A group of teens from troubled families attempt to find stability and acceptance by forming a punk rock commune in a flop house of a failed L.A. subdivision slated for demolition.
Aspiring middle-class neighbors adjacent to the subdivision organize into a gang of gun-toting vigilantes to chase the punk delinquents away, while a concerned and well-meaning stepfather to one of “the rejected” does his best to protect the kids from community discrimination. The downtrodden runaways are more resourceful than they look and refuse to be evicted by redneck bullies without a fight.
Director Penelope Spheeris, who previously took on the L.A. punk scene in her THE DECLINE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION documentary, paints an unflinching portrait of angsty teenage rebellion in the face of oppressive conservative suburbanism in the Reagan era. This unabashedly depressing vision of life on the fringes of society and landmark coming-of-age film also features live performances by Southern California hardcore giants T.S.O.L., D.I., and The Vandals. 35mm print courtesy of American Genre Film Archive
Peripheral Visions, a co-presentation of the Belcourt Theatre and Third Man Records, will screen at the Belcourt for the next few months, while we take a hiatus from its original home in Third Man’s Blue Room. Join us as we continue to celebrate the very best of underappreciated genre films from the 70s and 80s.
“SUBURBIA is an attempt at fictionalizing the sights and sounds [Penelope Spheeris] documented in THE DECLINE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION, giving a storyboard and dialogue to the punk teenagers encountered documentary… Seen today, SUBURBIA serves as an amusing slice of punk nostalgia and has more in common with a juvenile delinquent movie from the 1950s than a contemporary slice of teenage angst. In fact, when B-movie pioneer Roger Corman agreed to produce the film he marketed it as an exploitation film, a ‘shocking look’ at punk rock youth.” —Millie de Chirico, TCM “[SUBURBIA] is probably the best teen-agers-in-revolt movie since Jonathan Kaplan's OVER THE EDGE. It's far better than Francis Ford Coppola's OUTSIDERS and RUMBLE FISH, having none of the ersatz poetry that was poured like maple syrup over the two Coppola movies…. The performances by the nonprofessional young actors are self-conscious and completely believable.” —Vincent Canaby, New York Times “It still shows enormous empathy and sensitivity in capturing the angst and alienation of American youth, making it seem both rooted in a specific time and place and strangely timeless.” —Nathan Raban, AV Club “Its sincere sympathy for the runaway kids is what elevates this standard rebellious teen flick above many others in this genre.” —Dennis Schwartz, Ozus’ World Movie Reviews