It’s Spinal Tap. Wayne’s World. Mortgasm. Netflix’s all new metal lords. Some movies just to have metal, soaking every second they can in witty send-offs and gloriously obnoxious music. It’s not those movies. From 80s exploitation horror to dated 2000s throwbacks, metal has also been the backdrop for a slew of lazy and inaccurate duds. Here are ten movies that completely misunderstood what heavy music is.
Kiss Meets the Park Ghost (1978)
Connoisseurs of the “so bad it’s good” movie need this Hanna-Barbera-produced fever dream in their lives. Even the premise is hilarious: Kiss battling an evil inventor to save a theme park. But then you watch it and see the poor acting, the ridiculous costumes, and drummer Peter Criss firing eye lasers. It was such a masterclass in failure that for years the band didn’t allow anyone to talk about it in their presence.
Hard Rock Zombies (1985)
Hard Rock Zombies is a work of pure mad fantasy. Its plot follows a hair metal band that is murdered by a Nazi sect and then returns from the grave. However, the most surreal thing is the scene where their manager asks for photos of them being adored by groupies, and they say no. Glam metal has never been so sleazeless – or so incomprehensibly ridiculous.
Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare (1987)
rock ‘n’ roll nightmare doesn’t just get heavy metal wrong – it gets it completely wrong. This direct-to-video horror was the trip ego of Jon Mikl Thor: muscleman-turned-rock-singer who wrote, produced and starred in this ultra-cheap, nasty video. The songs are lifeless, the effects suck, and the beat is boring. It’s not even that bad it’s good. It’s just crap.
Black Roses (1988)
John Fasano’s Horror of Exploitation does it right. The soundtrack was released by Metal Blade Records and features Lizzy Borden. However, as a story, it indulges in all of the negative heavy metal stereotypes of the time. A touring heavy metal band called Black Roses begins to influence small-town teenagers, with their performances causing them to murder their parents. These are all cliches of satanic panic.
Bill and Ted director Stephen Herek falls out of favor with this Tim “Ripper” Owens-inspired biopic, fraught with homophobia and the occasional misogyny. The end, where Mark Wahlberg single-handedly invents grunge, is also unfathomable. At least there’s a killer Myles Kennedy cameo in there.
The Rocker (2008)
Bar It’s Spinal Tap, school of rock is perhaps the most beloved rock and metal film. The Rocker, released five years after Jack Black’s modern classic, attempts to recapture its endearing boy-man charm rocking with kids and falling flat on its stomach. The jokes about using chopsticks as weapons of murder and rock stars inexplicably adopting British accents when they become famous have no basis in reality. So, in the end, it all looks like a lazy cash grab.
Hescher looks and sounds very heavy metal. Joseph Gordon-Levitt based the main character’s style on Cliff Burton and the first half of the trailer is none other than Metallica Battery. That said, it’s a dark image, using the stereotype of the depressed metalhead without acknowledging the fun of the genre. Add aimless plot and it’s a skippable meander.
Rock of Ages (2012)
Director Adam Shankman has brought together such big names as Tom Cruise and Alec Baldwin for this jukebox comedy. However, no star power can save you when you don’t know what you are doing. The plot – a politician trying to shut down a Los Angeles rock club – has the nuance of a CBBC cartoon, while the jokes about girlish-looking glam rockers only reap the basest fruit. Every idea here was well worn in 1989, let alone 2012.
American Satan (2018)
If you didn’t know anything about metal and you saw american satan, you will never hear a note of music. Directed by Sumerian Records founder Ash Avildsen, it’s not just crazy, but misogynistic as hell. Mothers take their daughters on tour buses to lose their virginity, wives forgive boyfriends for cheating on them, and the subject of rape is handled as delicately as playing football with a vase. At a time when metal is trying to become a safer space for women, that’s precisely the kind of throwback we don’t need.
Slayer: The Repentless Killology (2019)
The killer’s response to Metallica: Through Never, The Unrepentant Slaughter was meant to be a blood-soaked revenge thriller, whose soundtrack was thrash metal-driven. However, as a gorefest, it sucks. Each kill is either pedestrian or so goofy it’s unintentionally hilarious. Slayer only rocks at the end as well, in a climax recorded by thirty seconds of Angel of Death. Imagine taking a back seat in your own movie.