Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Punk Rock Holocaust - Review

Punk Rock Holocaust
94 min
Directed by Doug Sakmann

"Sure most of these bands are as punk as Pee Wee Herman, but that ain't the point. If I say they're punk, they're punk. If I want Joey Ramone I'll dig his fuckin ass out of the putrid earth and he'll play exactly what I want."

Sometimes people have ideas that sound good on paper but don't quite translate onscreen. That's definitely the case with Punk Rock Holocaust, a promotional video for the Vans Warped Tour that is part movie and part band concert footage. A reporter named Heather is the narrator of the story. She’s investigating a series of murders taking place during the 2003 Warped tour.  A masked man in goggles and bandanna is offing band and audience members right and left. A record producer named Balial (Lloyd Kauffman) is upset because his acts are being killed, and he tells Vans Tour manager Kevin to keep the show going. Heather begins investigating on her own to try and figure out who is behind the killings and put a stop to it.  

The music in this movie was lacking for the most part. I really wasn’t familiar with the term pop-punk before now, but if these bands are typical of the genre I’ll stick to old school punk. I found the quote at the top of the page from Kauffman’s character to be pretty ironic, considering the corpse of Joey would probably rock harder than a lot of these bands. There are a few good ones – Rancid and the Horrorpops come to mind - but most of them, especially the ones off the main stage, are really lame.

Doug Sakmann comes from the Troma camp of filmmakers, so Lloyd’s cameo makes perfect sense. Like many of Troma’s movies this one is definitely more concerned with content than quality. Actually, calling Punk Rock Holocaust a “movie” is a stretch – the thin storyline is mostly an excuse for lots of z-grade special effects shoved between band footage. The actors’ performances are all very amateur and it was shot with the on-board mic so the sound is terrible. I get that it is a DIY kind of thing, like punk music itself, but that isn’t an excuse for lousy filmmaking. This is honestly closer to watching some kid's homemade videos than a movie.

On the plus side the one good thing I can say about it is the actors all seem to be having fun. Maybe this was just a way to pass some time while on tour and have a little fun goofing off on-camera. It's too bad though - this could have been a neat little marketing tool but fell apart in the execution. Trim the video to about a quarter of its length, stick to performances by good bands, and cut the story way down and you might have something. As-is it's almost impossible to sit through, and honestly if I wasn’t doing this review there is no way I would have. They apparently made two sequels. Let's hope they learned from this one.

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