• Kelly M. Hudson

Punk For Life!


A small California town is rocked by sudden violence after a local store owner gets murdered by a roving band of punkers. The owner’s youngest daughter gets assaulted and the oldest daughter, Lisa (Sandra Bogen), is determined to get revenge on the gang. She tries to murder their captured leader in the hospital, only to be foiled in the attempt. Her boyfriend, Deputy Sheriff Don (Don Martin) saves her from getting into any trouble and warns her to stay out of police business. She ignores him, of course, and after finding out where the gang is holed-up waiting to spring their leader, she tries to capture them only to be captured herself. Their new leader, Ramrod (Roxanne Rogers) has a plan to free there captive member and get out of town. Things go awry, of course, and soon its redneck townsfolk versus punk rockers in an all-out war!

Man, punkers were sure misunderstood in the 80s. They were either treated like cartoon villains (Death Wish 3, Grotesque, Class of 1984, etc.) or they were thrown together in some kind of Hollywood hodgepodge that made no sense (Return of the Living Dead). Very few movies got them right (River’s Edge, Suburbia) and most made them into brightly-colored comic book bad guys. This group falls into the latter category, although by the end of the movie, it’s not very clear who the good guys and the bad guys are. The rednecks, led by Sheriff Virgil (Louis Waldon), are all pretty despicable, too. The punk gang in question is a ragtag group that looks like someone’s idea of what Punk Rock is from watching too many MTV videos. They’re a visual mishmash of the Human League, Scandal, and Loverboy (!). None of it makes much sense but they look weird and wear neon makeup and have wild hair, so they must be punkers, right? Most of the movie is taken up by scheming and fighting involving both sides. Lisa is trying to concoct her revenge, and Ramrod is trying to spring their fellow, captured gang member. There’s some decent action and a great gun battle at the end, but then things just sort of…end. There’s no real resolution except that the punkers ride away, free and untamed, and the town gets back to its business.

Punk Vacation is a fun B-movie that should have reached a bigger cult audience. It’s amusing, freewheeling, wild and rebellious. Despite its low budget and sometimes stiff acting, it shows a lot of heart and commendably doesn’t pick a side in the conflict. The townspeople can be just as reprehensible as the punkers, maybe more so. After all, this whole thing could have been avoided if the store owner had just refunded a botched attempt to buy a soda from a vending machine instead of pulling a shotgun on the punker. In any case, give this one a looksee, especially if you like 80s flicks.

★★★☆



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