A combination of post apocalypse, horror, and Blaxploitation, this 1980’s film has become an underrated cult classic with the help of the Troma Team.

After a big earthquake has hit, the California beaches have been ruled by various gangs. However, one group intends to take over the beaches. They are known as the Surf Nazis and members have named themselves after the World War II Third Reich. They even have their own following amongst children with Adolf being the leader of this band of surfing terrorists.

Meanwhile, the result of the earthquake leaves Eleanor Washington homeless, forcing her son to take her to a nursing home until he can provide enough to get them their own home. However, one fateful day, Leroy is murdered by the Surf Nazis. When Eleanor discovers that her son has been killed, she begins a quest for revenge. While Eleanor prepares to avenge her son, the Surf Nazis have waged war with the other surfer gangs, eliminating everyone in their midst. Just when the Surf Nazis think they now rule the beaches, they are about to face an even bigger threat: one really ticked off mother!

New York-based Troma Entertainment may now be known as one of the top independent film studios today with their meshing of horror and comedy made to have quite a following. However, not only are they are a production company, they are responsible for distributing indie films as well. In 1986, they picked this film up from a small company called The Institute, founded by this film’s director, producer, and editor. And in true Troma-tic fashion, their marketing has given the film the push it needed to become an underrated 80’s cult classic.

The film is highlighted by its story of bringing a modern day version of the Third Reich and replacing World War II Germany with a post-apocalyptic California. While the Surf Nazis are named after the likes of Hitler, Braun, and Mengele, only Adolf’s real name is revealed when rookie member Smeg’s mother berates her son about being a member of the team. The opening of the film reveals Adolf giving a talk to his “youth” about ruling the beaches. They think they are the ultimate power and use extreme methods to show that power towards the other surfers.

However, the film’s major twist is that instead of having the other surfer gangs forming the Allied Powers to stop the Surf Nazis, the film’s central protagonist is that of an African-American mother who is out for revenge when the Surf Nazis kill her son. In a twist that truly pays homage to the classic 1970’s Blaxploitation action films, Gail Neely is exciting to watch as she transitions from heartbroken mother to heroic avenger as her son’s death sets a raging fire within her waiting to come out. Armed with a pistol and grenades, the final twenty minutes of the film revolves around Eleanor ready to give the Surf Nazis some of “mama’s home cooking”.

Surf Nazis Must Die is truly an underrated 80’s mix of classic 70’s Blaxploitation, horror, and action that is highlighted by Gail Neely as the revenge seeking mother and Barry Brenner as the leader of this modern-day Third Reich.



Troma Entertainment presents a film from The Institute. Director: Peter George. Producer: Robert Tinnell. Writers: Peter George and Jon Ayre. Cinematography: Rolf Kestermann. Editing: Craig A. Colton.

Cast: Gail Neely, Robert Harden, Barry Brenner, Dawn Wildsmith, Michael Sonye, Joel Hile, Gene Mitchell, Tom Shell, Bobbie Breese.