In the 1970s and ‘80s, a group of Maryland high school students with a movie camera made a series of short comedic films that were met with critical acclaim. This weekend the Langley Punks will reunite in Silver Spring for a retrospective of those cult classics.
If you’ve picked up a copy of The Washington Post over the past three decades you’ve seen photographer Bill O’Leary’s work. He’s captured some iconic moments over the years, including his first front page: A picture of Mayor Marion Barry after his arrest shot when O’Leary was just an intern.
But before he was snapping pictures for the Post, he was behind the camera for the Langley Punks, a group of teenage filmmakers from Good Counsel High School.
“This is the late ‘60s, so we had grown up watching Laurel and Hardy and The Three Stooges and the classic, silent and early sound slapstick comedies,” O’Leary said. “That’s what we wanted. We wanted to just make people laugh and have a good time.”
Dave Nuttycombe joined the Punks in their early years after they started submitting their films to local competitions against established filmmakers.
“And then these buffoons were just drinking beer and just throwing things at each other and just putting in ping pong ball eyeballs, chasing around, pretending to be monsters, and they would win every time,” Nuttycombe said.
“The popularity thing sort of surprised me, because these are pretty crude and rudimentary,” O’Leary said.
The Langley Punks went on to produce cult classics like “Hyattsville Holiday, “Intestines from Space” and “Alcoholics Unanimous,” in which O’Leary, who worked primarily behind the camera, got to play the bartender.
“I like better being behind the camera,” he said.
At the AFI Silver Theatre at 7:30 p.m., Travesty Films presents “The First Absolutely Final Retrospective Featuring the Return of the Langley Punks.” In addition to their classic work, the evening will include the first new Punks film in decades -- a sequel to “Curse of the Atomic Greasers.”
“It’s ‘Curse of the Atomic Greasers 2: Last Bus to Bladensburg,'” Nuttycombe said. “And that was made 34 years ago, and in 34 years, we’ve learned nothing. I think it’s even dumber than the original.”