It is not often that you find Rock / Metal music featured in mainstream media.
Reason? Rock, and especially Heavy Metal, is a genre of music that has been hated more than loved ever since its inception.
It has been bashed, ridiculed, called ‘evil’, and written off as unsophisticated music. But you make one of those haters listen to a badass metal riff and tell em to play it, I’m pretty sure they’ll jizz in their pants.
Nevertheless, Metal never got the recognition it deserved. And the widespread hate, has only made it all the more endearing to us fans who carry it in our bones.
Anyway, there have been some pretty good (and some awesome) movies and documentaries on Rock and Metal music. I'm not talking musicals here, these are (mostly) works of art that truly captured the spirit of rock and roll.
Here I’m listing some of the best I’ve watched.
And let’s do it the age-old way, counting down :
15. Detroit Rock City
This was one of my favorites back when I was a kid. The movie is about four teenagers trying to get into a KISS concert.
Now, as much as I’d love to punch Paul Stanley in the face, I have to say l love this movie. It’s nothing mind-blowing, but It’s fun, and has its moments.
Christine: Hey, you know what? Disco's so fucking big right now, I wouldn't be suprised if KISS did a disco song.
Lex: Man, if there's one thing KISS will never do, it is a bullshit disco song.
Jam: No shit man!
Trip: Yeah man. Disco blows dogs for quarters man!
And we all know what happened next! XD
14. Still Crazy
Twenty years later, old members of fictional band ‘Strangefruit’ get back together and try to make it work.
You might find yourself wondering at the end of the movie whether the bollywood flick ‘Rock On!!’ was “inspired” by this one.
13. Sid and Nancy
Who doesn’t know Sid Vicious. The legendary bassist of band Sex Pistols, and the true personification of punk rock! But this biography shows us the murky details; Sid’s relationship with Nancy Spungen, her murder and the fateful events that follow. All of this interweaved with hazy moments of drug abuse and debauchery.
Sid slaughtering the Sinatra classic, ‘My Way’, a riveting performance by actor Gary Oldman.
Nancy: I'll never look like Barbie. Barbie doesn't have bruises.
12. Decline of Western Civilization II : The Metal Years
A documentary that shows the ugly underbelly of metal music, namely, the glam metal subculture.
Features some distinguished people in Rock talking about the highs and lows of rockstardom such as, Ozzy, Steven Tyler, Lemmy, Alice Cooper,etc.
More than an hour of footage on some dumbass glam metallers wearing spandex pants. And a stripping contest organized by some old dried up fruit whom I’d like to kick in the balls if I ever get to meet him.
Finally relief comes when they give a scoop on a real metal band for a change, Megadeth. An interview with the band and an amazing rendition of ‘In my darkest hour’.
Chris Holmes (W.A.S.P) wallowing in vodka and making a complete fool of himself, and the expression on his mother’s face as she watches on., that sure is gonna make you reconsider listening to glam metal ever again in your life.
Interviewer to Dave Mustaine : What do you have to say to kids who wanna make it as a rockstar?
Mustaine : don’t.
11. Pirate Radio / The Boat that Rocked
A comedy about an illegal radio station that operated in the North sea in the 60’s. One of those feel good movies with a positive vibe. Some downright funny moments. Also, an awesome soundtrack full of nostalgic oldies. Got me hooked on the Kinks song ‘Sunny Afternoon’.
Lead singer of a tribute band gets the opportunity to become the lead singer of the real band he idolizes. Yeah, it’s based on the story of Judas priest. Starring Mark Wahlberg and Jennifer Aniston, and even a surprising appearance by a young Myles Kennedy, this movie has lots of them rockstar moments.
Memorable moment : Izzy taking the stage with Steel Dragon for the first time and nailing it.
9. The Doors
Perhaps the greatest performer ever to grace the face of this planet, excessive drug user, expressive poet, chicks dig him..
Who else could I be talking about but the lizard king himself, Jim Morrison.
And this is his biography, played to perfection by Val Kilmer. It follows Morrison right from his early days with Doors all the way to his untimely death at the age of 27.
Morrison shouting out ‘higher’ on National Television at the Ed Sullivan Show.
Jim Morrison: Actually I don't remember being born, It must have happened during one of my black outs.
Interviewer: Do you believe in drugs?
Jim Morrison: I believe in excess...
"The movie will begin in five moments," the mindless voice announced. All those unseated will await the next show. We filed slowly, languidly into the hall. The auditorium was fast and silent. As we seated and were darkened, the voice continued, "The program for this evening is not new. You've seen this entertainment through and through. You've seen your birth, your life and death. You might recall all the rest. Did you have a good world when you died? Enough to base a movie on?"
Know what my secret wish is? Go on a desert with Morrison and trip on peyote with him ;)
Ever been to a Motorhead concert? If yes, you might have seen an striking frontman standing onstage and shouting to the sound guy to turn it all the way up. Just get ready for an eargasm cause you’re listening to the Loudest band in the planet, and that man donning the cowboy hat and the Rickenbacker Bass is the most badass figure in Heavy Metal – Lemmy Kilmister.
And this is his story.
Lemmy jamming with the members of Metallica and sharing stage with them.
Pumped-up fan : They drop a nuclear bomb on this planet.. Lemmy and cocroaches, it’s all that’s gonna survive!
Lemmy : We are Motorhead, and we play Rock and Roll.
7. School of Rock
Jack Black, awesome as always, plays a wannabe rockstar, who poses as a substitute teacher at a prep school and educates his students on something that’s not in the curriculum : Rock Music.
Taking the concept of the yesteryear movie ‘Sound of Music’ and bringing it to an entirely different realm, works out pretty well in my opinion.
Frankie: Miss Mullins, you're the man.
Now this one comes highly recommended by me.. it is a documentary on the Gods of Canadian metal, Anvil.
Memorable moments :
* Bandmates get Lip a cake on his birthday, inscribed with ‘Happy fucking 50’ in icing.. man, if my friends ever did something like that for me I’d be psyched!
*Anvil playing to a half empty bar in Munich, and a loyal customer sitting in a chair and headbanging all by himself.
This is hands down the best documentary I’ve seen in years. It’s not about one of those bands that made it big, it’s about one that could’ve been big, about a failure for a change. And that’s the beauty of the film. It’ll leave you mesmerized.
5. Metal : A HeadBanger’s Journey
What better way to make a documentary on Metal other than by a Metalhead himself!
Headbanger’s journey follows anthropologist and longtime metal fan Sam Dunn as he embarks on a journey to uncover the roots of Heavy Metal, starting from the industrial areas of old England where Sabbath pounded out those first metal riffs and travelling all the way to the modern metallers, even a short dark trip to the depths of Norwegia, the Black Metal capital of the world.
Features interviews with a lot of important figures in Metal, it’s a must-watch for any metal fan.
The Ending lines are especially memorable :
Sam Dunn (standing at the concert venue amidst screaming metal fans) : Ever since I was 12 years old I had to defend my love for heavy metal against those who say it's a less valid form of music. My answer now is that you either feel it or you don't. If metal doesn't give that overwhelming surge of power that make the hair stand up at the back of your neck, you might never get it, and you know what? That's okay, because judging by the 40,000 metalheads around me we're doing just fine without you.
4. Global Metal
Following along the veins of Headbanger’s journey, this documentary follows Sam Dunn as he travels across the world to learn how Metal has flourished in and influenced the different cultures, including Asia, South America, and even the Middle East.
Iron Maiden opening the concert with ‘Fear of the Dark’ to a pent up Indian crowd. Nothing short of mind-blowing! Don’t take my word for it, watch the video.
3. Heavy : The Story of Metal
Documentary series on Metal by VH1. Although it was done by the folks at MTV and glorifies mainstream junk and the music video a bit, I still find it to be a honest account on the origin and evolution of Metal.
It’s a four part series, and you could learn a lot by watching it.
Episode 1 : Welcome to my nightmare : Black Sabbath to Led Zeppelin to Alice Cooper to AC/DC.
Episode 2 : British Steel : Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, The NWOBHM movement, and the origin of Air Guitaring.
Episode 3 : Looks that Kill : LA Glam Metal scene, and my least favorite installment.
Episode 4 : Seek and Destroy : Metal was never meant to be pretty.. Thrash arrives and melts the faces of all the glam metal posers. Hell Yeah! \m/
Also, scoops on Rap Metal, Nu metal and the devil incarnate himself, Marilyn Manson.
2. Almost Famous
William Miller, a 15 year old journalist, gets hired by Rolling Stone magazine to tour with and write about the band Stillwater.
Now, I’ve placed this one so high up in the list cause it deserves it. It captures the true essence of Rock and Roll. Tons of replay value. And Kate Hudson gives one of her most unforgettable performances as the groupie, miss Penny Lane.
Memorable moment :
That scandalous moment where the band is on a plane about to crash and Ed blurts out “Fuck it! I’m… I’m gay!”. Also, this is Ed’s only line in the movie!
And now to the number 1, and my all time favorite :
1. This is Spinal Tap
If you’re into metal and you haven’t seen this one, you’re missing out. In the words of Dee Snider, “It was so funny it hurt!”. No arguments there, it gets you laughing right from the start till the ending credits roll.
Directed by Rob Reiner, this one’s a documentary, or rather, a ‘mockumentary’ on the fictional band Spinal Tap. Reiner himself stars as documentarian Marti DeBergi, who hits the road with the band.
Spinal Tap is comprised of three core members: David St. Hubbins (apparently St. Hubbins is the patron saint of quality footwear.. who knew!) on vocals, Nigel Tufnel on Guitar, and Derek Smalls on bass.
Too many, though the Stonehenge scene was hysterically funny!
Also this Spinal Tap song deserves special mention., titled ‘Big Bottom’ :D
Nigel : “These amps go upto 11”
I wanna keep talking about this movie but already this post has grown to epic proportions. So I have to stop now.
And please be aware that this list is purely subjective. Also, there must be other rock and roll films out there that I may not be aware of and have missed. So if you have any to suggest, just shoot in the comments section. :)
[Asked to write his own epitaph]
David St. Hubbins: Here lies David St. Hubbins... and why not?