The Decline of Western Civilization: Badass punk rock movies to go berserk for
If you like precocious female punk rockers and huge ensemble casts then upcoming movie Her Smell is one to note. Voltage Pictures assembled a spectacular cast for the Elisabeth Moss–led movie including Dan Stevens, Cara Delevingne, Eric Stoltz, and Virginia Madsen.
They joined actors Agyness Deyn, Amber Heard, Ashley Benson, and Gayle Rankin for the movie, which follows the destructive leader of an all-female punk band (Moss) as she battles for and against sobriety, challenging her loved ones and bandmates in the process. A newer, younger band led by Delevingne’s character also busts onto the scene and a range of fresh challenges and conflicts arise.
The film premiered at Cannes, where it was played very loudly and screened in the dirtiest backroom the film festival has to offer (we imagine). We love a good punk rock movie. Here’s our ranking of the ten most badass punk rock movies ever made that Her Smell has had to measure up to.
10. Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains (1982)
Centered around a frustrated teenage girl (Diane Lane) who starts her own punk band with a rabid following of bewitched young women, Lou Adler’s punk comedy dazzles with striking moments of pure unfiltered rebellion.
9. Suburbia (1983)
Feral dogs run wild through the streets of L.A. and so do the disillusioned teenage punks of Suburbia ready to rebel against anything and everything (even buses) in the name of punk rock.
8. SLC Punk! (1998)
Starring Matthew Lillard (Wicker Park) & Michael Goorjian (Forever Young) as two disenfranchised punks rallying against the squares of their community and the boredom of suburbia, James Merendino’s SLC Punk examines teenage punk identity with wit and angst loaded drama.
7. We Are The Best! (2013)
Following three rebellious adolescent girls who rage against their Stockholm community by starting their own all-girl punk band, Lukas Moodysson’s energized drama is full of catchy songs and bold scenes of female defiance.
6. The Return of the Living Dead (1985)
With a gang of ill-fated punks at the heart of the story including discontented Suicide (Mark Venturini) and the hopelessly horny Trash (Linnea Quigley), The Return of the Living Dead suggested that punk isn’t dead – it’s simply reanimated.
5. The Runaways (2010)
Starring Kristen Stewart (Personal Shopper) as Joan Jett and Dakota Fanning (War of the Worlds) as Cherie Currie, Floria Sigismondi’s punk biopic proves that coming-of-age stories can be loud, raucous, and palpably rocking.
4. Sid and Nancy (1986)
Alex Cox’s suitably anarchic cult biopic about toxic lovers Sid Vicious (Gary Oldman) and Nancy Spungen (Chloe Webb) offers a harrowing glimpse of codependency and addiction against the backdrop of the London punk scene.
Courtney Love (Man on the Moon) even enjoys a small role in the scene, showing up as an American punk (with her original pre-superstardom nose) and she’s pretty terrific.
3. Repo Man (1984)
Punk rocker Otto (Emilio Estevez) scores a dismal gig working for a madcap repossession agent (Harry Dean Stanton). When the job leads him to some otherworldly goods and a beautiful babe (Olivia Barash) he soon learns to love the job. What a f***ing sell out!
2. The Decline of Western Civilization (1981)
Penelope Spheeris’s iconic documentary about the Los Angeles punk scene of the late 70s is still one of the most acerbic music films ever made. Featuring frenetic interviews and chaotic live performances with bands including Black Flag, X, Fear, and Germs, it stands as a raw snapshot of an influential moment.
1. Green Room (2015)
Offering a terrifying glimpse at the (all too real) tensions of the modern day punk scene, Green Room saw an anti-fascist band (Anton Yelchin, Alia Shawkat, Joe Cole, and Callum Turner) struggling to survive a wave of violence from neo-Nazis in Jeremy Saulnier’s tense horror. They don’t fare well but at least they managed to play the Dead Kennedys’s “Nazi Punks Fuck Off” at the boneheads before it all kicked off.