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SLC Punk was a cult film about a couple of punks living in the Mormon state of Utah in the 80s (released in 1998), rebelling against society.



Now that the sequel has been released, the writers stand by their decision to make it the movie it was. I want to uncover why they are being defensive about it on their facebook page in light of hate mail.

When the sequel, Punk’s Dead, came out this year, I was one of the viewers who was left thinking  “wait, that’s the end?” By no means am I telling you not to go watch it. I just did on Netflix. I think it’s important for you to form your own opinion if you were a fan of the first movie.

The movie wasn’t an accident and turned out precisely the way the James Merendino, the writer, intended. Its run time is 1:15 minutes, and it’s a story about a road trip from SLC to SLC, and the climax of the movie is Ross, a Victorian Goth punk, going to his first punk show, in which he realizes punk is dead. Meanwhile, his mom and her old friends search for him because Ross doesn’t go to punk shows. That is a sound story arc, but as far as encapsulating the early 2000s, fans get lost in comparing the first movie and the second one. As weird as it sounds, I think you should take them separately, and that is the key to realizing the beauty of Punk’s Dead.


Back in the early 2000s, just before punk bands seemed to switch over to a mass of what I call 4-chords (think power chord=1-5-8, and then move that five to 4, so then your chords consist of root, fourth, and octave, and that’s how “punk” sounded right as I was transferring to state school from community college.), MCR was taking over my rock playlists, and people forgot I Brought You My Bullets You Brought Me Your Love was ever an album, “but dude, I love the Black Parade”. Also, Ska prom was a thing at the Agora in Cleveland, so we had “emo” and “ska” right out of high school, and we’d listen to older Ska and newer. So if I had made a Punk’s Dead movie, Keasbey Nights would be on the soundtrack, and those five beautiful boys that went to jail would be discussed. Punk’s Dead talks about all of the different genres, but we aren’t immersed in one of them. In the movie we were taken to a huge concert venue that is air conditioned, when in the early 2000s, I was still buying a water from sweaty singles crumpled up in my bra, innocently confessing my love for the woman at the bar who poured me my water, or let’s take you back to a time after an MSI show when my friend who listened to MSI just because I liked them yelled that we had to leave because the streets were getting dark and it was getting unsafe.

So in theory, I think people who aren’t in love with Punk’s Dead don’t think that the decade was encapsulated well enough for concert goers. Ross is a Victorian Goth kid, which is magnificent, and Crash and Penny are dressing like they’re from the 80s. I liked emo Shelly, because she was the kind of kid you’d see walking around in that time period. Cleveland and Utah are different, but I’d imagine their record stores carried the same new releases. Perhaps it did define someone’s existence in that time period, but it did not define the dead punk music in my life.

SLC PUNK! Might have executed some ideas better. Was it Steveo’s narration that helped? possibly.

Things I found awkward:

  1. The old friends. I wanted to love them, and Trish owning a steampunk shop was great, but the other guys were awkward. No one knew Sean was alive, when they live in the same city. Sean also went on a strange tangent about burlesque being prostitution that I didn’t follow, and it seemed out of character. I thought I liked that John the Mod was into Black Metal now, but there was such an awkward exchange in his shop with a guy buying fireworks ( I don’t think this guy was a real actor, though it appears that he might be a director), or trying to buy them, that made me gawk at the screen a moment. Also, when the friends come to the rescue of Ross at the punk show, Ross gets out of the fray quickly and everyone looks perfectly put together in that lovely air-conditioned stadium, as if there hadn’t been a fight. Maybe punks don’ t fight? Compared to the characters in SLC PUNK! These new ones weren’t as cool.


  1. Penny’s dad’s scene was odd. So we have this road trip, which really isn’t a road trip because it’s one city over or something, and Penny beats the shit out of her dad’s car. Did I miss a previous mention of him that foreshadowed this meeting? I think it wasn’t as great as meeting Bob’s dad in the original movie, and we are comparing it to that. You got such a great insight to Bob, and Penny’s meeting didn’t tell me much about her character.


  1. Ross’s defining moment speech. Ross realizes Punk is dead when he takes over the mic at a punk show, whereas in the first movie, it ends with a death that drives the main point home: All of us are posers. Ross’s speech was confused and drunk, and it’s hard not to compare the defining story arc moment to the original. Pair that with the fight he gets into for his speech that wasn’t a fight of all, and it’s… well I’m not sure what that was.


So while I would love to say I absolutely enjoyed Punk’s Dead, I can’t help comparing it to the first movie. I don’t think it’s a reflection that the sequel was bad, I think that the original just did too many things right as a cult film.


Go watch it.

Opinions below.