Heavy Metal Parking Lot (1986) — All hail Zebraman

“I’m 20 years old. I’m ready to rock.”

Justin’s rating: I haven’t even seen The Priest once. I am a failure.

Justin’s review: It was on an early summer evening in 1986 that two indie filmmakers — Jeff Krulik and John Heyn — pulled up in a parking lot at Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland and took out a camcorder and microphone. There, a tailgate party for that night’s Judas Priest concert was already in high gear. Wasted teens of all shapes and sizes stood next to cars of all shapes and sizes. Krulik and Heyn went around to interview and record the gathering as these kids hooted, danced, drank, and psyched themselves up for the big event to come.

This is Heavy Metal Parking Lot — perhaps the most famous 16-minute documentary not about a concert itself but the youth culture of rock that surrounded it. The sheer weirdness and raw goofiness captured right at the height of the heavy metal craze gradually became a legend in the music world, with VHS tapes of the documentary being copied and passed around by everyone from rebellious teens to reportedly Nirvana themselves.

At the risk of blowing all of my street cred with you, I was never into heavy metal. To be honest, it kind of freaked me out when I visited my uncle and he had all of these giant scary metal band posters on his wall. It felt like they were the harbingers of a satanic army who wanted to rip out my skeleton and use it to play an extreme guitar solo.

Maybe I should’ve seen this movie to help allay those fears, because Heavy Metal Parking Lot shows how even the most hardcore of music genres has a following of non-threatening dweebs, geeks, and extremely loud idiots. You know, like any internet forum.

Yeah, we can watch this and rightfully laugh at the over-exuberance for a band that very few people even remember these days, their hairstyles, or their suspect choice of concert attire. But mockery isn’t really the purpose of watching this, I think. It’s much more about creating a time capsule of an age, fandom in general, and a lot of confident declarations that most of these people won’t remember they said come the morning.

There’s something both endearing and tragic about watching these shrieking wastoids abuse their bodies and roar with love for their band and hate for… Madonna? Hey, if Zebraman tells me to hate her, then hate her I must. After all, he became the 40th President of the USA and Nobel Laureate.

I know I should be predisposed to liking something if it earned its cult status the extremely hard way, but other than the weird off-ness of Heavy Metal Parking Lot, I didn’t come away feeling like I discovered a classic gem. It’s mildly interesting but was treading on my patience at 16 minutes with weirdos drooling their beer and announcing allegiance to a band that doesn’t really mean much in the wide scheme of things.

Didja notice?

  • The 20-year-old guy making out with a 13-year-old girl. Not creepy at all.
  • Judas Priest always will be the best, obviously.
  • “Cocaine baby.”
  • Ozzy is chubby
  • “Who you here to see tonight?” “Your mother.”
  • 75 backstage passes for kids who lost a friend
  • That guy has the hairiest shoulders
  • Graham Like A Gram Of Dope

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