Director Cameron Crowe calls it one of the Greatest Rock Movies Ever.
So does BLENDER magazine. The Backstreet Boys rip it off. Whoa!
There are some experiences you have alone, and some that you feel compelled to share. Heavy Metal Parking Lot is best served as a shared experience. The title says it all; it is comprised entirely of fan footage in the parking lot of a Judas Priest concert circa 1986.In 1986 two independent film makers made heavy metal history, John Heyn and Jeff Krulik woke up the morning of May 31st grabbed their borrowed filming equipment and drove down to the Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland where Judas Priest were holding a concert, this is the story of those drunk, debaucherous, tail-gating, fashion stunted teenagers. Everything that one would expect - the mullets, the big hair, the underage drinking and the mindless ranting - are all present and accounted for. But this isn't mindless MTV footage. There are few documentaries that are able to truly capture the essence of obsesive fandom in an objective way. Even Trekkies, with its non-critical celebration of Star Trek fans, doesn’t come close to capturing the poignancy of the very real reactions of the heavy metal freaks in this audience.
And what reactions they are! In this 17-minute trip with the fans we are introduced to a wide array of characters. Among these, we hear one fan’s take on Madonna: “She’s a dick.” One patron admits to really being there to see Dokken, and one who likes to “get f**ked up… and have a couple beers.” But probably most astute was the guy at the end who states, “Rob Halford, I don’t know about you,” alluding to his homosexuality years before it was publicly revealed. Awesomeness unbound!
Bad hair, ugly clothes, dialogue that includes words like “Jump his bones” and you have heavy metal parking lot, it really is a pointless “documentary” but just for the anthropological look at metal it’s worth it, but I must stress, aside from the novelty humour you might experience the first two or three times, this is only for fans and collectors of heavy metal.
HEAVY METAL PARKING LOT is considered one of the greatest rock & roll movies of all time, although it's actually a hilarious documentary tribute to rock & roll's GREATEST FANS. HMPL is an unvarnished anthropological study of American metalheads in their mid-'80s glory. It is the quintessential '80s magnum opus, made complete with a vast display of muscle cars, spandex, bleach-blonde frizzy perms, bare-chested dudes, Mullets From Hell, faded denim metal chicks, and the largest collection of late '70s Camaros ever seen in one location. Virtually unknown to mainstream audiences for two decades, HMPL was a VHS bootleg favorite among musicians, movie stars and cult-video fanatics worldwide.
By the early 1990s, Heavy Metal Parking Lot had become an underground cult-classic, usually traded on bootleg VHS videotapes. HMPL was reportedly a favorite on the Nirvana tour bus.
Less Than Jake and American Hi-Fi parodied Heavy Metal Parking Lot in their music videos for the songs All My Best Friends are Metalheads and Flavor of the Weak. The Backstreet Boys also lampooned it in their music video for "Just Want You To Know". Film distributor Cowboy Pictures gave it a limited 35mm theatrical release in 2003, paired with Chris Smith's documentary Home Movie.
There is no subtext, no moral guidance, and no point other than to exist as a time capsule. But as far as short films go, you can’t find a more amusing time than at the Parking Lot.
In the 20 years since the creators made and first broadcast Heavy Metal Parking Lot on public access, the film has slowly found itself enjoying a growing cult following of both fans and musicians. Bootlegs have been available in increasingly horrible condition for about a decade now. Since there are so many horrible VHS dubs floating around it is quite refreshing to see the film as it was originally broadcast for this DVD. But if you are a purist, never fear. Included is the ability (using the savagely underused alternate angle function) to watch the video as a 10th-generation dub. The audio is also surprisingly clear, but English subtitles are available as well.
Heavy Metal Basement is also included, a lengthy conversation with a metal enthusiast whose entire downstairs level is devoted to Judas Priest and metal fandom. He provides the viewers a protracted trawl through his Priest LP collection, pausing to give commentary on each album. Even though this guy is clearly an obsessed geek, he can't be all bad.