We now move onto release number three, the 1987 film Surf Nazis Must Die. Directed by Peter George, the story concerns a group of neo-Nazis who control the beaches around California after an earthquake caused the coastlines to crumble. After killing an Afro-American jogger named Leroy, Leroy’s elderly mother arms herself with a stash of weapons and takes to the beaches to have her revenge on the ultra right-wing surfers.
Although on paper the plot looks tailor-made for a company like Troma, the film’s promise is never quite delivered in the way that you would expect from the mainstream-baiting title, and whilst Surf Nazis Must Die doesn’t have the instantly flamboyant look or feel of Class of Nuke ‘em High or the downtrodden gloominess of Combat Shock, it is easy to see why Troma chose to add it to their distribution roster – despite it being made in the 80s, how many other distributors would have taken on a film where a gang of Neo-Nazis randomly kill a black man? That all-important social commentary raising its head again, it seems.
The lesser of the three releases when it comes to content the Arrow package does boast some fantastic new artwork, as well as six deleted scenes, the original trailer and interviews with Peter George and producer Robert Tinnell.
So what does Lloyd have up his sleeve for the future? There have been rumblings of Nuke ‘em High and The Toxic Avenger making a return in brand new adventures. “We’re revisiting Class of Nuke ‘em High (with Return to Nuke ‘em High) with Starz Media partnering with us, and it’s going to start shooting – knock on wood – in August. We’ve been planning for it and rehearsing since May and that is on its way. I think it’ll be a really good film. As for Toxie 5, I haven’t been able to write or have written… I’ve been working with people on it… The Toxic Twins… but I haven’t been able to get a script that I really believe in, and we don’t make any money so there’s no purpose in me making a movie… there’s no purpose in my making a movie unless I really believe in it.”
He continues “The script for Return to Nuke ‘em High is really exciting. The themes of bullying in schools, and all the other themes in there, excite me and it’s ready, it’s hot and it’s gonna be a wonderful Troma movie that everybody who’s working on it… everybody who’s sleeping on the floor and learning how to defecate in a paper bag in order to make this movie… everybody believes in it. Y’know, we’ve had about a hundred people who have come from all over the world, who are unpaid, coming up to Niagara Falls – we’re filming in Niagara Falls, New York, which is an interesting location. But everybody is totally devoted to the project. As for The Toxic Twins, we just haven’t been able to create the kind of script I can get behind so I’ll go back to it.”
But how about the much-touted remake of The Toxic Avenger? Lloyd goes into hyperdrive mode at the mention of the new version of his most popular creation “Akiva Goldsman, Steven Pink and Richard Saperstein are… Akiva Goldsman won the Oscar for writing A Beautiful Mind and he’s a big-time producer of things like… Batman & Robin (laughs). He either produced or directed it, I can’t remember, but he’s a major player, very talented. Steven Pink wrote Grosse Point Blank and High Fidelity… or directed those. I think he wrote them and directed them and he’s recently directed Hot Tub Time Machine, which I loved. Anyway, he’s written the remake of Toxie and supposedly they’re gonna spend about £100, 000, 000 (on it). So it looks like… well, you never know with the establishment what’s going to happen but if they do it it’s gonna be a big deal.”
Lloyd also makes a very good point about the impact that The Toxic Avenger had and continues to have: “The Toxic Avenger, in terms of history, was the only movie where a young boy’s hand gets crushed by the wheel of an automobile (and) then gets made into a children’s environmentally correct cartoon show. It played on the BBC back in the 90s. And The Toxic Avenger has since had about two-hundred items licensed based on it that are aimed at small children. We obviously had nothing to do with it but Marvel Comics did a comic book… there was children’s games, pyjamas and lunch boxes, and a lot of it is still going. And recently The Toxic Avenger was made into an off-Broadway musical with the music by Bon Jovi. It won the Best off-Broadway Musical and now it’s coming to Broadway!”
Which is a pretty amazing thing when you think about it. So if you’ve yet to check out Troma and it’s pretty expansive catalogue of releases, the three repackaged movies from Arrow Films are a pretty good place to start. Even if you’re something of a connoisseur it’s pretty doubtful you’ve seen these films in such a lovingly restored way. But if you still need a bit of convincing then Lloyd has a few words about Troma’s legacy and the influence his baby has had on a whole host of modern film makers as he proudly acknowledges: “Troma has got a very big footprint. It’s pretty famous and has had a huge influence on Peter Jackson, Quentin Tarantino and Takashi Miike. All those guys love Troma and the footprint of Troma and the influence is huge. The South Park guys were discovered by us, and Quentin and Peter Jackson talk about Troma. Guillermo Del Toro loves Troma. All those guys love Troma and want us to succeed.” And so say we all.