According to Mike "McBeardo" McPadden's Heavy Metal Movies, Stanley Kubrick's 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey"profoundly influenced" a yet-to-be-named Black Sabbath. Fifty pages later on in the book, and the reader learns about the night in 1969 in Birmingham, England when Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler, Tony Iommi and Bill Ward were getting ready to take the stage as blues rock band Earth and noticed a cinema across the street that was screening a Boris Karloff movie ominously titled Black Sabbath. And the rest as they say, was history.
And in a lot of ways, the connection between Black Sabbath the film and Black Sabbath the band captures this Heavy Metal Movies' sensibility entirely. Heavy metal and movies have always gone together like a shot of whiskey and a beer chaser. Long-standing doom titans Electric Wizard and their cinematic preferences and the inspiration that those films deliver onto them is the stuff of legend. Former Pantera vocalist and current head of Housecore Records Phil Anselmo hosts a three day long soiree in New Orleans each fall that celebrates horror movies and heavy music exclusively. Over the course of 560 pages, Heavy Metal Movies enters the pit to join in the celebration of the convergence of these two entities.
The 666 movies that made the final cut (because of course a book called Heavy Metal Movies would shoot for that number) are arranged alphabetically and each entry sports a recap of varying length as to why said film makes the list. In addition to everything pertaining to heavy metal the musical genre, the most Heavy Metal Movies involve more of what you'd imagine: post-apocalyptic settings, bikers, bikers that battle in post-apocalyptic settings, etc. Actually, those descriptors only apply to Mad Max and its sequels but you probably get the idea. Barbarians, dinosaurs, the undead, ghouls and extraterrestrials are among the lifeforms who appear on this list as well.
It should be pointed out that with regards to McPadden's methodology in putting the book together, there is a difference horror movies and "heavy metal" movies. For instance, you won't find either Tremors or The Leprechaun but you can read all about 1989's The Punisher which starred Dolph Lundgren and contained 91 deaths on-screen. (A few years back, when The Expendables 2 was released, someone made a chart tracking who had the most on-screen kills among the cast members of the movie. Lundgren won in a landslide. That makes a lot of sense now.)
The book sports a metric shit-ton of sweet back-pocket trivia. For instance, did you know that ex-Bathory drummer Jonas Akerlund directed Spun, the 2002 druggie drama starring Jason Schwartzman and John Leguizamo? Or that Alejandro Jodorowsky once said that he wanted Marilyn Manson to star in a sequel to El Topo?
There's also, unsurprisingly, a tremendous amount of underground movies on the list. "Underground" may be the wrong word for the dizzying list of B-movie romps and late-night double features, but to the book's credit it acknowledges movies such as The Dunwich Horror and All the Colors of the Dark that the masses may not know about.
Some reviews are longer than others as McPadden manages to make the book more like a personal collection of his favorite movies than just your usual toilet reader. The last movie to make the list, Zombieland, carries with it a review that could also serve as a rallying cry. McPadden implores the readers out there to start making their own movies in order to fight back against the big studios. "In Zombieland, ... the key components of Heavy Metal Movies --blood, guts, horror, sex, chaos, and killer riffs--are neutered and made safe and edgeless and sticky-sweet. The ultimate real-life horror is the loss of true horror, as the key ingredients of Heavy Metal Movies are used for the opposite ends of a real Heavy Metal Movie," McPadden writes. As explained in the introduction to the book, McPadden has felt a special connection with the movies and cult movies, in particular, for a long time. There's no questioning his bona fides. This is very much his realm.
Sure, one could quibble about why he included both Sylvester Stallone's terrible Judge Dredd AND the killer 2013 reboot Dredd or question the inclusion of comedies such as I Love You, Man and Ace Ventura: Pet Detective but to get caught up in something like that kind of misses the point. (In case you're wondering, I Love You, Man makes the list on the strength of the all references to Rush made throughout the film as well as the fact that Lou Ferrigno appears in the movie. Ace Ventura gets included because of Cannibal Corpse.)
Heavy Metal Movies probably isn't going to convert any non-believers, but anyone who already digs on slasher flicks, explosions, Christopher Lee, etc. will be enthralled with this staggering homage to film.
8.8 / 10
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