Reviewed by Margaret Moser, Fri., Oct. 10, 2008
Ladies and Gentlemen the Fabulous Stains(Rhino/Paramount)
This 1981 film about a fictional punk rock band tanked in test showings and never got a proper theatrical release but took on a life of its own on late-night cable TV in the ensuing decade. Directed by music mogul Lou Adler (Cheech and Chong's Up in Smoke) and starring newly minted 15-year-old Diane Lane as Corinne "Third Degree" Burns of the Skunks (yes, Austin had bands named the Skunks and the Stains), it also rang as a bellwether for the riot grrrl bands of the 1990s, who found role models in Lane's trio of distaff rebels and its unvarnished rise to fame. Written by Nancy Dowd and filmed amid conflict that included a tacked-on last scene filmed so long after the original shoot that 13-year-old Laura Dern had matured visibly, The Fabulous Stains created a raw, compelling portrait of low-level touring bands in the pre-indie rock days of first-wave punk. The film's low budget also gave it an authentic look, groomed by England's Caroline Coon. Ray "Sexy Beast" Winstone does a supremely Rotten job fronting the Clash's gorgeously sullen Paul Simonon and the Sex Pistols' Steve Jones and Paul Cook, while notable cast members include Peter Donat, Christine Lahti, David Clennon, E.G. Dailey, and the Tubes' Fee Waybill, who should have been a bigger star than "Sushi Girl" allowed him to be. Extras include a director's commentary by Adler and a more enjoyable one with chatty stars Diane Lane and Laura Dern. "Look at my original teeth!" giggles Diane Lane. "Listen to your little girl voice," sighs Laura Dern.