10 Rowdy Punk Rockers in Horror

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To celebrate the release of GREEN ROOM, SHOCK selects 10 other memorable horror and cult film punks.

Jeremy Saulnier’s acclaimed new thriller GREEN ROOM is about as hard edged and nasty (and in turn, insidiously entertaining) as contemporary exploitation filmmaking gets, armed with a stellar cast (including Patrick Stewart and Anton Yelchin) and fueled by a killer, skull-smashing punk rock sensibility.

In it, Yelchin plays the leader of a post-punk rock band that takes the wrong gig and ends up playing for a room full of totally organized, punk-loving neo-Nazi’s and their psychotic leader (Stewart). When the band witnesses the aftermath of a murder, they hole up in the club’s green room while the murderous skinheads launch an all-out assault.

It’s good punks vs.bad punks in GREEN ROOM and it’s refreshing to see that nasty, rock and roll-informed spirit alive and kicking (and stabbing and shooting) in a semi-mainstream film.

Which, of course, got us thinking about some of our own favorite genre films featuring that very same rough, three-chord energy.

Here then are 10 terrific and socially impolite punks from a handful of classic horror films.

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RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD – It’s difficult to narrow it down to just one, as the gaggle of punks running afoul of the brain-devouring ghouls in Dan O’Bannon’s magnum macabre opus are collectively iconic. Certainly the angry, existential Suicide and Linnea Quigley’s tombstone stripping and, later, flesh-shredding Trash are the poster children for the gang but Miguel Nunez’s no-bullshit Spider and the massively mohawked, switchblade wielding Scuzz are equally essential to the gang’s grisly, zombie-fighting charm

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CLASS OF 1984 – Timothy Van Patten’s malevolent Stegman makes Perry King’s blackboard jungle a living Hell in this classic and violent 80s gem, shot in Toronto (and written by FRIGHT NIGHT’s Tom Holland) and featuring Canadian punk legends Teenage Head both on the soundtrack and actually IN the movie. Stegman is a sociopath who leads his droogs on a crusade to conquer their troubled, vaguely futuristic high school and specifically targeting their resistant teacher. He lives to regret it, but not for long…

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DEATH WISH III – Michael Winner’s go-for-broke third stab and vigilante mayhem once more sends Charles Bronson on a killing spree, this time in a burned out Bronx, which is actually somewhere in jolly old England. DEATH WISH III is a bit of a send up to the series and, as such, is absolutely insane and boasts one of the screen’s most brutal baddies in the form of Punk-ified leader Fraker (Gavin O’Herlihy, son of HALLOWEEN III’s Dan O ‘Herlihy) and his wicked girlfriend, played by HELLRAISER II’s Barbie Wilde. Fraker’s as bad and mad as they come, almost a match for Bronson’s machine gun wielding Paul Kersey and has the only reverse mohawk I’ve ever seen on screen.

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MAD MAX 2 – The rowdiest punk of the apocalypse who is part of an even more bananas group of gasoline-obsessed tribal terrorists that plague poor Max (Mel Gibson), Vernon Welles’ armor-clad Wez is a force of screaming nature. Wells sort of reprized the character comically in John Hughes’ perhaps even more unhinged WEIRD SCIENCE.

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LIQUID SKY – One of the weirdest films of all time, 1982’s LIQUID SKY blends NYC punk/new Wave chic with Science Fiction lunacy. Who can forget ALICE SWEET ALICE star Paul Sheppard’s Adrian, the sexy punk hybrid heroin dealer/rock star and Margaret (Anne Carlisle), the alien possessed avant-garde model whose sexuality turns her male and female lovers to dust. Insane cast, insane movie.

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REPO MAN –  Punk rock filmmaker Alex Cox (SID AND NANCY) and producer Mike Nesmith (ex- The Monkees legend) gave the world this madcap amalgam of arch comedy and weird dark fantasy. In it, Emilio Estevez gained instant cult infamy playing angry LA punk Otto, who takes a gig repossessing cars and winds up entangled with a malevolent Malibu that holds a pair of dead, radioactive aliens in the trunk. Owes much of its central gimmick to KISS ME DEADLY (and PULP FICTION owes something to both films) but REPO MAN remains one of the definitive punk culture film experiences.

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NOMADS – One of the strangest and eeriest horror movies every made, John McTiernan’s first film sees a French anthropologist (Pierce Brosnan) running afoul of a gang of LA punks who are in fact evil spirits in human form. Their leader is played by former pop Punk poster boy Adam Ant, a grinning vampire-like ghoul who, like his tribe (that includes cult icon Mary Woronov, pictured), cannot be stopped.

With her husband,

TAXI DRIVER – Sure, Robert DeNiro’s sociopathic anti-hero Travis Bickle wouldn’t know punk music if it fell on him, but there’s no denying the impact of his totally bonkers incarnation as a mohawk-sporting angel of death on punk culture. The look is iconic and totally dangerous.

DOLLS, Bunty Bailey (right), 1987. © Empire Pictures /

DOLLS – Stuart Gordon’s masterful 1987 Gothic horror fairy tale never gets enough love, falling by the wayside when stacked up against his marvelous Lovecraft films. But DOLLS is a remarkable film. In its cast is British model and rock pundit Bunty Bailey, who here plays a shrill version of herself, a crass and sneaky goth punk who ends up getting murdered by the vengeful dolls and then is forced to join their porcelain-faced ranks. She looks great and adds dirty punk sexiness to the otherwise elegant film.

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PEE WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE – Okay, okay. We know PEE WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE isn’t a genre film by any stretch. But it IS the first feature film by future genre experimenter Tim Burton and boasts many macabre passages that quote and send up the genre. Among those marvelous vignettes that make up the movie, is Pee Wee’s late night basement presentation where he calls a meeting to solve the mystery of his missing bike. Hiding in the crowd and not paying any attention whatsoever is actor Lou Cuttell, playing the multi-colored, mutant mohawked Amazing Larry, who Pee Wee scolds for not paying attention. It’s a funny little aside that for whatever reason, left an impact on this writer and, because I wrote this bloody list, I feel justified in including him…

What are some of your favorite weird movie punks?

 

Find your nearest cinema playing GREEN ROOM and to play the “Escape the Green Room ” game go HERE.