Tuesday, 29 September 2009

American Delinquents. 1950 - 1990

Too old for Teenage Delinquent films? Well yeah, but the nostalgia kick off this stuff is huge, most of these i saw as a kid, pre-teenage and the rest I tracked down later out of my obsessive compulsion to see every film ever made. Also after Swayze died the other week, I watched Red Dawn again which I hadn't seen for years. That prompted this, a Splash One top 65 American Teensploitation, and Juvenile Delinquent flicks made between 1950 and 1990.

The Wild One. 1953

Just pre-dating the naming and selling of the Rock 'n' Roll concept by 2 years. However everything is already in place - the look and the attitude. Marlon Brando as tough moody leatherboy biker caused shock-waves through the nation helping cement a rapidly developing generation gap, soon to be labelled the teenager. Although Brando was far from being a teenager when he made it, his character certainly resonated heavy with the teenage hordes. He plays gang leader Johnny Strabler, electrifying in black leather jacket and riding a Triumph Thunderbird motorcycle, every gang movie needs a rival gang leader (see Crater Face in Grease) - here Lee Marvin take the role.

Considered a menace to society (scandalous and dangerous) by many authority figures the film was banned by the British Board of Film Censors, banned for 14 years! Eventually the film saw it's first legal British screening in London in 1968 and debuted to a crowd made up largely of later day Rockers.

The films influence is huge...
• Brando's raw method acting alone has a legacy of its own.
• James Dean the number one Teen Idol bought a Triumph TR5 to mimic the film.
• The Beatles got their name from the films rival biker gang - The Beetles.
• Sales of Black leather jackets rocketed after the film, as the Biker image became one particular staple of the rocker wardrobe, thanks to Brando.
• Brando's gang are called the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - a name later borrowed by noisy fuzztone indie rock n rollers BRMC.

Rebel Without A Cause. 1955

Slap bang right on the money. The year of Rock 'n' Roll's official birth saw this film kick down the doors for a new type of screen hero and a new kind of acting. Grade A delinquent classic, Rebel sees James Dean forever frozen in teen idol celluloid gold. Ramming home the generation gap while Dean as 17 year old Jim Stark meets the girl, rows with his parents and rucks with the school bullies. The films 'chicken' car race is legendary, due to the film opening at Cinemas only one month after the fatal car crash that killed James Dean. Killed in a silver Porche 550 that he himself called 'The little Bastard' - how very rock n roll. The influence of these heavy in significance car scenes looms large in later day portrayals of the era such as American Graffiti and Grease. However its the introspective anguish and pain of adolescence as epitomised to perfection by Dean that really renders the film a classic.

The US Library of Congress has added the film to it's national film registry claiming the film to have cultural, historical and aesthetic importance, indeed it may possibly be the greatest Juve Delinquent film of all.

Blackboard Jungle. 1955

The film that kick-started an on screen Rock 'n' Roll revolution. A classic 'teachers at a rough inner city school' set up provides a blueprint for many other delinquent / social commentary films to come. The great Sidney Poitier plays one of the the kids who engage in anti social antics. Glen Ford plays the Teacher trying to 'get down with the kids and earn their respect' while Vic Morrow plays bad boy Artie West.

The film comes to life from the off, featuring Bill Hayley's 'Rock Around The Clock' blaring out over the opening credits - introducing the world to the song. Soon sending it to number one in the US billboard charts. The trend for violence and vandalism at screenings began straight away as delinquents in their droves flocked to see the rock action and feel the crazy pulse beat.

Widely seen as marking the birth of a fully formed culture of teenage rebellion. The film has been aped time and time again in ever more terrible versions such as Class of 84 and Dangerous Minds.

Rock Around The Clock. 1956

Basically a vehicle for rocker Bill Haley, (along with Rock 'n' Roll motormouth Alan Freed) to cash in on his own big hit of the same name. After blowing up off the back of Blackboard Jungle Hayley is back with a simplified fictional tale of how Rock 'n' Roll was discovered/created. Produced by B-Movie king Sam Katzman who would later helm a load of Elvis flicks in the 60's. So in tune with the teenage explosion of Rockers, Greasers and Teds of the time that the violent seed planted by Blackboard Jungle grew to fever pitch as it caused riots in America and Britain where chairs were ripped from the theatres and cinema after cinema trashed. The delinquent had well and truly arrived. And the media had a field day.

The Girl Cant Help it. 1956

After Blackboard Jungle and Rock Around The Clock the cash ins were quick off the production line. This A-movie version of a B-Movie set up was intended as a satire of the new teen-aged Rock 'n' Roll fad. So good was it that it became what many believe to be one of the greatest depictions of the early rock era. Staring Jayne Mansfield as a gangsters moll who wants to be a singing star. It's the musical score however that kicks hard - featuring the title song by the greatest delinquent inspiring rocker of all - Little Richard. Also featured in cameo appearances are another two rock gods - Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent. When shown in Liverpool a 16 year old John Lennon was blown away, and fired up enough to dream his own rock dream. A little later in 57 - a 15 year old Paul McCartney auditioned for a new group called the Quarrymen, he sealed the deal by performing an electrifying version of 'Twenty Flight Rock' - an identikit version of the one played by Eddie Cochran in The Girl Cant Help It.

Don't Knock The rock. 1956

Bill Haley and Alan Freed return for more delinquency inspiring antics. this time Alan Dale plays a rock star who has returned home for summer to find that Rock 'n' Roll has been banned in the town. The premise is - disapproving square adults versus hip teens with Bill and Freed in the middle (Little Richard also appears) trying to prove that the kid's and the music ain't bad. This ridiculous premise sounds like a fantasy but in truth towns all across America especially the bible belt and southern states were leading a crusade against Rock 'n' Roll music which they saw as the devils music and branded as 'nigger music' showing the overt racism latent across the states. Many places held record burning sessions. Klan supporting rednecks across the country were scared that the music represented a black uprising. Made all the more hard for these evil idiots to swallow was the fact that their white teenage daughters were often lapping up the sounds of Little Richard, Chuck Berry and Fats Domino, further more white artists like Elvis were also labelled as Nigger Music.

The 'small town banning music' theme was later revisited by 80's cheese fest Footloose.

Hot Rod Girl. 1956

Pure teen exploitation trash, hopping up on the bandwagon for the Hot Rod car trend. Surprisingly good fun, fast girls faster cars (55 T-Bird) and an appearance by Frank Gorshin (The Riddler in 60's TV series Batman) playing a guy called 'Flat top'! Worth watching just for the location - San Fernando Valley CA Drag-strip , it's generally considered a cult classic by fans of 1950's kitch. Also worth checking are is HOT ROD GANG and DRAGSTRIP GIRL.

Crime In the Streets. 1956

With the Teen Delinquent flood gates open...
17 year old actor Sal Mineo had co stared alongside James dean in Rebel Without A Cause, this was his next delinquent role. Here co staring with the brilliant John Cassavetes as members of a menacing New York street gang - The Hornets. More than just A typical JD affair the film is generally noted for the fine performances of these two leads as being superior to most JD flicks, whilst the film cemented the Sal Mineo image as 'The Switchblade Kid'.

Directed by Don Seigel who was later responsible for the anti delinquent anti hippy classic - Dirty Harry. While not as well know as others in its genre Crime In The Streets does count Martin Scorsese as a fan, and with New york street crime as it's subject matter it's not hard to see why.

Dino. 1957.

The brilliant Bronx born Sal Mineo (The Switchblade kid) is back again as a delinquent, this time he plays a 13 year old killer! Who's anger and badness come from an abusive upbringing.
Another great opportunity to see the now quite underrated Sal Mineo in action.

The Delinquents. 1957.

Not the dodgy Australian flick with Kylie but the debut of director Robert Altman. Altman wrote, directed and produced this teen shocker in his hometown of Kansas City. A fabulous tale of a love forbidden by small minded square adults (ha ha) - featuring a bucket load of genre essentials - Hot Rods, Greasers, the 'wrong crowd', gangs, booze, heavy handed cops, a switchblade fight and a bungled gas station robbery. GREAT.

High School Confidential. 1958

The Teen trend is exploited again in this delinquent classic about a high school dope ring. This film ticks all the JD boxes - sex, drugs, rock n roll, hep talk slang, bad attitude, flick knife-switch blades, undercover cops, drag racing, yep the whole package. The films cred it boosted by the inclusion of genuine rock bad boy - Jerry 'The Killer' Lee Lewis singing the title song over the opening sequence - a hell raising, hair standing up on back of neck moment if ever there was one!

Juvenile Jungle. 1958

The tag line for this film was 'The Switchblade and the Hot Wire Set!' and was part of a double bill with another William Whitney delinquent film Young and Wild. Quentin Tarantino is a huge fan of director William Whitney (indeed a fan of this very film) but then Quentin's tolerance for exploitation of any genre is higher than most.

Cry Baby killer. 1958.

Juvenile Delinquent classic, from B-Movie maestro Roger Corman. A film now famous for being the big screen debut of Jack Nicholson. Jack plays a teen rebel loner called jimmy Wallace,who develops a classic Jack Nicholson type chip on his shoulder when his girlfriend leaves him after he is beaten up by some fellow hoods. Interesting to see that Jack had his whole anti hero thing down from day one.

West Side Story. 1961.

Musical telling of NY street gangs filtered through the story from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. I love it but many cant stomach the songs, although the genius Leonard Bernstein did the score so those people must be mad.

The Young Savages. 1961

Wonderful early 60's gang flick. Queens born NY director John Frankenheimer reflects his surroundings with this tale of a young NY Spanish Harlem street gang called the Thunderbirds who are in a street war with rival (Puerto Rican) gang The horsemen. The gangland scrapes make for entertaining viewing that was certainly raw in its day. A highly charged picture that explores very cutting edge themes considering the time it was made - peer pressure and poverty but especially race.

The Wild Angels. 1966.

B-Movie king Roger Corman gets in on the Biker movie trend with this very good exploitation fair. Set in Southern Cali, Wild Angels is a pretty edgy biker film - a full 3 years before easy rider whose star Peter Fonder also takes the lead here. Fonder plays a Hells angel leader with Nancy Sinatra as his girlfriend and Bruce Dern his right hand man. Sex drugs, Rock N Roll are all present and correct. Fonda's "we just wanna be free..." dialogue from the film has been sampled by indie rock bands Primal Scream and Mudhoney.

The Trip. 1967.

Corman's next exploitation shocker was lo budget psychedelic feature The Trip. Which saw him jump on the trend for investigating the hippy counter-culture and the weird world of LSD. Peter Fonda and Bruce Dern team up again while Fondas soon to be Easty Rider partner Dennis Hopper is also present here. Fonder plays a young TV director embarking on his first Trip. Watch out.

Psych-Out. 1968.

A much better Psychedelic movie than The Trip, with a great soundtrack and a feel that comes close to capturing the era. Staring Susan Strasbourg as a deaf runaway who falls in with the flower children one of whom is Jack Nicholson. The adventure that follows includes much drug taking and hallucinations - freaking out is what it's all about. Although there are some pretty nasty scenes of violence and near rape, the film trys to straddle the messy line between peace loving passive drug taking protest and violent fuck the man activism of the heavier elements of the counter culture. Never too in depth, but with cult Bands such as the Seeds and strawberry Alarm Clock making cameo appearances, the film is as much loved now for it's colourful kitch charm as anything else.

American Graffiti. 1973.

George Lucas' greatest film, better than Star Wars. Set in the period of the 60's when much of the 50's rock n roll culture was still prevalent in America, hot rod cars, diner's etc. The film follows a group of high school kids before they spit up to either go to collage or become (horror of horrors) adult. A coming of age tale that has one of the finest soundtracks ever put on film. Lead the way for films as diverse as Grease and Dazed and Confused, while also pretty much inventing US TV smash Happy Days. Think it was Harrison Fords first role too.

The Education Of Sonny Carson. 1974.

The highly acclaimed autobiographical portrayal of Sonny Carson, a young black male who goes from promising student to gang member to a harsh and dreadful term in prison, a hard-hitting tale of the poverty trap and institutional racism.

The Lords Of Flatbush. 1974.

Before the Fonz and before Rocky - Henry Winkler and Sly Stallone are brought together for a film that was early in the 1970's trend for 50's delinquent rock n roll flicks (see American Graffiti and Grease). This Brooklyn set gang movie is a blinder as we witness the Fonz practically inventing himself before our eyes, while Sly plays an Italian greaser in an impressive attention grabbing role.

The Switchblade Sisters. 1975.

Also known as 'The Jezebels' and 'Playgirl Gang' this outrageous teen exploitation flick has gathered massive cult status over the years. Quentin Tarantino oversaw it's DVD release a few years back.

The story of girl street gang the Dagger Debs who's inter-gang fighting leads to seriously violent results. Directed by known Blaxploitation heavy hitter Jack hill (Coffy, Foxy Brown) who injects the film with his trademark snap, crackle and pop - lesbian prison brawls, roller rink shootouts and full on machine gun warfare are all at home in the mix.

Cooley High. 1975.

Essentially a Black American Graffiti, but set in the Motown era of the early 60's. Chicago set Cooley high sees the class of 64 getting down from the hood to the schoolyard in an early depiction of the black urban lifestyle (of the 1960's), more than just a blaxploitation film though this respected comedy drama has a serious place in the teen delinquent cannon.

The Blank Generation. 1976.

Very early punk documentary capturing raw primitive live footage of the emanating NY punk scene at CBGB's and Max's Kansas City. Much of it is filmed by Ivan Kral who was also a member of The Patti Smith group, has a kind of insiders view. All the main player of the scene are included in their infancy - Blondie, Talking Heads, The Ramones, The Heartbreakers and of course Patti Smith. A rough snapshot of the arty delinquents about to storm the barricades and take over with a new kind of rock n roll.

Saturday Night Fever. 1977.

I'm sure this film needs no introduction. Italian American Brooklyn kids getting their kicks any which way they can, all wrapped around the current youth quake - DISCO. Fantastic soundtrack, which you should own anyway. Despite all the spoofs and mickey taking over the years, seen now it still remains a pretty edgy urban tragedy with Travolta in his finest role.

Grease. 1978.

On a roll after Sat Night Fever, Travolta returns, this time 70's disco gives way to the huge 50's/early 60's rock 'n' roll revival. As this now classic musical grabs all the cool shit from those old Juvenile Delinquent drive in B-movie's and throws it together to create a monster smash. Everything from the Wild One and Rebel Without A Cause to Blackboard Jungle is raided - Hot rods, switchblades, chicken race's, dance offs, street gangs, leather jackets, gum chewing soda drinking, base ball boot wearing, grease haired, bobby sox'ed, hep talking teens (played by actors in their 30's) inhabit a world where the drive in and the dinner are always just around the corner.

Animal House. 1978.

And so the Frat genre continues, this time elevated by the National lampoons brand, and a young comedy genius fresh from Sat night live - John Belushi. No street gangs here, but the antics are just as wild. On the down side the frat genre would later give the world such dross as the American Pie series of films. oh dear.

Big Wednesday. 1978.

Another cult classic, Big Wed depicts the surf culture of California from the 60's to the 70's.
The king of all surf movies, topping all that came before, at the time it was released it featured the greatest surf sequences ever put on the big screen, some genuinely jaw dropping action. Again its the addition of an ultra cool soundtrack that puts the cherry on the top. Director John millius would go on to make '80's teen gang V's Soviet Army flick Red Dawn.

The Wanderers. 1979

An out and out delinquent classic. As a kid this was essential viewing, and much talked about at school.
set in 1963 when the time's they are a changing, from the street gang rock n roll rumbles of the 50's to the counter culture of the hippy 60's this film take place just before the big changes blew in (Beatles, Assassination of JFK, Anti Vietnam protest, free love, etc) and show that for some the rumbles still rumbled on. Hilarious now but seemed quite shocking as a kid - as various gangs engage in pointless battle over turf.

Over The Edge. 1979.

one of the greatest delinquent films ever, highly controversial on it's release. Matt Dillon in his first role heads up a cast of bored young kids out for kicks. Based on the true events taking place in small suburban new towns across America in the late 70's, the film was more gritty and realistic than the other juvenile gang films that came out during the same period (see The warriors). An orgy of sex drugs, vandalism and violence this film has gone down in the history books as one of the essential cult films of the 1970's. Whats more the soundtrack is incredible - Cheap Trick, Jimi Hendrix !!

The Warriors. 1979.

Not to be confused with The Wanderers (also 79) this out and out gem has seen its cult following grow and grow over the years.

All the NY street gangs (100,000 gang members) are called together for a truce, when the appointed spokesman is assassinated at the huge meeting, chaos erupts. Wrongly blamed for the killing Coney island gang The Warriors must make it all the way from The Bronx, through Manhattan and Brooklyn to get back to the safety of their own turf. Hunted by fellow gang bangers along the way, the action never stops in this Walter Hill comic book violence masterpiece. Andrew Lasalo's night time cinematography is perfection, as our anti hero's battle through neon streets, pitch black parks, strip lit subways and the dead of night itself to get back home alive.

Hometown USA. 1979

Cashing in on the nostalgia for the 50's that was still fashionable in 79 despite running throughout the entire 70's. very much aping the style of American Graffiti in both look and subject matter. High school kids, Chevy convertibles, hot rod cruising, and a great rockin' soundtrack all add up to a highly enjoyable addition to the expanding 50's revival genre.

Rock and Roll High School. 1979.

The Ramones get their own old school delinquent flick, fitting for a band whose love of 50's rock n roll and 60's pop saw a return to the stripped down sound and attitude of the golden age of youth culture. The film is wrapped around thread bare plot of the character of Riff Randal a female Ramones fan who along with fellow students takes over the school in the ultimate act of rebellion. All told it's a pretty poor film especially considering it came out in the same year as Grease. However The Ramones save the film just by being genius. The end result no matter how ropey is great fun.

Times Square. 1980.

Pissed off group of misunderstood youths form a punk band to vent their frustration and alienation. The Sleaze Sisters are a couple of rich kid lesbian runaways from the Big Apple.
Tim Curry of Rocky Horror fame plays the DJ that befriends the girls and encourages their musical antics. produced by Robert Stigwood (Sat night Fever) who wanted the film to be to new wave what SNF was to disco. it wasn't to be however and the film bombed at the box office. Over the years becoming an underground cult item, not least because it documents and captures the mood and feel of Times Square at that time, a seedy grind-house area, now cleaned up and transformed beyond all recognition. Bikini Kill cite this as their favourite film, while The Manic Street preachers have referenced the film time and time again.

Ladies and Gentlemen The fabulous Stains. 1981.

Until recently released on DVD this was a genuine lost cult film. Interesting to most as it features members of the Clash and the Sex Pistols in main acting roles. A film about a group of Teenage girls who form a punk band and go on to become a huge delinquent phenomenon. Early example of proper girl power the film influenced Riot Grrrl groups such as Huggy Bear and Bikini Kill, whilst Courtney love was also a huge fan.

In the film Diane Lane plays the lead singer of the stains, while Laura Dern is also a member of the band. They tour with another punk band made up of Steve Jones and Paul Cook of the Sex Pistols and Paul Simonon of The Clash, while Ray Winston is the singer of this second featured group.

Released in 82 the film sunk without a trace. However the years that followed saw it pick up a fanatical cult following due to its late night screenings on cable TV in the states. I first heard about this film in the mid 90's when The Beastie Boys did a huge in depth article on it for their Grand Royal magazine, now finally after all these years the film is available and gaining the respect it deserves.

Diane Lane would soon crop up in two 80's delinquent masterworks - The outsiders and Rumble Fish.

The Decline Of Western Civilisation. 1981.

Serious documentary about the LA punk scene with footage from 79 to 80. LAPD Chief of Police Daryl Gates wrote a letter demanding the film not be shown again in L.A. Such was it's inflammatory energy that it was feared it would only incite more of the so called horrors it depicted. Using concert footage and interviews with bands and players on the scene the film paints a vivid picture of this era in LA music history. An almost definitive who's who of early 80's LA punk including bands such as Black Flag, The germs, X, The Bags, Circle Jerks, Catholic Discipline and Fear. Germs singer Darby Crash committed heroin-induced suicide shortly before the film was released.

Director Penelope Spheeris went on to make 80's cult classics Suburbia and The Boys Next Door.

Wild Style. 1982.

In true exploitation style, it had to happen sooner or later....someone just had to capture on film the biggest youth cult ever to hit New York and later take over the world. Hip Hop culture was still in its early-ish stages when this fine lo budget docu drama was made. Capturing a hand full of key players from the worlds of Graffiti, Turntablism, Rap and Breaking - setting a blueprint that other more commercial films like Beat Street would follow.

Another State Of Mind. 1982.

Another Punk documentary this time following the tour trail of two major players on the punk scene Social Distortion and Youth Brigade, Punk icons Minor Threat are also featured in the film. Well worth seeking out.

Liquid Sky. 1982.

If the realist gritty down to earth sensibilities of west coast hardcore punk are well served by Another State of mind, then punks arty elitist East coast version is served by this wild and weird punk Sci-Fi drama. A girl realizes she can kill people by having sex with them at a party. The plot really is too far out to explain here. This is an under appreciated minor masterpiece of trash fashion and new wave synth sound - together in electric dreams, or is that nightmares.

Bad Boys. 1983.

Hard hitting Chicago crime drama that focuses on teenage delinquency, staring Sean Penn.
The promo for the film read "At the age of 9, they've joined a street gang; at 12, they're pushing drugs. At 16, they're part of a nightmare teenage underworld of rape, mugging, armed robbery and murder". The second half of the film moves from the mean streets to a Juve detention centre at which point the film kind of becomes a less gritty American version of British delinquent classic SCUM.

The Outsiders. 1983.

Francis Ford Coppola's masterful adaptation of the magnificent S.E.Hinton novel. A veritable Brat Pack super-group - C. Thomas Howell, Matt Dillon, Ralph machio, Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez, Tom Cruise, Diane Lane and Leif Garrett make up the tough greaser street gang of the early 60's. Possibly the finest 80's delinquent film, and for my money one of the best ever. Set in Tulsa in Oklahoma, the group of bored greasers from the wrong side of the tracks fight with their rivals the posh kids 'The Socs' from the right side of the tracks while the girls get stuck in the middle, and it all ends in tragedy. The whole film is like a Bruce Springsteen song - pure Americana in the most exciting but doomed way. Coppola and Mat Dillon would team up again in the sequel of sorts Rumble Fish.

Rumble Fish. 1983.

Filmed straight after The outsiders, Coppola teams up with Mat Dillon again, in another gangland teen drama, this time however the film takes an even more poetic path than that of The Outsiders, helped no doubt by the stunning stark black and white camera work. Both films were written by S.E. Hinton and here Dillon plays Rusty James the younger brother of Mikey Rourke's ex gang leader character, coming to terms with his failer to live up to his older brothers legend. Also stars Nicolas cage and Chris Penn as gang members, Dennis hopper as the boys loser father and Tom Waits as the bar-man, while Diane Lane plays Rusty's long suffering girlfriend. Savaged by critics on release however I first saw this when i was ten years old and both the films strong visual image and stylised content made a huge impression on me, I had up until that point in my life seen nothing like it.

Style Wars. 1983.

Documentary about the NYC hip hop culture, which at the time was just about the most exciting thing you could watch about the most exciting thing in the world!!!

Red Dawn. 1984.

The opening scenes to this distopian action thriller must have been pretty chilling on release in 84. Still very effective now, but back then during the height of cold war paranoia it must of left a nasty taste.

Film starts in small town Colorado, a picture perfect day as pupils are arriving at school and heading into class, we see charlie Sheen and C Thomas Howell being dropped off by older Brother Patrick Swayze in his pick up truck (a role much like the one he played in The Outsiders). Once in class we see the teacher lecturing his pupils like any normal school day, until he looks out of the window and notices something in the sky, on closer inspection it appears that tens of paratroopers are falling out of the sky and landing on the empty field. Immediately Assuming this is some US military exercise that the school has not been informed about, then comes the chill, as the soldiers run toward the school and open fire on the classrooms. The school is under attack, America is under attack. These are Soviet troops. Chaos erupts many pupils die, Sheen and Howell escape outside where Swayze has hightailed it back to pick them up. After stopping for guns, food and clothes supplies the boys and a few more friends escape to the nearby mountains, where for the rest of the film they hideout and train themselves to become a successful anti soviet terrorist group. After learning that The Soviets now occupy the Southern states and most of the boys family's have been captured or killed, they rescue two girls who have been hiding in a cellar, it is implied later that one of them was raped by Soviet troops.

This was the first film in America to have a PG 13 rating caught as it was between being a kids action romp and an out and out nightmare.

At one time it was considered the most violent film in American history by the Guinness book of records, 134 violent acts per hour, it was a wonder it wasn't forced to have a higher age rating. But this was the time of Reaganomics and such anti communist propaganda was probably encouraged. Their was certainly a flood of films with similar sentiment.

Theres a prologue before the film begins that explains the details of the invasion. So plausible that during the cold war that the US war collage used the attack set up in the film as a test case. Also the operation to capture Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was named Operation Red Dawn after the film.

Footloose. 1984.

Cheesy tale of a small-town trying to keep the youth in check and crush delinquency by banning pop music and dancing. That is until Kevin Bacon shows up with his godawful Kenny Login's song. At which point the locals are battered into surrender.

Beat Street. 1984.

While the idiots in Footloose were learning to dance to bloody Kenny Logins, the real story was happening here..
Taking the blueprint laid down by Wild Style and adding some higher production values. This tale of South Bronx Hip Hop lifestyle ticks all the boxes, Graffiti, DJing, Breakdancing and Rap, but does so in a more mainstream depiction. That's not to say that all the rough edges have been trimmed, there's still plenty here to recommend repeat viewing, the locations alone are fantastic, and the infamous New york City Breakers are of course stunning. Another highlight is the early appearance of Doug E fresh.

Repo Man. 1984.

Emilio Estevez stars along side Harry Dean Stanton in this sci-fi punk thriller. Directed by Alex Cox (fact: executive producer was the Monkees Mike Nesmith) who kicks his love of punk and cult film into a whole new weird space. Punk was still thriving in mid 80's LA, Estevez plays Otto a bored (what else) young punk rocker who after a series of unfortunate events come into contact with Bud (Stanton) who he starts to hang out with. Bud is an automobile repossession agent and soon Otto is helping him out for cash. but one of the cars they are trying to track down has a trunk full of trouble, something mysterious and powerful (an atomic bomb? an alien? a doorway to another dimension?) awaits. Terrific cult favourite.

Suburbia. 1984.

Punks not dead, well it certainly wasn't in mid 80's lost suburban America. This Roger Corman produced cult punk effort depicts the lives of delinquent run aways who in true punk style squat in abandoned housing. It's rough around the edges to say the least, lo budget and scrappy but has it's place here. Many such as Vincent Canby claim it to be the best teenager revolt film since Over The Edge (see 1979). The film stars a very young Flea (Red hot chili peppers) as one of the gang, real punks and musicians were recruited to play the roles instead of jobbing actors, which does add to the films realist docu feel. Also features some great live punk gig footage including bands such as The Vandals, DI and TSOL.

Streets Of fire. 1984.

A definite guilty pleasure movie this one. As the film trys it's hardest to be a kind of Warriors, Escape from New York hybrid, but doesn't quite make the grade. yet gains extra appeal through kitch factor as each year passes. Often described as a Rock 'n' Roll fantasy, as a hot singer is kidnapped by a gang of typically rocking bikers before her manager hires a young gunslinger to rescue her. All 80's excess crossed with an underlying neon aesthetic hung over from the new wave scene of the early part of the decade. The fact that it starts Diane Lane and Willem Dafoe makes it all the more watchable.

The Boys Next Door. 1985.

One for the delinquent buddy genre. Director Penelope Spheeris follows up the equally desolate Suburbia with this ultra violent adventure. Charlie Sheen and Maxwell Caulfield play Bo and Roy two boy's coming to the end of their teenage years looking straight down the barrel of a bleak future. The only thing for it is to keep the adolescence rolling, more sex, more drugs, more booze, more violence and eventually murder. Bleak and nihilistic a brat pack antidote to the John Hughes school of teen drama. Interesting that while Charlie (the wild one) was doing this his brother Emilio was staring in rather tame Hughes classic The Breakfast Club - although he had also just filmed the insane sci-fi punk classic Repo Man..

Return Of The living Dead. 1985.

George A Romero's one time partner in crime John Russo retained the rights to the living Dead name when the pair parted company after night of the living dead. So while George A Romero went of to helm a startling run of metaphorically political Zombie films, Russo took a more comedic path. Despite or maybe because of the slapstick humour this Zombie flick it's actually also a much loved Punk movie. A group of mid 80's punk rockers deal with an army of undead as the zombies attack a small-town. I love the soundtrack which features The cramps (Surfin Dead) The damned (Dead beat dance) and the legendary Rocky Erickson (Burn The flames) whom this blog is named after.

New Kids. 1985.

Two of the A list brat packers James Spader and Eric Stoltz star in this tale of bullying and revenge. Two Orphans move to a small town where they are subjected to further torment by a gang of sadistic bully's. Eventually things come to a climax at a Carnival, always a great place for a showdown.

Krush Groove. 1985.

A fictionalized account of the Def Jam records empire staring Run DMC and featuring other Def Jam artists such as LL Cool J and the Beastie Boys, while other rap stars such as Kurtis Blow and Fat Boys also join the party.

Back To the Future. 1985.

Biff Tannen.

Breakfast Club. 1985.

Hardly real delinquents by any stretch but these middle-class kids are on detention so they must have done something wrong right? Much loved ever so cheesy 80's Brat Pack flick from the now adored John Hughes who died last year. The cringe factor is very high, but that's possibly the point, and certainly all of the enjoyment.

Rivers Edge. 1986.

This is more like it, pretty twisted stuff. A group of real delinquents know that one of their gang has murdered his girlfriend, her body sits naked and untouched on the river bank. What to do? Pressure to do the right thing and paranoia in the face of nonchalance soon take their toll.
The underrated yet stunning Crispin Glover plays the one who want to cover up the murder and save his friend (who shows no remorse) while a young Keanu reeves plays the one who starts to feel guilty over leaving the body of a young girl naked on the riverbank, in a stoner slightly less moronic version of his only acting style - dopey Gen X moron (Bill and Ted).

Hard hitting and based on the true 1981 case of 14 year old Marcy Renee Conrad who was raped and murdered by 16 year old Anthony Broussard (who as in the film bragged to his friends about the deed) and showed at least 13 different people the girls dead body, shockingly despite this the crime went unreported for two days. Thus giving the film it's devastating crux.

Stand By Me. 1986.

In a film that like Rivers Edge is also about a body (known to exist only by a group of kids) that lies unreported and unfound by the law or society. The film could be described Rivers edge meets a less slapstick version of the Goonies but set (appropriately for this blog) in the back end of the 1950's. Will Weaton, Corey Feldman, Jerry O'connell and River Phoenix play four lads who set out on an adventure to find the dead body of a boy hit by a train, who they have heard is lying in the woods. On the way they come of age, learning much about themselves and each other. The delinquent factor is notched up by a typical gang of (older) 50's hoods, a group of car cruisin' baseball bat wielding bullies called The Cobras and lead by Kiefer Sutherland.

Peggy Sue Got Married. 1986.

This is pretty much just a re-jigged Back To The Future with an ageing female mother (Kathleen Turner) who goes 25 years back in time to her senior high school days - 1960. It's actually much better than you'd think, due to the fact that it's director was Francis Ford Coppola.

RAD. 1986.

The BMX trend follows in the footsteps of all those great Surf, Hot Rod car and Biker films of the bygone era, and gets some serious big screen time. Ok so ET got there first in 82 with some significant BMX sequences, and BMX Bandits was a whole BMX plot but it was always a lame film. Here however a more solid attempt is made to squeeze some BMX action into a feature film. Directed by Hal Needham who did all the Smokey and The bandit films. This still has not seen a release on DVD.

Thrashin. 1986.

By 1986 the BMX scene was beginning to be swamped by the ever-growing skateboard cult. Thrashing is an attempt to make a drama out of the skate scene. It includes sequences featuring many of the main skaters of the day such as Tony Alva, Tony Hawk and Steve Caballero. The delinquents here are a gang of skate punks called the Daggers. The film joins the dots between
the punk and skateboard cults. Circle Jerks feature on the soundtrack while skaters are seen sporting T-Shirts by bands like Devo, Vice Squad and Siouxsie and the banshees.

Class of Nuke Em High. 1986.

Classic high school exploitation meets sci fi horror in the insane Troma B-Movie. A New Jersey high school located next to a nuclear power plant gets contaminated and soon the students are mutating into punkoid monsters! Yikes.

Less Than Zero. 1987.

A loose adaptation of the Bret Easton Ellis novel by the same name. if 'Fast times at Ridgemont High was the party then this is the dark nasty come down. Brat packer Andrew McCarthy plays Clay whom on returning home for Christmas from his first term at Collage discovers that his girlfriend Blair has been sleeping with his best friend - the Junkie Julian played by Robert Downey Jr. As Clay tries so come to terms with the situation the other two seemingly ignore their problems, sinking further into drug addiction and denial. Julian is hounded by his dealer Rip - James Spader in yet another spectacular sleaze bag role. Bret Easton Ellis disliked the film greatly on it's release, no wonder when his novels empty void of self and self loathing is replaced in the film with a rather heavy handed anti drugs message. Also many parts of the novel were not used in the film including the protagonists watching Snuff films and the rape of a 12 year old girl in Rip's apartment. Despite the butchering of Ellis' book the film retains some of the intentional savage critique of spoilt brat LA life, and remains an interesting film still. Although adaptations of Ellis' books got much better with time, American Psycho and The Rules of Attraction are both far superior films.

The Lost Boys. 1987.

The delinquent horror theme as seen in class of nuke em high continues... Here a gang of motorcycle riding, fast living, hard drinking Californian punks turn out to be Vampires. It falls to 'new in town' brothers Michael (Jason Patric) and Sam (Corey Haim) to team up with a couple of local paranoia geeks 'the frog brothers' (Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander) to track down and take out the vampires who they suspect responsible for the spate of disappearances in the area. one problem Michael having fallen in love with Star a female half vampire, is soon himself 'on the turn'.

Colours. 1988.

LA gang banging gets an early Hollywood treatment before the flood of these films that would swamp in the 90's. Interestingly directed by Dennis Hopper who has a track record for good youth movies see many of the above. Great casting sees Robert Duvall and Sean Penn play a couple of LAPD cops dealing with life on the streets, and it's heavy out there.
A strangely overlooked film, considering performances, camera work and soundtrack are all grade A.

Heathers. 1989.

A fucked up black comedy / high school drama. All those endless high school films - gone wrong. Winona Ryder is a member of the high school trendsetting 'in crowd' (all called Heather) but begins to question the set up, once hooked up with new kid in school Jason Dean (Christian Slater) the pair begin a bizarre rite of passage that includes multiple murder of the worst offenders of the vacuous culture/lifestyle. Truly strange little film, a nightmare version of a John Hughes movie, heathers has become a firm cult classic.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Boys Own

While fishing around in Beatdown records at the weekend I came across a copy of the just released replica Boys Own fanzine. Which has been issued as a promo tool for the forthcoming 20 years of Boys Own/Jr Boys Own (my God is it that long ago!!) compilation album - titled 'Boys Own Odyssey - Acid House Scrapes and Capers'. Also released is what looks like a must have book that collects together the complete Boys Own fanzines from 86 to 92 - the stuff of legend. For those of you that may not know what the hell I'm talking about...

Boys Own was the name given to a collective of like-minded DJ's and wideboys at the back end of the 80's. These wideboys just so happened to kick start a British revolution in response to both the explosion of House music happening stateside and some less savory British takes on the emergent youth quake.

Boys own established a true underground culture from which their take on House could thrive, and their Boys Own fanzine was instrumental in this. Taking some initial influence from Liverpool football/Casual fanzine The End, the boys Own posse added a more open ended manifesto to their pages. A truly hedonistic call to arms but almost mod in it's outlook and attitude. The core posse was made up of Terry Farley, Andrew Weatherall, Steve maze and Cymon Eckles and from fanzine to the first documented outdoor raves to a groundbreaking British record label - not to mention a load of truly life changing records, BO in there time were some serious geezers.

The label JBO brought the likes of stadium house giants The Chemical brothers, Underworld and X-Press 2 into the world, but there's so much more than that in the JBO story. And everyone has their own take or their own preferences. For me it's all about a hand full of boundary breaking genre smashing life affirming moments, most of them involve Andrew Weatherall - still one of my hero's to this day.

Things like...

• Bocca Juniors 'Raise' a tune that still makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. This band was basically the Boys Own super group.

• Andrew Weatherall's remix of 'Soon' by My Bloody Valentine, this came out on creation but was later featured on a box set of Junior Boys Own's essential label related picks. Essential is definitely one word to describe this music, another two would be 'life changing'.

• One Dove's cover version of Dolly Parton's Jolene, underrated Scottish indie dance wonders One Dove take the Dollywood classic and turn it into an epic Dub House masterpiece - all under the guiding hand of yes... Andrew Weatherall. One Dove's singer Dot Alison went on to make some brilliant solo albums and work with Death in Vegas.

• Terry Farley's sublime and 'last word' remix of Primal Screams 'Loaded' the tune that cracked open the last resistance of indie kids to house music.

• Black Science Orchestra's 'New Jersey Deep' out and out classic of it's era.

• The Chemical brothers 'Leave Home' from their beginnings as the Dust Brothers (not the US Dust brothers) there was always something special about these two geeks, you cant argue with this.

• Ballistic brothers 'Peckings' this joyous slice of neo Ska came from their 'London Hooligan Soul' album which managed to distill all of the bands influences from the Jam and The Clash through Ska and Dub to Jazz Funk and deep house.

• DSK - 'What Would We Do' - total headrush anthem that was recently sampled by grime star Wiley on his smash hit 'Rolex'.

• Substance - another killer track by Bocca Juniors, that still sounds soooo exciting - beamed in from a punk rock house nation in outer-space. The sleeve is fantastic too.

• ONLY LOVE CAN BREAK YOUR HEART - Weatherall mix, those who know it know it, i hope you know it. Beautiful. Bliss. Heavenly. Perfection. Actually came out on St Etienne's Heavenly label but it fit's into the JBO scrapbook so perfectly that nitpicking is irrelevant.

• Happy Mondays 'Hallelujah' Club mix - the most important rock 'n' roll band of the acidhousequake era get the Boys own treatment (a colab between Weatherall and Oakenfold), not that they needed it as they were on that wavelength anyway. GENIUS

There's loads of others, you may have your own, but those are mine.

I never had any of the original fanzines so it'll be interesting to read some of Weatherall's old ramblings, and to get a sneaky read of some frontline banter from back in the day.

Also Splash One cohort Mike Porter bought one of the original Boys Own Clockwork Orange style logo T-shirts at the time. He has still got it and over the years I've offered him money, even the very fine satorial authority - Eleven clothing Emporium in Sunderland have offered him cash so they can frame it on the wall, so iconic and strong a symbol of a great time now lost is that classic T-shirt that people who lived through the era melt at the mere sight of that graphic.

So then this compilation and book, a tiny reminder of some good time's past.

But all said and done fuck it and live for today looking to tomorrow - don't spend too much time looking back - it's what they they would have wanted.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Retriever live, Head of Steam.

Right here's a plug for our good friends LME who are putting on a fine gig tonight at The head of Steam...

Line up includes...


My favourite Newcastle band, Retriever are only two gigs old, tonight will be there third gig in the city. Already they've captivated the minds and hearts of many. With a confident mix of 60's garage and post punk influence and styling's this well dressed threesome create a wall of gammer ray white noise over a set of punishing drum machine beats. Hat's are tipped to The Jesus and Mary Chain but front-woman Jackie's street cheetahhh vocals are shots from the hip that confirm that this group are no lad rock guit(sn)ore trip. Her cool ranting sits atop a cacophony of repetitive driving fuzz bass and the beautiful, simple and affecting guitar parts kooked up with nonchalant gum chewing style by young (deliberately non) guitarist Garth. Certainly a band to keep an eye on, they are already in the studio recording a debut ltd edition 7 inch.
photo by Dan Graham @ Jukebox 17/07/09

1st Birthday Gig Das Wanderlust, Retriever and Eductaion, Education, Education. Sat 19th Sep, Head Of Steam

Education Education Education.

I'm looking forward to seeing this band since it houses two dear friends in bass player Martin (one half of DJ team Its A Happening - who play Jukebox when the mood is right) and Paul Emmet (Ex front-man of the infamous Oxfam Glamour Models). So a bit of friendship nepotism? Well yes but... the pressure is on because they've assure me that they 'are great'.
End Bar - 8th June - Photo Danielle Velterelle

It's an early gig - doors : 7pm. but it's only £3 !!!

Hope to see you there.


Friday, 18 September 2009

The Strange Boys

One of the best gigs I caught this year was when Austin Texas four piece garage band The Strange Boys played Newcastle a few months ago. What struck me most was how natural they were yet at the same time completely wrapped up in their own world, it's usually a bad thing when a band make no concession's towards it's audience what so ever, with these guys though it just made them all the more endearing. And on top of what was already a winning formula of raw garage with a sweet melodic melancholic twist that had the crowd captivated. Singer Ryan Sambol's genius weird vocals alone were worth the ticket price.

The first time I really paid any attention to the band was earlier in the year when at a music seminar with Geoff Travis of Rough trade (the man who signed The Smiths, The Fall, The Strokes amongst others) Geoff was asked by a member of the crowd which bands were exciting him at the minute, to which he responded by singing the praises of The Strange Boys. So the investigation began. Mark a friend of mine gave me a promo copy of the bands debut album 'The Strange Boys and Girls Club' (on the ever reliable IN THE RED label) and informed me that he was trying to book the band for a Newcastle date. Excited I put the album on the stereo and was instantly disappointed by the rather average indie jangle that came from the speakers. The weird thing is that's its only the first track that is not outstanding - bizarrely the rest of the record is a wonderful collection of authentic nuggets style garage racket crossed with heartwarming bitter sweet and soulful guitar pop of the finest calibre. It's a grower and it really gets under the skin, I cant recommend this record enough. Elements I've fallen in love with include The Brian Jones style early Rolling Stones R&B guitar sounds, the schitzo vocals that veer from insanity to beauty, and the raw naked songs themselves.

Many people on initial listen have told me they think the band are a sub standard Black lips, yet the very same people have come back weeks later and said they were wrong and they now prefer The Strange Boys to the Black lips since the songs start to grow in beauty and brilliance with each repeat play.

I cant get enough of this record.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

king khan & the Shrines

(Sorry for the slightly messed up layout of this blog, cant work out why it's not working)

Like something I could only invent in my head. A unity of edgy 60's Garage kicks and late 60's / early 70's live-wire shock treatment R & B,
with all the punk and funk that that implies. Its the kind of thing that Jukebox/Splash one favourites such as The Dirtbombs and Detroit cobras (hell sometimes even the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion) have come close to nailing but never quite hit the mark like these guys. Pure James Brown meets MC5 - with a Spike Milligan/Monty Python twist!

They first came to my attention last year when a friend wouldn't stop ranting to me about them, the sort of rant that is usually followed by disappointment when the music is finally heard. Not so with King Khan, who on first listen more than justified the hype. My friend had come to the band via their association with brilliant Atlanta based garage band The Black lips, with whom some members of King Khan have formed a super group.

The band describe themselves as not so much a band but an all star international movement, this claim it seems is backed up by anyone who has witnessed their chaotic high octane live shows, like their London debut that got so rowdy it was stopped by the Police. These gigs are said to take influence from Sun Ra's Arkestra and George Clinton's Parliament-Funkadelic, these are pretty bold claims to make if you cant back them up. The evidence thankfully is all over the Internet, gig after gig people are left reeling from the soul power of this 11 piece band. In true Clinton style the on stage shenanigans are already
legendary within the underground garage community, on stage nudity, arson, cross dressing, you name it
and it's gone on in the mix up on stage at some point.

Front man Arish ''King'' Khan describes the live experience ''I like to compare our live shows to a gospel freak-out
from back in the day - [as] if there was a Japanese animation monster with nine penises running through the church.''

Another kooky aspect to the band is the Voodoo angle - front man Khan practices Voodoo in his spare time, and is part of a secret voodoo death cult, known as The Kukomongas (The black lips are also members).

The band take influence from a deep well of serious soul gospel, jazz and funk including Sun Ra, Eddie Floyd, The Falcons, Funkadelic, Art Ensemble Of Chicago, Curtis Mayfield - but unlike other modern day soul/funk outfits these guys keep things rockin' with a charged punk rock spirit, and a sense of adventure that has seen their music often described as psychedelic soul, there's certainly enough far out Nuggets style elements in there to justify this label.

I'm really excited that King Khan & the Shrines are heading to Newcastle (The Other rooms) for an unmissable gig that should prove to be a talking point for some time to come.

SAT 3rd OCT !!!