Back before she hit the (relatively) big time with “Wayne’s World,” Penelope Spheeris made several films chronicling the lives of disaffected punk kids in and around Southern California. This was the best.
Evan (Bill Coyne) is a bored, disaffected teen with troubles at home, so he runs away to join a band of young punks living in a desolate abandoned housing tract. The kids make an impromptu family of their own, stealing food when they need it and hanging around the punk clubs (including great appearances by the Vandals, D.I. and T.S.O.L.). But this antisocial idyll can last for long, and it eventually comes crashing down, with dire consequences.
Through Spheeris’ vision, the suburbs become a bleak, nihilistic wasteland that drives its children to drop out of society — and these teens are all too happy to go along for the ride. One of the remarkable things about this film is the way the script doesn’t point fingers or lay blame at any one group for the kids’ predicament, but instead offers a straightforward, honest look at their lives. Another remarkable facet is the collection of authentic performances by the unknown cast. Spheeris cast real punk kids off the street rather than professional actors because, she said, it would be easier to teach a punk to act than to teach an actor how to be a real punk. Her instincts paid off here.
“Happy Easter, asshole!”
One of those unknown punks in the cast was Michael Balzary, who grew up to find fame as Flea, bass player for the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
“The Decline of Western Civilization” (1981).
Take a Look:
Up your ass!
T.S.O.L. performs “Wash Away”:
More music from D.I.: