‘Surf II‘ is a 1984 comedy film that was directed by Randall M. Badat.
Despite the title, there is no such film as Surf or Surf I. The ‘II’ is a joke, a joke that was probably clearer (if no better) under the film’s original title Surf II: The End of the Trilogy.
When reviewing the film Leonard Maltin said that this title was the best joke in it. He may have been right. Although technically a zombie film, the zombies in Surf II aren’t zombies as we’re used to seeing them, they don’t eat flesh and their ‘zombiefication’ wears off after a while. By no stretch of the imagination is Surf II a horror film, it’s a comedy, and to be honest whether it’s even that depends a lot on your sense of humour.
The story follows some high school kids living in a beachside town with what seems to be an entirely surf-based economy. The big surf competition is coming up, the single most important event in the town’s year. But the disappearance of some local surfers threatens to overshadow the event, and things don’t get better when the missing kids turn up pale-faced, inarticulate, eating carburettors and drinking motor oil. What could be wrong with these kids? In the words of their science teacher, “No human I know could eat like that and still surf“.
Eventually someone notices that what all the victims have in common is that they have all been drinking Buzz Cola, a local brand that promotes the surf competition and is made by two of the kids’ fathers, but which contains a secret ingredient that no one knows. It turns out that the cola is made from petroleum by-products and that’s why the zombies mostly crave oil. The man behind the cola is nerd Menlo, victim of a high school practical joke and now dedicated to reaping a terrible revenge on the surfers.
There are two immediate problems with Surf II. Firstly, however terrible Menlo’s revenge maybe, there’s no question that he is the wronged party, bullied to this bizarre form of insanity simply because he is a nerd. That sort of treatment more or less flies in 80s comedies but it grates today. There’s no lesson here that bullying is wrong, quite the reverse, the lesson is that nerds should be suppressed and there’s nothing worse than being ugly.
The second problem is that, cards on the table, if you’re not a fan of Police Academy (1984), Revenge of the Nerds (1984) and other uniquely 80s comedies, then you are not going to find Surf II even remotely funny. The comedy is broad and about as subtle as you’d expect from a film in which one of the characters eats bird crap and in which the school principal and police chief are named Mr Daddio and Chief Boyardie respectively. If that doesn’t strike you as funny then the occasional glimpses of topless dancing and scenes of gratuitous surfing are not going to be enough to rescue it. (The rear projection used in the surfing scenes is so unbelievably bad that I have to assume it’s part of the joke.)
What has worked best for Surf II is the passage of time. When it came out it was the weakest of its genre, the runt of the litter in a litter that was always an acquired taste. But now, decades later it has acquired a cult following through its badness and uniqueness. There’s no shortage of 80s teen sex comedies, but there aren’t many in which cola turns surfers into zombies. And one positive thing you can say about Surf II is that, while it is never engaging, it’s also never dull. On the other hand, if you’re a horror fan then don’t even bother; this is not a real a zombie film.
Watch the trailer for ‘Surf II’ below:
Watch the full movie:
Written by: Robin Bailes