By Titus Medley:
The city that is always sleeping makes noise in the world of film with the new movie “Bomb City.” Based on the true story of the Dec. 12, 1997 event that resulted in the murder of an Amarillo punk artist, the movie premiered Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2017, at the Amarillo Globe-News Center, after a run at film festivals.
Brian Deneke, the central figure in the film, is well known and has turned into a legend in the punk rock community at large. Countless bands, writers, artists and even rock star Marilyn Manson have referenced and drawn inspiration from Deneke’s story.
Deneke’s older brother Jason Deneke, who still lives in Amarillo, talked about the popularity of his brother’s story saying “It’s cool so many people take inspiration from Brian’s story. It’s OK to be yourself, that’s the message.”
Brian Deneke, who sported a mohawk, a spiked choker and random homemade tattoos was definitely that – himself. Ultimately, his free spirit and wild personality lead to his death when Dustin Camp deliberately hit Deneke with his car after a fight outside of the International House of Pancakes on Western Street. Jason Deneke recalled this incident saying that it was a large build up. The “white hats,” as he called them, and he and his brother’s friends had experienced conflict here and there for quite some time. Jason Deneke said he remembers getting in lots of fights with the white hats, saying they didn’t get along “because we were outsiders. We were weird and well, outsiders. Not just punks, hippies too. Outsiders, and we pissed them off.”
Though the conflict between these two groups had been going on for a while, the death of Brian Deneke was the height of the conflict and in many ways marked the end.
Reviews of the movie have been steadily positive through the film festival circuit. Amarillo musician David Beatty went to the premiere and really enjoyed the movie, calling it a “re-enactment” more than a “Hollywood dramatization.” Beatty said he appreciated the filmmakers approach to the movie. “Instead of ‘We are going to write an original plot based on this story,’ it was like ‘literally we are telling this true story,’” which sounds refreshing in the midst of big budget movies with lots of CGI and picture perfect protagonists,” Beatty said.
Ruby Guerra, the daughter of Jason Deneke and niece of Brian, never knew her uncle personally, but knew his legend well. Guerra grew up in Amarillo around a lot of the people the movie is based on. Her family members often spoke about the legacy. “I grew up with them telling stories and basically I just grew up learning don’t judge people based on how they look. To treat everyone the same. It’s OK to be whoever you want to be,” Guerra said.
“Bomb City” was written by Amarillo natives Jameson Brooks, Sheldon R. Chick and Cody Chick. Brooks, who directed the movie, is a Randall high school alum. Filming took place mostly in Dallas where the film company is based with some exteriors shot in Amarillo.
Moviegoers at the Amarillo screening of the film said, “Bomb City” offers a history lesson, a compelling story and an inspiring examination of their hometown. “Bomb City” will be available on iTunes, in select theaters and On Demand Feb. 9, 2018.