Diabolos Biblos will be a running SfB feature focusing on literature inspired by and inspirational to all things heavy music.
by Craig Hayes
Heavy Metal Movies: Guitar Barbarians, Mutant Bimbos & Cult Zombies Amok in the 666 Most Ear- and Eye-Ripping Big-Scream Films Ever!
By Mike “McBeardo” McPadden. (Bazillion Points)
Heavyweight books about metal aren’t in short supply. However, without a doubt, the reigning champion of all those thundering tomes is the one, the only, Metalion: The Slayer Mag Diaries. Published in 2011, Jon Kristiansen’s mammoth collection draws its riotous content directly from the pages of his celebrated Slayer zine, and Metalion isan exhaustive romp, across decades of metal. As a historical document, Metalion has enormous value, and the same can be said about Only Death is Real, Thomas Gabriel Fischer’s deeply personal account of Hellhammer’s emergence, and the early years of Celtic Frost.
Harald Oimeon and Brian Lew’s photo journal, Murder in the Front Row, serves a similar role too, highlighting the Bay Area thrash scene at a crucial stage in its development. Daniel Ekeroth’s Swedish Death Metal also shines a spotlight on the history of a particular corner of the metal world,in much the same way as Jeff Wagner’s Mean Deviation welcoming illuminates four decades of progressive metal. All of those aforementioned books offer indispensable perspectives on heavy metal’s evolution, and, of course, its sociocultural and musical significance. However, there’s one other connection that all those books share, and that’s the fact that they’ve all been published by Bazillion Points.
Founded in 2007, by author Ian Christie, Bazillion Points has published a phenomenal run of books over the past seven years. Many of them have perfectly captured crucial moments in the annals of heavy metal or punk rock, and one of the key reasons they’d done that so successfully, is that those books are authored by individuals who are wholly immersed in the noisy realms. There are no temperate observers of metal or punk in Bazillion Points’ ranks, and that’s meant that everything the publisher has released so far has also come with a strong sense of a shared allegiance.
That’s meant, much like our favourite underground record labels, Bazillion Points has come to be seen as a trusted ally. Fans of the publisher cleary respect Bazillion Points, because Bazillion Points clearly respects their fanbase. That’s why, before opening a page of Mike “McBeardo” McPadden’s Heavy Metal Movies, you could safely guess that the latest publication from Bazillion Points is going to be fan-fucking-tastic. And, as luck would have it, the ins and outs of fandom and fucking is something McPadden happens to be very familiar with.
McPadden’s lengthy time peddling smut for adult websites, filmmakers, and magazines certainly makes him a connoisseur of rumpy pumpy, and that’s clearly been crucial fieldwork for the vice and vulgarity he highlights in his guidebook to the wondrous world of celluloid nastiness. Still, it’s not all nooky for McPadden, he’s clearly also a dedicated fan of tasteless thrillers, crazed sci-fi, B-grade horror, debauched documentaries, R-rated riots, and over-the-top action spectaculars too. Because Heavy Metal Movies is packed with headbanger-friendly hijinks and crowning glories of filmmaking trash from across the spectrum.
The link between heavy metal and movies has been evident since Black Sabbath plucked their name from the title of an Italian horror film, and it’s been big screen bonding, VHS canoodling, DVD snuggling, and now, download one-nighters galore for metal fans ever since. Metal and movies obviously make for an ideal couple too, chiefly because metal is no stranger to taking bombastic theatrics to their nth degree. Just like many of the filmmakers featured in Heavy Metal Movies, many a metal band also shares artistic goals encompassing massive amounts of excess and exaggeration, even if, similarly, the budget only stretches to a few old leftover bones from the butcher, and a bucket of fake blood.
Of course, the clearest link between metal and movies is that both appeal to pernickety nerds, like me. Folks who love nothing more than a great big list to trawl through, and also happen to think that Mad Max and Manowar, or Panopticon and Planet of the Apes, are equally kick ass. I’d hazard a guess, if you’re reading this, that you might fall into that category too, and all of us, at some stage, would have experienced the same kind of soul-stirring epiphany that McPadden felt when he first saw the Rocky Horror Picture Show. It might not have been that same film — although, in my case, it definitely was — but somewhere out there is the movie that’s likely to have sparked the intoxicating realisation that music, film, and a heady sense of pleasure all occupy the same continuum.
That’s exactly the kind of ecstatic buzz you’ll find in Heavy Metal Movies. The book features the kinds of high-and-low-class filmmaking that tickles your gratification glands, and kudos to McPadden for no doubt risking an overdose of self-indulgence as he’s plowed through a gigantic series of films that would appeal to the metal crowd.
Gathered here are well over the 666 Tinseltown, Nobudgetville, and handheld shaky cam treasures promised on the cover, and McPadden shoves plenty of bold as brass, and frequently hilarious, commentary into capsule explanations of each and every pick. Overall, McPadden’s curated a catalogue featuring grim documentaries; slasher superstars; sword-waving barbarians; supernatural freak-outs; apocalyptic and dystopian romps; classic concert films; a zillion heavy metal cameos; untold stomach churning horror films; and plenty of other nightmare visions for the midnight crowds. His criteria for selecting films to include in Heavy Metal Movies boils down to anything that could possibly be linked to, intertwined with, or has a sniff of being associated with metal’s aesthetic archetypes. That means a diverse range of films appear, including many of the expected classics, like The Exorcist, Cannibal Holocaust, Dawn of the Dead, Evil Dead, The Wicker Man, Halloween, RoboCop, The Road Warrior, Blade Runner, The Warriors, Caligula, This Is Spinal Tap, Heavy Metal Parking Lot, The Decline and Fall of Western Civilization: Part Two, The Toxic Avenger… and on and on and on it goes.
McPadden spent three-and-a-half-years compiling Heavy Metal Movies, and lord knows how many other years just frying his eyeballs for fun, so you can imagine how thoroughly exhaustive an inventory of late-night cult flicks and a few timeless big-screen adventures are collected here. McPadden tops-off his capsule descriptions with category reference points, like demonic possession, necrophilia, sorcery, satanic panic, goblins, zombies, mutants, backwards messaging, haunted houses, and many more, just to underscore the metal connections too.
Some might find a few of the connections made in Heavy Metal Movies to be a little tenuous, but McPadden certainly stamps his choices with sound reasonings for them being included. Even his more well-known picks are still damn entertaining to read about, because of McPadden’s often irreverent descriptions of them. However, it’s the forgotten flicks, those missed foreign films, or those obscure, low-budget video nasties that are going to be of the most interest in Heavy Metal Movies. Thankfully, there are scores of underappreciated or unremembered riches of filmmaking to be discovered in the book’s encyclopedic pages. In fact, if you’re anything like me, you’re going to be noting films down from virtually every page.
It’s really McPadden’s utter obsessiveness in tracking down those lost gems that’s going to resonate with the anorak wearing metal fan in all of us, because there’s plenty of fresh movie meat to gorge on here, even for the most dedicated metal/movie gourmand. Obviously, there are also bound to be omissions in Heavy Metal Movies that are going to get a few of celluloid savants cranky too; but that’s no bad thing. Half the fun of reading customized compendiums like Heavy Metal Movies is knowing that they are going to provoke hot-blooded debates, and as metal fans, we do like a solid dose of ten or twenty of those everyday. That’s a welcome feature of the book, because while there are hundreds and hundreds of films to add to your must watch list here, any extra chatter about who is or isn’t here is likely to reveal even more hidden treasures. Win-win.
You can definitely mark Heavy Metal Movies down as yet another essential Bazillion Points purchase, because just like all the other superlative releases from the publisher, Heavy Metal Movies vividly highlights metal’s inspirations, and the genre’s widespread cultural influence. McPadden makes for the perfect tour guide through the world of crass and crazed celluloid wonders, and Heavy Metal Movies is hugely informative, and endlessly uproarious. Best of all, Heavy Metal Movies reaffirms what we all know to be true about metal and movies; that beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder, and that lowbrow adventures are often the most satisfying of all.
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