December 2nd, 2011: Suburbia (1983)

What It’s About: Evan Johnson (Bill Coyne) and his younger brother Ethan (Andrew Pece) run away from their troubled home and find refugee with The Rejected, a group of teenage punks who squat in one of the many abandoned homes in the faltering suburban development the Johnsons live in.  Will society allow the Rejected to survive?  

Why Watch it Today?:  Director Penelope Spheeris, who made her name with The Decline and Fall of Western Civilization, the documentary covering the L.A. punk scene, was born today in 1945Suburbia was Spheeris’s first fiction feature film, set in the same milieu as her documentary, including performances from several punk bands and amateur actors cast from the scene (including Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers).  As befits a film produced by Roger Corman, Suburbia is at times an updating of the juvenile delinquent films of the 1950s and biker films of the 1960s, with a subculture being simultaneously explored, celebrated, codified, exploited (with a healthy helping of sex and violence) and demonized, though writer/director Spheeris is generally on the side of the punks even while they are held up as just one of the products of the cultural failure of the suburb.  Regardless of its ultimate quality, it’s an entertaining mix of issue film, J.D. picture, and exploitation piece.

Where to Get It:  Netflix (rental only) or  Amazon and iTunes

The red band trailer (slightly NSFW):

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