Under the Influence of Rebel Scum
I’ve never been much of a punk rock slop sucker. So how did a middle-aged folkie woman like me end up at a standing room only sneak preview of Worldstorm Arts Lab’s compelling new hardcore documentary, Rebel Scum?
I was acquainted with the subject of Rebel Scum, Christopher Scum, and his band, The Dirty Works, through various message boards, and Scum’s You Tube videos, especially his autobiographical, southern gothic heartbreaker, “Fifty Acres of Pain.”
After viewing the startling Rebel Scum movie trailer, I felt a mixture of fun and trepidation. I was delighted with the juxtaposition of a local giant cross with Scum’s sardonic performance of “Drinkin’ Beer with Jesus.” I was somewhat alarmed by the drugs and violence. Regardless, I knew this would be great evening of people watching with the film playing in front of Scum’s hometown crowd in Knoxville, TN. I ventured out hoping to be offended and inspired. I was not disappointed.
Rebel Scum is a dynamic, disturbing and oddly moving chronicle of two years in the lives of the Dirty Works’ band members and some of their friends. It has everything you’d expect from a film about a punk rock band: hard driving music, sex, drugs, self-mutilation, contemptuous penis wagging, fights, and death. But, Rebel Scum isn’t a rockumentary.
The film’s main story centers on Christopher Scum’s struggle with addiction, participation in methadone treatment, alienation, and a history of familial abuse. While some scenes are painful to watch, this unscripted documentary is genuine, and, at times, very funny. Filmmakers Video Rahim and Francis Percarpio use a deft touch in peppering the film with many delicious ironies, while using restraint regarding specific details about Scum’s problematic childhood. Rather than succumbing to hopelessness, empathy creeps up on the viewer as Scum struggles to survive each day.
As of this writing, Rahim and Percarpio are still shopping for a distributor for Rebel Scum. Hopefully they’ll find one soon. Rebel Scum has all the makings of a cult classic in the vein of Dancing Outlaw, Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus, and American Movie. The film’s cinematography and editing are top notch, and it boasts a plethora of, um, interesting characters, including Dirty Works’ nettlesome and chronically hammered guitarist, Steven Crime, and Scum’s friend and neighbor, the late Michael “Lumpy” Hinchman. (Lumpy steals every scene he’s in, and his commentary is reason enough to watch this movie.)
If you have an open mind and a soft spot for misfits, please keep an eye out for Rebel Scum. Its next sneak preview is Saturday, May 8 at 10:00 p.m., at The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, GA. Please stay tuned to Twisted Hillbilly and the Rebel Scum Facebook page for information about future showings!
- Debra Dylan