On the edge of the 30th anniversary of punk rock, Punk's Not Dead takes you into the sweaty underground clubs, backyard parties, recording studios, and yes, shopping malls and stadium shows... See full summary »
Such Hawks Such Hounds explores the music and musicians of the American hard rock underground circa 1970-2007, focusing on the psychedelic and '70s proto-metal-derived styles that have in ... See full summary »
Scott 'Wino' Weinrich,
A collaboration between filmmaker Jem Cohen and the Washington D.C. band Fugazi, covering the 10 year period of 1987-1996. Far from a traditional documentary, this is a musical document; a ... See full summary »
Punk, New Wave, Reggae and Techno bands from Europe and the US recorded live in several locations in 1980. The biggest names on the bill are the Police and UB 40 but every performance is a ... See full summary »
Wall of Voodoo,
Inspired by Steven Blush's book "American Hardcore: A tribal history" Paul Rachman's feature documentary debut is a chronicle of the underground hardcore punk years from 1979 to 1986. Interviews and rare live footage from artists such as Black Flag, Bad Brains, Minor Threat, SS Decontrol and the Dead Kennedys. Written by
OK, As you would expect the footage of the bands in their prime is absolutely incredible... made me want to stage dive in the theater. the interviews of some of hardcore's icons lived up to my expectations - Keith morris, Ian Mackaye and Henry Rollins always have memorable sound bites - but the director also made sure to include lesser known "musicians" like the dudes from heart attack, die Kreuzen and death piggy. HOWEVER, my biggest complaint was the lack of a fully descriptive storyline and the exclusion of "non-thrash" hardcore bands As with most punk documentaries the opening setting really drew me in by explaining the social, cultural and political backdrop that spawned the scene. Surprisingly, there is almost no footage of the 77-80 punk rock influences that shaped hardcore...no Ramones or pistols or even fear or the germs and other just Pre-hardcore bands. it jumps right into the thrash full throttle, but unfortunately tries to let said footage carry the documentary, which it does not always do.
Again, as with most punk documentaries, this one struggles to end. it builds up the scene, describes some of the regional tribes - affording WAY too much time to Boston and really skimping on Texas and the entire Midwest - and then realizes it's got to end somehow. The movie is a real jumble. It doesn't get into the "kids" that much (i can't think of any regular "fans" who were interviewed. everyone was either in a band or ran a label or was the girlfriend of a major player.) and does not detail just what kind of people were attracted to hardcore outside of the generic explanation of "angry outcasts" from the suburbs. (like what's the difference between a Misfits fan and your run of the mill Iron Maiden fan.) It doesn't really timeline the rise, peak and decline of the era. the interviewees just say how awesome and crazy and new it was, dude, the Bad Brains rule, and then Ian Mackaye realizes fighting is "uncool" (although fighting was totally awesome in '81) and then DYS and SSD really start to suck and it's all over by '86. Excessive intra-scene violence is mentioned, but except for Rollins pummeling a dude in a separate scene - no fighting footage is shown (there's got to be TONS of fight footage!). no mention of big labels coming in and trying to commodify the scene and no reference to metal bands incorporating hardcore beats to create thrash metal or how many of the HC participants led the college rock/indie movement of the late 80s into the 90s alternative explosion (although i'm glad they didn't end the film with Nirvana & Green Day). i realize the documentary is about HC, but the scene didn't just end, the music and the people just changed form. (on a side note, anyone involved in the hardcore scene after '86 will once again be frustrated by the blanket statement that the scene just ended one day and not the more sensible opinion that a new generation of kids have continually created new and different waves of HC scenes through the years...even if the newer scenes weren't as good it's a real slap in the face to suggest bands like YoT, Citizens Arrest, Integrity, Los Crudos, Tragedy and many more are not HC....MRR still publishes for Christsakes).
This leads me to my second point that the range of bands covered - except for flipper and the Nig heist - were only awesome thrash bands. (yes, i know it's a strange complaint.) no reference to husker Du or the Butthole surfers and how those bands pushed the musical boundaries of HC or footage of some funky big boys or minutemen songs which would spotlight how bands like the chili peppers/faith no more would tweak the HC sound and successfully sell it to millions. i know you can't show every band from the era, but if you added the aforementioned bands and subtracted some (admittedly Slammin') YDI and Scream footage it may have shown the broader impact of that original HC scene. i should note that a couple obvious bands had to be omitted for legal reasons and a couple of your favorites were probably cut out in editing... mine being the Descendents, red cross, naked Raygun, AOD and GG Allin and the jabbers. i really don't know how to end this review... the archival footage is amazing and i'm glad this era of punk rock has finally been given the documentary treatment, but if you're not a crazy hardcore punk fan such as myself, you may get kinda bored after 45 minutes...just ask my girlfriend.
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