In the Kids of the Black Hole series starting June 15, all five films feature teenagers setting fire to suburban boredom, drawing inspiration from their favorite punk and metal bands. Chief Curator Jesse Pires also came up with an accompanying playlist featuring soundtrack songs and others that capture the spirit of these lawless ’80s youngsters, here annotated to help you get into the properly nihilistic mindset.
Adolescents – Kids of the Black Hole
An epic tale of kids run amok by L.A.’s original hardcore punks and, of course, the titular inspiration for the entire series.
Ramones – I Wanna be Sedated
Featured prominently in Times Square, The Ramones were the original New York punks and I Wanna be Sedated is perhaps their best known song—an anthem for disaffected youth.
Cheap Trick – Hello There
One of several Cheap Trick tunes featured in the film Over the Edge, which has a memorable opening credit sequence, thanks largely to this song.
Wipers – Over the Edge
Taken from the album of the same name, clearly an homage to the film. The Wipers were one of Kurt Cobain’s favorite bands and Over the Edge one of his favorite films. Side note: The Wipers appear in the soundtrack for River’s Edgewith the song Let Me Know.
D.I. – Richard Hung Himself
Performed live in Penelope Spheeris’ Suburbia. D.I. was formed by ex-members of the Adolescents. Despite its grammatical inaccuracy, this is probably their most famous song.
Neil Young – Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)
A staple on classic rock radio in the late 1970s, this song is the “electric” version of the lead track on Young’s Rust Never Sleeps album which is where Dennis Hopper’s film Out of the Blue got its title.
Tubeway Army/Gary Numan – Down in the Park
The cold, robotic vibe of Gary Numan is on full display on this Tubeway Army track which appears in Times Square.
Agent Orange – Fire in the Rain
This song supposedly appears in River’s Edge but just barely. One of my favorite songs by these West Coast skate punks.
Circle Jerks – Wild in the Streets
Another infamous teen rebellion anthem by another L.A. punk band. Not in any of the films in this series, it does, however, feature prominently in the 1986 film Thrashin’.
Black Flag – Thirsty and Miserable
Black Flag’s iconic, Raymond Pettibone-designed logo is practically the universal sign for “I’m a punk rocker.” This is one of the band’s earliest songs and most likely a favorite of many of the protagonists in the films from this series.
Suicidal Tendencies – Institutionalized
Alex Cox uses this song to great effect in his film Repo Man but it could’ve easily been the theme to any of the films in this series.
Dead Kennedys – California Uber Alles
No self-respecting punk rocker would wear an article of clothing without the DK logo stitched or drawn somewhere on it. Or perhaps they would simply carve it directly into their skin.
Germs – Richie Dagger’s Crime
Yet another L.A. punk band that defined the genre. The troubled and short life of singer Darby Crash was clearly an influence on the film Suburbia.
The Weirdos – Life of Crime
One of the earliest of the L.A. punk bands to form. Stay out of trouble, kids.
Social Distortion – Mommie’s Little Monster
Another song that perfectly defines the trouble teen themes in this series.
Ramones – Teenage Lobotomy
The unforgettable image of a bruised Carl Willat prepping for a party as this song plays on the soundtrack is one of the many moments that make Over the Edgeseem so true to life.
Slayer – Tormentor
Never cared much for metal but it is used to such great effect in River’s Edge.
Black Sabbath – Symptom of the Universe
I was well into adulthood when I finally realized how incredible Black Sabbath were as a band. As a kid, it was pretty easy to identify the “bad kids” one might encounter because they always seemed to wear Sabbath t-shirts.
Minutemen – Little Man with a Gun in His Hand
Outliers in the L.A. music scene of the time, the Minutemen were completely original. This seems like their most appropriate track to pair with this series.
Jerry’s Kids – Is this My World?
Boston might seem pretty far removed from the L.A. and New York punk scenes but these guys put hardcore on the map and perfectly captured the sound of angry, nihilistic youth.
Husker Du – What Do I Want?
Before they were the masters of Midwestern emo punk this trio made super-fast songs about guns at school and a world out of control.
Big Boys – Frat Cars
Texas punks who added funk to their musical formula. They hate frat cars, I guess they prefer to skate on their Zorlac boards.
Dicks – Rich Daddy
Another Texas original, The Dicks were loud, angry and political. This song would certainly not seem out of place in any of the films in the series.
The Tubes – White Punks on Dope
An epic satire of spoiled rich kids in L.A. who just want to party. The Tubes appear in the Olivia Newton-John schlock fest Xanadu.
D.R.I. – I Don’t Need Society
More punk nay thrash from Texas. If you’re a punk rocker, rule number one is a fierce rejection of “society.”
Reagan Youth – Anytown
Listen to those lyrics. Is there any song that better captures suburban malaise from the eyes of a teenage outcast?
Misfits – Hollywood Babylon
The original horror punks, along with Black Flag The Misfits are an institution. Hollywood Babylon? Sounds like the origins of L.A.’s punk scene.
Van Halen – You Really Got Me
That party the young Carl Willat was prepping for while listening to the Ramones? It was in Sweetwater. And when he arrives, this song is playing loudly throughout the house. Teenage decadence indeed.
AC/DC – If You Want Blood (You’ve got It)
Also note the poster the camera pans across hanging in Carl’s room in the same scene. It’s for AC/DC’s High Voltage album. Along with Black Sabbath and KISS, AC/DC was the chief signifier for “troubled teen” in the 1970s.
The Runaways – Cherry Bomb
This song makes me think of the two female protagonists in Times Square. It’s easily The Runaways’ biggest hit.
Wipers – D-7
Another Wipers song, this was covered by Nirvana. Cryptic lyrics hint at the dystopian.
Richard Hell – Blank Generation (I Belong to the)
Richard Hell’s punk anthem makes being a punk rock dropout sound pretty fashionable.
Descendants – Parents
Punk rebellion starts at home. Parents are just authority figures that need to be defied.
Devo – Gut Feeling
Weirdo punks from Akron, Ohio. No band better captures “not fitting in” than Devo. The melodic buildup in this song that ultimately ends in chaos is tailor-made for the mosh pit.
KISS – Deuce
I know this song primarily from a punk compilation where the band White Flag covered it. If you were a teenager in the 1970s and you had feathered hair and wore a mesh shirt, chances are this was your unofficial jam.
Alice Cooper – Generation Landslide
Before Alice Cooper became a self-parody with his over-the-top “horror rock” shtick, he made some killer little hard rock jams that would’ve sounded pretty sweet through those giant headphones Carl uses in Over the Edge.
Judas Priest – Heading Out to the Highway
You’ve seen Heavy Metal Parking Lot, right? That film is definitely worthy of being screened as part of Kids of the Black Hole.
Zero Boys – New Generation
Even teenagers from Indiana were writing punk rebellion manifestos in the 1980s. When I finally get around to writing my Encyclopedia of Hardcore Punk, it’ll feature the subtitle From Adolescents to Zero Boys.
Bad Brains – How Low Can a Punk Get?
How low can a punk get? I don’t know but some of the kids in this film series are pretty low.
Rainbow – Long Live Rock ‘n Roll
I mean, that title says it all. Stoners, wastoids, motorheads, dropouts, punkers, dweebies unite…Kids of the Black Hole is all your favorite films in one series.