Next week, the movie Hesher, a black comedy starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Natalie Portman and Rainn Wilson, will be released on DVD, Blu-ray and digitally via Lionsgate. Not only did Metallica give the film permission to use their music (and logo design), but Levitt has publicly admitted that his character his largely inspired by the late great Cliff Burton. You can check out the trailer to the film (which was in theaters this past Spring) here, while you can pre-order the DVD at Amazon.
With Hesher coming out in stores on September 13, we got to thinking about a few of our favorite movies involving heavy metal. With the exception of our #1 pick, none of them are classics. In fact, it’s a damn shame that there are so few scripted flicks that can do justice to metal. Is Hesher one? Time will tell. But for now, here are our Top 5 favorite metal-themed movies.
5. Rock Star (2001)
Ok, so this movie isn’t actually that good, and is only loosely based on the story of how Tim “Ripper” Owens went from fronting a Judas Priest tribute band to becoming Rob Halford’s replacement. What makes this movie awesome? Name us one other film where Marky Mark, Zakk Wylde, Jeff Pilson (Dokken) and Jason Bonham are performing in an 80’s metal band together? Fun little trivia fact for you: Myles Kennedy (Alter Bridge, Slash) actually makes an appearance in the film as a young admirer of Wahlberg’s character. Another trivia fact: Wahlberg’s vocals in the film came courtesy of Steelheart vocalist Miljenco Matijevic.
4. Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny (2006)
Tenacious D was a pretty great HBO series, and with songs like “Fuck Her Gently,” their 2001 self-titled album was an instant classic. For their first movie, Jack Black and Kyle Gass pulled out all the stops, recruiting Dave Grohl to play the devil and a who’s who of alternative comedy and uncredited actors (like John C. Reilly as the Sasquatch) to populate the film. The movie was a commercial failure, and even worse, wasn’t all that great of a movie. However, this makes the list for the sole reason that Ronnie James Dio has an awesome cameo in the film, stepping out of a poster of himself and telling Jack Black to move to California.
3. Airheads (1994)
We have a bit of a soft spot for this film, featuring Adam Sandler, Steve Buscemi and Brendan Fraser as an L.A. band taking a radio station by hostage in hopes to break it big. Not only does it feature a cameo by White Zombie, Lemmy, and the voices of Beavis and Butt-head, but it also gave us the riddle “Who’d win in a wrestling match, Lemmy or God?” The answer, of course, being “trick question, Lemmy *IS* God.”
2. Wayne’s World (1992)
Breaking out of the Saturday Night Live skits about a pair of metalheads with a cable access show, Wayne’s World was a huge hit, spawning a sequel and enough catch phrases to be the Borat of its day. The best thing about Mike Myers and Dana Carvey’s Wayne and Garth was that they had heart and weren’t just portrayed as idiot metal dudes. The Alice Cooper cameo alone makes it worth it. Feel free to skip Wayne’s World 2 though.
1. This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
If you seriously didn’t think this was going to be #1 on our list of favorite metal movies, then you obviously aren’t a metal fan. We can recite numerous quotes from this mostly improvised cult comedy classic. However, what arguably makes this movie truly a pivotal film in metal cinema is that to most musicians, This Is Spinal Tap is a horror film. Ask any musician, and they will tell you that they’ve experienced their fair share of “Hello Cleveland” moments or other mishaps backstage. In fact, one particular classic moment in the film was loosely based on an incident that happened to Black Sabbath. Plus, what other metal themed movie has been preserved by the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress?
Honorable Mentions: Documentaries
Sam Dunn and Scot McFadyen might have produced one of the best documentaries chronicling the culture, origins, and controversy of one genre. Featuring interviews with the likes of Tony Iommi, Ronnie James Dio, Bruce Dickinson, Rob Zombie, Slipknot, Lamb Of God, Mayhem, Gaahl from Gorgoroth, and a crap load of others, Metal: A Headbangers’ Journey is an amazing insight into the world of heavy metal for both die-hard fans and the outside observer.
This documentary chronicling the LA metal scene in between 1986 and 1988 includes highlights like Paul Stanley interviewed while in bed with girls laying around him and Ozzy cooking eggs in his kitchen. However, the scene that probably stands out the most is of W.A.S.P. guitarist Chris Holmes drinking vodka in a pool with his mother sitting poolside. Apparently, though, Holmes’ bottle of vodka was actually filled with water.
Anvil! The Story of Anvil (2008)
While it has its moments of humor, it’s the documentary’s emotional moments that makes this documentary special. Watching Anvil struggle to regain their past fame while on the road is a sad reminder of how cruel the music industry can be. It’s not all sad, though, as thanks to the movie’s success, the band has arguably become more well known than ever before.