Film Review: Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains (1982)

SYNOPSIS:

Corrine Burns retreats far into plans for her band, The Fabulous Stains, after her mother’s death. So far that she gets them (she and two cousins) on a tour with a washed-out glam-rock group and a rising British punk band, radically changes her appearance, attracts a cult following and national media attention. With luck like this, what could go wrong?

REVIEW:

Another one of those lost gems that took a bit “too long” to find a place onto DVD. It probably didn’t help that it is titled with one of those hard to remember titles, “Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains“. For 1981 this was one of the better rock/punk-themed films to come out that grew more on a cult basis with late night USA Network showings than anything. I always referred to it as the movie with Mohawk-style-hairdo-girl (and crazy eye makeup). Who would have thought this little rocker would grow up to be celebrity star Diane Lane? Hey, and if that isn’t enough Laura Dern can be seen here in a supporting role as Jessica McNeil.

Corinne Burns (Diane Lane) was her name. The little way-too-motivated punk rocker chick who managed to literally toss together a half-ass-band and take it out on the road. The films brings on alot of charm for this reason as we watch Corinne Burns literally turning into a pseudo icon over night. It reminds me of a few other rockers like Cyndia Lauper, Avril Lavigne or even early Madonna. “Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains” was by all accounts a punk rock style film that follows the road travels of a few teenagers into stardom. This “like” model was also used in a different way in a film called “Breaking Glass“. In any case these rebel-yell films seemed to really do the trick for those wanting something a little different. To round things up, Corinne and Tracy are sisters joined by their cousin Jessica. Corinne is trying to sorts things out after her mother has passed away for her and her sister.

They form the band called the “Stains” and start to perform with “barely” any material worth listening to. It’s the media attention that young rocker Corrine gets that lands them an opener gig for a glam band group and a British act taking them on tour. Borrowing one of the British acts songs (or stealing for that matter), Corinne and the Stains manage to score a hit with the tune “Be a Professional”.

While the performances are still green and not up to the par of the their colleagues, they manage to start a trend based on Corinne’s new look (and tenacity). This catapults into wave of copy styles influencing young girls who attend their shows. It’s all very “in the moment” and vindictive of our own cultural trends, though its Diane Lane’s performance (and sexiness for that matter) that adds the right amount of presence to her role making it a memorable performance. The movie takes a turn when Corinne is “called out” by her ex boyfriend Brit singer . Though it seems to lead to an exclamation rather than a question mark about influences who seem to disappear only to reemerge just as strong from the material that got them there.

The movie ends on a music video of theirs showing their obvious progression as a music act (and further drumming that 1 song into your head). Newcomer actress Laura Dern, who eventually becomes a top name star herself, takes a bit on a bit of a back burner presence in the film, leaving most of the dynamics to Lane. The movie also features “The Tubes” Fee Waybill, in the role of Lou Corpse (Vocalist for the aging band “The Metal Corpses”) in a rather sleazy drugged out role that gives you the creeps more than it inspires. His band “The Metal Corpses” is a parody of everything bad about heavy metal glam music leaving more room for the Stains to stand out. Actor Ray Winston also makes one of his better appearances in his much younger demeanor.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains (1982)” has received mention over the years as an influence keeping its memory alive thru the digital years.

The film has been referred to as a “forgotten punk relic” and largely remained only available on worn out VHS copies and bootlegs. It wasn’t till around 2008 that it was released onto DVD “officially”. I remember doing a double take when I passed by the new releases of Hollywood video, and seeing this in “actual” rental mode. It’s a great film that is worth a look or 2, and a pretty cool fictional punk film as well.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains (1982)

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