Ever since surfing entered the mainstream, films have wanted to cash in on its coolness and youth appeal… They have rarely, if ever, got it right.
Hollywood was quick to jump on the bandwagon with the 1960s fad and its revisited it ever since. Although it has appeared in heavyweight films like Apocalypse Now, it is unfortunately synonymous with badly acted (thanks Keanu) films that rely on bikinis as much as waves. So here are some of their worst offending scenes for you to cringe at.
1. Beach Party (1963)
In the first wave of films the lack of sea based footage meant that filmmakers were reliant on on studio based back projection to get their close ups. Beach party is a great example of this with Frankie Avalon’s hair miraculously drying the moment he steps on a surf board. His clean cut image was also something that didn’t reflect the true culture of surfing. Avalon parodied the cinematic technique in the 1980s film ‘Back to the Beach‘.
2. Top Secret (1984)
In the 1980s surfing was very much cool again, it was around this time that Hollywood executives were indulging in vast amounts of cocaine. A very dangerous combination if you want to enjoy a good movie…
‘Top Secret’ was very much a parody (it was made by the Zucker brothers of Airplane and Naked Gun fame) it opened with one of the most bizzare scenes in film history. The star of the film (some guy called Val Kilmer) becomes famous singing Beach Boy-esque songs about combining clay pigeon shooting with surfing. If nothing else it makes for interesting viewing.
3. Surf II (1984)
1984 was obviously a vintage year for surf films. Surf II’s plot revolves around an evil genius’s plan to turn everyone in the world into punk zombies with his malicious soft drink. Obviously only a surfer could foil this plot (or perhaps the FDA)
It has has some very realistic surfboard based fight scenes as witnessed at this point in the the film (please don’t watch more than 30 seconds, your life is too short).
4. Surf Nazis Must Die (1987)
Made by the Troma studio who are renowned for their atrocious films, ‘Surf Nazis Must Die’ might be one of the best titles for one of the worst films ever made. Again we guess that cocaine was used extensively in the production of this film. Either that or acid.
5. Surf Ninjas (1993)
Imagine the scene. It’s 1993 you are a film executive recovering from a big cocaine addiction (there is definitely a theme going on here).
You go through rehab and come out rejuvenated. You want to make fun wholesome film at will be attractive to the whole family.
You eagerly take the most popular areas of modern culture and try and shoehorn them all into one film.
This can be the only reason this film exists. It is the story of a teenage surfer and his computer game obsessed brother. Fighting ninjas. There is no actual surfing included in the film but this opening scene shows just how true to the culture it was.
6. Escape to L.A. (1997)
This scene features Kurt Russell, Peter Fonda and Steve Buscemi… and CGI. None of them come out looking good.
7. Blood Surf (2000)
Drugs must have been prevalent in the development of this gem too. The concept that surfing is so boring that you need to cut your feet so that sharks follow the scent of your blood, just to spice things up, would be the first indication. Then to veer the film into a giant crocodile monster thriller is another.
Not only has Pablo Escobar profited from this film but also the CGI industry. Maybe this establishes a direct link between the two, one that would explain a lot.
8. Die Another Day (2002)
This was the worst decision anyone involved in making a Bond film has ever made (bar some of Roger Moore’s wardrobes). It is widely believed to be one of the worst CGI scenes ever regardless of the surf.
Daniel Craig wouldn’t be seen dead in this scene and that’s a good thing.
Although Hollywood is the worst offender, television has hardly covered itself in glory while using surfing…
9. Batman is challenged to a surf contest by the Joker (1967)
Whatever you can say about Hollywood, I can’t imagine Christopher Nolan getting Batman to surf into Gotham City in this style.
10. Fonzie Jumping a shark (1977)
Not surfing but worth a mention because its sea based theme and the reason the turn of phrasejumping the shark exists. There is a theory that Fonzie was cool because he hung out with Potsie, Ralph and the ginger lad, but when placed next to James Dean, Steve McQueen and Paul Newman he comes across like an utter twat. This clip lends credence to that idea.