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A peaceful California town is shaken after the brutal murder of diner owner by a gang of vicious punks. When the daughter of the slain man attempts to avenge her father’s death, she’s held hostage by the gang resulting in an epic battle between punks and rednecks.
For more about Punk Vacation and the Punk Vacation Blu-ray release, see Punk Vacation Blu-ray Review published by Brian Orndorf on July 10, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Stephen Fiachi, Sandra Bogan, Roxanne Rogers
Director: Stanley Lewis
» See full cast & crew
Punk Vacation Blu-ray Review
Shots so nice, they use them twice.
Reviewed by Brian Orndorf, July 10, 2013
The punk experience had it rough in the media during the 1980s. Think old worrywart "Donahue" debates or the infamous "Battle of the Bands" episode of "CHiPs." Marginalized and infantilized, the punk scene also made for excellent antagonists -- riling up audiences with heavily painted exteriors and acidic attitudes. They're easily branded baddies creating insta-tension with a mere twitch of their squinted eye. "Punk Vacation" uses the music subculture in a predictable fashion, pitting the misfits with switchblades against a rural community armed to the teeth. It's exploitation cinema in its purest form, though the jubilant nonsense of such an endeavor is often muted by the movie's absurd construction, with the no-budget seams of the effort exposed in a most severe manner. A ludicrous production that's stunningly earnest, "Punk Vacation" is best appreciated as a bottom-shelf treasure with mistakes galore, making it amusing on multiple levels of engagement, especially those who prize examples of punk's influence on pop culture as it neared its expiration date.
In a small Southern California town, trouble has arrived when punker Bobby (Rob Garrison) is confronted by a diner owner when he's caught abusing a vending machine. Soon joined by his vacationing gang of misfits, led by Ramrod (Roxanne Rogers), Bobby attacks and kills the diner owner, forcing his daughter to watch the nightmare unfold. Missing a rescue is Deputy Sheriff Reed (Stephen Fiachi), a cop determined to bring the punkers to justice, attempting to protect estranged girlfriend Lisa (Sandra Bogan) from harm. Teaming up with Deputy Sheriff Don (Don Martin), Reed takes off into the desert to find Ramrod and her group of anti-establishment goons before they organize and spring Bobby out of protective custody. Trading attacks and insults, the war between the punks and the cops escalates when Lisa is taken hostage, forcing Reed to call in help from a local gun club led by Sheriff Virgil (Louis Waldon), a cigar-chewing American relishing the opportunity to wipe out the "pinkos" and protect the community.
"Punk Vacation" is nearly the feature one imagines it to be. Filmed around 1984 and completed in 1987, the picture is a patchwork quilt of scenes and intent, stitched together in a haphazard manner that suggests production survival over creative intent. There certainly is a plot concerning the town cops and their effort to block incoming punkers from town, while the antagonists suffer from splintered interests, with one character lamenting the loss of '60's counterculture ideology, apparently making him the rainbow-haired member of the gang closest to retirement age. Yet, any attempts at a working narrative are lost to the general disarray of execution, finding the production scrambling to make sense of itself in real time, leaving the viewer to marvel over the all the corner-cutting and confusion that turns a reasonable B-list adventure into a thrilling midnight movie train wreck.
Although credited to director Stanley Lewis and writers Lance Smith and Harvey Richelson (here's no shocker: "Punk Vacation" is the only credit for the trio), "Punk Vacation" doesn't show much creative leadership. Handed hopes and dreams for a budget, the feature does what it can to keep moving along, investigating both sides of the conflict, with Reed failing to locate his heroism and Lisa arming herself for war while Ramrod strips herself of punk attire to sneak into the hospital where Bobby is being held. However enticing the elements of destruction are, editing on "Punk Vacation" is unintentionally hilarious, struggling to create whole moments of drama out of mere images at times, using more recycled footage than a Walt Disney animated film from the 1970s. Timing is way off, spatial relationships are anyone's guess, and continuity is a pipe dream, with Bogan's shifting hair length and styling giving away the piecemeal moviemaking process. There's also a strange subplot involving rat-based torment that appears to play a major role in the punkers' scheme of revenge, yet doesn't go anywhere. A shame. With the exception of Daryn Okada's colorful cinematography and lively synth-drenched scoring from Ed Grenga and Ross Vannelli, the tech credits on "Punk Vacation" barely come together, while performances always feel unprepared, especially Waldon's chewy take on rural justice, which steamrolls through flubbed lines and a broken volume knob.
To the film's credit, it does offer something I've never seen before: a cucumber silencer. During Reed's initial assault on the punks, he remembers to grab two cucumbers from his refrigerator before the final push, jamming one of them on the end of his rifle to aid his stealthy approach. Cucumber silencer. Now I've seen everything.
Punk Vacation Blu-ray, Video Quality
The AVC encoded image (1.85:1 aspect ratio) presentation is collected from 35mm elements, and frankly this is probably the best "Punk Vacation" has ever looked outside of initial theatrical engagements. Crush is an issue here, which solidifies evening sequences, losing detail when it's perhaps most necessary. Daylight encounters bring out the fullness of the image, with vivid colors emerging from punk make-up and costuming, while desert locations carry suitably hued decoration and flora. Skintones look very natural. Detail is generally quite communicative with a few soft spots, delivering facial textures with ease, while budgetary limitations and continuity errors are defined. Flicker and damage is present, along with some curious gaps in 35mm resolution, but inherent production shortcuts fail to disrupt the BD event, which looks healthy considering the age and obscurity of the title.
Punk Vacation Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The 2.0 DTS-HD MA sound mix is working uphill during the entire presentation. It's a thin, aged track, with crackly highs that can be a tad piercing at times. However, while the collection of voices isn't delivered with idea clarity, no dialogue is lost, holding on to specific performance choices and a group dynamic with the punks. Quality isn't quite there, but the push of scoring is acceptable, generating the proper synth mood to backdrop the action. Hiss, pops, and reel changes are detected, yet what's here is satisfactory for the movie at hand.
Punk Vacation Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Punk Vacation Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
"Punk Vacation" limps its way to a conclusion, but the movie is undeniably amusing, tickling in a manner only ragtag nonsense can. It's a lively endeavor, rarely pausing to assess its shortcomings, instead sweating to deliver a requisite helping of exploitative elements, making the punks out be unrepentant ghouls who relish chaos, while the rural folk are slowly transformed into a mesh-capped NRA commercial, armed with rifles and a keen interest to blast away their mohawked enemy. Despite the broad characterizations, there's no sense of good and evil here, just action and sneering, which keeps "Punk Vacation" away from dramatic challenges it could never manage. It's a clean, mean machine of goofballery with a distinct period perspective, and while a viewing requires heavy lifting in the tolerance department, the reward is a generous serving of schlock that never bores or fails to amaze with its creative limitations.
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Punk Vacation Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Punk Vacation Blu-ray - May 2, 2013
Independent distributors Vinegar Syndrome have revealed that they are planning to release a combo pack edition of director Stanley Lewis's Punk Vacation (1990), starring Sandra Bogan, Stephen Fiachi, and Raymond Fusci. The release will be available for purchase ...
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