The 10 Best Punk Rock Movies

Categories: Film

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Punk rock has been a part of cinema ever since the music was created in places like Los Angeles, New York and London in the mid to late '70s. Aside from the music, either live or on record, the big screen provided another medium to convey what punk truly stands for: not giving a fuck what anyone else says or thinks, having integrity, staying true to your identity, and rebelling against the status quo. Note that this list doesn't include documentaries on punk, only feature films. We now present our list of top ten punk rock movies.


10. Pump Up the Volume (1990)
This films follows the story of protagonist Mark Hunter, played by a young Christian Slater. Hunter is a high school student in Phoenix, Arizona, who starts up his own pirate FM radio station a decade before the Internet took over and underground radio stations meant a lot to younger people on the fringe of society. He leads two roles in the film: one is the shy, unspoken loner, and the other is the iconoclastic, angry, free thinking DJ known as 'Happy Harry Hard On,' a pseudonym that the anonymous shock jock takes on. After stirring things up at the school with a suicide heard live on air, and revealing the dirty politics on school campus involving grades and SAT scores, Hunter also pushes the boundaries with prank calls, simulated sounds of masturbation, vulgar jokes, rants about society and most importantly music.
 
Hunter refused to play the New Kids on the Block, Luther Vandros, or Vanilla Ice, which was popular on the radio at the time. Instead he blasted listeners' speakers with artists such as The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Beastie Boys, Soundgarden, Primal Scream, Ice-T, Rollins Band, Bad Brains and The Pixies, among many others. Hunter's character shows the influence of Rodney Bingenheimer, Lenny Bruce and Howard Stern all in one. Eventually the FCC gets involved, to stop Hunter's illegal radio show.
 
 
9. Control (2007)
This is a biopic about the life of the late Ian Curtis from the seminal, yet short-lived UK band Joy Division.  Married at a young age to his girlfriend Debbie, Curtis becomes a reclusive, depression prone poet. In 1975, he is influenced directly by a live performance by the Sex Pistols, to join a band put together by his friends, as the lead singer.
 
The film is a very sentimental tale of the manic ups and tragic downs of this charismatic, enigmatic and suffering soul. Antics of Joy Division's early days are portrayed, including all the melodramatic infidelities, dysfunctional relationships and instances of health problems and substance abuse. The film is based on the book, Touching From a Distance by Deborah Curtis, and is named after the Joy Division song, "She's Lost Control."
 
In real life as in the film, Curtis suffers from debilitating seizures, and is diagnosed with epilepsy, which leads to his eventual drug abuse and suicide by hanging himself in his parents house, in May, 1980, just days before Joy Division was about to embark on a North American tour.
 


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86 comments
darquegothic
darquegothic

repo man was a good movie, but not a punk film, what should of been added was Baskeball Diaries. the Jim Carroll story

runlevel0
runlevel0

AS a REAL punk (back in 1977) here's what we stood for: Fucking Chaos. That's what we stood for.

And there is not one single punk rock movie out there except concert flicks.

The best Punk movies are: Clockwork Orange (the book was our BIble), Texas Chainsaw Masacre, Night of the Living dead and fill in with some live stuff from Sex Pistols (nope, not the Great R'nR Swindle), Exploited and GBH.


buttholepunch
buttholepunch

Fucking Sid and Nancy instead The Great Rock -n- Roll Swindle? You fucking suck.

driesser
driesser

No CLASS OF 1984 or RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, this list is garbage. If you dig punk rock horror flicks, check out my 2010 short film NIGHT OF THE PUNKS -- http://www.nightofthepunks.com

celtic_bear
celtic_bear

"Dogs in Space" is better than most on the list.  I would also pick at least one Troma film, either "Surf Nazis Must Die" or "Class of Nuke Em High."

jagerking
jagerking

WHAT! No Hard Core Logo!!!! For shame!

markv6
markv6

When I was growing up, in early 80's, punk rock was huge in my neighborhood (project house suburbia of Belgrade, Serbia). We circled VHS tapes of The Clash movie "Rude Boy" and Kubrick's "Clockwork Orange" as something a real punk rocker must see.

I enjoyed seeing "The Runaways" but it doesn't belong to this list. "The Control" is a bit too hipster version of Joy Division story. 

Dutch movie "Ex drummer" definitely belongs to the list - a story of a weird punk rock band.

richrad9
richrad9

I dont know if this is in order. Also Get Crazy should be in there as it had Lee Ving and Lou Reed in there

scarpenter2
scarpenter2

How about Hardcore Logo, a greAT Canadian punk movie  by Bruce McDonald :-)

subvox82
subvox82

Repo Man should be #1. What We Do Is Secret did work, to an extent, on an unintentionally humorous basis. SLC Punk is one of the most movies I've ever seen in my life. 

Rozka
Rozka

Runaways?! are you f*cking kiddin' me?

Mal_Parido
Mal_Parido

"Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains"

meea_mm
meea_mm

Punk is about beliefs, about attitude, about a way of life, about people against government,, against rules, living in a deceitful present, facing a concerning future and not giving a flying fuck about that. This is a childish list made by someone who doesn't know anything about the PUNK movement!

Butthacker
Butthacker

Any list without Dogs in Space is shite.

squeapler
squeapler

This list is so lacking, it makes me think the writer made a bad list on purpose in order to get more hits and comments from people complaining about it.  The only decent punk movies on this list are "Repo Man," "Suburbia," "Sid and Nancy," and possibly "SLC Punk" (which I haven't yet seen so that's why I say "possibly").  "What We Do Is Secret" may be a punk movie, but it's awful, and in my opinion not worthy of being on a top 10 list much less in the top spot!  I loved "Control" but it is about post-punk, not punk.  "Rock n' Roll High School" is a fun movie, but no one in it is even remotely "punk" other than the Ramones.  The Runaways did not play punk music and the inclusion of their movie is ironic given that Cherie Currie has suggested that nobody in the band other than Joan Jett liked punk music and described the group's fear of the punk audiences they encountered on tour (who threw knives and bottles at the band, among other things). The rest of the movies listed might have a punk song in them somewhere but have nothing to do with punk.


By contrast, many recognized punk movie classics are not on the list, including the scripted movies "Jubilee," "The Great Rock n' Roll Swindle," "Dogs in Space," "Rude Boy," "Breaking Glass," "This is England," "Romper Stomper," "Desperate Teenage Lovedolls," "Smithereens", "Ladies and Gentlemen...The Fabulous Stains" and "Times Square",  not to mention many fine documentaries such as "The Decline of Western Civilization," "Another State of Mind," "American Hardcore," and "We Jam Econo." If the idea was to make a broad list of movies that might have a punk attitude without needing to be specifically about punk music or lifestyle, I'd expect to see "A Clockwork Orange," "Quadrophenia," maybe even "The Warriors" on the list. 


Simply put...this list is lame.  Or as "Johnny Rotten" said in "Sid and Nancy," "Boring, boring, boring!" 

palopalo
palopalo

Awful, awful list. Repo Man should be #1. And no mention of This is England, The Oblivion Halloween Special, Return of the Living Dead, Class of 1984??? BOOOOO-URRNNNNNS!!

brickwahl.com
brickwahl.com

The Decline of Civilization Part 1 is the only genuine punk rock movie ever. Without it the author is so out of touch he would have had ass kicked from one end of the Olympic to the other. And Sid and Nancy is the flick film critics picked to show they were down with the whole new wave thing. Still do, apparently.

Repo Man is second best. As for the rest, you can dump the whole balcony.

If punk rock would die, finally, we wouldn't have to read crap like this anymore.



http://brickwahl.com/2013/07/08/thirty-years-ago/

leesharon85
leesharon85

apparently people can't read.. documentary movies are not included on the list. idiots, idiots everywhere. but that being said.. some good movies, really bad list.

psycho77punk
psycho77punk

suburbia,dudes,hard core logo,decline 1, and i do not even think the author even watched repo man by the description also pump up the volume his name was happy harry HARD-ON

brickwahl.com
brickwahl.com

The Decline of Civilization Part 1 is the only genuine punk rock movie ever. Without if the author is so out of touch he would have had ass kicked from one end of the Olympic to the other. And Sid and Nancy is the flick film critics picked to show they were down with the whole new wave thing. Still do, apparently.

Repo Man is second. As for the rest, you can dump the whole balcony.

If punk rock would die, finally, we wouldn't have to read crap like this anymore.

jeffcombs23
jeffcombs23

This article is terrible. Spell check helps with grammar too.

Summer of Sam was good, but hardly a punk rock movie.

The argument of punks origination will never be settled. A great book about New York punk is called Please Kill Me; The Unadulterated History of Punk by Legs McNeill. Great book.

mountaintatt
mountaintatt

Decline of Western Civilization Pt.1  ????

unknownghost
unknownghost

Pretty good list, I think I'd go for Repo Man at number one, just feels like a really good anarchic movie. Would be nice to see some British movies in there too.. This is England, Jubilee (classic weirdo punk movie!) or even the two Tim Roth movies Meantime and Made in Britain, I'm sure there are others I can't think of this minute.

ashole71
ashole71

6 & 5 should be 1 & 2. Where is the Great Rock n Roll Swindle?

afreakyear
afreakyear

Rodrigo D: No Future, maybe?
Oh, I forget, it is not a USA movie!

michaeloreilly635
michaeloreilly635

U forgot Hard Core Logo....anybody that knows Hugh Dillon knows it wasn't a stretch for him to play Joe Dick


jon9
jon9

Severe lack of Desperate Teenage Lovedolls / Lovedolls Superstar

PotatoShmoshmato
PotatoShmoshmato

Didn't the singer for Reagan Youth's girlfiend get murdered by that son of sam dude?


And what about the Germs movie? it wasn't that good but better than some of these movies

lukedjlaw
lukedjlaw

Summer of Sam on this list is really a stretch.

runlevel0
runlevel0

@markv6 You are from my generation mate !
Also felt the Call of Satan and converted to Extreme Fucking Metal ? 



nico_ruesch
nico_ruesch

@meea_mm Yes! The spirit of Punk is D.I.Y., creating alternatives, not waiting for an industry to cater to you. This list is rubbish.

JefWithOneF
JefWithOneF topcommenter

@Butthacker Agreed, but we should be forgiving since the bloody thing is so hard to find in US format. I'm buying a whole new DVD player just to watch my PAL blu ray

subvox82
subvox82

@squeapler couldn't agree more. For the movies on this list, "Repo Man" should have been at the top. And don't waste your time seeing "SLC Punk." 


"We Jam Econo" is one of the best documentary musical features I've ever seen. One of the things I liked best about it was when a song started, they showed it in its entirety without talking over it. 

Beeblebrox
Beeblebrox

@afreakyear Oh my god!!! I was just thinking about that movie, you are awesome just to mention Rodrigo D! Y a los hijoeputas gonorreas que no la conozcan, no se pueden llamar punkeros. 

tylerfontaine53
tylerfontaine53

@LetsDothis  I hated that movie so much... Matthew Lillard tried way to hard to come off as punk rock... his over-the-top, stupid jumping around antics and overdone acting were awful, as was the wardrobe.  The movie looked and felt like it was made in 1998, not 1985. I can't understand why anyone likes that movie.

its_effin_toni
its_effin_toni

@lukedjlaw Yeah, didn't it revolve more around disco?
And I don't recall Adrian Brody with a mohawk. i thought he had liberty spikes...

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