• Heavy Metal Parking Lot (HMPL/Film Baby) DVD Review

    Released by: HMPL/Film Baby
    Released on: November 11th, 2005.
    Director: John Heyn, Jeff Krulik
    Cast: Judas Priest And A Thousand Head Bangers!
    Year: 1986
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    Heavy Metal Parking Lot - Movie Review:

    In 1986, two aspiring young filmmakers named John Heyn and Jeff Krulik ventured into the wilds of a parking lot outside of an arena in Maryland where Judas Priest was headlining a show with Dokken. Armed with nothing more than a video camera and a microphone, they braved the wilds to interview the people who were hanging out in the parking lot before the show started. While it might sound like a simple premise (and in fact, it is) the result was Heavy Metal Parking Lot, a twenty-minute short film that went on to become one of (if not the) most bootlegged video of all time.

    What the film is, essentially, is a brief introduction to Judas Priest by way of a couple of video clips which in turns sets the stage for their fans – the real focus of the piece. We start off with a twenty-year-old rocker drinking Bud Light while leaning against his Camero and making out with his thirteen-year-old girlfriend, and move on to shirtless guys posing and yelling ‘Priest Rules!’ at the camera. There’s a lot of this.

    The highlight of the film is the infamous ‘zebra spandex guy,’ an obviously inebriated young man clad head to toe in the finest zebra print spandex suit that money can buy. Rather than be content simply by yelling at the camera and shooting the horns like so many of his co-stars, this ambitious young man takes the opportunity to use his air time to tell it like it is. With no small amount of enthusiasm he tells us how punk music doesn’t belong on this planet and that it belongs on Mars, and how Madonna can go to Hell because Heavy Metal Rules. Wise words, from a wise (and fashionable) man.

    Other oddities include a girl who wants to get it on with Judas Priest guitarist Glenn Tipton, a guy who thinks all drugs should be made legal who just happens to be tripping out on acid at the time and a Jamaican security guard/parking lot attendant who just looks completely baffled by everything and everyone around him. There are lots of mullets, bad hair, big hair, teased hair and body hair in here, as well as no shortage of Cameros and Trans-Ams driving around in the background. Some interesting eighties era t-shirts pop up, including one that says ‘nuke’em all’ as well as a few sorely dated concert t-shirts from various other bands. One group is interviewed briefly as they have backstage passes for the show. Apparently their friend Timmy died, and he was a big Judas Priest fan. Somehow his mother managed to write the band’s management and get backstage passes for all of his friends.

    At twenty-minutes long, the piece is too short (it truly does leave you wanting more!) but it does serve as a fantastic time capsule of the metal scene that was, and to an extent still is. The diehard fans will always be there, and thank God for that, for as long as they are we’ll still have a reason to laugh, love, and cry.

    Heavy Metal Parking Lot - DVD Review:

    Make no mistake, Heavy Metal Parking Lot looks like the twenty year old shot on video production that it is but in comparison to the bootlegs that have been going around for years, this DVD is definitely way cleaner, clearer, and easier to look at. There’s some color fading and softness to the image but nothing to complain about in terms of tape roll or tracking lines. Seeing as this transfer was taken from the master tape, it’s probably not going to look any better than this any time soon.

    The English language Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track is slightly less impressive than the video but it gets the job done. The levels have been balanced as best they can but when random crazy guys are running up to the camera and yelling at it, there’s going to be some noticeable fluctuation and there is. Most of the time you’re able to follow along just fine, however, and for those who aren’t able to figure it all out, there are English language subtitles provided (that also allow you to sing along and do your own karaoke version of the movie if you want!).

    Extras? You got it! First up is a director’s commentary for Heavy Metal Parking Lot with John Heyn and Jeff Krulik. This is a fun and informative track as the two geniuses behind the project explain where the idea came from, how they went about getting the footage, and how they feel about it’s amazing success and notoriety. These two guys have both got a great sense of humor (obviously) and they do a good job of cramming in as much information and as many anecdotes as they can during their twenty minute discussion.

    The best of the extra features comes in the form of the three sequels that John Heyn and Jeff Krulik have made. The first, Monster Truck Parking Lot, is included here only in trailer form as it remains sadly unfinished but what a trailer it is. Thrill to a couple of black dudes being grilled about their fear of ‘crazy crackers’ in the audience and look on in confusion as a family attempts to explain their love of the monster truck. After that we’re treated to Neil Diamond Parking Lot, which clocks in at about fifteen minutes or so. It takes the same concept as the feature and gives it a new twist. Basically, John Heyn and Jeff Krulik return to the same arena parking lot albeit this time, they’re there to cover the Neil Diamond fans. The rabid enthusiasm is still there, but it takes a very different and much creepier form than it did in Heavy Metal Parking Lot. There are women here who are absolutely obsessed with Diamond, some having seen him twenty times or more. A few of the women there have dragged their husbands along, though many of them admit to not having a husband and there’s just this weird vibe throughout the whole thing. You can almost imagine that a lot of these women live at home alone, maybe with some cats, and that a lot of them collect those creepy porcelain dolls. The third sequel is Harry Potter Parking Lot and although it doesn’t really take place in a parking lot so much as a sidewalk, it continues the tradition of capturing manic fans in their prime. The fans this time around are, for the most part (there are a few exceptions) younger kids who are obsessed with Harry Potter and standing in line to get an autograph from J. K. Rowling, the author of the book series. Many of these kids probably get beat up a lot at school, and Ms. Rowling comes across as kind of a bitch.

    Aside from that, we’re also treated to some outtakes from Heavy Metal Parking Lot, a Parking Lot Alumni Reunion featurette that reunites some of the people that the filmmakers found on that fateful day back in 1986, and a look inside the basement of a true heavy metal record and memorabilia collector. There are also filmographies supplied for both directors, a few clips from some of their other projects, a few assorted interviews, a couple of music videos inspired by Heavy Metal Parking Lot, and the option to watch the film by way of a tenth generation VHS bootleg transfer (kind of like the Easter Egg that Unearthed Films put on their Guinea Pig – Flowers Of Flesh And Blood DVD).

    The whole thing is wrapped up in some stylish menus that really do a great job of recreating the VHS feel of the material, and pop up chapter selection is included for the main feature. Worth noting is that on two of the three players that this disc was tested on, the multi angle icon pops up on the screen during Heavy Metal Parking Lot and it won’t go away. Considering there are no alternate angles at all anywhere on this disc, it’s kind of weird that it happens, but it did on multiple players. According to the DVD's producer, this shows up because of the Dub-O-Vision option.

    Heavy Metal Parking Lot - The Final Word:

    If you ever banged your head during the Reagan years, Heavy Metal Parking Lot will bring back a whole lot of fond memories for you and if you never did, well, it’ll be quite the learning experience. The audio and video quality isn’t perfect, but it shouldn’t be either and there is a wealth of extra features on here that give the short film a whole lot of added value.

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Spaghetti Monkey's Avatar
      Spaghetti Monkey -
      Hahah, such an amazing time capsule. Wasn't at this show, but i did catch both Priest and Dokken there at some point, kind'a. When Dokken was opening for Aerosmith, George Lynch played like half a song before passing out on stage.