Freedom. Relaxation. Letting go. A time to just breathe, and enjoy. That's what a vacation is for. Whether getting away from work or taking a break from your normal everyday life, when you get away you should have no worries. So what happens if when you go to escape everyday life events conspire against you and instead of paradise you're plummeted into a war zone. Welcome to Punk Vacation, where rest and relaxation are replaced by rebellion and revenge.
Young small town sheriff Steve Reed (Steve Fiachi aka Steve Fusci, Frozen Scream) responds to a alarm at the diner near the edge of town. When he arrives it's nothing more than a faulty alarm system, but without wasting his time he asks the diner owner's daughter Lisa (Sandra Bogan, Hider in the House) out. It is a small town after all, and you need to be productive with your time. After leaving, Billy (Rob Garrison, The Karate Kid), a punker on a motorbike arrives to pick a fight with the vending machine outside. All he wants is an orange soda but all they got left is cola, and the vending machine also took his change without giving him his least favourite choice. As things heat up the diner owner tries to get the punker to leave but soon Billy's whole gang arrives and surround the old man and Lisa's younger sister Sally. Before help can arrive and Sheriff Reed can return to the scene the diner owner is killed and Sally is left traumatized. Just as the punks begin to leave Steve shows up and manages to crash into Billy, head on, sending the leader of the punks to the hospital.
The rest of the leather-and-spikes gang flee from the scene and off into the night, rats in cages strapped to the backs of their bikes. They take refuge on some ranch property and Billy's girlfriend Ramrod appoints herself as the leader of the punks until they can free Billy from the hospital before he's sent to lock-up. Despite now being involved in murder and mayhem these punks didn't want to cause shit, they just wanted to get away from the smog of Los Angeles, but hot-headed mistakes leave them with no other choice but to hole up and hatch a plan. Meanwhile, Lisa attempts to exact revenge by tricking the low-IQ guard looking after the lead suspect's hospital room while she steals a pair of scissors and attacks Billy. She doesn't get far when Steve shows up and stops her mid-act. Still set on revenge, Lisa sneaks off to the ranch where they punks are all hiding out after she's been tipped off from a phone call to the police station about their whereabouts. Upon threatening Ramrod and the rest of the crew Lisa is outnumbered and captured.
Sheriff Steve and Deputy Sheriff Don manage to hear of Lisa's capture and take off to the ranch in the night to serve some justice and rescue her. Soon the punk party is nothing but gun shots and frantic fleeing as Steve and Don manage to eliminate one of the punks by using a cucumber as a silencer. After shooting Ramrod in the hand, Steve and Don free Lisa but Ramrod isn't done with them yet: “I'll get you pig! You and that whole redneck town!” To which Steve responds “Well, I guess we can't expect you back for Labour Day weekend, can we?” The next morning cigar-chewing Commie-hating Sheriff Virgil wants to round up the town gun club to go “quail hunting”, and so off they march to deliver vigilante justice against the punks, with Steve and Lisa also continuing their attempt at revenge.
Punk Vacation is an odd mixture of western genre tropes mashed up with the then-current-although-a-tad-late popular culture of punks. Misunderstood, misread, and full of fire all the casted punks in Punk Vacation seem to be a bit too old for their roles and sense of rebellion. As the plot unfolds the film is unknowing whether it wants to be an action film, a revenge film, or a commentary on small town mentality via the over-acted redneck stereotypes that inhabit the normally quaint and quiet community. Director Stanley Lewis, which is actually an alias, appears to put his attention in composing the scenes rather than the acting or meaning of the words. Some scenes and even dialogues are repeated unnecessarily so. There are no clear good guys and bad guys in the film, as other than the misdeed that sets off the events of the film most of the merry band of punkers just wanted to get away. And on the other side of the fence, the rednecks, are even less drawn out than the so-called villains who want nothing more than to be on the hunt.
Punk Vacation isn't as entertaining as you'd expect based on the title or synopsis. When your film revolves around a revenge plot you really need to care about the characters, and here no one is really anything other than the rebellious leader, or the loud Patton-quoting redneck sheriff, or the shotgun-totting old geezer. Everyone is a one-note cardboard cutout. There's not a whole lot to keep the viewer engaged in the action-set-pieces or the drama unfolding, but it still features some colourful cinematography from Daryn Okada (Phantasm II), colourful punks, and an odd underscore that sometimes veers off into the territory of ethereal soundscape. Punk Vacation might not be so-bad-it's-good material, but most cult film fans should find that some form of entertainment and that this vacation is at least not a total drag.
Punk Vacation is presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ration in a crisp 2K restoration of the 35mm answer print. Like Vinegar Syndrome's previous Blu-ray releases, the progressive image is sharp and authentic and doesn't display any digital tinkering that would take away from the film's natural grain structure or texture, with the occasional scratch or dust popping up. Colours pop and the punks and their fashion stand out. Another solid transfer from Vinegar Syndrome. The DVD image also looks clean and clear. The bonus feature Nomad Riders, despite being a tape transfer, is also highly watchable and doesn't appear to exhibit much compression or compression artifacts to fit both features on the disc.
Punk Vacation's Dolby Digial Mono audio track is clean and perfectly audible, despite there being a few audio issues throughout the film but all of these are related directly back to the film's production limitations and not an issue with the encoding/restoration. There is some incredibly loud and exaggerated foley work, but that only heightens the camp factor. Nomad Riders' audio is also fine, nothing to boast about and nothing to complain about. It sounds about as good as any audio off of a 1” tape can.
Vinegar Syndrome's Punk Vacation, first off, is a Blu-ray/DVD combo so you get the main feature in both formats. The only special feature on the Blu-ray disc is an extensive stills gallery in HD that runs just under 5 minutes and features approximately 90 behind-the-scenes and promotional stills. On the DVD is where all the other special features exist, and here we also get that same extensive stills gallery. The biggest special feature is the complete feature for producer Steve Fusci's 1982 film Nomad Riders, taken from a 1” tape master (the best possible source). Nomad Riders tells the tale of Steve Thrust, a cop who's given up his badge after a local crime boss by the name of Mister Vacci has killed his wife and child. The crime boss uses a biker gang known as the Marauders to muscle his way around, and Steve will use every dirty trick up his sleeve to take out the Marauders one by one and exact his vengeance on Vacci himself. [b]Nomad Riders[b] shares some basic plot structure as Punk Vacation, but it's actually a lot more fun, campy, and action packed then the main feature. Rounding out the special features are a couple of lengthy interviews, the first with producer Steve Fusci running 18 minutes where he discusses the production of both Nomad Riders and Punk Vacation, as well a career killing story working on Ice Cream Man with Clint Howard. The final interview, running 14 minutes, is with the assistant to the producer/stuntman Steven Roland who discusses how he got involved with Punk Vacation and offers a few amusing stories about the production.
Punk Vacation is a mildly amusing low-budget action film that fans of the genre will at least get some kicks out of. It's not for all, or consistently entertaining, but there's some fun to be had. Originally released on video by Raedon Home Video it's amazing to see a Raedon library title make its way to Blu-ray, and Vinegar Syndrome provides another stellar transfer and a slew of great bonus features, including the far more entertainingNomad Riders. It might not be the vacation you were hoping for but if you're a fan of punk cinema you may as well shave your hair into a mohawk, hop on your motorbike, and head out on this Punk Vacation.
I enjoyed both but agree Nomad Riders is better.
one of my stupid mistakes was passing on a VHS of Nomad Riders I saw once in a video store, I could have got it real cheap. - just found a vhs rip of it so that will do until i buy this
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