You could argue that providing over two hours of special features for a
documentary that only runs for 16 minutes is the greatest example of overkill
since NotLame Records put out a 4-CD box set dedicated to Jellyfish, a band who
only ever put out two studio albums...but you’d be wrong.
“Heavy Metal Parking Lot,” put together by filmmakers John Heyn and Jeff Krulik,
is less a documentary than simply a matter of turning on a video camera in the
parking lot of the Capitol Center in Landover, MD, prior to a 1986 Judas Priest
/ Dokken concert, and letting the metal heads say whatever came into their
heads, no matter how ridiculous or alcohol-addled it may have been. And it is,
to put it bluntly, funny as hell. Cameron Crowe called it “one of the greatest
rock movies ever,” Roger Ebert described it as “a time capsule...stoned
worshipers at the shrine of their own bewilderment,” and Dave Grohl of the Foo
Fighters says it’s “basically Rock & Roll 101”; none of these statements contain
enough inaccuracy to make it worth positing an argument against them.
The harsh truth of the camera eye has never been more devastating than when the
hairstyles, fashions, and automobiles appear on screen during these 16 minutes.
There are mullets galore, of course – they’re de rigueur at heavy metal
shows, even now – but if you didn’t actually live through the ‘80s, you’ll find
proof here that the jokes about the amount of hairspray used by girls back then
are totally based in reality. Listen to the dialogue and cringe as you’re forced
to remember a time when the preferred slang phrase to describe wanting to have
sex with someone was “I’d like to jump his / her bones.” (Also enjoy the irony
of all the girls who apply this phrase to Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford, who
has since come out of the closet.) And while the era of guys wearing
zebra-striped spandex is one that a lot of folks would prefer to put behind us,
if bell bottoms can come back, anything can come back, so let’s just hope that
people will watch and learn from this particular history lesson.
Remember, kids: white (and black) lines, don’t do it.
Among the special features included on the DVD are directors’ commentary,
heretofore-unreleased extra footage from the “Heavy Metal Parking Lot” sessions
– played over the perfect soundtrack, Wheatus’s “Teenage Dirtbag” – as well as a
few of the sequels Heyn and Krulik have made over the years, like “Neil Diamond
Parking Lot” and “Harry Potter Parking Lot.” (Sadly, there’s only a snippet from
“Monster Truck Parking Lot,” which was never finished.) There’s even a
where-are-they-now segment, which clearly took a lot of legwork, since it’s not
like the people who were captured on tape in ’86 signed releases or anything.
Possibly the simplest but funniest of the special features, however, is
Dub-O-Vision, which gives you the opportunity to watch a 10th-generation VHS dub
of the documentary. Ultimately, however, the most telling feature was filmed in
the parking lot of a 2003 Iron Maiden / Motörhead show at Merriweather Post
Pavilion, in Columbia, MD, where Heyn and Krulik attempted to film a commercial
for the first DVD release of the movie. Lord only knows how much footage was
required to compile a 30-second spot, but it’s clear that, even after all these
years, heavy metal parking lots haven’t changed a bit.
You don’t have to love heavy metal to appreciate “Heavy Metal Parking Lot.”
Hell, you don’t even have to like heavy metal; you just have to like to
laugh. Take 16 minutes out of your schedule to sit down and watch it...but, just
to be safe, set aside 32 minutes. Trust me. You’ll want to watch it again.