Meet Me at the Tumor’s Door: DVD

Feb 26, 2007

Meet Me at the Tumor’s Door is decidedly an “amateur” work—it looks like it was shot with a camcorder, and the sound fluctuates from one interview and band performance snippet to the next—and yet it is also easily one of the best punk documentaries I’ve seen in years. Clocking in at under half an hour, it tells the tale of the suburbanization of the Santa Clarita Valley (the area surrounding Six Flags Magic Mountain amusement park) and the ultimate rebellion of its younger, largely ignored population. For the longest time, that area was kinda like the last outpost of civilization on the northern end of Southern California, with small housing developments spread out sporadically amongst broad swaths of nothing but dust and hills. I personally remember hearing stories from punks out there in the ‘80s about how fucking desolate the place was for a kid to live. In recent years, however, the area has seen exponential population growth, with housing and malls, and markets and businesses crowding into any space available. It also appears, however, that no more thought is being put into stuff to keep the kids entertained than when it was a wasteland, and just like Orange County in the late ‘70s/early ‘80s, Santa Clarita now finds itself with a large contingent of relatively well-off kids with fuckall to do, plenty of time on their hands, and just enough energy to stir up a little shit. Documented here is the frustration these kids feel, their sense of alienation from their surroundings and their reliance on punk rock as a vehicle with which to channel their angst. It also demonstrates the resourcefulness that has been inherent in punk since the beginning is still very much alive: faced with no place for gigs, they invent their own musical subgenre based around vocals, a bass guitar, and harmonica, and resort to throwing gigs in what looks like a public bathroom. Director Jennifer Swann (who herself is in her mid-teens, if memory serves) handles her story like a pro, deftly setting the scene in the beginning and then letting the subjects make their case. The result is a film that, while a bit rough in spots, is well shot and nicely cut, coherent, engrossing and never dull, which is more than can be said of the works of so many “professional” films, especially those dealing with the punk subculture. Can’t wait for a sequel. –Jimmy Alvarado (Jenneration X Productions, PO Box 800757, Santa Clarita, CA 93180-0757)