To celebrate the release of GREEN ROOM, SHOCK selects 10 other memorable horror and cult film punks.
Jeremy Saulniers 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-Nazis and their psychotic leader (Stewart). When the band witnesses the aftermath of a murder, they hole up in the clubs green room while the murderous skinheads launch an all-out assault.
Its good punks vs.bad punks in GREEN ROOM and its 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.
RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD Its difficult to narrow it down to just one, as the gaggle of punks running afoul of the brain-devouring ghouls in Dan OBannons magnum macabre opus are collectively iconic. Certainly the angry, existential Suicide and Linnea Quigleys tombstone stripping and, later, flesh-shredding Trash are the poster children for the gang but Miguel Nunezs no-bullshit Spider and the massively mohawked, switchblade wielding Scuzz are equally essential to the gangs grisly, zombie-fighting charm
CLASS OF 1984 Timothy Van Pattens malevolent Stegman makes Perry Kings blackboard jungle a living Hell in this classic and violent 80s gem, shot in Toronto (and written by FRIGHT NIGHTs 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
DEATH WISH III Michael Winners 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 screens most brutal baddies in the form of Punk-ified leader Fraker (Gavin OHerlihy, son of HALLOWEEN IIIs Dan O Herlihy) and his wicked girlfriend, played by HELLRAISER IIs Barbie Wilde. Frakers as bad and mad as they come, almost a match for Bronsons machine gun wielding Paul Kersey and has the only reverse mohawk Ive ever seen on screen.
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.
LIQUID SKY One of the weirdest films of all time, 1982s LIQUID SKY blends NYC punk/new Wave chic with Science Fiction lunacy. Who can forget ALICE SWEET ALICE star Paul Sheppards 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.
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.
NOMADS One of the strangest and eeriest horror movies every made, John McTiernans 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.
TAXI DRIVER Sure, Robert DeNiros sociopathic anti-hero Travis Bickle wouldnt know punk music if it fell on him, but theres 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 Stuart Gordons 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.
PEE WEES BIG ADVENTURE Okay, okay. We know PEE WEES BIG ADVENTURE isnt 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 Wees 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. Its 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.