Inspired by posts on Steff Metal’s blog – go there, it’s good readings – I find myself in a mood to ponder on why films so infrequently manage to make such a bad job of incorporating Metal and Rock, both as soundtrack fodder and subject material.
Contrary to popular belief, Metal fans love documentaries like “Anvil! The Story of Anvil” and “Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey” or comedies like “This Is Spinal Tap”, and relish comedies such as “Wayne’s World” or “Airheads”.
There’s the love of the music, which is key – anything which depicts the culture that you love is open to a fair and open-eyed viewing by any fan of rock/metal, as mainstream exposure to our musical genre of choice has been traditionally limited, tucked away in the corners of the TV schedules or just plain blocked from view. Provided that you’re not completely taking the mickey, most rock fans are more than happy to check out popular culture which celebrates the music and if they do so, count on having a fan for life, as Metal/Rock fans are only rivalled by SF/Fantasy/Horror fans in their loyalty towards things which they love.
The flip-side of that loyalty, of course, is that Rock fans are remarkably belligerent towards something they once adored if they perceive it to have done the unthinkable and ‘sold-out’ – woe betide you if you get on the right side of a slighted Metal Head.
What about films, though, which can claimed as true to the spirit of rock, even if they don’t necessarily run about on screen sporting a Mastodon shirt, whilst doing a Phil Anselmo impression and humming the riff to “Blackened”.
For one, I’m claiming “Highlander” as a very metal film indeed. Celtic clans kicking seven shades out of each other, Brian May and Queen wailing on the soundtrack, huge bloody swords and bad guy par excellence, the Kurgan, who was very clearly Black Metal before the term was popular – certainly as spiritually metal as Dave Grohl wielding a Gibson Explorer, if not quite as ineffably rock as Lemmy (who, I believe, appears on the periodic table given his concentrated level of Rock).
None more metal. Shame that the sequels were nowhere near as compelling. More absurd, certainly, just not as good.
Most super hero films tend towards the emo – Shouldn’t Peter Parker be a member of My Chemical Romance, by rights? – so can’t be considered possessed of the middle finger sensibility to convention and taste that the best Metal sub-cultural media provides.
“The Lord of The Rings” trilogy is, in my perfect universe, stripped of Howard Shore’s admittedly wonderful score and instead replaced with wall-to-wall Axxis, Iced Earth and Rhapsody of Fire tunes (anything would be better than the bloody Annie Lennox song on “The Return of The King”). Don’t forget the presence of Christopher Lee in the film – essentially an honorary member of Rhapsody of Fire at this point?
“300” – essentially equates to ‘Manowar – the Movie’
Therefore, it is none more metal.
You’ve got to consider the likes of Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky’s documentary “Paradise Lost” and Tim Hunter’s fictional but wholly convincing tale of small-town disaffection, teenage apathy and horrifically off-hand murder, “River’s Edge” as films which depict the hysterical over-reaction of parents, community groups and organised religion when confronted by The Other in all of it’s forms.
Both are films which seem utterly timeless and are completely metal – replace fans of Metallica and Slayer in the Reagan & Thatcher Eighties with kids today in Dimmu Borgir shirts who listen to Kvelertak and you have stories which are as resonant today as they were on original release.
There’s probably more to come on this subject – I feel myself warming to it, curiously…