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A tireless act spanning over 1,000 movies and culminating in 500 pages, Destroy All Movies!!! The Complete Guide to Punks on Film represents the efforts of Zack Carlson and Bryan Connolly to document punk appearances on the silver screen. An opening foreword comes courtesy of Richard Hell of seminal punk band, Richard Hell & The Voidoids as he lays the grounds for the influence of punk throughout the movie landscape. The book scours far and wide including both indie and mainstream movies such as “straight-to-VHS slasher trash, Brooklyn skid row masterpieces, Filipino breakdancing fairytales, no-budget apocalyptic epics and movies that shouldn’t even have been released, many of which have never been written about.” Interview Magazine feature a talk with both Connolly and Carlson with a selection of questions and answers posted below. Destroy All Movies!!! The Complete Guide to Punks on Film is available now through Amazon with a retail price of $23.10 USD.
HUNTER STEPHENSON: What is the earliest film included in the book?
BRYAN CONNOLLY: Well, there are two. One is The Blank Generation, a documentary about CBGBs that features early footage of Iggy Pop and The Ramones, but the audio is not the best. And the other one is called Punk Rock, which was essentially a porn film that had a band in it that was kind of punk. The film was called that because the people who made it thought punk would become popular. And then they actually re-released it, taking out all of the sex scenes and inserting footage of weird little bands from New York. Needless to say, it didn’t do very well. [LAUGHS] Both of those were released around ’76. LEFT: A POSTER FOR THE BLANK GENERATION
ZACK CARLSON: What’s funny about Punk Rock is that the guy who made it, even though it was the first narrative punk film in history, he had no interest in the scene or music. He was dating a girl who, at the time, was excited by the idea of going to New York punk clubs, so he was like “Sure, baby!” and he made this low-rent feature. For the book, we interviewed the director Carter Stevens, and he was completely amused that anyone gave a rat’s ass about his movie.
STEPHENSON: There were a few films that I thought were overlooked, like Stoked: The Rise & Fall of Gator and 24 Hour Party People, but I checked and they were released after ’99. However, one film I was surprised not to see was Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Did you guys consider the punk attributes of Charlie Sheen’s character in that film?
CARLSON: That’s funny, because we talked about that very character and scene. We debated it.
CONNOLLY: Yeah, I even went as far as to write a review for Ferris Bueller, and then at the last minute we took it out. In the end, there were no real indicators that Sheen’s character listened to punk music, or was a part of that culture in any way.
CARLSON: Like, his hair’s sticking up, but it’s due to filth and a lack of hygiene. [LAUGHS] We wanted to include him, but it would have opened up the floodgates to endless junkies. Given, he’s a superlative wreck, and the thumbs-up scene is amazing. The two movies we’re catching the most shit about so far for not including are Over the Edge and Alex Cox’s Straight to Hell. People are trying to throw tomatoes at us for leaving ‘em out. [LAUGHS] Look, we love Over the Edge, but we couldn’t justify saying that any of those kids were punk. They were rebellious, but so were kids in the mid-’60s. They were inspiring and really awesome, but they would have been so in 1970, before punk culture moved in. It’s just a great “youth in revolt” movie. Even though the characters listen to the Ramones at one point, most of the time they’re getting stoned, having long hair, listening to Cheap Trick. Which, granted, I totally respect that. But the characters weren’t intended to be punk by the writers or filmmakers. One movie we weren’t sure about was Gremlins, but one of the contributing writers, Simon Czerwinskyi, managed to convince us, against better judgment. His essay on why Gremlins and the gremlins themselves are punk is probably my favorite piece of writing in it.
CONNOLLY: Pretty much, once the ’90s hit the movies with punks in them became abysmal. By then, grandmothers were wearing purple hair and nose rings. Punk had blended into alternative and grunge. And then “mall punk” started happening.
CARLSON: There’s a horror movie from ’99 called Idle Hands, where The Offspring perform, and that movie we really trashed. Joe’s Apartment, from MTV, is another one, and Pauly Shore’s Bio-Dome. [LAUGHS] We were pretty brash and vicious on most movies from the ‘90s. The makers of Punk Rock Summer Camp, a doc about the Warped Tour, will probably take us to court for what we wrote.
STEPHENSON: If you had to single out one film that best depicts punk, in spirit and all facets, could you choose? A really lengthy argument is made for Repo Man in the book…
CARLSON: We both have the same answer: Penelope Spheeris’s Suburbia. This is actually my favorite film of all time, and it inspired the entire book on the deepest levels. Spheeris wanted to tell a story about believable kids and a horrible struggle, so she cast real kids to play those parts. It’s almost entirely non-actors, and that movie is the wildest for me. Punk or not, it’s the best movie I ever saw.
CONNOLLY: I feel the same way about it, but I also want to include Paul Morrissey’s film Madame Wang’s, which is currently not available on DVD in this country. Sadly. I think it’s his finest work. It’s a great film, a comedy about an East German spy infiltrating the L.A. punk scene in ’80 or ’81, and it captures the moment perfectly but in an over the top way. I encourage readers of Interview to seek it out.