If it wasn’t for the book Teen Movie Hell, I would have never discovered this film. I feel like my life is infinitely better for watching this, a movie that surprised me every single step of the way with how out there it was willing to be. Every time I thought that it had reached the limit, it climbed over, under and above it.
The movie starts with these words:
“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.”
This is a movie that is willing to be every genre. It’s a parody, a teen movie, a slasher, a zombie movie and more. It’s all about Menlo, played by Eddie Deezen. A practical joke went wrong — an 80’s slasher trope if I ever heard of one — and he’s now putting chemicals into Buzzz Cola that turns drinkers into zombie punks that eat garbage. Yet even though he’s angry at the world, he still has a girlfriend named Sparkle (the beyond beautiful Linda Kerridge from Fade to Black).
After several of their friends become zombies, surfers Chuck (Eric Stoltz) and Bob try to fix things, along with their weird science teacher, all so they can do the big surf contest.
There are plenty of fun spot the actor moments: Tom Villard (Popcorn, High School U.S.A.); Corinne Bohrer, who is pretty much a teen movie all-star with appearances in Zapped!, Joysticks, Revenge of the Nerds IV: Nerds in Love and the fourth Police Academy movie); Cleavon Little from Blazing Saddles as the principal; 70’s heartthrob Lyle Waggoner as police chief Boyardie; Ron “Horseshack” Panillo as Inspector Underwear; America’s first ska band The Untouchables and an early Brinke Stevens appearance.
The parents in this film are played by an all-star cast. And by that, I mean all-star in my world of 70’s TV and exploitation adoration. Chuck’s parents are played by Morgan Paull (the only person I know to be in both Mitchell and Blade Runner) and Laugh-In‘s Ruth Buzzi. Bob’s mom is played by Brandis Kemp from Fridays and Biff Manard from the first two Trancers movies. And Jocko’s folks are Terry Kiser, Bernie himself from Weekend at Bernie’s, and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson model/actress Carol Wayne.
Ironically, Wayne would die from accidental drowning after an argument with companion David E. Durston. It gets weirder. Durston was also present when Diane Linkletter jumped out of a window, a suicide that her father, TV star Art Linkletter blamed on LSD. Want to go one step stranger? Durston is also the director of I Drink Your Blood.
Writer/director Randall Badat came up with this movie after suffering a surf injury where the board went into his butt cheek. While enjoying heavy doses of painkillers, he came up with a movie that he called “Frankie and Annette Go to Hell.” He wrote the film in two days, saying, “We set out to make the most brain-dead movie of all time. In that regard, I believe we succeeded.” His agent told him that it was, “the worst piece of shit.”
He still made his movie, permitting actors free reign with their characters and dialogue. And somehow, he was able to get cinematograph Alex Phillips, Jr. (Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, Demonoid, Fade to Black, The Devil’s Rain!), composer Peter Bernstein (who worked on both Hot Dog…The Motion Picture and Hamburger the Movie) and make up artist Greg Cannom (who won the Academy Award for Best Makeup and Hairstyling for 2018’s Vice; pretty good for a guy who did effects for this movie and Dr. Alien).
In Destroy All Movies!!! The Complete Guide to Punks on Film, Badat says that, “The target audience loved it. Their parents hated it. My family hated it. People that I was doing other business with hated it. I remember going to meetings and people would find out that I’d done this movie and that was it”.
This is a movie that can have slasher-esque sequences mixed with cops blowing up buildings and barely harming the heroes, along with a sequence where a punk is dissected and a Dick Dale record is found inside his stomach, like something out of Jaws. It’s pretty much the dumbest and smartest movie you’ve ever seen, often at the same time.
It also has a soundtrack that features the expected — The Beach Boys, The Ventures and Dick Dale — with bands like Oingo Boingo (Danny Elfman was briefly involved in producing the soundtrack) and The Circle Jerks.
If you haven’t seen Surf II, you don’t need to see the previous film. It doesn’t exist. If you find that funny, then you’re on the right wavelength for this movie.