Sad Vacation: The Last Days Of Sid And Nancy
directed by Danny Garcia
starring Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen
A Chip Baker Film
For a guy who couldn’t really sing, couldn’t really play, and only did one album and one money-losing tour, Sid Vicious (John Ritchie) has remained near the top of the rock star heap. But he did have a girlfriend, Nancy Spungen, and while she didn’t make him a better band member, she did share her Tulinol with him, only to end up dead in the Chelsea Hotel. Points to her for style: if your gonna check out young, that’s the place to do it.
With over two dozen extant films on or about Sid and the Sex Pistols, this movie has a tough hill to climb. It does so reasonably well; it’s a mix of remembrances of people who knew and worked with him as well as some archival foot of concerts and interviews. The real focus of this film is Sid’s relation with Nancy Spungen, the woman he may or may not have murdered in the Chelsea. The film is not kind to her; she’s painted as a scheming, nasty woman who set out to be a band groupie, and she executed her plan efficiently and successfully. Sid appears much weaker, here he seems along for a ride he doesn’t fully understand, and when he speaks you hear not him so much as the dope speaking. Spungen died of a knife wound, the movie speculates on whether it was an unintended accident made worse by people nodding out, or if was an actual intentional act. The police weren’t terribly interested as dope fiend punkers were best left to sort themselves out so long as they never created a public outcry.
Naturally self-destructive people have a cloud of stories; here we hear about self-harming, heroin, and casual sex, all the standard broth of rock and roll. Sylvain Sylvain (New York Dolls) talks about snorting some of Sid’s post-cremation ashes. We see Sid cut himself, we see the deadly knife, and we see what 35 years of life will do to dim the bright young men and woman of the 1970 New York scene. This is a film for punk rock fans, but if you’ve never stuck a safety pin in your ear lobe, be aware this is a downer of a movie about significant musicians who, quite frankly, must have been a total pain to be around if you weren’t as doped up as they were.