Wendy O Williams and the Plasmatics – The DVD
Music Video Distributors
The Plasmatics were unique in not only were they an early punk rock band but they were also in equal part performance art. When the band started they had some great songs no doubt, but their theatrics were the main focus of the band, that and lead singer Wendy O Williams who often would go topless with only electrical tape covering her nipples. Needless to say this woman with a killer body blowing up cars and chainsawing guitars and TV sets was quite a sight to behold. It garnered the band not only lots of media attention but also the attention of conservative authorities who had the band arrested and brought up on charges in various states.
This DVD is a documentary that covers both The Plasmatics and Wendy O Williams “solo” career that immediately followed. In reality the solo career was more of a name change than anything to avoid any legal issues that may have arisen with their former label, Capital Records. They start off at the very beginning on how the Plasmatics formed, their early shows and getting signed to Stiff Records. They go into pretty deep detail about the tours and recording sessions of each record including showing and/or describing how each of the covers were photographed (remember this was a good 20 years before the invention of Adobe Photoshop and people having a computer in their home).
Throughout each segment there are clips from various interviews, TV appearances and live shows, as well as photos and newspaper clippings. At certain points during live clips there is an option to hit a button on the remote to view the full clip of the song being performed. They go into a lot of detail about how the band signed to Capital Records and the problems associated with it and their subsequent dropping from the label. This is what led to The Plasmatics “disbanding” and Wendy O Williams “going solo”. As time wore on the sound of the band progressed from punk rock to metal, so not only were the Plasmatics one of the earliest punk rock bands, but they could very well have been the first “crossover” band! Their progression to metal certainly predated all the hardcore bands doing it by a good five years.
Also during the solo years they briefly mention the movie Wendy stared in, Reform School Girls and also make mention to the video for the song (which is included on this DVD), however they don’t show any clips from the film during the documentary. They then go on to talk about the final records, including a rap record Wendy O made shortly before the Plasmatics (at this point on the final album they went back to using the band name) disbanded and Wendy stopped playing music altogether. This is the point the documentary comes to a close. I found it strange they made absolutely no mention to the fact that she passed away in 1998.
The video is presented in full frame with stereo sound and the modern day interview footage with the various folks looks very good and is mostly well lit. The older footage used in the documentary is mostly of very good quality as well although the sound is a bit rough in some of the earlier live clips. The running time was just around two hours and the feature easily held my interest from start to finish.
Bonus material consists of the aforementioned full clips of various live footage and music videos. In what must have been an authoring flaw, if you play most of the clips from the menu, when each one finishes it starts playing the documentary from the beginning instead of returning you to the clip menu. That really is my only complaint, this was a very well put together documentary that taught me a lot about the band and Wendy O Williams and inspired me to want to pick up the records of theirs that I don’t currently own. It was easily a good way to spend a couple hours.