Begin preparing your glowsticks and whistle. In honor of the upcoming release of the Scots rave film Beats, we take a look at ten excellent rave flicks that will have you grooving like you’re on fire.
It’s weird to watch movies about raves. If you’re not in the mood to join in on the fun, you may find yourself squinting at the antics of your pals, or you may be motivated to put on a pair of sunglasses and pump your fists in the air as if to say “yes, yes, yes” to every rhythm.
This musical subculture is the subject of a slew of excellent films that are sure to get your heart pounding. You can expect a euphoric ride and an outlandish wardrobe in every one of them, because where else can you wear ski masks and chandelier hats indoors?
The boom and commercialization of the scene led to a boom in the depiction of rave culture on the big screen in the years leading up to and following the century. Critics and celebrators alike were drawn to its hedonistic inclusion.
In honor of the release of Beats, a Scottish independent film about illicit raves and friendship, we’ve compiled a list of 10 of the best rave films.
1. Nowhere (1997)
Nowhere, Gregg Arakide’s third installment in his Teenage Apocalypse trilogy, is known for its neon rave aesthetic, which includes eye-popping colors and day-glo threads. Arakide produced a dizzying visual feast with the film (1995). Butthole Surfers frontmanGibby Haynes plays Jujyfruit, a LA teenager who is enticed to a party at his residence over the course of 24 hours. And it’s a great time. Psychedelic projections, strobe lights, and booming house music. Replicas of reptilian aliens and blood-splattered walls appear in the drug-fueled rave. MTV on acid, a journey through the mind of GreggAraki, is found nowhere else on Earth.
2. Modulations: Cinema for the Ear (1998)
Ear-twisting electronic music documentary Modulations: Cinema for the Earzeroes in solely on the music. What kind of noise is it making? What is the process of making it? Do you know what it does for the people that use it?” There are no shortage of sunglasses and hats, but Iara Lee’s film is more interested in the evolution of the music and its cultural impact. Experimentation, argues one DJ, is the name of the game in the music industry right now. It also demonstrates the anti-establishment roots of the genre and how it arose out of music fans fed up with the constant stream of guitar bands. People in this group accepted new technology with wide arms, embracing the sounds of the modern era. Modulations features a soundtrack that includes LFO, Rob & Goldie, and Coldcut, which demonstrates how ravers achieve euphoric states through music and other ways.
3. Human Traffic (1999)
“Live for the weekend” was a common refrain among young British clubbers in Justin Kerrigan’s cult masterpiece. When a group of pals mix club culture with narcotics, they escape the drudgery of their day jobs. “To get utterly demolished” is the only goal they are pursuing. At just 25 years old, Kerrigan’s low-budget movie displays little interest in criticizing his protagonists’ pilled-up exploits. It’s a straightforward coming-of-age story that embraces Cardiff’s drug-fueled rave culture, revealing a non-stop party scene of clubs, pubs, and house parties over the course of one crazy weekend. In addition, it is Danny Dyer’s first feature film.
4. Better Living Through Circuitry (1999)
InBetter Living Through Circuitry, a documentary about the 1990s EDM scene, late nights and lasers rule the roost. With an emphasis on the DIY ethos, it describes how modern technology is helping musicians to expand their beat-centered sounds further. There are interviews with Moby, DJ Spooky, Genesis P-Orridge, and raver insiders. There is an intensity in the crowds that you can’t get anywhere else, says one raver. This documentary, which features a soundtrack that includes Roni Size, The Crystal Method, LCD, and more, chronicles the evolution of electronic music, including drum and bass and trance.
5. Go (1999)
Go focuses on a bunch of twentysomethings who work dreary nine-to-fives and enjoy weekend warehouse raves like Human Traffic. An LA underworld of guns and pills are captured by director Doug Liman in Pulp Fiction-style fragmented narratives as young ravers try to pass off allergy medicines as an alternative form of ecstasy. A late-night stroll through the streets of Go is punctuated by a stylistic overload that provides its own contact high. “A weekend wasted is never a wasted weekend,” proclaims the slogan of this classic tale of getting lost in the weeds.
6. Groove (2000)
Go,Grooveis a story of one unforgettable night. In this video, set in the San Francisco underground rave culture, a police station is just three blocks away from the celebration. The first step in promoting a rave in an abandoned warehouse is to send out a single email announcing the event. Pagers and AOL email accounts will be shown in the background. A magnificent night ensued, complete with euphoric dance music, bikini-clad ladies, and orange bomber jackets for all to see. There’s no doubt about it: the film’s poster features a smiling man riding a NYC subway with a massive disco ball between his knees.
7. Sample People (2000)
“Australia’s Pulp Fiction for the Rave Generation” stars Kylie Minogue and Ben Mendelsohn in their earliest roles. Showcasing the lives of young Australians trapped in a web of weapons, drugs, and shady deals, Sample People captures “48 hours of clubs, chaos, and kebabs” in Sydney. Clinton Smith’s incredibly low-budget independent, which is Australia’s answer to Go, weaves many storylines that gradually come together. An Australian youth culture time capsule that features bright red hair, face glitter and bubblegum colors is on display in the film.
8. 24 Hour Party People (2002)
Steve Coogan, playing Tony Wilson, the co-founder of the famed Factory Records, declares, “This is it: the beginning of rave culture, the beautification of the beat.” Applause at The Hacienda, where UK rave culture was born, welcomes the DJ, as seen by him pointing to the applause. Joy Division, New Order, and the later hybrid dance acts such as Happy Mondays were the precursors to rave culture in Michael Winterbottom’s dizzying trip through the Manchester scene. In the scene where Bez (Chris Coghill) jumps on stage with Happy Mondays for the first time, despite not technically being in the band, the early 90s era is perfectly summed up. He’s invited up by frontman Shaun Ryder (Danny Cunningham), who says he “Adds to the mood.”
9. Party Monster (2003)
There is an early 1990s New York City club scene in which Party Monster is set and where Macaulay Culkin plays ‘king of the Club Kids’ Michael Alig. “Disco Bloodbath” tells the story of a former party promoter who was convicted of murdering another Club Kid and sentenced to life imprisonment. Ravers march into the night with chandeliers on their heads and sunglasses on all the time in a frightening, candy-colored world. It’s all about the show, the glitz, and the back-of-truck parties. Consider it a warning story about overindulgence.
10. Eden (2014)
When Daft Punk became a global sensation in the late 1990s, the French electronica scene was put on the map.
During the height of EDM, Eden follows a DJ who built an audience in the United States by riding the coattails of the craze and gaining a large following. To a large extent, this film is about how a DJ’s personal relationships are affected by his popularity, and how he copes with the loss of his audience when his audience grows smaller. Eden describes the ecstasy of falling in love with EDM to the point when there is nothing else. While spinning wax into the wee hours of the morning, a nagging idea nips at the back of your mind: “What am I going to do when this is all over?” Are men capable of continuing to rave into their 40s?”