DVDanger: 'Heavy Metal Movies'
A literary diversion over the long weekend
By Richard Whittaker, 12:00PM, Sat. Jul. 5
We understand. If you love gruesome movies, the holidays suck.
OK, there's always Halloween, and maybe you can convince your more devout relatives to sling on Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ for a few moments of Easter awkwardness. But most of the big days off involve being stuck with the family, facing rival viewing choices of the more anodyne animated specials (yes, there really is an It's Arbor Day, Charlie Brown), and The Sound of Music (the ultimate and therefore most bizarre family-friendly Nazi cinematic experience)
So, really, from an actual horror movie watching point of view, we'll admit, unless grampie really feels like picking up that spiffy new three disc release of Cannibal Holocaust (out now from Grindhouse Releasing) over the long Fourth of July weekend, then you're kinda screwed.
(By the way. Total side point. Ruggero Deodato. Director of everyone's favorite found footage abbatoir. Lovely guy. Actually looks like your grampie. They'd probably get along just swell.)
And that's where Heavy Metal Movies can ideally fit this three day gap. After all, not even the most saintly relatives of the most delicate dispositions can complain that you're reading too loudly about the self-ingestion sequence in Anthropophagus.
So what is a heavy metal movie? In the realm of author Mike "Mcbeardo" McPhadden (seemingly raised in a 42nd Street grindhouse), it is any film that fulfills any one of the six following criteria:
1: A movie that has a direct presence of metal, such as documentaries like Morbid Angel: Tales of the Sick or The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years.
2: The appearance of a metal celebrity, such as foreword author Alice Cooper in Prince of Darkness.
3: The use of heavy metal on the soundtrack, such as thrash gods Metallica for chilling true crime documentary Paradise Lost or power ballad goons Tyxe on forgotten werewolf snoozer Lone Wolf, or a metal storyline, like demon glam rock horror show Trick or Treat (famously starring Ozzy Osbourne as a fugure clearly and legally not Jerry Falwell, no, no, no.)
4: Films that directly influenced metal, such as Black Sabbath, or even The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (from which Iron Maiden took a song title. Guess which one.)
5: Films that may not have a metal connection per se, but still feel metal, like Murnau's Faust or Lee Majors viking it up in The Norsemen.
6: Films he likes, and it's his book, goddamit, so he can include Dolph Lundgren's Dark Angel if he wants.
Heavy Metal Movies crosses the line from "informative," tramples well past "definitive," and hammers happily into the realm that we shall dub "leviathan." As McBeardo's publisher Magnus Henriksson told me via email, "The book is enormous. It was supposed to cover 666 of the most metal movies ever made but madman McPadden just kept on writing and it now includes almost a thousand titles."
Even in paperback, this is a kneecap crusher, the kind of tome that corrupt cops in gialli used to whack suspects around the head with, just to extract a confession. It's also a moderately far cry from McBeardo's regular gig as chief writer for celebrity grum site Mr Skin. Which, apparently, is a real job. It also explains the inclusion the Pamela Anderson/Tommy Lee sex tape, which started this whole modern phenomenon of celebs boning and leaking their way to celebrity. This therefore makes Kim Kardashian the worst thing we can blame Lee for, and not that Motley Crue album with John Corabi on vocals.
The funny thing is, movie books like these should be dead. Between IMDB listicles and Netflix recommendations it's easy to get a guide to under-rated gore gems. But then, those are really just algorithms. Books like Heavy Metal Movies are in themselves an homage to the golden era of film books, when it was basically impossible to see these features, and so lovingly curated tomes like this were maps to a foreign land. McBeardo rightfully nods a stump to his original inspiration, Michael Weldon's seminal Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film. At the time, we all thought it was the definitive guide to the outre and out there. But what the service it really performed was to take the A-to-Z format of Leonard Maltin's Film and Video Guide or The Film Encyclopedia, and apply it to distinct and dissident genres.
If this book is as exhaustive as those tomes, it's less by deliberate action and more by gleeful commitment to carnage. McBeardo's arbitrary judgments on what classifies as metal just seem to make sense (Star Wars yes, Battlestar Galactica, no.) So Heavy Metal Movies can sit happily aside such dip-in delights as Hidden Horror: A Celebration of 101 Underrated and Overlooked Fright Flicks by Aaron Christensen, or Glenn Kay's Zombie Movies: The Ultimate Guide, and of course Bleeding Skull! A 1980's Trash-Horror Odyssey by Alamo booker/Terror Tuesday curator Joseph Ziemba and Destroy All Movies!!! The Complete Guide to Punks on Film by his TT predecessor Zack Carlson.
Heavy Metal Movies by Mike "McBeardo" McPadden, Bazillion Points, 560 pp, $34.95, or $24.95 via www.bazillionpoints.com.