Metal!

In Celebration of the Best Metal Documentaries

Page 2 of 2

An early classic of the genre revels in the gonzo, bone-headed idea of metal: Though This Is Spinal Tap was a (loosely scripted) mockumentary, its status as a legit document of the dazed and confused metal lifestyle is secure: Eddie Van Halen claimed "Everything that happened in that movie happened to me." Though it's clearly a joke -- a thoroughly and mercilessly funny one -- the film "taps" into what makes metal fun, while cleverly skewering the idea of anyone taking it too seriously.

Heavy Metal Parking Lot (1986) is a classic, a testament to the youthful spirit of metal, with such scenes as a spandex-wearing adolescent shouting that Madonna's "a dick" and punk rock "should be on Mars."

Penelope Spheeris' Decline of Western Civilization 2: The Metal Years (1988) looked at the Sunset Strip scene that gave rise to such glam metal bands as Poison and Guns N' Roses. Favorite part? A surprisingly coherent Ozzy Osbourne cooking breakfast in a bathrobe, and Paul Stanley of Kiss doing his interview from a satin-covered bed, covered in a tangle of lingerie-clad groupies.

The 2000s saw the art form expand and grow: Metal: A Headbanger's Journey (2005) was created by 31-year-old headbanger-turned-anthropologist Sam Dunn as he explored heavy metal's cultural impact and its fans' devotion. I love how it breaks through heavy metal stereotypes. Heavy Metal in Baghdad (2007) flips the concept of the Decline of Western Civilization 2: The Metal Years, showing a different side of heavy metal -- the other side of the world. In Iran, wearing one of your favorite heavy metal band's shirts could get you thrown into jail.

Also, I can't forget DimeVision, which presents Pantera's Dimebag Darrell as a sort of heavy metal Walt Disney who showcases home videos, pranks and mind-blowing riffs with constant access to an open bar. Or Pantera: 3 Vulgar Videos From Hell, a hell-raising collection of Pantera's home videos, live concerts, and everything in between.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Lauren Wise has worked as a rock/heavy metal journalist for 15 years. She contributes to Noisey and LA Weekly, edits books, and drinks whiskey.
Contact: Lauren Wise