AUDIO REVIEW: SURF NAZIS MUST DIE (1987) (VINYL LP) / COMPOSER: JON MCCALLUM / PUBLISHER: STRANGE DISC / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
As soon as Opening Titles kicks in, Jon McCallum's score for the Troma exploitation film, Surf Nazis Must Die, is off to the races. It's an amazing piece, managing to work within the standard tropes of '80s movie synth, while still blowing the roof off of expectations.
McCallum sustains a sense of high energy by utilising effects that mimic the sounds of the beach and ocean where the film takes place. Across the River incorporates a burbling, watery background, while Visit to the Morgue generates undulations that come crashing down like pipeline waves. The Youth of Tomorrow uses a synthesised whistle years before Mark Snow would make such a thing famous with his X-Files theme.
Nobody Goes Home, by Andrew Spindler, was re-recorded for this release, as the original masters were lost. The only noticeable difference is that it's far louder and a bit dirtier than McCallum's work, with its clean electronics. Honestly, though, that can be laid down to the fact that it's operating in a more analogue space with the electric guitar screaming over an insistent beat.
It's a continuous, propulsive set of music that absolutely suits the film, and quite honestly surpasses it. The film's more a series of set-pieces than a coherently plotted story, but McCallum's score creates a cohesive backdrop for the insane visuals unfolding on-screen. The album also does an excellent job of winding down, with the woozy, off-kilter Before the Fight leading perfectly into Chase Through the Boatyard, culminating in the droning beauty of The Last Wave.
Definitely recommended for any fan of '80s trash cinema, or for those who wish Giorgio Moroder had really let his freak flag fly a little more often. The LP is on heavy-duty 180-gram vinyl, in a gatefold sleeve. The liner notes, from director Peter George, composer McCallum, and others who worked on the film, offer up more than a few insights into the process of making this cult favourite.