6 Must See Movies For Any Self Respecting Punk Fan

Good tunes, tragic characters, and a heavy dose of nihilism – these are the essential ingredients for any punk rock movie.  Below are 6 flicks you need to see to seriously boost your punk rock cred.

1. “Suburbia”

The Trailer:

The Story:
A bunch of suburban runaways squat in a house that they’ve branded “The Rejected”.  They commit some petty crimes, make friends, and go to shows. The movie doesn’t paint the prettiest picture of the punk scene, however, it might be an honest one.  In 1984, when the movie was made, punk rockers had yet to become a familiar stereotype in the world of cinema, so the movie gives the characters real motivations and origin stories.  It takes the time to explore the society that the characters had grown up in, and why they might choose to live in an abandoned house over a warm suburban Californian home. That’s not to say that the punks that populate this movie are in anyway saintly victims of bad circumstances – they’re often racist, homophobic, and sexist to the point of jeering and laughing as a girl is assaulted in front of them.  However, if you can bear the characters’ various flaws, “Suburbia” tells a good story and is overall a pretty entertaining movie.  Just know going into in that none of it can end well.

The Tunes:
They really covered their bases in this one.  D.I., T.S.O.L. and The Vandals all make appearances and play the shows that the character frequent in this movie.   And although he never plays a note, Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers plays the character Razzle.  So there’s that.

 

2. “Return of the Living Dead”

The Trailer:

The Story:
Zombies.  That’s all you really need to know, but I’ll elaborate anyway. Basically, a punk named Freddy is a new worker in a warehouse.  He and his supervisor accidentally unleash a failed military experimental gas, turning a body into a zombie.  Freddy’s friends come to pick him up from his shift, and the zombification spreads.

The Tunes:
This movie’s 90 minutes are really choked full of solid punk songs.  The Cramps, The Damned, T.S.O.L., 45 Grave, The Flesh Eaters, The Tall Boys, and the Jet Black Berries all lend their voices to this soundtrack.

 

3. “SLC Punk”

The Trailer:

The Story:
Punks seems to either love or hate this movie. Steve-O and Heroin Bob reside in Salt Lake City, Utah living the punk rock life and rebeling against the conservative culture around them. Steve-O has a number of soliloquies in which he talks about what punk rock means to him, his hatred of posers, his motivations, and the events of his life at the time.  It’s very Shakespearian, I assure you. The characterization and events get cartoonish at times, especially when our narrator pontificates about scene-on-scene violence and the “kooks” that populate the city he finds so dull. Never the less, its not uncommon to be asked if you’ve seen this movie whenever you mention that you like punk music, and it will be followed up with an inquiry as to what you thought about the much maligned ending (we won’t spoil it for you if you haven’t seen the film yet).

The Tunes:
Early ‘80’s punk and ska staples abound.  The Stooges, The Ramones, and The Specials all contribute multiple tracks.  The Exploited’s “Sex and Violence” plays over the opening credits, and The Vandals, The Dead Kennedys, Adolescents, Generation X, and Blondie make this soundtrack read like a “Big Punk Hits of the ‘70’s and ‘80’s” compilation.

 

4. “Repo Man”

The Trailer:

The Story:
Otto  is a suburban Califorian punk who gives the finger to his boss at the grocery store and finds a new job with a repo agency. He fights a bunch of criminal punks, government agents and other repo guys in pursuit of a car with a huge bounty on it. What’s so special about this car, you might ask?  In a word: Aliens.  Anyways, it’s pre-Breakfast Club Emilio Estevez in a wild goose chase ride packed full of truly excellent quotes.

The Tunes:
Although the story like is only tangentially punk-rock- related, the soundtrack really carries the theme. Black Flag, The Circle Jerks, Suicidal Tendencies and Fear really help to give the movie it’s SoCal punk feel.  Big surprise, the songs go really well with the landscape of sweltering heat, run down neighborhoods and rampant car theft.

 

5. “Sid and Nancy”

The Trailer:

The Story:
Whether you love or hate the Sex Pistols, you have to admit they had a lasting influence on the “punk rock image”.  This movie plays off of mainstream audience’s expectations; what could have been a stop-and-stare freak show came out like an art house movie. Although the truthfulness in the portrayal of the real people in the movie is up for debate, the characters fit perfectly into their grey, vandalized and nihilistic setting.  The movie does a great job of conveying a story of stardom, addiction, and volatile love, but is ultimately a fictionalized story, not a biopic.

The Tunes:
Joe Strummer of The Clash lends his talents to most of this soundtrack, as a solo composer, and with his band, The Pogues. The Circle Jerks also contributed a track.  The true curiosity is that in a movie about The Sex Pistols, the band itself never plays a note. There are many performances by the actors playing the band throughout the movie, and Gary Oldman, who played Sid Vicious, recorded a couple tracks for the film, but never will you hear about anarchy and submission from the mouth of Johnny Rotten himself during the 112 minutes of this movie.


6. “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School” (Best Worst Punk Rock Movie)

The Trailer:

The Story:
Oh boy.  This movie is The Ramones big debut on the silver screen. It’s great, because of how corny it is, but the Ramones were not actors. It’s a story about a bunch of rock and roll loving high schoolers who rebel against their school’s administration with the help of the Ramones. The plotline comes off as a cut and paste job of a bunch of teen-movie tropes, but it’s still enjoyable if you like excessive silliness.  This is also the movie that brought us the least original Ramones song, and that’s saying something.

The Tunes:
Not surprisingly the film soundtrack features a great number of tunes from the Ramones but it’s also peppered with tracks from a handful of late 70’s notables including MC5, Devo, and Alice Cooper.

 

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Wait, where’s “American Hardcore”? And “Another State of Mind”? Well, there’s a list of The Best Punk Rock Documentaries coming up soon, so don’t get your undies in a bunch.

Anything else we missed?  Tell us in the comments!


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51 Comments

  1. wastedpotential
    WASTEDPOTENTIAL12/12/2013 5:51 AM | Permalink

    HARDCORE LOGO!

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