Heavy Metal Movies cover[Art: Bazillion Points]
MikeMcP_photo-by-chris-roo-02[Photo: Chris Roo / Bazillion Points]
Heave Metal Movies Open[Photo: Bazillion Points]
For those of us that came of age during the 1980s, our formative years were spent obsessing over the latest sounds emanating from the outer reaches of the heavy metal music scene and chasing the cheap but undeniable thrill of being scared out of your wits by the latest horror movies and slasher films. Heavy Metal Movies, the new book by Mike “McBeardo” McPadden, ties together the many shared bonds between extreme music and extreme cinema with as much authority as a Slayer riff and more eye-popping graphics than a stack of Iron Maiden LPs. Subtitled Guitar Barbarians, Mutant Bimbos & Cult Zombies Amok in the 666 Most Ear- and Eye-Ripping Big-Scream Films Ever!, the book chronicles the most heavy metal movies of all time, and not just horror films, but rock documentaries, midnight movies and concert films as well. The book is available for preorder now from Bazillion Points here and ship with a limited color cover artwork patch and a barf bag for the weak of heart (and stomach). In celebration of the book’s impending publication, author McPadden has graced us with his picks of the 20 greatest heavy metal movies of all time and tells us why no self-respecting metalhead should be without these flicks in their movie queue or DVD collection. Let’s let Mike take it form here:
“Black Sabbath invented heavy metal. But what, in turn, invented Black Sabbath? That honor belongs to a 1963 fright film starring Boris Karloff—titled, yes, Black Sabbath—from which rock’s darkest, scariest quartet appropriated their name. Thus, heavy metal and movies have forever been two fingers on the same horn-hand salute. So what makes a Heavy Metal Movie? The following 20 films rockingly embody the concept and, indeed, “go to eleven.”
– Mike “McBeardo” McPadden
This Is Spinal Tap is the one Heavy Metal Movie to which all previous Heavy Metal Movies have led and from which all subsequent Heavy Metal Movies have proceeded. Countless real-life hard rock artists proclaim their devotion to the uncanny, utterly uproarious truths on parade this gut-busting, head-banging mock rock doc supreme—and if you can’t instantly quote one of Tap’s dozens of classic lines, you simply haven’t been rocking hard enough.
After a decade of suing their own fans, issuing the universally despised St. Anger album and starring in the fascinating, infuriating (rock) group therapy docu-debacle Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, the 3D concert fantasia Metallica: Through the Never proved to be a multi-dimensional leap in the right direction. The band performs fantastically and the apocalyptic storyline is a great surreal throwback to vintage midnight movies. Through the Never pulls off the impossible: it made Metallica cool again.
With no radio or TV support, Virginia’s genre-hopping Lamb of God built themselves into twenty-first century metal gods. The group’s diabolically divine trip took a tragic detour in 2010 when a teenage fan fell from the stage at a Prague show and died. Two years later, lead singer Randy Blythe stood accused of pushing the youth to his death and faced manslaughter charges. The documentary As the Palaces Burn accompanies Blythe to the Czech Republic for his trial and weaves a moving tale of heavy metal heartbreak and the redemptive power of rock when life and death hit us hardest.
Anvil is a great ’80s metal band that almost made it to stardom. Anvil: The Story of Anvil is the great documentary that finally finished the job. Singer Steve “Lips” Kudlow and drummer Robb Reiner struggle to keep the dream (barely) alive as the movie starts and we follow them to one of the happiest, hardest rocking endings in all of cinema, metal or otherwise.
Heavy Metal Parking Lot (1986)
Seventeen minutes of uncut headbanger bliss, Heavy Metal Parking Lot is a shot-on-camcorder visit with hopped-up heshers and rowdy rockers tailgating outside a Baltimore-area Judas Priest concert in 1986. Underage partying (to say the least) abounds among denim-vested hooligans, high-haired groupie hopefuls, and Zebraman, so named for the pattern on his skin-tight outfit, who unforgettably declares, “As far as I’m concerned, Madonna can go to hell! She’s a dick!”
Iron Maiden: Flight 666 (2009)
Iron Maiden: Flight 666 takes to the skies as it follows the power metal giants Iron Maiden on tour aboard their private jet, Ed Force One (named after the band’s famous zombie mascot, Eddie). None other than frontman Bruce Dickinson is the plane’s pilot and no Heavy Metal Movie moment is more heartfelt than when a Brazilian fan catches a drumstick and expresses his gratitude with 37 seconds of genuine, uncontrollable crying.
Trick Or Treat (1986)
Ozzy Osbourne plays a televangelist in Trick or Treat. Gene Simmons plays a rock DJ. Skippy Henderson from the ‘80s sitcom Family Ties (Marc Price) plays a put upon teenage metalhead who raises a homicidal hair-rocker from the dead and unwittingly unleashes murderous mosh pit chaos at a high school dance. If that doesn’t sound to you like a mid-’80s bag of pure metal Treats, you can go Trick yourself.
Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey (2005)
Anthropologist and metal devotee Sam Dunn, who also co-directed this essential documentary, travels the world to observe and report on the origins, expansion, and ongoing endurance of heavy metal, talking to fans, artists, and cultural observers. The same team’s 2008 follow-up, Global Metal, is equally indispensable.
Black Roses (1988)
Back in the 1980s heavy metal was alleged to pose a grave threat to the safety, sanity, and souls of its young fans. The beloved B-horror flick Black Roses brings one such best/worst case scenario to life as a titular glammy hard rock ensemble uses their music to transform a small town’s entire teen population into blood-famished demons.
Conan the Barbarian (1982)
“What is best in life?” someone asks the hero for whom Conan the Barbarian is named. “To crush your enemies,” he answers in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s unmistakable accent, “to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the women.” Perhaps no other recorded philosophy is so purely metal. Between the Teutonic hyper-musculature of Arnold, director John Milius’s magnificently realized sword-and-sorcery setting, and the genuinely barbaric brutality on display all around, Conan is the embodiment of infinite heavy metal album covers leaping to bloody, lusty life.
The Gate (1987)
The Gate is an underappreciated kiddie horror gem inspired by over-exaggerated 1980s fears regarding backward messages on heavy metal records. Here at least, those dangers are real as the subliminal sounds crack open a portal to Hell in a suburban backyard and unleash a swarm of foot-high monster-men to wreak havoc in the lives of our pre-adolescent heroes.
House of 1000 Corpses (2003)
Rob Zombie rather perfectly translates his distinctive musical milieu to the medium of film in House of 1000 Corpses, a perversely funny take on what agonies await tourists who fall into a sanguine succession of very wrong traps. Classic ’70s drive-in stars bring both class and menace to the cast. Zombie’s 2005 sequel, The Devil’s Rejects, is even more brutal and affirmed this multimedia master as one of the major voices of modern horror (and heavy metal) movies.
Rock ‘N’Roll Nightmare (1987)
Jon Mikl Thor, front-maven of the band Thor, is a mega-muscled bodybuilder and hugely theatrical metal showman. Rock ‘N’ Roll Nightmare supplies him with an ideal vehicle for entertainment. Thor plays a longhaired hard rock singer (quite a stretch) who retreats to a remote country home in order to record a new album. In doing so, he conjures demon-warriors, played mostly by hand puppets, which he must defeat en route to going mano-a-cloven-mano with Satan himself. This nightmare, from the future director of Black Roses, is a cheese-metal fright flick lover’s dream.
The Road Warrior (1982)
Mad Max (1979) introduced Mel Gibson as vengeful Australian motorcycle cop in the wake of some kind of global calamity. The Road Warrior ups the metal factor with hot chrome, black leather, and mechanized death in every frame, beginning after law and order has collapsed entirely, and with Max just driving the highways, simply killing to survive. Complications ensue—as does the most spectacular of all post-nuke sci-fi action blowouts—when Max chooses to defend a ramshackle little society against a new breed of barbarians emerging from the end of the world. Like a heavy metal rock opera roaring ahead into our eyes and ears, The Road Warrior brings the apocalypse right to you—and just keeps speeding onward.
Phantom of the Paradise (1974)
Director Brian De Palma’s Phantom of the Paradise updates The Phantom of the Opera for the 1970s rock set, complete with wild energy, black humor, heavy horror, and astoundingly spot-on genre parody songs by composer Paul Williams, who also co-stars as Satanic music mogul Swan, “a rock and roll Napoleon. ” Pure metal arises in the form of the face-painted, Kiss-like group The Undead and glittery, Alice Cooper-like monster-rocker Beef. More metal arises when The Phantom proves just how very seriously he “sold his soul for rock and roll.”
Monster Dog (1984)
1984 found Alice Cooper just out of rehab and eager to keep busy. The producers of the horror cheapie Monster Dog promised him work in the lead role of Vince Raven, a mysterious rock star who must confront a werewolf and also just might be one. It was an offer Alice couldn’t refuse. Fans of fun, terrible, terrifically gory, heavy metal B-movies—including Alice himself—have been grateful ever since.
Hard Rock Zombies (1985)
Hard Rock Zombies chronicles a mousse-drunk hair metal band at odds with the residents of a small town named Grand Guignol. The tension is understandable as the locals include evil dwarves, a matronly werewolf, a teenage leading lady with eyebrows that resemble Buzz Osbourne of the Melvins’ on an off hair-day, and, ja indeed, Adolph Hitler. Spoiler alert: by the end, the band members are all zombies.
The Exorcist (1973)
Hailed by many as the most frightening film ever made, The Exorcist unleashed Hell into popular culture, spawning a public fascination with the occult and innumerable imitation horror movies, as well as profoundly informing and inspiring a developing outpost of rock and roll to seize the cosmic power of the satanic unknown and forever after represent music’s most mighty and extreme forefront: heavy f’n metal.
West of Memphis (2012)
The terrible, true-life case of the West Memphis Three centers on a trio of young Arkansas heavy metal fans wrongly accused of mass child murder who served nearly twenty years for the crime. Their saga expertly told in a trio of documentaries under the Paradise Lost moniker, made as the actual events were unfolding. West of Memphis is the final, definitive nonfiction film on this unthinkable but all too real miscarriage of justice—a heavy metal tragedy that just gets more daunting with each telling.
Kiss Meets The Phantom of the Park (1978)
Pitched to the band by cartoon studio Hannah-Barbera as “A Hard Day’s Night Meets Star Wars”, Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park is closer to “a pile of crap meets a piece of junk.” Nonetheless, we Kiss fanatics feel great affection for this cheap, clunky, laughable boondoggle, especially if we saw it when it first aired as an NBC Halloween treat in 1978. Not only does the band lip-synch to a bunch of their best tunes, they have super powers and go boot-to-boot against evil robot versions of themselves. What more could anyone want? A good movie? Nah! More Kiss? Yeah!