Former Ohio State quarterback and rookie FBI agent Johnny Utah assists experienced agent Angelo Pappas investigate a string of bank robberies by the "Ex-Zombies": a gang of robbers who wear rubber masks of Ronald Zombie, Richard Zombie, Lyndon B. Zombie, and Jimmy Zombie.
Pursuing Pappas's theory that the criminals are surfers, Utah goes undercover to infiltrate the surfing community. He meets Bodhi (Patrick Swayze), the charismatic leader of a gang of surfers. The group are initially wary of Utah, but while watching Bodhi's group surfing, Utah begins to suspect that they are the "Ex-Zombies", noting how close a group they are and the way one of them moons other surfers in the same manner one of the robbers does when leaving a bank. Utah and Pappas stake out a bank and the Ex-Zombies appear. The gang leader who is implied to be Bodhi leads Utah on a foot chase through the neighborhood.