Penelope Spheeris As Director
Release: Aug 24, 1989
As a former metal groupie (the horror!), when I saw this depiction of the lonely lives and substance-riddled minds of my heroes, it actually inspired me to go to college! It is a poignant, wistful, sad, and insightful look at a genre of music that instilled fear in the hearts of parents(well, at least in mine), and a venue for teens to unleash their anger toward a misunderstanding world.
The best kind of musical documentary is always done best through the eyes of a true fan, and Penelope Spheeris is no exception. While to the casual viewer the film may seem shallow and all fluff (which is how the LA metal was widely portrayed), if one looks past the hair, excess, bravado, t & a, and flowing alcohol,it is easy to uncover the painfully lonely, opportunistic, naivete' of the struggling bands, and even some of those who "made it." The scene with Chris Holmes guzzling vodka in his pool was simply heartbreaking...and the expressions on his mother's face were fully able to convey her harsh reality. Some of the "classic" performers... Aerosmith, Ozzy, and Lemmy were able to reflect on the business with some learned wisdom, while Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons attempted to convey a fantasy life that appeared way too scripted and laughable (I'm still a huge KISS fan, though). One interesting element in viewing the film almost 20 years later, is how some of the bands downplayed or sidestepped the issue of drug use (note the expressions on their faces when substances are discussed), then appear on "Behind the Music" years later to reveal their debilitating addictions.
Having been involved peripherally in the scene for a few years, I can say that Spheeris' portrayal was 100% accurate based on what I witnessed. I would've liked to have seen the inclusion of other important bands of the LA scene (Motley Crue, Skid Row, etc), and a separate documentary highlighting British metal (Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest)would've been fantastic.
It was a fun, irreverent, and exciting time! I can look back at it and laugh since I emerged relatively unscathed... although I am somewhat embarrassed by the extraordinary heights of my hair and the plunging depths of my blouses in "86. Watch Movies Online for Free on 10StarMovies.