You may not know Decoder, an oddly forgotten 1984 West German No-Wave film collectively made by four people (Trini Timpop, Muscha, and two friends). But you probably know some of its all-star cast (William Burroughs, Bill Rice, Genesis P-Orridge), or the bands that compose its stellar post-punk soundtrack (Soft Cell, Psychic TV, Einstürzende Neubauten, and The The). The film, which is getting a rare screening at Brooklyn’s Spectacle Theater this Sunday, should sound like familiar ground to modern-day misanthropes: it’s a political thriller about a man who gets fed up with the constant sound of muzak in a hamburger restaurant and in other places and decides to fight back.
The story, in short, revolves around Bill Rice, downtown New York theatre legend, who plays the role of a government official for a shadow government in West Berlin, surveying dissidents and taking them out if they do anything wrong. Another subplot revolves around F.M. Einheit from Einsturzende Neubauten, who plays a frustrated noise musician living on the fringes of West German society and realizes, sort of by accident, that he has come up with a formula for noise music that can incite the populace to rise up against their oppressive government.
“I’m friends with a lot of Vitamin-D-deprived film nerd buddies and none of them had ever heard of this film before,” says Ben Shapiro, Noisey editor and the Spectacle curator behind the screening (he also edited the new trailer, above). “It’s one of those real forgotten gems, and I don’t think I’ll find anything like it again.”