Splattered Punks: 6 Rad Films Where Punk and Horror Collide [Watch]
The intersection of punk and horror has always seemed like a perfect union of cultures. Bound together by an underground society of outsiders, both genres offer representation to generations of kids on the fringe. Most horror movies featuring punks are actually pretty generic and the word “punk” really becomes a code word for “degenerate.”
But once the spirit of angry rebellion was given a name, punks started to pop up in tons of horror and youthsploitation movies. Some were in bands, some hung out in graveyards (I’m looking at you Trash from Return of the Living Dead), and some punks just lurked in the background waiting to be spotted.
Featuring just a few of the horror films—from the cult faves to the obscure—the below list celebrates the energy of punk in horror in all of its many forms. Today, we’re also highlighting the radical, fictional band Duh from Uncle Peckerhead. So, most of these selections feature a punk band in some way, shape, or form.
Notorious New York filmmaker Roberta Findlay (Lurkers, Tenement) filmed this long unreleased horror comedy in 1989. Banned starts by introducing Teddy Homicide, a punk-maniac recording an album with his scumbag band members. His group Rotting Filth is going nowhere fast. So, in an act of rage, Teddy pulls out an M-16 from his guitar case and lays waste to his fellow musicians. Then, he drowns himself in the toilet.
Teddy possesses the restroom (naturally) until a horrible jazz fusion group called Banned comes into the studio, unleashing Teddy’s spirit. Punk rock is fused together with demonic possession in Banned, and it really shouldn’t be missed. Findlay’s filmography is now much easier to see, thanks to outfits like Diabolik DVD.
In Nomads, a group of street punks attack a poor French philanthropist (Pierce Brosnan) who may or may not be evil spirits of some sort. While the story skates on the edge of punk-horror into more psychological thriller territory, the punks in Nomads are worth mentioning here. They behave more like street thugs hellbent on the total destruction of civilized society. And really, what’s more punk than that? Nomads works really well as a subtle subversion of punks in horror if you’re just looking to dip your toe into the subgenre.
Taking the DC hardcore punk legacy on the road, the band Ain’t Rights finds themselves playing a gig at a neo-Nazi skinhead bar somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. After performing a rousing cover of “Nazi Punks Fuck Off” by the Dead Kennedys, they wind up trapped in the green room of the club. Band members Pat, Sam, Reece, and Tiger try and stay alive after witnessing a gruesome murder. Jeremy Saulnier’s Green Room is an instant classic. I still remember having an anxiety attack in the theater during that gruesome scene about halfway through the film.
I’ve never seen the video box art for Beasties. But it reportedly says it’s a cross between Gremlins meets Back to the Future. There are a few mini-critters chomping around and a smidge of time travel. But that’s where the comparisons to those two ’80s classics abruptly end. There are some fairly ridiculous, over-the-top punks featured, though. A dude named Hammerhead has multi-colored hair and shouts from a throne of bones. There’s also an evil entity that feeds off punk rocker energy. Someone showed this SOV disasterpiece on Twitch during the pandemic, and it still haunts me.
Black Roses was, in part, a response to the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) that was founded in the ’80s to restrict kids from accessing any music deemed too offensive for tiny, impressionable ears. As most horror fans already know, the plot centers around the band Black Roses who play a three-night residency in the small town of Mill Basin. As the shows rock late into the night, the kids start to turn sinister and the parents start dropping like flies.
The soundtrack is loaded with legendary bands, including King Cobra, Hallow’s Eve, and Lizzy Borden, whose song “Me Against the World” is played over and over again. It’s more metal than punk, admittedly. But look closely and there’s one kid with a Cro-Mags shirt that gets zapped by the demonic hair metal maniacs on stage. At least that kid was representing true New York City American hardcore.
We’re obviously a little biased here at Dread Central for the Dread horror-punk comedy Uncle Peckerhead. But this surprisingly heartfelt film about a band named Duh and their diabolical roadie truly won us all over—and gained a real following after going out on tour.
The real standout is the truly infectious, raw, joyous punk music on the soundtrack. Duh frontwoman Julie (Chet Siegel) is so excited to go on her first real tour. Understandably, she’s a little upset at first to find out that their lovable roadie Peckerhead (David Littleton) loves to eat human flesh. If any club owner stiffs the band and doesn’t pay, they should be prepared to be eaten post-haste. Uncle Peckerhead really is one of the best punk horror films to come out since the aforementioned Green Room.
Honorable Mention: The Sic F**ks band from Alone in the Dark
For your listening pleasure, feel free to go down the list again while you listen to “Chop Up Your Mother”. Alone in the Dark heavily features the band Sic Fucks in a long club sequence and it’s even more of a horror classic because of it.
Have any other punk horror favorites or punk rock cameos you care to mention? Hit us up on Twitter at @DreadCentral.