VHS cover for 'Surf II' duplicating the art of the theatrical poster
|Directed by||Randall M. Badat|
|Produced by||George G. Braunstein
|Written by||Randall M. Badat|
|Music by||Peter Bernstein|
|Cinematography||Alex Phillips, Jr.|
|Edited by||Jacqueline Cambas|
|Distributed by||Media Home Entertainment|
|Release dates||January 1984|
|Running time||91 minutes|
Surf II is a 1984 American independent comedy film written and directed by Randall M. Badat and starring Eddie Deezen, Linda Kerridge, Eric Stoltz, Jeffrey Rogers and Peter Isacksen. The plot revolves around Menlo Schwartzer, a maniacal mad scientist who creates a chemically altered soft drink which turns its drinkers into mutant zombie punks as part of a diabolical scheme to rid the beaches of surfers.
Surf II is a contemporary parody of 1960s-style beach party films, mixing elements of the horror, science fiction, surf and teen film genres. Despite what the title implies, there was never a Surf I. Surf II was marketed with a number of subheadings, the most common of which was in fact Surf II: The End of the Trilogy. Although the film was received negatively by critics upon release and has never been officially released on DVD, it has since been rediscovered in recent years on VHS and YouTube, and is now considered a cult film.
- Long ago in "The Good Old Days", surfers ruled. It was bitchin'! That was before the threat of chemical pollution, nuclear waste and the horror of Buzzz Cola.
- Menlo Schwartzer was a high school genius who hated surfers. He invented a weird soft drink, involved local businessmen and set out to rule the coast. He nearly succeeded. This is the story of Buzzz Cola and Menlo's revenge.
Deep in his secret underwater laboratory, teenage mad scientist Menlo Schwartzer plots to rid the beaches of his greatest enemies: surfers. Having been driven to revenge following a cruel practical joke gone awry, Menlo concocts an addictive chemical agent which turns its drinkers into mutated, garbage-ingesting zombie punks. With the reluctant help of his girlfriend Sparkle and a pair of greedy, cigar-chomping soda businessmen, Menlo distributes the chemical under the guise of "Buzzz Cola", and one by one begins to build an army of brainless zombie slaves to do his bidding.
After several of their friends fall victim to Buzzz Cola, airheaded surfer dudes Chuck and Bob begin to piece together the parts of Menlo's evil scheme. Finding no help from their spaced-out parents or the bumbling efforts of the local police force, the two enlist the services of their eccentric science teacher and vow to stop Menlo for good, or else they won't be able to compete in the big surf contest this weekend.
Randall Badat claims that he conceived the idea for Surf II while being under the influence of heavy painkillers he was taking following a surfing injury. After being encouraged by friends to further develop the concept, Badat wrote the screenplay - originally titled Surf Trash - over a single weekend, basing many of the characters off people he knew directly from the So Cal surfer scene, including a man nicknamed "Johnny Big Head". Badat wrote the role of Menlo Schwartzer specifically for Eddie Deezen, having been a fan of his performance in Robert Zemeckis' 1978 film I Wanna Hold Your Hand. After completion, Badat showed the screenplay to producer George G. Braunstein, who agreed to help finance it, eventually selling the project to production company Arista Films at the Cannes Film Festival. Arista originally planned to film Surf II in 3-D; though several pre-production posters were made carrying the title Surf II 3-D, the idea was eventually scrapped.
Surf II was filmed in 29 days during the summer of 1983. The beach scenes were shot at various locations throughout Malibu, Redondo Beach and Hermosa Beach, while interior shots were filmed at a studio in Culver City. Many of the comic actors were allowed to improvise their lines, and several of the odd props throughout the film were contributed by Deezen himself, including a baseball cap with an absurdly elongated brim and an oversized pair of novelty scissors. Among Surf II's crew were cinematographer Alex Phillips, Jr. (Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia), composer Peter Bernstein and Academy Award-winning make up artist Greg Cannom.
Release and reception
Surf II was released theatrically in North America in January 1984. While originally marketed with the title Surf II: The End of the Trilogy, later promotions re-titled the film Surf II: The Nerds Strike Back, following the success of Revenge of the Nerds, which was released that summer. The film screened in Europe in the fall of 1984, retitled in Spain as Locura de playa (roughly translated as "Beach Madness").
Initial critical reviews of Surf II were overwhelmingly negative. In his Movie Guide, Leonard Maltin gave the film a 1.5 out of 5 star rating, writing that the "best joke is its title - there never was a Surf I". Kim Newman quipped in the Monthly Film Bulletin, "traditionally, sequels are never up to the standards of the original: Surf II, which is a sequel to nothing in particular, is therefore worse than anyone could possibly have imagined", calling it "incoherent" and "most dreadful". The Chicago Tribune called it "total trash" and the Los Angeles Times simply remarked "there was no Surf I - and with luck, there'll be no Surf III". In a more contemporary professional review, AllMovie, though having rated Surf II one star out of five, noted that the film is "never dull" and "deranged enough to be memorable", giving praise to the performances of the ensemble cast and summarizing, "Surf II's unbalanced mix of amateurishness and gonzo humor will confound most viewers, but fans of B-movie weirdness will find more than enough memorable moments to keep themselves entertained".
In spite of (or perhaps because of) its critical ravaging, Surf II has developed a following among cult film fans. Cult film website McBeardo's Midnight Movies ranked Surf II on its list of "15 Movies That Deserve Massive Cult Followings", calling the film "serious competition" for the position of the "#1 most off-the-wall and ingenious teen sex comedy of the ’80s". The Scarecrow Video Movie Guide, describes the film as "[packing] more slapstick and early-80s drive-in mania into one movie than any sane mind could imagine", stating bluntly "missing this movie would be like beating yourself in the face with a brick!" Radioactive Reviews, a website specializing in reviewing "The Movies That DVD Forgot", noted that Surf II "doesn't make much sense and doesn't have much of a story", though the film creates "an amusing, cartoonish world that's fun to watch", and would ultimately be of interest to "lovers of [the 80s'] sillier, less-coherent cinematic creations".
On April 17, 2009, the New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles presented a 25th anniversary screening of Surf II hosted by the Alamo Drafthouse, with Badat, Braunstein, Deezen and first assistant director D. Scott Easton in attendance. In 2010, Alamo Drafthouse programmers Zack Carlson and Bryan Connolly prominently featured Surf II in their book Destroy All Movies!!! The Complete Guide to Punks on Film, including interviews with Badat and Deezen. In an interview promoting the book, editor Connolly described Surf II as "the ultimate '80s party film".
Surf II was released on VHS in January 1985 through Media Home Entertainment, who retained its distribution rights until ceasing operations in 1992. Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, Surf II was occasionally shown on late night B-movie program USA Up All Night, and would sometimes be used as late night filler on HBO.
"Up All Nite Films" released what is presumed to be an official DVD release, available in the US on Amazon.com in August 2012. The DVD is a "manufactured on demand" product similar to the Warner Archives versions of hard-to-find films. Due to the nature of the ad-hoc manufacturing, the DVD version availability is not limited to the stock of the initial print runs and is available as of June 2013.
Surf II's soundtrack consists mainly of contemporary punk/New Wave hits and classic surf tunes. The producers had struck a deal with Capitol Records for the release of a soundtrack album, but as a result of the film's critical and financial disappointment, the project was ultimately abandoned.
The following is a list of songs which appear in Surf II:
Danny Elfman of Oingo Boingo was briefly involved with the film's soundtrack production, contributing the exclusive track "Hold Me Back", which has never been given an official release outside of Surf II.
- Guarisco, Donald. "Surf 2 > Review - AllMovie". AllMovie. Retrieved 2010-10-15.
- "Surf II - Release dates". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2010-10-15.
- "Surf II - Full cast and crew". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2010-10-15.
- Randall Badat, George Braunstein, Eddie Deezen, D. Scott Easton (April 17, 2009). 'Surf II' 2009 Reunion Part 3. YouTube. Retrieved 2010-10-15.
- Randall Badat, George Braunstein, Eddie Deezen, D. Scott Easton (April 17, 2009). 'Surf II' 2009 Reunion Part 2. YouTube. Retrieved 2010-10-15.
- Randall Badat, George Braunstein, Eddie Deezen, D. Scott Easton (April 17, 2009). 'Surf II' 2009 Reunion Part 4. YouTube. Retrieved 2010-10-15.
- "'Surf II: The Nerds Strike Back' ad - image on Facebook". Retrieved 2010-10-15.
- "Surf II - Release dates". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2010-10-15.
- Maltin, Leonard (2008). "Surf II". Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide 2009. Signet Books. p. 1347. ISBN 978-0-452-28978-9.
- Newman, Kim (November 1984). "Surf II". Monthly Film Bulletin, vol. 51, no. 610.
- Scott, Vernon (March 1, 1985). "Annual Golden Raspberry Awards". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2010-10-15.
- Gross, Linda (January 17, 1984). "Surfers vs. Zombies in bizarre spoof". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-15.
- "15 Movies That Deserve Massive Cult Followings". www.mcbeardos.com. McBeardo. Retrieved 2010-10-15.
- The Scarecrow Video Movie Guide. Sasquatch Books. 2004. p. 605. ISBN 1-57061-415-6. Retrieved 2010-10-15.
- "Surf II (1984) - Radioactive Reviews". www.radioactivereviews.com. Radioactive Reviews. Retrieved 2010-10-15.
- "CINEMAPOCALYPSE!: Los Angeles - Double Feature". Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. Retrieved 2010-10-15.
- "Destroy All Movies - Interviews". www.punksonfilm.com. 2010.
- "TEC Podcast: Episode 15: Destroy All Movies!". The Enematic Cinematic. November 18, 2010.
- "Boingo rare track histories". Retrieved 2010-10-15.
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