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Friday, April 10, 2015

Punk Vacation




Punk Vacation
1990
Stanley Lewis

A cafĂ© owner finds a punk kicking the crap out of his Coke machine in pursuit of a lost 40¢. He sends the kid packing, but soon the young creep is back with a few friends. Despite having a shotgun, the old man finds himself on the wrong end of a blade. Soon, the punks' hangout in the woods is under siege from inept local cops and even more inept local rednecks

Am I a punk, yet?
No, not another entry in the Chevy Chase comedy franchise, Punk Vacation is..uh…well, I’m not entirely sure. Early in the film it appears to be a late 80s riff on the juvenile delinquent subgenre that rose and fell in the 1950s. The punks are initially presented as soulless jerks who look like they are dressed for an Italian post-apocalyptic adventure. The viewer is led to side with the locals the moment one punk decides to stick a stiletto into a (somewhat) defenseless old man. Slowly, we are lead into the inner lives of these errant youth and it is revealed that they are bored kids from out of town. I can image this is to give some emotional weight to their inevitable downfall at the hands of the police, but then the film makes a big tonal jump and starts to celebrate the gang's defiance. It even manages to go out on something resembling an up note. 

Confounding.

I don't care if you were Obfuscated, I have Auspex 4.
Even if Punk Vacation has no idea who its protagonists are, whether it’s a sly comedy, action movie, or exploitation film, it stil manages to entertain. The dialogue is filled with some real gems on both sides of the law, as cops and punks alike seem very dissatisfied with their career choices. When the action scenes arrive, they are exciting and engaging. An unexpected benefit of having such a nebulous story is that I had absolutely no idea who was going to survive. Punk Vacation is also strangely demure, there is a minimal of bloodletting, and no nudity to speak of.  One of the gang's most vicious acts is to kidnap a woman, strip her down to her underwear, and dance around her while playing loud music. To make matter's stranger, you would think a movie called, Punk Vacation, would at least have a memorable punk soundtrack. Well, it doesn’t.

In keeping with the ‘What the hell?’ spirit of the film, Vinegar Syndrome has put this unknown bit of camp out on a pristine looking Blu-ray transfer.  The image is crystal clear but doesn’t distract from the cheap grit that characterized its existence in the glory days of VHS. If you want to see how a minor film can look great in HD, and still retain its low-rent nature, this is an excellent disc to check out.

Not consistently funny enough to be a comedy, not grimy enough to be violent exploitation film, Punk Vacation is a lot like its young villains, aimless and acting out.  It still manages to be a fun experience and I’d recommend you give it a try, just don’t expect anything more than a ninety minute (punk) vacation from having  a thought in your head.

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