Rhino Records kicks off its new Rock ‘n Roll Cinema DVD series with the long-awaited homevideo debut of the cult classic “Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains.” While short on extras, the real star here is the film itself — a handsome widescreen transfer that highlights the pic’s low-budget charms in ways that widely circulated, full-frame bootlegs never could.
The film, about an all-girl teenage punk band fronted by a 15-year-old Diane Lane, didn’t catch on with auds in 1981, but has since developed a following that includes music junkies and, reportedly, musicians such as Courtney Love and Bikini Kill’s Tobi Vail. Besides Lane, the film co-stars Laura Dern (12-going-on-13), twenty-something Ray Winstone and, in a particularly inspired casting move, two Sex Pistols (Steve Jones and Paul Cook) and one member of the Clash (Paul Simonon) playing — surprise — punk rockers.
Director (and L.A. music legend) Lou Adler delivers a bone-dry commentary, often literally describing what he’s seeing onscreen. Much more entertaining is the joint commentary track between Lane and Dern, who mostly marvel at how young they look in the film (Lane describes her onscreen self as an “embryo”) and do hilarious imitations of Winstone’s hard-to-decipher cockney accent.
The package would have benefited from any sort of input from real-life rockers (those in the film, or those inspired by it). However, the headlining act is the film itself, finally allowed to be seen by the wide audience it richly deserves.
With “Stains” out, one hopes Rhino’s Cinema Series will unearth other long-out-of-circulation, music-related gems, including “Urgh! A Music War,” “The T.A.M.I. Show” or the first two “Decline of Western Civilization” films.