Dudes: Blu-ray / DVD

Penelope Spheeris movies have a long history of having hard-to-get releases. There was a time where every punk house had their coveted bootleg VHS tape of Decline of the Western Civilization. When the Decline trilogy was released on DVD in 2015, the world rejoiced.

The same thing happened with Spheeris’s 1987 punk western Dudes. The movie had a very limited release in theaters and an equally-as-small release on VHS. There was a time where the only way to get a copy of Dudes was by ordering a bootleg VHS through the Kung Fu Records catalog.

Dudes starts off at a Vandals show, where we see the protagonists being thrown around in the pit to “Urban Struggle.” They are Milo (Flea), who wears coffee mugs on his leather jacket. Mohawk-sporting Biscuit (Daniel Roebuck). And the punk everyman, Grant (Jon Cryer). After a near-death experience, the trio decides it’s time to leave the big city and move to California.

On the way to California, the trio is bombarded by a gang of toughs led by Missoula (Lee Ving), who rob them and kill Milo. From this point on, the movie is no longer the fun punk road trip movie you may have expected. Biscuit and Grant go on a manhunt to find the gang and get revenge. But being city boys, they aren’t good at it. Not until they run into Jesse (Catherine Mary Stewart), who teaches them how to shoot and survive. Suddenly, Grant is dressed like a desperado with a bullet belt and fingerless gloves. And after having a Native American battle dream, Biscuit starts dressing and acting like a bad Native American stereotype. That aspect of the movie is truly cringe-worthy. Especially when they have spiritual hallucinations after they drink some special firewater given to them by an Elvis impersonator.

Despite those scenes, the movie is enjoyable. And when it’s bad, it’s enjoyably bad. The jokes are corny and the action is whatever. However, you do get the urge to re-watch it after it’s over to revisit the dramatic changes the characters go through. It starts with New York punks kicking pavement to two cowboys shooting at members of Fear in the desert.

This release is the first time the movie has been available on disc format. And it does look much nicer than that copy of a copy, of a copy, of a copy, that made its rounds years prior. The special features include Penelope Spheeris interviewing the main cast. There are some pretty good anecdotes about Biscuit’s mohawk, Jon Cryer being thrown into the pit, and Flea being discovered by Spheeris eating lasagna at Lee Ving’s house. You also learn that Lee Ving is terrified of asbestos.

It’s very cool that Penelope Spheeris’s pre-Wayne’s World movies are finally getting their time in the sun. Now Shout Factory, if you’re reading this, it’s time to re-release Hollywood Vice Squad. –Rick V. (shoutfactory.com)