We don't put out
September 10, 2008 5:57 AM   Subscribe

Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains is a long-lost, never-released movie about an all-girl punk band. Since its non-release on cable outlets in the mid-1980s, it has been credited with inspiring the riot grrrl movement, and it counts among its fans Courtney Love, Bikini Kill drummer Tobi Vaill, the late filmmaker Sarah Jacobson, and, inexplicably, Jon Bon Jovi (who dated star Diane Lane in the 1980s). Twenty-seven years after Paramount execs shelved the film, Rhino will be putting out legitimately releasing the film on DVD. At a recent screening in conjunction with Allison Anders's Don't Knock the Rock festival, star Diane Lane had this to say: "Twenty-seven years in the making!" posted by pxe2000 (33 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Cool. Now re-release Times Square and Urgh! A Music War!.
posted by sourwookie at 6:32 AM on September 10, 2008 [4 favorites]

This is a great little movie, but unreleased? Maybe it was just put out on video in Canada, but my wife and I rented a legit VHS copy a few years ago.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:53 AM on September 10, 2008

I'm pretty sure I watched this on the toob waaaay back in the day, but it's a very hazy memory. IMDB strongly implies a broadcast airing on that bastion of crucial rock TV, Night Flight.
posted by mwhybark at 6:59 AM on September 10, 2008

@sourwookie: Exactly! The Times Square soundtrack rocked my 11-year-old world.
posted by space2k at 6:59 AM on September 10, 2008

Rhino will be legitimately releasing the film on DVD

posted by caddis at 7:37 AM on September 10, 2008

wow...for years I have thought Diane Lane with the skunk 'do was a figment of my adolescent imagination.
posted by squasha at 7:43 AM on September 10, 2008

times square is on dvd.
posted by snofoam at 7:43 AM on September 10, 2008

That movie was life-changing for me.
posted by padraigin at 7:50 AM on September 10, 2008

Fun fact: The Dead keyboardist (in the movie/later in the band/eventually) was Vince Welnik.
posted by hal9k at 8:47 AM on September 10, 2008

Issue #6 of Grand Royal magazine had a killer feature on this film in the 1990s. Very nice that this is getting the DVD treatment.
posted by porn in the woods at 8:47 AM on September 10, 2008

Love it.

And, since I ask this whenever the Stains come up: does anyone know if popular blues-rock combo The White Stripes got their name from this scene in the film?
Billy: I like your hair.

Corrine: Yeah? What else do you like?

Billy: That’s it. I mean, at the moment, you’re just hair, aintcha? If you work hard, maybe, in a couple of years time, you might be something... different. At the moment, you’re just two white stripes.
(Probably a coincidence, but it seems pretty likely that Jack and Meg White would've not only seen it, but claimed to have seen it before all their mates.)
posted by jack_mo at 9:01 AM on September 10, 2008

It's a long shot, but here's contact info on their website.

"We're the Stains---and we don't put out!"
posted by brujita at 9:12 AM on September 10, 2008

Here it is (no bunnies)
posted by hortense at 9:36 AM on September 10, 2008

And we can't have a Fabulous Stains post without a little bit of Jones and Cooks post Pistols outfit, The Professionals, who provided appearances in the film and gave them their theme song.
posted by cazoo at 9:58 AM on September 10, 2008

The Card Cheat: This is one of those famous unreleased films that got bootlegged six ways to Sunday. Paramount refused to acknowledge its existence for many years. Even after it started screening on the midnight circuit in the mid-1990s, it was unavailable for home viewing due to rights issues. I would be shocked if the VHS you rented was legit.

Speaking of rights issues, sourwookee: here's some sad news about the potential for a DVD release of Urgh! (Hint: There is none.)
posted by pxe2000 at 11:22 AM on September 10, 2008

posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:25 AM on September 10, 2008

I would be shocked if the VHS you rented was legit.

Well, the mind is an unreliable witness, but as I remember it the VHS box looked like a regular release, not a photocopied bootleg...but you're probably right.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:47 AM on September 10, 2008

I rented it from a suburban local-chain (not national) video store in the late 80s. I loved it so much I briefly considered keeping the tape, however it was on my parents' account, and the fees would likely have gotten me grounded...

I would be really surprised if that had been a bootleg copy of the film. The "never released" link doesn't seem that authoritative -- is it possible that it was briefly available on VHS? At any rate, the remastering sounds like it will be great, and anyway, who still has a VHS machine?
posted by tractorfeed at 12:01 PM on September 10, 2008

I have fond enough memories of late-night, early-'80s TV viewings of this film that I list it under "Favorite Movies" on places like Facebook, even though I haven't seen it in more than 20 years. Hooray for legit DVDs. (Though i would have totally snagged a bootleg VHS if I'd even seen one.)

Though from what I remember, it wasn't so great in terms of plot or realistic character development -- more as a postcard from an underground scene that was totally remote to me in the Midwestern suburbs. I'm sure it played a small part in my desire to learn guitar & eventually move to New York.

I somehow associate this movie with Breaking Glass ... similarly bleak & punky with lots of awkward dialogue, which I was willing to overlook for a glance at a more interesting world.
posted by lisa g at 12:13 PM on September 10, 2008

I recall this being broadcast on cable or TV a long, long time ago. That's about all I can tell you.
posted by Xoebe at 12:14 PM on September 10, 2008

jack_mo: legend has it that the Stripes got their name from a speech by George Washington, specifically this line:

"We take the stars from Heaven, the red from our mother country, separating it by white stripes, thus showing that we have separated from her, and the white stripes shall go down to posterity representing Liberty"
posted by Anders Levant at 1:40 PM on September 10, 2008

Somehow or other, Netflix has it.

I was a big Sex Pistols and Clash fan back in the day. Somehow, I don't remember the Looters adding up to even one eighth of those 2 bands. But it was a cool movie anyway. I had no idea that was Diane Lane, but somehow I knew it was Laura Dern.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 1:47 PM on September 10, 2008

Holy shit! Following the link above explaining why there is no DVD release of URGH!, it led to a site where you can, in fact, buy a quality unofficial DVD release of URGH!. 36 bucks including shipping for the FULL, uncut URGH! on DVD, supposedly made from a broadcast-quality source and not ripped from a 10th generation VHS. THIS IS AWESOME! I have said for years that I would commit unspeakable acts for URGH! on DVD, and now I don't have to! Buy it now before someone sues him!
posted by DecemberBoy at 2:01 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

If what you mean is "never release to home video, that's what you should say. Because it was clearly released. I personally watched it several times on cinemax back in the day.

But I guess "never released" does sound sexier than "Paramount didn't give a fuck about it." Makes it sound like there's something subversive in it. I remember most of my friends were only inerested in it for star value (some of us thought Diane Lane was hot, and others just wanted to see Simonon and Jones). It's pretty much dressed-up after school special material. My Bodyguard is more interesting.
posted by lodurr at 2:08 PM on September 10, 2008

I've got a very lousy DVD bootleg, so hooray for this. (I also have a DVD bootleg of Urgh! -- they are easy to find for about $10. [on preview, mine probably isn't nearly as good as the one linked by DecemberBoy, above, promises to be.])
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 2:21 PM on September 10, 2008

If anyone buys the the Urgh! that DecemberBoy linked to, can you let us know if it's any good?
posted by kuujjuarapik at 2:26 PM on September 10, 2008

Oh damn. I watched the entire thing on YouTube a few months back. I came here wondering why the OP hadn't linked it, but it's obviously been pulled. That is a damn shame, it was an unexpected glory.
posted by saturnine at 2:56 PM on September 10, 2008

If anyone buys the the Urgh! that DecemberBoy linked to, can you let us know if it's any good?

I bought it as soon as I found the website. Hopefully this thread will still be open when it arrives (it's shipped Priority Mail, so it's likely), and I'll let you know about the quality. Since the guy went to all the trouble of setting up an entire website touting the fact that he has a DVD of URGH! ripped from a broadcast-quality source, I'm inclined to believe him. It's got to at least be better than the crappy VHS copies floating around.
posted by DecemberBoy at 3:44 PM on September 10, 2008

lodurr: It was never released to home video, and it never had a full theatrical release. Though it played in a few small arthouses/revival theatres for brief runs in the mid-1980s, it was considered abandoned by Paramount, and it never received an official home video release until now. (Paramount did eventually "leak" it to a few cable outlets throughout the '80s, such as Cinemax and Night Flight, but this was not considered a theatrical or home video release.)

Sorry to split hairs -- I should have been clearer in the OP, but I figured people would know what I meant. It's already a pretty sexy movie, and I don't have to make it sound sexier. :)
posted by pxe2000 at 7:30 PM on September 10, 2008

A 'pretty sexy movie'?

OK, well, everyone's entitled to their opinion. It's just that I've seen it, and neither I nor any of the folks I hung out with (which was mostly "new music" folks, as we called ourselves back in those saurian days and included a hatfull of monster Pistols and Clash fans) thought it was more than a decently-done coming-of-age story. Maybe my memory is jaded, but I don't remember anything that would have kept it off broadcast, aside from some rough language.

It seems to me that the key fact about this one is that it's about girls, and if that's what we focus on to contrast it to Breaking Away, The Outsiders, Rumble Fish, My Bodyguard, Gregory's Girl, or any number of other flicks of comparable quality from the same general period, I'm fine with that -- girls were and remain under-represented in the coming-of-age genre. But other than the attempt to pander to a youth audience by including some new music guys that nobody in the mainstream had heard of (and who hence doubtless came cheap for that -- good deals, I'd say, if I'm not a Paramount executive, but if I'm a Paramount executive and it's 1980 or so and the Long Tail is still just one of Ted Nelson's fever-dreams I'm gonna say "what the FUCK were you thinking, these guys don't bring in an audience, nobody knows who they are!"), the gender-balance thing is just about the only thing it's got on those.
posted by lodurr at 3:21 AM on September 11, 2008

Alright, that comes off as a little saltpeterish, in retrospect. I just don't think it makes sense to lay major cultural phenomena at the feet of what at heart is a simple story with a morally conservative message ('to thine own self be true'). Especially when 'riot grrl' culture has so many more obvious lionesses and antecedents to cleave to. (Claire Vinyl? Xene? The Slits?) And especially not when the film was demonstrably not in a position to actually have much influence. It seems to me to be one of those cases where something is exalted because of its rarity, when more proximate and ordinary causes are more plausible.
posted by lodurr at 6:10 AM on September 11, 2008

DecemberBoy, YOW!
posted by mwhybark at 8:31 AM on September 13, 2008

If anyone buys the Urgh! that DecemberBoy linked to, can you let us know if it's any good?

I ordered a copy and got it fairly quickly. The quality is very good, but there are flaws in the DVD: some segments have a bit of digital noise (though a CD cleaning seems to have fixed the worst of it), and one music segment (a performance by The Members) locks up completely on playback. However, apart from that, it was well worth the money.
posted by spoobnooble at 7:09 AM on September 20, 2008

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