Dir: John Heyn, Jeff Krulik 17 mins (plus 120 + of extra footage)
Extras: Audio commentaries, bonus documentaries, deleted scenes, two hours of extra footage, interviews with key cast members.
Available on DVD now
UK Distribution – Wienerworld
Billed as “the wildest rock ‘n’ roll documentary of all time”, and lovingly sampled by Less Than Jake, as the intro to their classic track “All My Best Friends Are Metalheads”, ‘Heavy Metal Parking Lot’ may not have aged particularly well over the past twenty years, but it remains a reliably honest time capsule for the time, and spirit, of eighties heavy metal music, and its rabid, rather fascinating, fanbase.
Filmed at the USAir Arena in Maryland, outside a Judas Priest concert, the short film documents the wild, resolutely passionate, fans of the still-popular band, during their eighties heyday. Decked out in their finest leather and denim, with cigarettes hanging jauntily from their mouths and beer cans clutched in their eager hands, the characters contained within are the sort that couldn’t possibly be dreamed up, so raucous, rowdy and passionate about the music that they’ve travelled from far and wide just to get a tiny piece of the Priest experience.
Though the film is less than twenty minutes long, it perfectly encapsulates the spirit of the time, and, in a lot of ways, it is very representative of the gig experience that so many of us empty our pockets to repeat over and over again. The DVD is flush with extras, including a whopping two hours worth of bonus material, which, though it will probably only interest hardcore fans, is still worth a look, even as a fun, nostalgic little step back in time.
It’s also interesting to note, that the styles contained within are actually back on trend now, making everybody seem slightly cooler than they perhaps are. Of course, in reality, they’re not cool at all, their nerdiness plain for all to see, but if you’ve ever obsessed over a band, in any small way, then you’ll instantly fall in love with this crowd of metalhead loons.
It’s clear that the film has impacted hugely on the directors’ lives, and they speak fondly of their experience, even though it’s clear they were simply in the right place at the right time, simply taking a chance at documenting something odd, that turned out to be much more telling than they’d anticipated.
Their love and appreciation for their subjects is clear, and the inclusion of three unofficial sequels on the DVD, which deal with more rabid fans, including those of Neil Diamond and Harry Potter, are hilariously fun, in much the same way that ‘Heavy Metal Parking Lot’ itself is. Likewise, the interviews with certain participants are strangely enlightening, showing how some people have grown up entirely, while others haven’t changed at all.
Since the sort-of documentary – can less than twenty minutes of footage really be considered a documentary? – made its mark through the swapping of VHS bootlegs, it will come as a relief to hardcore fans to finally be able to own a copy on DVD, but sadly the quality has not really improved. This won’t matter to those who hold a special place in their hearts for ‘Heavy Metal Parking Lot’, because its’ grainy, gonzo style is what makes it so special, and it is partly the reason why it’s become such a cult favourite.
The DVD is not worth owning for the short alone, but the plethora of extras really round it out, and make it more of an experience. ‘Heavy Metal Parking Lot’ is a must for music fans, metalheads in particular, but if you’ve ever been too excited for a gig to sleep the night before, or obsessed over a band to the point where you wanted to know what they’d all ordered from Nando’s before the show (just me?), then this is a must-see.