Wednesday, November 3, 2010

PUNK VACATION (1987) - nowhere near as exciting as a holiday in Cambodia

take notice of the awesome fashion and general lack of punk rock ethos

Boy, life in small town America sure is great. People are honest, bald eagles soar unabated, and commies (or whomever the enemy is this month) are nowhere to be found. A local father owns a semi-profitable diner (very semi) with his two lovely daughters (Lisa the oldest has a pair of bitchin' eyebrows, for what it's worth) helping out, serving apple pie to true Americans. Lo and behold, some "punk" comes through town, trying to get a cola out of the soda machine. It eats his forty cents and, since he is angry at the man, and the man is responsible for creating modern technology, he starts punching the machine repeatedly. Well, the father notices this punk rock commotion and sticks a shotgun in his face, inspiring the punk rocker to get on his bike and split. After all, forty cents is no excuse for such a fervent assault on American innovation. Unfortunately for the family, he is a member of a big angry punk gang, and forty cents is a big sum of money to somebody who is essentially unemployable. The gang soon returns to the scene of the soda pop assault, sexually assaulting the adorable younger daughter (Lisa is spared, but only because she ran off earlier with her pig boyfriend) and murdering the father, thereby destroying this true blue American family. Way to piss in the face of old glory guys.

this is a pre-off screen rape still of the youngest daughter

While you're probably wondering how listening to punk rock music would lead one to commit such unspeakable crimes over a mere forty cents, these are a special brand of punkers only found in the movies. They don't sit around having a T.V. party, enjoying some free sushi while blaring Black Flag on a boom box covered in punk stickers, cracking Ronald Reagan jokes. Instead, they show a general hatred of society seemingly just to annoy the squares, and they dress in a confused combination of goth, burnout, metal, and punk styles. Basically, it's the 80's version of those 50's troubled teen movies, where groups of unruly kids are running around getting their kicks, up to no good for no good reason just because it pisses off their parents (except the 50's kids at least had a consistent style). Where as the enemies to 50's society were specific archetypes (greasers and commies), everyone in the 80's who didn't dress "normal" or seemed foreign was considered a potential threat. Therefore, punks in movies could be any young person dressed scruffily or abnormal, and any foreigner could be an evil terrorist. Look no further than Invasion U.S.A., where Chuck Norris has to defend honest American families from a terrorist group that consists of a wide range of 80's ethnic stereotypes (Arabs, Mexicans, Eastern Europeans, etc.), whose only apparent motive for killing innocent Americans and blowing up their shopping malls and what have you is their collective hatred of freedom and/or apple pie and/or Bruce Springsteen.

These punks are on "vacation" in this small town, living in an abandoned barn. I doubt these "punks" have real careers or are going to school, so I guess they are just tired of living in the city, and want some fresh podunk air and maybe have a little fun with the locals. However, their little rape and murder games pissed off older sister Lisa, who's about to take the law into her own hands (despite her boyfriend being a cop, but I guess she has no time for whatever red tape he has to deal with). She tracks down the punks to their hide out, but, since hot chicks tend to make shitty vigilantes, she ends up tied to a tree in her underwear (at least she looks fantastic in her failure). She wisely tries to get friendly with the punk girls, admitting that "one of my best friends became a Scientologist". I guess that's her only brush with the outsider mentality. Being that this is 1987, this Scientology dig is pretty ahead of the curve. Unfortunately, it's basically become a big brainwashing cult ponzi scheme, all designed to make money, which hardly makes it a viable comparison to the punk rock ethos (even though these are fake punks). Remember, if you want to be a real punk, you have to get rid of any money you acquire immediately, maybe get that Japanese Minor Threat import on red vinyl, or perhaps several cases of generic beer.

Thankfully, Lisa's cop boyfriend and his black partner infiltrate the punk's hideout to save her. Why they would keep her hostage in her underwear is not exactly clear, but they do blare some cool synthy "punk" music and do some rad dance around her as she's tied up, and that's pretty awesome (this is the only instance of punk music in the entire film, and it's really more post-punk anyway). The badged porkers immediately rescue Lisa, and this sets off a meager yet elongated chase scene that continues until the next day. Lead punk girl Ramrod does get in some good rants in against the boys in blue and the redneck town (and she even manages to namedrop the "military industrial complex" along the way). She also inspires her troops with a (ironically) Patton-esque speech, working them into such a frenzy that one dude even whips out a pair of nunchukus. That's fucking punk rock right there.

The film is essentially Greydon Clark's Skinheads with hair (and some big hair to boot), minus the campy dialogue (which, considered it came from the mouths of angry skinheads, is no mean feat). The whole affair lacks any forward impetus, what with a confused bunch of poseurs hanging out after having committed a heinous crime, and local law enforcement instigating a tepid showdown. The movie is basically about FASHION, and that is where it succeeds (check the clips for proof). Unfortunately, it seems as if the "punk rock ideal", in a lot of social circles, is solely an application of style, rather than a social movement, and this movie is no different (except that the people aren't real, of course).

Most insufferably of all, WHERE IS THE FUCKING PUNK MUSIC? I know it's a low budget film, so they couldn't license The Clash and The Sex Pistols and what have you, but they could have easily recorded some local band slamming through power chords in a garage, the lead singer screaming about an unabashed hatred for the whore that is a society unquestioned by the masses. Hell, the guitars needn't even be in tune. Instead, we get a lot of generic action synth, and a main theme that sounds suspiciously like a Wang Chung instrumental, which is a compliment of sorts. Keep in mind that I'm no Wang Chung apologist, but the synth instrumental score they did for To Live and Die in L.A. is pretty damn good. However, most of the songs on their albums are complete shite, except for the superb Dance Hall Days (also featured in the TLADIL.A.). Anyway, this song is about as punk rock as Punk Vacation, so go Wang Chung tonight and stick it to the "military industrial complex", whatever that is.


  1. "...several cases of generic beer."

    Is that a Repo Man reference?

    I decided some time around 18 second mark of the 3rd Punk Vacation video you posted that I need to see this movie. (The 15 second mark to be exact.)

  2. @YUM
    Yes, a Repo reference is always a tip of the tongue away. I added a sushi reference to make it more obvious. P.S. There's room to MOVE as a fry cook.

  3. A little dose of Wang Chung, Black Flag, and Bill Hicks. You've made my week!

    Sorry been away from the blog world for a few weeks. Any Kids in the Hall vids I missed?

  4. @Morgan
    I think I've been throwing in Mr. Show clips as of late, but I'll try to include an applicable KITH vid as soon as I can :)

  5. The best way to enjoy some free sushi is by not paying.

    P.S. The more you drive, the less intelligent you are.