triumph over them simply for how retarded they are. Luckily all the 60s beach movie, monster movie and monster beach movie roles are covered, and the local high school scientist is around to help them figure out the epidemic of frog-munching surfer subhumanoids.

Stoltz and the other surfer dudes, their bimbos and their party animal sidekick to their parents and the authority figures are sketched hastily and no one resembles a real person. Everyone's doing a bit. Aside from professionals Cleavon Little and Ruth Buzzy, everyone's also an amateur who does surprisingly well for broad comedy, thanks to Badat's propensity for oddball one-liners and quick cuts. Occasionally reality contorts itself and the party animal might drive a totally 80s racing arcade game cabinet out of the room. There's a signed Jerry Lewis glossy in Deezen's underwater laboratory lair and other examples of what Harvey Kurtzman called "eyeball kicks," funny little details to catch in a glance.

The surfers turned zombies (in the traditional slave sense, not corpses) are what really help the premise come to life in the context of a raucous party movie by and for mutants, as in the gross-out eating contest scene where the zombie competitor will eat anything and then so does Stoltz's party animal buddy. The naked breast tally during the beach party scenes is off the charts as well. Most of the time it's a marvel how much effort went into such a thin wisp of an idea for a comedy, which is more or less the point, making a beach party movie with gratuitous breasts and a mad scientist for the 80s.

Sincere irony is definitely not for everyone. The title betrays the standoffishness.

Eddie Deezen, the producers and Badat himself were at the New Beverly cinema when this screened. That's Deezen's real voice, by the way. He seemed to think Leonard Maltin enjoyed this film, but was probably thinking of Laserblast. The producers were kind of morose and barely said anything because this movie wasn't good for any of their careers, especially not Badat who never directed again. Had this been more successful Columbia Records might have released the soundtrack promised in the end credits, featuring three Oingo Boingo tracks and a bunch of other new waver hits mixed in with Beach Boys during the runtime. Too bad!

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