MOVIES WITH MOHAWKS Punk and the movies met when the former was very young. When punk eventually grew up, the movies still insisted on viewing it as a child. Their union, nowadays perverted by mutual materialistic bloat, has been rather like an arranged marriage: long-lasting, with moments of real understanding, but fundamentally fraudulent.
Zack Carlson and Bryan Connolly’s hefty new tome Destroy All Movies!!! The Complete Guide to Punks on Film (Fantagraphics, $35) chronicles this tragicomedic marriage in A-Z encyclopedic form encompassing more than 1,100 movies, 450 pages, and lots of vintage promotional imagery.
Eleven hundred? Really? Well, sorta. For every documentary, concert, film, or serious drama (1998’s American History X, 1986’s Sid and Nancy, etc.) reflecting some genuine subchapter of punk history, there are movies in which ersatz “punks” are cartoonish villains either intentionally funny (1987’s Surf Nazis Must Die) or not (retiree-terrorizers getting their sneers removed in 1985 by Death Wish 3‘s ever-vigilantic Chuck Bronson).
Let us not forget the many sci-fi futures in which everyone is kinda punk (most famously 1981’s The Road Warrior, 1982’s Blade Runner, and 1981’s Escape From New York). Punks seemed a natural fit — at least filmmakers thought so — for horror flicks, whether being sexy-scary (1987’s The Lost Boys) or zombiefied (1985’s Return of the Living Dead).
Destroy All Movies!!! fittingly spotlights such actual punk scene-bred, variably underground talents and movies as Lizzie Borden, 1984’s Repo Man, Jon Moritsugu, 1984’s Desperate Teenage Lovedolls, Derek Jarman, 1982’s Liquid Sky, and Penelope Spheeris. Many of these get the benefit of elongated discussion and related interviews.
But the book also has room for characters confined to just a scene or background — anyone remember punks in 1986’s Hannah and Her Sisters or Crocodile Dundee? The editors do. They’ll likewise remind you when punks infiltrated After School Specials (1987’s The Day My Kid Went Punk), porn (1985’s New Wave Hookers), and the Linda Blair ouevre (too many to mention).
The Roxie hosts book-signing and screening festivities in honor of Destroy All Movies!!!‘s upcoming release. Festivities includes free mixtape and onstage punk haircut giveaways, punk trailers, and 35mm prints of two prime 1980s artifacts. Exhibit One is Times Square (1980), producer Robert Stigwood’s attempt to do for punk-new wave what 1997’s Saturday Night Fever had for disco. His editorial interference muffled the Sapphic tilt of the underage runaway heroines’ BFF relationship, but a guilty pleasure and great double-LP soundtrack (featuring XTC, Patti Smith, the Cure, and more) survived.
Pleasures guiltier still lie in 1984’s Surf II, whose title is the first anarchic joke (there was no Surf I). Its “plot” involves a mad scientist (Eddie Deezen) turning surfer bullies into indiscriminately hungry punk zombies (that again!) via radioactive Buzz Cola. It features a young Eric Stoltz, L.A. mod revivalist band the Untouchables, and Love Boat refugees Ron “Horshack” Palillo and Ruth Buzzi. Unleashed amid umpteen 1984 teen sex comedies, Surf II was dismissed as demented and arbitrary — exactly why we like it now.
DESTROY ALL MOVIES!!!
Nov. 19, 8 p.m., $10
3117 16th St., SF