Apr 2, 2013
Although I used to be a huge connoisseur of old school punk/hardcore music from the late-1970s/early-1980s and still am to a very minor degree, I have always had a complete and utter disgust for the common defeatist and pathological passive attitudes of punks, who seem to think having a ridiculously retarded haircut and making themselves as aesthetically repugnant as possible in appearance is some sort of grand political statement, as if anyone cares if they die in a gutter with their pants down and a needle in their dick. After all, it is no coincidence that guys like "Donny the Punk," who put up no resistance when getting routinely raped by other man in jail, are also called "punks." Luckily, I recently discovered a kraut punk flick with the sensible message of "might is right" entitled Strike Back (1981) aka Kalt wie Eis aka Punk Angels aka Cold as Ice directed by Swiss cult auteur Carl Schenkel (Dracula Blows His Cool, Knight Moves) with an innately active nihilistic (as opposed to the passive nihilism of typical punk junk) philosophy that is heavy on visceral violence and passionate carnality about a criminally-inclined punk rocker named Dave who never tolerates being 'punked' by anyone and makes a hasty escape from prison after slitting his wrists, so he can see his girl (who has stopped visiting him) and seek revenge on the glorified gangster businessman that caused him to land in the slammer. A rare quasi-artsy exploitation action-thriller set in Berlin, West Germany that would anticipate the anti-arthouse shockers of Eckhart Schmidt (Der Fan aka Trance, Loft, Alpha City), Strike Back owes some of its aesthetic influences to "New Munich Group" auteur filmmakers like Rudolf Thome (Supergirl – Das Mädchen von den Sternen, Rote Sonne aka Red Sun) and the gritty urban realist flicks of lone wolf filmmakers Roland Klick (Bübchen, Supermarkt), but especially the degenerate sounds and styles of the Teutonic punk and Neue Deutsche Welle subcultures that were popular in the Fatherland at that time. Featuring appearances and performances from groups like Neonbabies, Malaria!, Blixa Bargeld of Einstürzende Neubauten, Rainy Day Women, Thorax Wach, The Birthday Party, Tempo, and many more, Strike Back is more of an exquisitely exploitative, post-Baader-Meinhof Group work against West German plutocracy and equipped with a punk rock fashion sense as opposed to an Americanized p.c.p.r. (politically correct punk rock) pussy flick made-for-punk-by-punks, thus, not unlike Paul Morrissey’s sardonic anti-punk satire Madame Wang's (1981), Strike Back does not suffer the sort of dogmatic gospel according to Jello Biafra that makes similarly themed works from the same zeitgeist seem rather poorly aged and anachronistic today. Like a putrid puss-filled zit on the ass of Deutschland, Strike Back features a patently pessimistic man who has been wronged and cheated by everyone he knows and he is quite literally about to explode, but not without taking a couple of people with him as a sort of figurative punk rock Grim Reaper who has no problem reaping what he sows and vice versa.
Pessimistic punk rock pretty boy Dave Balko (played by Dave Balko), a dude with bleach blond hair as opposed to a xenophiliac neo-Injun mohawk, has a hard time dealing with the incessant isolation of prison so he dumps his trashcan out on his prison cell floor so he can find his trusty old razorblade and slits his wrists so that he can at least be guaranteed that he will not have to spend another second in penal purgatory. Indeed, as a man who has “NO FUTURE” scribbled on his cell wall, Dave has no delusions about the fact that his life is irreparably ruined and things do not get any better for him when he inadvertently kills a cop while escaping from prison while en route to the hospital after his botched attempt at seppuku. Indeed, a man who has survived a serious attempt at self-slaughter and has managed to escape from one of Berlin’s heavily secure penitentiaries, Dave undoubtedly has some minor luck on his side, but it is probably owed more to his heightened sense of self-preservation, even if he is an anarchic punk who makes a daily task of putting his life in danger, than kiss from punk rock kismet. Dave’s main reason for breaking out of prison is to reunite with his beloved Corinna (Brigitte Wöllner, Playboy Miss August 1980), who neglected to write to and visit him when he was incarcerated, but he also has a score to settle with a prick Polack gangster named Kowalski (respected German actor Otto Sander of Margarethe von Trotta’s Rosa Luxemburg (1986) and Wim Wender’s Wings of Desire (1987)), who the pissed punk used to work for and was ultimately responsible for his imprisonment. Dave goes to a punk club owned by one of his friends so he can find the whereabouts of both Corinna and Kowalski and goes on his merry way, but not before brutally beating two biker-like philistines who belong to special K’s gang of barbaric buffoons. Dave eventually meets up with and spends a salacious night with Corinna and finds out she is pregnant with his baby and that she now works as a paid whore for a corrupt corporate gangster named Dr. Hoffmann (Rolf Eden of Eddy Saller’s Shameless (1968) aka Schamlos and Rosa von Praunheim’s Rote Liebe - Wassilissa (1982)). The next day, Dave has a brutal fight with Kowalski that seems damn near as long as the one between the two protagonists of John Carpenter’s They Live (1988) and he finally gets his well earned cash after hanging his ex-boss from a hook and nearly beating him to death. Unfortunately, Dave makes the mistake of stopping by Corinna’s work and he is nearly beaten an inch away from his life by Herr Hoffmann’s paid goons, even having his leg ran over and broken in the process. Dave’s friends nurse him back to health while he spends his days and nights sitting in front of the boobtube learning more about the police’s search for him as a fugitive and his adversaries Kowalski and Hoffmann; both of whom are in trouble with the law as well. When Corinna is gang-raped and maliciously mutilated by Kowalski’s street soldiers, a group of new wave leather-fags of sorts on phantom motorcycles, she calls her big bad boss Hoffmann for help, thus going over to the side of the enemy. Feeling hopelessly betrayed and without anything to lose except a life not worth living, Dave buys a stylish new motorcycle and attaches a tank of gasoline to his body so he can go out in a blaze of glory and take his enemies to hell with him.
No junky punk loser like punk rock icons Sid Vicious, Johnny Thunders, or G.G. Allin nor a man that is unable to survive being run over by a car like decidedly dead-boy Stiv Bators of the Dead Boys, angst-ridden anti-hero Dave Balko at least realizes that if he is going to waste his life that he is at least going to take Berlin’s biggest ghetto robber baron with him as a true ‘punk rock anti-hero’ that battles the violent anarcho-tyranny of the state with violence, thus fighting like with like and fire with fire. For all the idle talk they do about the pros of anarchy and the cons of government, punks seem to neglect to comprehend that 'anarchy' is oftentimes sired by governments and there are no greater anarchists in Strike Back then 'anarcho-capitalists' Kowalski and Hoffmann. Thankfully, unlike Penelope Spheeris’s celluloid punk rock cult classic Suburbia (1984), Strike Back – a work that carries its simple yet effective philosophy in its English title – is not a work that wallows in a pathetic punk rock pity party where punkers are portrayed as defenseless victims of rabid Reagnite rednecks. Featuring footage of Blixa Bargeld performing some particularly pretentious and distinctly degenerate Teuton chant on a broken children’s keyboard in a posh art gallery and members of Malaria recording rather ridiculously performed vocals for their song “Kämpfen und Siegen” at a seedy recording studio, Strike Back also makes for a curious celluloid cultural artifact of kraut punk rock and Neue Deutsche Welle that reminds viewers that, for better or worse, the authoritarian krauts were typically more anarchic in their art than their American counterparts. Indeed, although in terms of cinematic art, Strike Back is not even worth of being compared to Fassbinder’s filmic feces, I would be lying if I did not admit that this piece of primitive punk rock celluloid art brought me back to my teenage days of unrefined hate for society and the state and my love for primitive kultur.
Posted by Soiled Sinema at 8:13 PM
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