Video Reviews

Science Man: Nines Mecca (2022), VHS

Science Man, a hardcore band from Buffalo, N.Y., brings the world a visual companion piece to their record Nines Mecca. That’s right! The video album has made its way back from the dusty shelves of the rental store where Green Jellÿ’s Cereal Killer and Public Enemy’s Tour of a Black Planet immediately come to mind. […]

Read
1971

In 1971, the FBI had its own prime time TV show, a crime drama where bold agents thwarted evildoers and heroically saved America, neatly, in a one hour time slot. Two years previous, Martin Luther King, Jr. had been assassinated. It was also three years into the Tet Offensive in Vietnam, a violent escalation of […]

Read
Icepick to the Moon: DVD

Rev. Fred Lane is a genre unto himself. He’s a singer few have ever heard of who inspires deep devotion among the converted. Admittedly, that’s a familiar template, but no one’s ever bent that template quite like Lane. With Icepick to the Moon, director Paul “Skizz” Czykz tells the many-layered story of Fred Lane and […]

Read
Legend of the Stardust Brothers, The (1985) (2021 re-release)

In 1985, Makoto Tezuka, a twenty-two-year-old film student, directed a zany tribute to films where bands play themselves in fictional situations á la the Beatles’ Help!The Legend of the Stardust Brothers wasn’t seen by anybody outside of Japan until 2018, when it was finally translated and re-released in theaters and eventually on home video. The […]

Read
Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time (2021) Theaters and On-Demand

Kurt Vonnegut was an author best known for his books Slaughterhouse Five and Breakfast of Champions. His writing was surreal, funny, and borderline science fiction. The themes were usually based around some character watching the world fall apart all around them but trying to make the best of it. His books were easy to read and, to paraphrase […]

Read
Punk the Capital: DVD

I know, I know, another documentary on DC punk rock. If you think the need for more documentation of the scene is redundant or indulgent, I get it, trust me: in the last ten or so years, books, docs, and podcasts have come out of the woodwork, hashing and rehashing accepted histories, codifying them, often […]

Read
Surf II (1983) 2021 Blu-ray re-release

Surf II (the end of the trilogy) is a product of its time. It’s a raunchy, over-the-top comedy with little plot and padded out with gags. Menlo (Eddie Deezen) is a psychotic nerd living in a fortress underneath the waves who has only one goal, and that’s to kidnap surfers, force them to drink toxic […]

Read
Dima Punk: Once a Punk: VOD

This documentary follows eight years in the life of Stof, the self-proclaimed last punk in Morocco. Having lost much of his fellow punks to adulthood, religion, and prison, Stof takes it upon himself to represent punk rock in the greater Casablanca area. Our protagonist spends his days primping his mohawk, sewing and studding jackets, and wandering the streets of Casablanca with the Exploited in his headphones. Stof’s friends debate his cultural authenticity, while he ponders his place in Moroccan society. The film climaxes with Stof getting arrested on trumped up drug charges, finishing his sentence just in time to catch Hardzazat: Morocco’s premier DIY music festival. Initially, the protagonist comes across as a vapid streetpunk, but as he reveals his experiences and insights, he proves to be a thoughtful and charismatic individual worthy of the film’s focus. By the end of the movie I felt a sort of parasocial connection with Stof, though I don’t think I’ve ever met him. This is the directorial debut of Dominique Caubet, a Cultural Studies professor, who has done a great deal of research on contemporary Moroccan youth culture. The film features music and footage of various Moroccan punk acts, including: Z.W.M., Tachamarod, Betweenatna, and more. The film provides a picture of alternative culture in urban Morocco that was only previously available through direct observation. In summary: it’s hella good. The film is available for viewing on Lardux Films’ Video On Demand page on Vimeo. Stof has since started his own band, also called Dima Punk. Their premier song, “Sir Htal Gheda” can be found on YouTube. Hopefully, there is more to come. –Brian Trott (Lardux Films, 31 Rue Gambetta, 93100 Montreuil, France, lardux.net)

Read
Uncle Peckerhead: (2020): Streaming

Uncle Peckerhead is a film that covers all the nuances of going on your first tour: the naïve excitement, wearing dirty clothes, holier-than-thou sound people, fighting over what music to play in the van, playing multiple shows with a band that sucks, and having a roadie that turns into a cannibalistic monster every night at midnight.

Uncle Peckerhead is a horror-comedy that covers all of the common ground mentioned in the paragraph above. The band Duh exists in a universe of terrible punk band names, including Shark Dick, Quif Queens, and Turd Toilet just to name a few. Duh is comprised of Judy, the bass player, leader, and optimist of the band; Mel, the dark, monotone, and stoned drummer; and Max, the happy-go-lucky jolly idiot guitar player. Duh sets off on their first-ever six-day tour when their van is repoed. After a desperate search, they run across Peckerhead, AKA “Peck,” who has the most absolute perfect van, and offers to let them use it as long as he can tag along. They are resistant to Peck due to their age gap and his modern hillbilly exterior, but he’s all they’ve got.

Only after their first horribly attended show, Judy runs in on Peck transformed into a skull-faced, clawed monster brutally devouring the promoter that only paid them three dollars. Despite the horror, the band decides to keep Peck around due to his charm, ability to move merch, exquisite baking skills, and, most importantly, his van. Besides, as long as he takes his sleepy time medicine around midnight his Mr. Hyde persona stays at bay.

The band continues touring while running into all those other tour tropes such as scripted stage banter, dealing with band divas, and regrettable romances. But when more mutilated and partially eaten bodies start showing up, the band becomes skeptical of Peck’s sweet redneck charm.

There’s a lot to like about the movie. If you’re a gore fan, there is plenty of it. I foolishly wore headphones while watching this, enhancing all the slurps and rips as people are getting their heads and faces ripped off. The horror often takes the back seat to the comedy (even though Peck is driving, yuk yuk), which is fine because there are a couple of really good laugh-out-loud moments. Max (played by Jeff Riddle who also wrote all of the Duh songs) has some of the best scenes due to how silly he can be. A lot of physical comedy out of that guy.

The movie may be one of the best comedies about a band going on a DIY tour since 1996’s Bandwagon. It hits close to home in a lot of places. I believe there might be some kind of satire about having a problematic person in your band and ignoring it despite seeing their atrocities with your own eyes. Or the consequences of fulfilling your dreams, selling out, and hurting people on the way to the top. Or it could just be a funny road movie with a monster that vomits acid on screamo bands’ faces. –Rick V. (Subtle T-Rex, subtletrex.com)

Read
Everything Is A-OK: A Dallas, TX Punk Documentary (2020) DVD/Digital download

There is something that always annoys me about punk scene documentaries I’ve seen. They cover ground for a single era or just a couple of years and it ends with all the interviewees saying, “That’s it! Punk died in 1989 when Robble’s Chuck House closed. End of story!”

What I like about Everything Is A-OK, is that it covers from when anybody remembers seeing a punk show in Dallas in the ’70s and up to the 2010s. It’s mostly there! The documentary goes over a solid chunk of bands, venues, and faces that existed and disappeared over those thirty-some-odd years. We get devotionals for bands like The Nervebreakers, Stickmen With Rayguns (featuring Dallas’ version of GG Allin, Bobby Sox), Riot Squad, Pump’N Ethyl, Terminal Disgust, and many more. As much as the doc goes on about how great a lot of the rock clubs and bars were, it was cool to see some of the long-lost, short-lived DIY spaces mentioned. A good chunk of these places existed in or near Deep Ellum, an area near downtown Dallas that was a wasteland in the eighties and was later gentrified to being a late-night hot spot.

The film features interviews with folks who have been contributing to the Dallas punk scene from every era. The highlight was everyone’s favorite kook, Texas James from Spasm 151 who would do tequila shots off his friends’ testicles. The subjects gush over the love of the Dallas scene, but I wish most of them had something to talk about other than how fucked up they got.

It’s an informative documentary if you are at all into Texas punk history. I do have some other minor complaints though. Sometimes the music playing is so loud during the interviews you can’t hear what the person is saying. And when there’s no music playing, you can hear somebody heavily breathing. It’s not so much of a distraction as it is funny.

And why, oh why would you interview members of the seminal bands Akkolyte and Bread And Water and not dedicate a single minute of coverage!? Just kidding. I’m sure there were some editing issues. Just dedicate your next documentary to those two bands only, okay? –Rick V. (Fringe Media, dallaspunkdoc.com)

Read
Boy(Mouth) Live: That Wasn’t Ted Nugent?: DVD

For as weird as Boy(Mouth)’s musical output is—I think “experimental” might be a reasonably apt descriptor—this live video is stunningly kinda normal. Boy(Mouth), it turns out, are not some withdrawn art/noise collective who dress like Sex Jawas, a performance art troupe who spray the audience with cow eyeballs and cuckoo feathers, or pretentious freaks who think banging on sheet metal is a grand artistic statement of some sort. They’re just two guys playing guitar along to a sequencer, and one of them wears shorts. Okay, sure, one of them has a mask, and there’s a lot of feedback involved, but, when all is said and done, they’re just two guys with guitars. I honestly was expecting a freak show of vastly freakier proportions. This live video was shot at various locations on their surely-triumphant Leaving Stains Across Michigan tour in the summer of 2018—some of it on stages in clubs, some of it outdoors at seemingly clandestine locations. All of it is the two guys—one in a mask and one in shorts—making noise. While this doesn’t exactly qualify as must-see TV, I do applaud their obvious dedication to their calling—whatever, exactly, that might be. –Rev. Nørb (Rotten Princess c/o Dan Bale, 1333 NE 71st, Portland OR 97213, Rottenprincessrecords.bandcamp.com)

Read
Tony Alva Story, The (2019): Streaming

This documentary has a bit of a backstory. It first was put together for an episode of Loveletters to Skateboarding—a great show on Youtube hosted by skateboarder Jeff Grosso. The filmmakers (Buddy Nichols and Rick Charnoski) wanted to do an episode for legendary skateboarder Tony Alva’s sixtieth birthday. As they kept getting footage and speakers, the episode kept getting longer. They decided they should make a documentary about Tony Alva with the footage they compiled. It premiered a year ago and was finally released for home consumption in September 2020.

Tony Alva was one of the original members of the influential Zephyr skate team in the mid-’70s. He went on to be a well-known face in skateboarding, making TV appearances and showing up in films like Skateboard: The Movie and Thrashin’ (“Beat it, ya Val’ jerk!”). Alva started his own skateboard company Alva in 1979 and has been at that for over forty years.

The film starts at Alva’s not-so-humble beginnings rolling with the Z-Boys and accomplishing one of the first frontside airs in a pool. Alva’s skill and aggressive style were impressive but inflated his ego. He was one of the best at vert competitions and he acted like it.

As the documentary steps into the ’80s, we see that things weren’t so hot for Alva since the initial skateboarding boom had died down. But he kept pushing on. He restarted the Alva brand from scratch, designing boards in a garage and forming a team of black jean jacket-wearing punks with the occasional over-the-top goth makeup. Then onto another downward slope with drugs, alcohol, and a wild-looking clothing line.

Throughout the fifty-four minute documentary, the ongoing theme is that when he gets hit hard, Alva always picks himself up and gets back on the board. With all his ups and downs he kept skating and at sixty-two years old, Tony is still dropping into empty pools.

It features the talking heads of famous skaters young and old, past members of the leather-clad Alva team, Josh Brolin (Thrashin’ lead), a stoked Henry Rollins, and of course, an appearance by Ian MacKaye. Seriously, MacKaye has been in seventy-five percent of the documentaries I’ve seen in the past three years and he’s always a welcome addition.

It is by no means eye-opening, earth-shattering, or opinion changing. It’s just a quick documentary covering Alva’s triumphs and blunders (clothing line) that blazes by a lot of little details. I wish it dove much deeper like the other Nichols/Charnoski skateboarding documentary, Deathbowl to Downtown.

The real star of this documentary is the late Jeff Grosso. He was the sour heart and soul of Loveletters to Skateboarding and such an important voice. He has a beautiful intro to the doc and a tear-inducing spot in the end credits that overshadows Tony Alva’s inspirational yet corny outro. The movie is a wonderful ending to the Loveletters series even if it is lacking content.

Now put down the magazine, dust off your skateboard, and go skating with your friends (eight feet apart while wearing a face covering). –Rick V. (vans.com/tonyalvastory.html)

Read
1 2 3 27
crossmenu