Destroy All Movies!!! The complete guide to Punks on film

A handful of people diligently watched thousands of movies and compiled a comprehensive guide detailing every appearance of a “punk” in a feature length film. Organized alphabetically, and peppered with interviews with well known directors, actors and musicians. Commentary is hilarious, informative, and full of trivia. If you like movies (especially low budget action/comedy/sci-fi from the 80’s and 90’s) and/or punk music, YOU MUST BUY THIS BOOK.

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Hollywood sensationalism often gets it wrong. How many cops live out anything close to Lethal Weapon or Die Hard? Has a boxer ever really chosen to wear out his opponent by using his face as a punch sponge like Rocky? The Great Escape’s take on Nazi concentration camps is at best a laughable farce. Granted, if everything in the movies was exactly the way it was in real life that would make for some damn boring slog, but that’s not where we’re going with this.

Ever since punk was amalgamated into pop culture in the mid 70’s, the outsider’s perspective has been one of “Those people are crazy, keep them away from my children”. Hollywood shoulders ample contribution to why the “punk-as-destroyer-of-all-things-good” myth perpetuates to this day. It is a rare exception when the punk rocker cameo in a given action/comedy/high school drama film is not of a bone headed destructive force, promoting drug use, violence, and in general being a complete ass hat.

For those who are involved with or knowledgeable about punk culture, you’ll know that the average silver screen representation of a punk rocker couldn’t be further from the truth. Punk ethic is about creating art for the sake of creation, intelligently questioning the status-quo, working hard for your own empowerment, and a lot of other ideals that many “normal people” would consider wholesome and down-right American when contextually removed from mohawks and fast music.

Even though Hollywood’s portrayal of the punk rocker has completely missed the mark, it fits a needed sub-character in many films for the following reason: the image of a punk dude in punk garb immediately communicates an attitude and disposition to the audience. It is efficient use of wardrobe and actors for films that often need to think frugally.

What we’re left with, and what editors Zack Carlson and Brian Connoly have painstakingly assembled into a fantastic collection in Destroy All Movies!!!, is over 30 years of bizarrely inappropriate (but ultimately entertaining) characters in all manner of films. Carlson and Connoly (with the help of a few other people) quite literally spent 5 years watching every movie that may or may not have had punks in it and for better or worse documented their performance. Despite my soapbox rant above and Carlson’s own similar sentiments in the book’s introduction, the commentary is funny and full of endearment. The book is also crammed with interviews with actors, directors, and real life punk rockers such as Keith Morris (Circle Jerks, Repo Man), Ian Mackaye (Minor Threat, various documentaries), Dan O Bannon (director of Return of the Living Dead, possibly the best horror movie featuring punks ever made), Penelope Spheeris (director of Suburbia, Decline of Western Civilization), and many more.

Calling this book a coffee table Christmas gift is doing the work a disservice. The collection is flawlessly assembled and the commentary is insightful and hilarious. A must buy for any film buff and/or punk rocker of any age.

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About Jon

Videogames / D&D / horror movies / metal / marine biology / sci-fi novels and film / comics. My sin of choice is sloth.