Originally released to scant attention in 1982, Ladies And Gentlemen The Fabulous Stains has finally been issued on DVD via Rhino. Apparently, the Paramount executives overseeing the project at the time didn’t care for the final product’s sour, punkish outlook and dumped the movie after a poor test screening. Regardless, Stains, a satirical send-up of punk rock and music-industry trendmongering, has become a pre-riot-grrl cult favorite.
The film concerns the angst-ridden Corinne (played by a 15-year-old Diane Lane), who hastily forms all-girl trio the Stains as a way out of her depressed Pennsylvania mill town. Never mind that none of the girls has ever picked up an instrument or written any songs. Soon enough, the Stains find themselves on a national tour with over-the-hill arena-rockers the Metal Corpses and out-of-place U.K. punk band the Looters. Thanks to coverage by a local TV news program, the Stains become sensations, in part because of their provocative clothing (Lane wears a see-through top!), skunk-striped hair and empowering lyrics.
It’s a fascinating film on many fronts. First, the then-unknown cast includes Lane, Laura Dern and Ray Winstone. Real-life musicians round out the cast: The Clash’s Paul Simonon and the Sex Pistols’ Paul Cook and Steve Jones co-star as members of the Looters, and Vince Welnick and Fee Waybill of the Tubes stand in as Metal Corpses. Then there’s the director, music-biz heavyweight Lou Adler, who managed Jan & Dean and produced Sam Cooke, the Mamas And The Papas and Carole King. (We can also thank him for his tabloid-fave son, Cisco Adler.) Adler’s only previous directing credit was Cheech and Chong’s 1978 stoner romp Up In Smoke.