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12 Rock-themed Films that don’t suck

with 35 comments

Rock’n’Roll Movies That Don’t Suck!

* Hard Core Logo (1996) This poignant Canadian adaptation of Michael Turner’s novel follows a legendary (fictitious) Vancouver band on a reunion tour that involves, among other things: faking a benefit concert for someone who’s not dead, the schizophrenic bassists involuntary mid-tour lithium holiday and, uh, I think Joey Ramone is in there, too somewhere.

* Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey: Filmmaker/academic Sam Nunn combines his two loves in life (metal music and anthropology) in this documentary which views the evolution of heavy music from a cultural standpoint, featuring deluded groupies, appalling album art and Nordic black metal fans who might possibly be taking themselves a bit too seriously.

*Pink Floyd’s The Wall (1982) Yeah, sure; The Wall is more overwrought than any other film listed here. Is it melodramatic? Ohhh, yes! Pretentious? You bet your sweet ass! Still, in what other film could you see a scene like this:

* Dudes (1987) Director Penelope Spheeris, when not trying to insult heavy metal fans (Wayne’s World, The Decline of Western Civilization Pt. II), has it within her capability to make a decent flick. In this Spheeris film, Jon Cryer, Daniel Roebuck and Flea play squatting-class punks who travel west to escape a sweltering NYC summer, battling a murderous biker gang along the way. Dudes was likely the first (and, probably, only) “punk-western” movie film for an English-speaking audience. (C’mon, you know the Japanese have already made a punk western, a punk romantic comedy, a punk musical, etc.)

Rock ‘n’ Roll High School (1979) While it’s true that The Ramones are to acting, well, what The Ramones are to music, RnRHS is worth a watch for a few reasons. First, it has the “funny-‘cuz-it’s-not” vibe of every Roger Corman film. Then, there’s the primo pieces of teenage tail displayed throughout including the lovely P. J. Soles and the even lovelier Dey Young. (I’ve always been a sucker for girls wearing glasses.) Lastly, there’s the charming Cro Magnon rock that The Ramones wrung from their instruments to keep this clunker of a drive-in flick together.

* Velvet Goldmine (1998) So, you have a character who’s a thinly-veiled copy of an early ’70s David Bowie who meets a thinly-veiled copy of an early ’70s Iggy Pop and destruction ensues? Clearly, Velvet Goldmine gets ‘0’ points for originality, though it gets several for being the closest film to capturing the flamboyant, excessive spirit of 70s glam rock. Ironically, cross-dressing comic actor Eddie Izzard plays a fairly straight-laced entertainment manager in this one.

* SLC Punk (1998) There’s something about living in an uptight, repressive environment that tends to make some youngsters rebel a little harder–and it doesn’t get more uptight and repressive than it does in Salt Lake City, where Donnie and Marie are considered “rock music” and it’s hard to find a caffeinated soda, let alone a bottle of Jaegermeister. Matthew Lillard (Without a Paddle, Scooby Doo) plays a restless, blue-haired anarchist trying to resist his hometown’s pull to the center.

* Heavy Metal in Baghdad (2007) In a city filled with determined insurgents, perilous checkpoints and deadly IEDs, 4 determined young men meet to conspire and sharpen their deadly skills. However, these are no suicide bombers-in-training–they’re a heavy metal band, much like the ones we have here in the west–except for the incident where mortar fire destroyed their practice space and the whole being -forced-to-write-and-perform-an-anthem-about-a-ruthless-dictator deal. Heavy Metal in Baghdad chronicles the trials of this metal band in their unlikely location.

* Working Class Rock Star (2008) These days, unless you’re a current member of Metallica or a former member of Nirvana, you ain’t gunna make no money in the music industry. You still wanna be a rock star, though–right? Well, how are your typing skills? Sure, if you live in a nanny state like Sweden or Canada, you can suck straight from the tax teet to make ends meet, but the rest of us are going to have to punch the ol’ clock. Working Class Rock Star Follows young artists you might have heard of in bands like Lamb of God, Unearth, Arch Enemy and GWAR to see how they make a living when they’re not getting sucked-off during drum solos. Opens this summer.)

* Purple Rain (1985) Sure, nobody is going to accuse Prince of being a good actor. (Is it still “Prince”, or has he gone back to “Slave” or that symbol again? I enjoyed that.) That being said, Purple Rain captures His Royal Badness at the height of his rock star ego trip, replete with striking visuals, a fairly well-developed storyline and some intense performances. As an unexpected bonus, there’s Morris Day’s performance of one of the great villains in modern cinema

* Heavy Metal Parking Lot (1986) Back in the mid-’80s, two punk/new wave fans borrowed some video equipment and drove over to an arena near Washington, DC. Their mission: to interview the tailgating headbangers waiting to see a Judas Priest/Dokken concert. The results, quite frankly, would make any respectable metalhead cringe. Ugly truths about rock music fans were revealed, with little manipulation on the part of the filmmakers. Warning: mullets, animal prints and seriously jacked-up Camaros are on full display.

* The Filth and the Fury (2000) There have been many Sex Pistols documentaries, but The Filth and the Fury is the definitive one. Free from the influence of the group’s svengali manager, Malcolm McLaren, Filmmaker Julien Temple mixes completely random stock footage, hilarious “Saturday Morning”-style animation and outrageous interviews with the surviving members of the group to put the ‘Pistols in their proper historical context. As you’d expect, John “Johnny Rotten” Lydon steals the film, though more with his genuine honesty and humanity than his trademark antics.


Written by Soylent Ape

May 27, 2008 at 10:57 am

35 Responses

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  1. I’ve wanted to see Heavy Metal Parking Lot for as long as I can remember. I figured going to Judas Priest was pretty much the same thing. ‘Cept everyone was 20 years older.

    The 'Goose

    May 27, 2008 at 11:55 am

  2. Older than you ?


    May 27, 2008 at 5:26 pm

  3. @ Cappy: Parking Lot is extremely difficult to watch. You see-saw between laughter and sadness. I hope that one guy never got out of ground school. Priest concerts are not as fun, anymore. Most venues have curtailed early “tailgate” activity. Bagel and I went to see W.A.S.P. a couple of years ago. It looked just like 1986 in there.

    @ Micky: Ouch.


    May 27, 2008 at 7:36 pm

  4. Soy, you have Cappy on the brain or what?


    May 27, 2008 at 7:52 pm

  5. you’re just so use to Micky picking on me you automatically thought it was me.


    May 27, 2008 at 7:54 pm

  6. No, everything makes us wanna pick on you.
    Like an ape picking lice off someone he loves.


    May 27, 2008 at 9:52 pm

  7. Wow, I’m embarrassed! Sorry ‘Goose!


    May 28, 2008 at 3:34 am

  8. I love The Filth and the Fury, and I grew up on Purple Rain.

    We didn’t have any tv signal for most of my childhood, but we had a vcr.
    And one video tape: Purple Rain!

  9. Yeah! Shout-outs to tvs with dials on ’em! “What’s on tonight? Oh, these two things. Twilight Zone it is.”

    The 'Goose

    May 28, 2008 at 8:04 am

  10. Also, the Priest concert was a gift to my ex and I felt like an anthropologist the whole time. It was exactly like 1986 in there. I kept thinking I had invented time travel.

    The 'Goose

    May 28, 2008 at 8:33 am

  11. yeah mick, guess I’m easy that way. I get picked on at home, too.

    Purple Rain was my all time favorite movie when it came out.


    May 28, 2008 at 9:21 am

  12. Hah.
    I remember watching the Partridge family evey week.
    I just wanted to bone Susan Dey.
    Then I moved on to Jesus christ superstar, about 3 years after that I was sitting 10 feet from Mick Jagger with topless hippie chicks around me.


    May 28, 2008 at 10:32 am

  13. Hah.
    I remember watching the Partridge family evey week.
    I just wanted to bone Susan Dey.
    Then I moved on to Jesus christ superstar, about 3 years after that I was sitting 10 feet from Mick Jagger with topless hippie chicks around me.


    May 28, 2008 at 10:32 am

  14. Great list…I think I need to watch The Wall again…and I’ve never seen Velvet Goldmine…

    I’ve always found it amusing that the lead singers for Journey(Perry) and Judas Priest (Halford) were closeted homos…and no one ever knew! They were suckin dick while all those macho fans (like the ones in the videos) cheered them on!


    May 28, 2008 at 12:01 pm

  15. Think how I felt when Rod Stewart drank all that donkey cum


    May 28, 2008 at 12:14 pm

  16. Steve Perry is gay?
    My mom will be crushed!

  17. “Wake up, Maggie! I think I’ve got something to say to you! No. Srsly.”

    The 'Goose

    May 28, 2008 at 12:20 pm

  18. Rob Halford was never in the closet. Have you ever watched the early Priest videos? It’s not his fault everyone was too stupid to notice.

  19. I loved Steve Perry. Journey is an all time favorite of mine. Great concerts.


    May 28, 2008 at 12:59 pm

  20. Bagel can you send me an email. Lost everything when my computer crashed.

    And where have you been, Missy! My days are boing without you.


    May 28, 2008 at 1:02 pm

  21. @ Freddy: I’d never heard that Steve Perry was gay. You learn something new every day. Rob Halford is anothe story. I don’t think he was making a huge effort to hide his sexuality. I remember seeing leathermen walking in and out of gay clubs on Bloor and Yongue Streets. They dressed almost exactly like halford did. The irony is that, because of Judas Priest, so many macho metalheads were wearing leather and studs getups that were straight out of the gay leather clubs!

    I first watched the Wall in high school. It was a trip even without the drugs. Velvet Goldmine is a great movie if you like 70s British Glam Rock. Very authentic.

    @Micky: I wanted to bone Susan Dey when I saw her on L. A. Law. That Rod Stewart tale never goes away, does it?

    @ Goose: Priest’s fan base is very fanatical. You should see how they’re treated in Europe and Asia.


    May 28, 2008 at 9:17 pm

  22. Sorry Cap. I gots me a case o’ the blues.

    Nothing to fret over, it just happens sometimes.

  23. “Blues: We Shoot Them.”

    The 'Goose

    May 29, 2008 at 10:57 am

  24. right back at ya, girlfriend. It sucks don’t it.

    goose do your job. Shoot them down.


    May 29, 2008 at 11:11 am

  25. We’re gonna need more cans.

    The 'Goose

    May 29, 2008 at 11:39 am

  26. maybe bottles, too.

    I’m learning photoshop cs3. yay me. I’m confused on the first page. wish me luck.


    May 29, 2008 at 1:17 pm

  27. I always liked this one.

    The 'Goose

    May 29, 2008 at 2:09 pm

  28. Goose: American Pop? Is that the one where the guy gets a drink spiked with a hallucinagen before he goes on stage and trips right there in front of the audience? I was a little kid last time I thought of it. Good film.


    May 29, 2008 at 3:52 pm

  29. We had that one Purple Rain tape, too. My dad finally recorded some play offs over it. It took me a decade to get over it. I now own the tape, the regular dvd, and the special edition..not to mention the piano music book, and the cd…


    May 30, 2008 at 6:53 pm

  30. @ R. J. In WV, the mountains quickly dissipate television signals. In Bagel’s hometown, she couldn’t get air TV, her mom had no cable/satellite hook-up and she had no other video media than that copy of Purple Rain. She knows the dialogue word-for-word. She also sometimes relates life lessons to events from the movie making profound observations based on Morris’ insistence on a password or Appolonia’s working in the restaurant.

    Soylent Ape

    May 30, 2008 at 7:55 pm

  31. […] Vancouver band on a reunion tour that involves, among other things: faking a benefit concerthttp://rationreality.com/2008/05/27/12-rock-themed-films-that-dont-suck/Uhles: Early popularity of 3-D movies was short-lived The Augusta ChronicleThe three-dimensional […]

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    June 1, 2008 at 9:33 am

  32. @ John Wayne Movies: I loves me some John Wayne Movies! McClintock is my favorite. Thanks for the ping!


    June 1, 2008 at 5:58 pm

  33. Solvent Ape, I share the same delusions. I, too, use it as a life script.


    June 10, 2008 at 2:53 pm

  34. Soy: I only just now saw your comment. Yeah, that’s the one. I was a little kid the last time I saw it. Whoa, freaky televised fillims! Like it was just on T.V. before there were VCR’s. You turn on the channel one day and that shit’s on. “Huh. Okay. This looks like cartoons.” The next thing you know, you’re snorting heroin off a hooker’s ass. Well, not really. But you could be and that’s bad enough. “This is your animation on drugs.”

    The 'Goose

    June 10, 2008 at 4:46 pm

  35. All my entire life is a big Rock’n’ Roll movie plenty of F/X effects.



    November 22, 2008 at 5:30 am

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