Remember surf movies in the ‘90s? The golden age for surf videos on the small screen. Yes, yes, of course, Taylor Steele’s Poor Specimen empire rose to dominance in celluloid’s last-gasp decade, but as well-done as Steele’s movies were, I don’t remember watching them all that often. But I absolutely destroyed my VHS tapes from the …Lost crew by watching and rewinding On The Road With Spike over and over and over again. Josh Pomer’s The Kill series made me want to move to Santa Cruz. And Jesse Schluntz’s TearDevils trilogy inspired more desperate afternoon blown-out surf sessions in my life than any other movie ever made. The performance level of the surfing in these lo-fi schlockfests was typically nowhere near what the New School was pulling off in Steele’s Momentum-era work—but so what? These movies made me laugh, they had great soundtracks, and they made surfing look so damn fun.
I hadn’t realized how much I missed movies like that until I watched Metal Neck. Filmed by Matt Tromberg and featuring Droid, Creed McTaggart, Ford Archbold, and “Metal” Jimmy Pitts, Metal Neck is a refreshing dip into the waters of not giving a fuck. It is a salve for the pain of enduring overwrought surf “films” that are often artistically interesting, I guess, but are an absolute chore to watch. Metal Neck offers no slow-mo shots of twisting aerials. A delightful dearth of single maneuver rapid-fire cut scenes. No pensive stares out of an airplane window. No lengthy voiceovers pondering the meaning of surfing, or art, or travel, or anything. This is how it should be. I don’t want to be questioning the meaning of anything at all while enjoying a surf movie. I do, however, want to watch a fat, drunk Metal Jimmy twirling fire sticks on the beach. I don’t need more French pop on surf movie soundtracks. I do need more Pink Floyd, Devo, and Twisted Sister. And more Droid. I need more of Droid’s surfing in my life. Metal Neck, God bless it, provides.
Now then, surf filmmakers, watch Metal Neck. Better yet, watch TearDevils, take notes, and remember: surf movies are supposed to be fun. They are supposed to make the viewer want to surf. I like that Ford Archbold probably wouldn’t make it out of a ‘QS heat. His surfing is interesting, it’s certainly unique, and it’s something I can relate to. Watching a surf movie and thinking to yourself, “Hey, I think I could do that turn—that could be me,” and, “Hey, that looks like the beach down the street,” is pretty damn cool. There’s a reason, after all, that amateur porn is so popular. Surf porn could use a bit more amateurism every once in a while too.
Surfing—and by extension, surf movies—has the tendency to take itself way too seriously. I’m bored of serious. Give me Ozzy Osbourne cameos, milk vomiting, and Metal Jimmy. Give me relatable surfing. Metal on the soundtrack is awesome. Pranks are heartily welcomed. Give me back the fun.