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Punk Yeah: 15 Movies That Are Loud, Fast, and Offensive!

Punk Yeah: 15 Movies That Are Loud, Fast, and Offensive!

Punk can mean a wide variety of things. It depends on the person using the word and the context in which it is being used. It can be used when talking about a low-level goon or what I like to refer to as 80’s thugs. You know what I’m talking about. The type of disposable baddie that Robocop would take out without hesitation. Most commonly punk refers to the aggressive form of rock music that gained steam in the 70’s thanks to bands like the New York Dolls and the Sex Pistols. Punk rock ties directly into punk fashion and punk ideologies.

Punk is the voice of youth, the soundtrack to the revolution. It’s about challenging the status-quo and being anti-establishment. It’s the working class fighting for economic stability. Punk is about not doing what you’re told simply because it’s what you’re told. Punk is authentic.

Today I’m talking punk because this past Friday the brand new Blu-ray of D.O.A.: A Right of Passage hit shelves everywhere. This ground-breaking documentary on the origin of punk rock also marks the debut release from the MVD Rewind Collection. Needless to say, today is a pretty big day. The film, which you can order directly from MVD or from Amazon, is available on a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack and it comes loaded with special features.

To celebrate the release of this must-own punk origin story I’ve put together a list of 15 movies that fall under some of the punk umbrella that you should probably see. And when I say probably see I mean you should definitely see because failure to do so means you’re part of the establishment. And if you’re part of the establishment you’re part of the problem.


Death Race 2000 – 1975 – Dir. Paul Bartel

One could argue that everything Roger Corman has ever touched over the course of his illustrious career is punk in some way or another, which is kind of hilarious since Corman has always had the fashion style of the classic square. Death Race 2000 makes the cut for a number of reasons, the most obvious being that the fashion sense in the film’s dystopian future oozes punk aesthetic. The film also serves a bit of warning as to what happens if we don’t have that punk mindset to question those in charge. When those in power have absolute power they eventually pit us against one another for their own entertainment. In Death Race 2000 that’s a cross-county auto race where contestants are awarded points for running down pedestrians.


The Road Warrior – 1981 – Dir. George Miller

Post-apocalyptic movies are punk. I feel like that’s a pretty safe generalization to make and The Road Warrior is a shining example. Here we have a world that has come tumbling down because those with absolute power cannot be trusted. As a society, we always end up destroying ourselves and need punk to step in and save the day. Any Mad Max movie would fit on this list but I chose The Road Warrior because Vernon Wells’ Wez is as punk as they come.


Class of 1984 – 1982 – Dir. Mark L. Lester

Class of 1984 is the type of film that teaches us that we can learn a lot of from punk if we just pay attention. This is a film that utilizes the punk look to tell a story about violence in schools and this was released in 1982, long before school shootings were the norm. Mark L. Lester was presenting a social commentary on things to come based on the current state of the world back then and we failed to heed his warning. This film also features an insane performance from Roddy McDowall.


Liquid Sky – 1982 – Dir. Slava Tsukerman

Liquid Sky is a fascinating film for a number of reasons. It’s the story of a fashion model with dreams of making it big while overcoming abuse from her drug-addicted alter ego. There are also invisible aliens that kill people. This is one you have to see to understand but I can assure you that it’s a visual masterpiece of avant-garde filmmaking and it’s most definitely punk. The film has been a bit of a rarity and hard to see over the years which is sort of odd because it was quite successful for an indie film upon its initial release. Fortunately this past Black Friday the wonderful dudes over at Vinegar Syndrome release a Blu-ray of the film that by all accounts is gorgeous. Unfortunately, that release was limited has already sold out. Here’s to hoping they bring it back!


Suburbia – 1983 – Dir. Penelope Spheeris

Another Roger Corman production makes the list this time in the form of Suburbia, quite possibly the most punk movie of all to be included. This is a movie about a group of punks that don’t feel as if they belong in their suburban society. Treated as if they’re worthless, the band of misfits come together and create a family all their own. You can’t have a list of punk films without Suburbia.


Repo Man – 1984 – Dir. Alex Cox

Legendary television writer and noted McDonald’s critic Bill Oakley recently tweeted that Repo Man is his favorite movie of all time. If that is true, and I don’t know Oak to be a liar, that would make him punk AF because few movies are as punk as Repo Man. This directorial debut from Alex Cox is a punk/sci-fi hybrid that isn’t quite like anything else you’ve ever seen. It shows punks in a way rarely seen. The punks here are goofy and silly rather than all doom and gloom, despite the dark times in which they live.


Demons – 1985 – Dir. Lamberto Bava

Demons is one of my personal favorites and I consider it to be the all-time best party movie. Throw this on with a bunch of friends over and you’re guaranteed to have a great time. Lamberto Bava’s greatest achievement is a somewhat meta story about demons popping out of a movie screen to attack the unsuspecting audience members. It also features a trio of punks that get involved in the madness and has great new wave-punk soundtrack.


The Return of the Living Dead – 1985 – Dir. Dan O’Bannon

It’s easy to see why The Return of the Living Dead is punk — it’s a movie about a group of punks fighting zombies with an awesome 8o’s punk soundtrack. That’s merely what you find on the surface. Once you dig deeper you see a whole of punk sensibilities. There’s social commentary regarding the US government, a punk staple, and this is the movie that completely changed the way we view zombies. At this point, zombies had been well-established thanks to George Romero but O’Bannon decided to mix things up and introduce us to humorous zombies that literally call out for brains. The ROTD sequels would also fall under the punk category.


Dead End Drive-In – 1986 – Dir. Brian Trenchard-Smith

Ozploitation is basically another work for punk. Those Aussies are all about taking on the establishment and my favorite film to do so is Dead End Drive-In. In this BTS classic, the youth of Australia are round up and forced to live within the confines of a drive-in movie theater. While watching movies and eating junk food 24/7 may sound great this is really all just a ploy to willingly get people to live inside an internment camp. The movie was a commentary on the state of Vietnamese immigrants in Australia at the time, but unfortunately, it still applies to various scenarios throughout the world today.


Punk Vacation – 1990 – Dir. Stanley Lewis

Punk Vacation is actually more punksploitation than anything else. The punks in this film are the villains and punk stereotypes are definitely played up. It definitely lacks a bit of the authenticity of some of the other films on this list. With that said, it’s a great deal of fun and worth your time. It’s a nice slice of late 80’s-early 90’s low budget action and it shows how big punk’s influence was back then.


Wild At Heart – 1990 – Dir. David Lynch

In the history of cinema has there ever been a more punk rock actor than Nicolas Cage? I think not — you’ll see him again on this list — and his one teaming with David Lynch might be his most punk rock movie ever. Wild at Heart is one of those movies that is really hard to explain and the only one to truly make sense of it is to watch it and watch it and watch and watch it. It’s a love story between Cage and Laura Dern that puts a Lynchian twist on The Wizard of Oz. Also Willem Dafoe and Crispin Glover get weird.


Shopping – 1994 – Dir. Paul W.S. Anderson

Before he got into the world of Resident Evil and big budget popcorn pictures, director Paul W.S. Anderson made his debut with a low budget crime thriller about reckless teens in England. The two leads, played by a young Jude Law and a young Sadie Frost, get their kicks by stealing cars and crashing them through storefront. Then then further trash the stores. This is known as “shopping.” Stealing from the man? Punk.


Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance – 2011 – Dir. Neveldine/Taylor

Ok so the Neveldine/Taylor take on Ghost Rider is probably more metal than anything, but metal and punk go hand in hand, right? Personally, I couldn’t imagine making this list without including Spirit of Vengeance. Superhero movies weren’t quite what they are now back in 2011 but they were beginning to put a stranglehold on the box office and Marvel had already showcased they had a formula that works. Ghost Rider went completely against the grain in an effort to do something different. The results are decidedly mixed with not everything working to perfection but the movie is loads of fund and Cage is absolutely unleashed from the opening credits to the final scene.


Green Room – 2015 – Dir. Jeremy Saulnier

Green Room is literally about a punk rock band forced to fight for their lives after witnessing a murder at a neo-Nazi bar. This movie is tense, gripping and far too relevant. It all speaks directly to liberal Portland’s dark, racist past. The punks always resist.


Get Out – 2017 – Dir. Jordan Peele

Is Get Out punk? I think so. In fact, it’s not all that different than Green Room and I’d recommend watching the two films back-to-back to get a nice 3-hour look at the sad state of America. Get Out may not appear punk on the surface — at least not when it comes to how most people perceive punk — but it most certainly shares the same ideologies as punk and challenges the establishment head-on.



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COMMENTS

60 Comments
  • David Carlisle

    “Legendary television writer and noted McDonald’s critic Bill Oakley recently tweeted that Repo Man. If that is true…” If what is true?

    • Rohan

      I reread that like 3 times trying to see if I missed it

      • David Carlisle

        So did I. Maybe the writer was too busy with the hooch and Fear’s Fuck Christmas.

  • Scott Lee Andrews

    Missing from above:
    Ex-Drummer
    Nothing Bad Can Happen
    Alchemists Cookbook

  • Stiler Orion

    How is SLC Punk not on this list?

    • zombie84_41

      idk if green room is slc punk should too hell turbo kid and waterworld should be too

  • Jon Macmenamin

    Sorry but there is absolutely NOTHING on that list that I would consider “punk”. What Americans class as punk is completely different from what we in the UK would (punk was mainly a UK phenomena)…

    • Christopher Nickerson

      As an American Repo Man is the only one I would call punk

      • Saturn

        I’d not even consider DEMONS to be a punk rock movie, yeah there are some punks in it, but most of the memorable music in it is METAL!
        Still, Metal&Punk Rock go hand in hand, both bouncing ideas of each other, and in places it’s difficult to differentiate.

        • Batcat

          I was going to say that. I think the author got the two movies confused in some way. Demons 2 has the New Wave/Alternative soundtrack. The first one is largely metallic, including the classic, “Fast as a Shark” by Accept.

          • Saturn

            Ok. just for you……

    • Lorne Dixon

      Because The New York Dolls, The Ramones, Television, Patti Smith Group, and the Stooges weren’t the bedrock of punk rock? C’mon, man, “punk was mainly a UK phenomena” really?

      • Jérémy Kuprowski

        The UK is still the birthplace of the culture and genre, but it would be silly to dismiss the US about it… The scene was so big, with so many essential bands you can’t claim the US didn’t play a huge part in the scene.

        However, The Clash was from the UK…And they pretty much defined what punks stood for, what it meant… who they are. The Clash may have not been the first, but they certainly revolutionized what it meant to be punk.

        • Saturn

          Like I mentioned in a previous post, what became punk rock basically developed between the UK/US with bands bouncing ideas off of each other, forming the scene.

          The Ramones for example are VERY important in the creation of UK punk, as the story goes that when they performed for the 1st time in the UK most of the people in the crowd went on to form “punk” bands of their own – leading to creation of The Sex Pistols, The Damned, and THE GREATEST PUNK BAND OF THEM ALL – The Clash, plus many others.

          Many of the proto punk bands in the US cited The Beatles as a major influence (3 chords – simple, catchy lyrics – well,in the early days anyway, and of course songs like Helter Skelter which many consider to be both the first punk rock, AND metal song to actually matter – whether I’d agree with that? I don’t know, but I can see why people who believe it do so).

          • Jérémy Kuprowski

            I actually saw a few people saying that “Purple Haze” by Jimi Hendrix may have been the actual precursor of metal (or at the very least : hard rock) due to how fast and upbeat it was. That’s also very debatable and I’d still consider Black Sabbath to be the first real metal band.

            This being said though, it is both obvious, yet crucial to remember that art always takes inspiration from something else. Of course punk didn’t’ just “appear” , neither did rock , metal or any genre. There’s always some kind of source. And that’s perfectly fine.

          • Saturn

            I’d agree that Sabbath were the first metal band, but there were of course proto-metal bands/songs around a little before they released their classic first album.

            Much like how Halloween wasn’t really the first slasher movie, it’s importance in bringing together so many of the classic traits is a reason why many consider it to be the first truly official slasher movie, even though of course movies like Texas Chain Saw Massacre & Black Christmas (and of course the German krimis & Italian gialli) predate it by several years, and share many similiarities.

            Like you said, a certain artform doesn’t just appear from nowhere (to those not following what’s going on in the underground, for example) but gradually builds up, until all the elements come together.

        • misanthropic0

          The Clash are only considered a great Punk band by people that do not listen to Punk.

          • Jérémy Kuprowski

            Please, enlighten me then? Because as someone who organizes punk events, listen to punk and metal everyday and all the time, who has a punk GF and who has debates about what’s punk and what isn’t on a weekly basis , I’m certain I don’t know shit about that subculture.

            You don’t have to be an elitist twat, because I probably know the bands you’re going to mention. Yes, The Clash is not the only band, far from it. But claiming they didn’t have an important and lasting impact on the punk community and set of mind is a blatant lie that make you look either like someone who doesn’t know shit, or someone who’s too pompous to admit they like something sort of “mainstream”.

            And seriously, I’d rather listen to some timeless classic like the Clash or the Ramones than some mediocre outings like post-dookie Green Day, Blink 182 and so on.

          • Saturn

            It’s basically like saying that Black Sabbath aren’t considered a great metal band by metal fans.
            Perhaps there are other metal bands you prefer over Sabbath, maybe you’re more of a DM/BM fan, but there is no denying that Black Sabbath is a GREAT band – yeah, they had a few years in the wilderness releasing non classic stuff, but in fairness even the weaker 80’s/90’s Sabbath still had some good shit.

            I’m more of a metal fan than punk rock fan – but I still often listen to The Clash/Black Flag/Misfits/The Damned/Ramones – stuff of that ilk, there aren’t many modern punk bands I like (too much pop punk shite) but enjoy the music of Dropkick Murphy’s & Rancid, with some of the earlier Offspring material.
            There is no doubt though that The Clash are number one, and definitely the most talented bunch of musicians of the bunch in the way they brought so many different influences into their music, and made it work.

          • misanthropic0

            I just do not believe The Clash to be a great punk band, maybe a great rock band, they were a bunch of rich kids who started a band to capitalize on punk then started playing reggae. I am not going to debate someone on what is punk and what is not because those conversations lead nowhere, if you enjoy listening to the Clash I have no problem with that and do not believe that listening to them has any effect on whether you are a punk or not. As for Gilman Street bands I would rather listen to Blatz, Filth (who started out mocking the punk scene), Crimpshrine, or Grimple, and I think i have only heard about a minute of blink 182 in my life.

      • Jon Macmenamin

        See this is the thing, in the UK we class them as Rock bands! They aren’t what we would consider as punk. Hence my whole point with my original comment.

        • Saturn

          Indeed, The Ramones themselves didn’t consider themselves punk, just a rock & roll band, much like the also mighty Motörhead.

    • Jerry Topolinsky

      Don’t want to get into a stupid debate about punk rock, but the Sex Pistols alone should be enough to knock you off your fuckin high horse. UK phenomenon my ass.

    • zombie84_41

      everything came from the UK to be honest dubstep grime trap all the shit they stick up our asses here in america you guys did 300 times better the old grime from the 90s come on now cant beat that shit

      • Saturn

        Although, as an Englishman, I’d disagree that everything came from the UK, I would agree that for such a small island nation my brethren have historically punched way above our weight, in many ways on a global stage.

        I would think that if there were a global poll about – as an example – musical importance, the US would probably rank number 1, with the UK coming in at a very close 2nd (and it would depend on who was asked – we’d potentially be number one if it were based on greatest bands of all time – which of course I don’t have to name because I’m pretty sure everybody could name them anyway).
        Historically, like I mentioned in the Punk thread, the UK/US have bounced ideas off of each other when it comes to music, going back many decades.
        The US gave the world Elvis, the UK gave the world The Beatles. Each as iconic as each other, although many would consider The Beatles superior due to actually writing their own material, and basically changing the face of music forever – and many believe being the first proto metal/punk band – BUT, The Beatles have cited Elvis as an inspiration.
        I’d say when it comes to Elvis/Beatles it’s basically down to a flip of the coin – both were highly influential, to this day.

        • xcalibrate ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

          And The Spice Girls… I’ll get my coat.

          • Saturn

            Oh you had to go there……. 😉

        • zombie84_41

          Yeah I guess both have its equals but I forgot to mention Austrilla deft has us beat now. Every band I been liking for the past few years are from there

          • Saturn

            Australia are oft overlooked, but over the years they’ve given us some decent bands – in comparison to the US/UK not-so-much on a global scale, but there has been some decent stuff coming from the land down under.

    • Shaun Lowther

      Oh boy, nationalism in a punk thread. How very punk of you.

    • Saturn

      As a Brit I have to disagree with you.
      The Sex Pistols/The Clash – punk as fuck.
      The Ramones/The Misfits – punk as fuck.

      Although punk was bigger in the UK, the US punk scene was just as influential – with bands from either side of the pond citing each other as influences.

      Yes, the look of punk formed in the UK (but again, was influenced by US bands – who were also influenced themselves by earlier UK bands ad infinitum) into the classic look, but like the sound it really was a 2 way street between the UK/US.
      Metal was born in the UK. but the Americans took it and also gave us some of the great metal bands of the 80, who admitted to being heavily influenced by UK bands – and for years both countries have bounced ideas around off off each other creating great metal music, in the same way it happened with punk.

      Sadly though the Americans birthed pop punk shite like Blink 182 and crap like that, so lose punk points because of it…..

      • SpacemanSpliffz

        boy oh boy, punk came from neither. punk started in jamaica with the rude boys. uk stole the rude boys, rude boys became mods/skins. mods and skins then became stale, and punks came from them. being “ffffrrrrom the ewwwww kaaaay” one would figure you knew what the fuck you were talking about, which in this case – you clearly don’t.

        • Saturn

          Although certain UK punk bands were influenced by the influx of migrants from the Caribbean, who introduced reggae,ska & funk into the mix, to say that punk rock started in Jamaica is incorrect.
          Yes, bands like The Clash (the prime example) introduced those aspects into their music later on (with of course a later fusion of ska/punk in the late 70’s), to begin with they were much more raw in sound., but who alongside other bands of their ilk admitted that they were influenced, and excited by, the music of the migrants, but also were influenced by bands from the US, and of course previous British bands from earlier generations.
          Punk rock was a fusion of different elements that came together in the right place at the right time – and has never hidden the fact that it took from here, it took from there.

          If, like you claim, punk stared in Jamaica – what happened to their thriving sound?

          • SpacemanSpliffz

            not as i claim – as is truth. rude boys and skins in jamaica were the original punk rockers, end of story.

          • Saturn

            Any examples of bands that’d be worth checking out?

          • misanthropic0

            No they weren’t, not end of story. Being a precursor to something does not make you that, amoebas are not humans, wolves are not dogs, fish are not sharks.

        • david

          Wasn’t Punk born in the U.S. with The Ramones? I think that most people would agree that they were the first Punk band.

    • Rick-Taylor

      Leather jackets with studs, colored mohawks, plaid pants with safety pins, ankle boots, etc. it’s an amalgamation of both UK and New York past anti-culture. What you Brits have that the US doesn’t have are the opposite of Punk, the Mods. Lemme tell you, Noel Fielding may be king of the Mods, but he is also very Punk.

    • misanthropic0

      Punk in the UK went downhill in the 80’s, while in the US punk was bigger and better with the emergence of Hardcore.

      • Saturn

        Which of course would lead to thrash metal and the birth of bands like Metallica/Slayer/Anthrax/Megadeth and the rest.

        I know a lot of metal fans who say they hate punk rock, but are into thrash,death metal,black metal et al, who don’t seem to realise the importance of punk on the birth of those genres!

  • Dr. Carrion Crow

    I’m sorry, Return of the Living Dead is SUPER punk rock. It’s got The Cramps on the soundtrack.

    • Saturn

      It’s the best movie on the list, aside from Demons which runs a very close second….

  • zombie84_41

    i like this list its not bad some
    movies i dont agree with being on this list but they are good movies but rotld is the ultimate zombie punk movie

  • zombie84_41

    Also i think blade runner and akria and ghost in the shell need to be on here they are cyberpunk. Also is warriors counted as punk?

  • Willie C

    No love for “Dr. Caligari”?

  • E Dawg

    How about Troma’s classics Class of Nuke’em High and the 1st Toxic Avenger???

    • Saturn

      I’ve still got to check out Nuke ‘Em High 4 (I have mixed feeling in regards to the first 3), but am waiting for number 5 to be released, if it’s still happening that is.

      • misanthropic0

        Return to Return to Class of Nuke ‘Em High aka Vol. 2, has already been shown at several festivals and should be released to DVD early to mid 2018.

        • Saturn

          Good to know. Cheers.

    • misanthropic0

      Pretty much all of the Troma Team movies can be added to this list.

  • Carl Chrystan

    Good list, but I’m afraid it’s incomplete as there’s no mention of Ex Drummer (2007), which is so punk it’s even filmed that way, denying filmmaking conventions.

  • Saturn

    Merry Christmas to my Scottish cousins, from a guy South of the Wall!

  • Saturn

    Other great movies not mentioned, American History X & Romper Stomper – yeah, more to do with Neo-Nazi’s than general punk rock fans, but hatecore, as it’s become known, is,sadly,a reality.

  • Rick-Taylor

    One of the most pointless and nerdy comments, ever…. Demons is Metal, not Punk. As proclaimed by the ambassador of Metal in movies and video games.

  • Rick-Taylor

    The movie came out before the genre got its name, but I would say A Clockwork Orange is the epitome of Punk. I am assuming it makes a good analogy of being thrust into the adult-life from the youth of Punk.

  • DukeStKing

    Dead Boys, FEAR….

  • Alanmac

    Loved Suburbia back in the day but, having not watched it for at least 30+ years, all I can recall of it now is that they were a bunch of thieves and entitled shits. Also, Green Room sucked.

  • 1EyeJack

    • Ladies And Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains
    • Breaking Glass

  • captaintrips

    REPO MAN…….god what a movie!

  • big_trouble_in_little_china

    This Is England is the epitome of Punk in look and doesn’t shy away from the confusion of alienation vs hatred. I surprisingly liked Salton Sea, although it also makes me cringe. Vigilante-wise: The Horseman and/or The Limey. The endings of both movies probably piss people off and that’s why they are Punk AF. Hell, what about Tron circa ’82?

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