The Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge for today is 7. HELL ON EARTH. Watch a post-apocalypse movie. Bonus if it has punks (see the Destroy All Movies definition of punk) in it. We’ve watched so many post-apocalyptic movies that it was hard to find one that we hadn’t had on the site. And punks made it an even bigger challenge. That said, we’re all about trying to find movies no one else is talking about. And that leads us to 1977’s Jubilee.
Queen Elizabeth I (Jenny Runacre, Son of Dracula, The Witches) asks her occultist John Dee (Richard O’Brien of Rocky Horror fame) — an advocate of British imperialism that spent the last thirty years of his life learning the secret language of angels — and Ariel from Shakespeare’s The Tempest (David Brandon, Delirium, Stagefright) to show her the future.
That future? The no future of the punk rock era, a place where Queen Elizabeth II was killed in a mugging and a gang of punk rock survivors, including Amyl Nitrate (Jordan, the model who was of the creators of W10 London punk look), Bod (Runacre in a second role), Chaos (French singer, writer and tightrope walker Hermine Demoriane), Mad (singer Toyah Willcox) and Crabs (Little Nell from Rocky Horror, who even gets in the line “Don’t dream it, be it.”). When they’re not talking about boys or music, they’re talking about how history can be manipulated. And then Amyl Nitrite says that her heroine has always been Myra Hindley (Hindley and Ian Brady were responsible for the Moors Murders, which occurred in and around Manchester between mid-1963 and late-1965, claiming five child victims and inspiring the song “Suffer Little Children” by The Smiths).
Things making too much sense? There’s also Borgia Ginz, who shares a house with Hitler, runs the world and has transformed Buckingham Palace into a recording studio and Westminster Cathedral into a disco where Jesus performs.
Beyond the nihilism and lack of hope in this film, there’s also plenty of punk rock stars, like Adam Ant and Wayne County along for the ride and gamely performing songs, as well as blink and you miss it moments for Siouxie and the Banshees and the Slits. And hey — the music is by Ol’ Sourpuss himself, Brian Eno.
Director Derek Jarman may have based this movie in punk rock, but he was against the scene’s fascism fetish, as well as its love of stupidity and violence. Many punks weren’t pleased with the film, such as fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, who created an open letter T-shirt that denounced the film because of how she felt it misrepresented punk.
Jubilee is definitely a time capsule of Thatcher-era England. It’s loud, obnoxious and strange, which are all wonderful things to be. I’m glad that I didn’t watch something easy like Cy-Warrior and chose this movie.
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