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Heavy Metal Parking Lot (Circle Collective) Blu-ray Review

    Ian Jane

  • Heavy Metal Parking Lot (Circle Collective) Blu-ray Review

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    Released by: Circle Collective
    Released on: July 26th, 2022.
    Director: John Heyn, Jeff Krulik
    Cast: Judas Priest And A Thousand Head Bangers!
    Year: 1986
    Purchase From Amazon

    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 seventeen-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’ (or Zebraman as he’s referred to in the extras), 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 that Madonna ‘is a dick’ and that she 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 Camaros 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 – Blu-ray 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, or even the DVD that came out in the early 2000s, this Blu-ray is definitely way cleaner, clearer, and easier to look at. Presented in AVC encoded 1080i and in its proper 1.33.1 aspect ratio on a 50GB region free disc, 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 and it’s given a fair bit of breathing room on the disc, resulting in far better compression than what we got on that DVD.

    The English language 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 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.

    Extras are spread across the two discs in the set as follows:

    Disc One:

    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 its 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 ‘Additional Parking’ section contains a few other related documentaries made by Heyn and Krulik. Heavy Metal Picnic is a sixty-five minute companion piece that goes over the two day Full Moon Jamboree that took place in 1985. This is made in a similar fashion to Heavy Metal Parking Lot and it features a lot of crazy mid-eighties time capsule footage, interviews with a lot of hard-partying metal heads as they congregate to rock in 'the rock capital of the world!' There are clips from this in the Zoom featurette but this is the full length, full strength piece and it's pretty great stuff. Vintage news clips are included to give all of this context of what was meant to be a 'mini Woodstock.' Prety much everyone is trashed but clearly having a good time, except for the nearby residents that were none too happy. We also get some later era interviews with some of the bands like The Blue Rockers, the guys who put on the event who clearly got in way over their head, people who attended the show and more.

    Heavy Metal Basement is a forty-eight minute look at Jim Powell's basement. The owner of Metal Grind records shows off his amazing collection of records and memorabilia, all related to heavy metal. It's ridiculously impressive. He shows off various rare records and bootlegs, including a sizeable Judas Priest collection, and speaks extensively about his feelings on the band and their output.

    After that we’re treated to Neil Diamond Parking Lot, which clocks in at about twelve 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.

    Up next is seven minute 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 unpleasant.

    Then in the ‘Extra Features’ section we get Heavy Metal Parking Lot: The Lost Footage, which is just over five minutes of outtakes from the shoot that for whatever reason didn't make it into the feature. It's more of the same, but that's not a bad thing at all, this material is gold.

    Heavy Metal Parking Lot: Where Are They Now? is a nineteen minute featurette that catches up with some of the people showcased in Heavy Metal Parking Lot as they catch a live show and look back on the scene as it was in the eighties. The two directors show up here and talk to a few of them, including Zebraman, who seems genuinely surprised that he's become a bit of a cult hero over the years!

    Heavy Metal Parking Lot Exhibit Opening is a ten minute segment that features news clips announcing the exhibition documenting the film’s history and cultural significance that was put on by a local university back in 2016. There are some fun interviews with a few of the people that are featured in the documentary. It also features quite a bit of footage from the speeches and Q&A session that the directors did to open the exhibit.

    The HMPL 35 Zoom Anniversary Party is a two hour and four minute featurette that gets Nick Prueher and Joe Picket together to talk about the movie's history and cult status. From there, they show the movie and then get John Heyn and Jeff Krulik on board to talk about shooting the short with cameras borrowed the public access station, how they wound up documenting the scene, having to work the gear while interviewing the participants, the film's cult success, what was cut out of the finished product, getting letters from the likes of John Waters and Lux Interior (Stay Sick! Turn Blue!) regarding the movie, how the movie was reviewed as it made its way around different circles, getting a 35mm print made for theatrical use and other oddball documentary projects that the two have made (there are some amazing clips from these included here). In the second half they play an 'In Memoriam' clip to some of the participants that have passed on, after which some of the 'stars' of Heavy Metal Parking Lot show up and share memories from their experiences, what they've been up to since the movie was made, thoughts on Judas Priest and other topics related to their part in Heavy Metal Parking Lot. Zebraman, sadly, does not appear. After that, we get a musical performance from Broken Baby who performs their song 'Madonna's A Dick.' As things winds down, we're treated to 'Heavy Metal Picnic' which is a three minute clip showing off a picnic attended by metal heads at a festival in Potomac, Maryland, and then a selection of some pretty fun Heavy Metal Parking Lot outtakes (roughly five minutes of material). From here, they show the Neil Diamond Parking Lot follow up video before closing things out with a discussion of it.

    Heavy Metal Parking Lot: In Memorium allows you to watch the quick three minute tribute to those who are no longer with us that played a part in the movie outside of the lengthy Zoom feature.

    Animated Heavy Metal Parking Lot is a quick two minute cartoon that uses audio from Heavy Metal Parking Lot underneath its charmingly crude hand drawn animation.

    We also get an eight minute interview with the two directors in front of the Capital Center titled The Last Days Of The Capital Center where they talk about getting covered in GQ Magazine and the last days of the Capital Center. This segment also contains footage of the stadium being demolished in 2002 and people sharing memories of their favorite events that took place at the venue.

    Return To Heavy Metal Basement is a twenty-eight minute follow up where we quite literally go back to Powell's basement twenty years after the original was made. He shows off what's changed and what hasn't, shows off different pieces of memorabilia (including some weird customer made marionettes) and quite a bit more.

    Washington Capitals Time Capsule is an eight minute selection of footage shot during the 2007-2008 season that recaps the team’s achievements during that period from the home opener on and it shows that sports fans tend to be just as crazy as metalheads.
    There’s also an easy to find Easter Egg on the disc that when selected lets you enjoy Heavy Metal Parking Lot sourced from what looks like a low quality bootleg VHS tape, which is absolutely the way a whole lot of people experienced the movie for the first time.
    Disc Two:

    The second disc in this set contains a whole bunch of other material directed by Jeff Krulik. The first of these is the amazing Ernest Borgnine On the Bus from 1997. Here, over fifty minutes, we join Ernest Borgnine and his son Cris as they travel across Middle America in his bus, The Sunbum. As Ernest, typically clad in a golf shirt, drives around (often with the top button of his pants undone for maximum comfort) we witness him hang out at trailer parks, talk to people at truck stops, sample food that isn't very good and hit up some tourist attractions like the Miller Brewery (where he samples the wares and kisses the sign) and a shoe factory that, according to the dialogue, he'd just visited fairly recently. It's as ridiculous and sometimes hilarious as it is genuinely charming. You will laugh with Ernest and sometimes you will laugh at Ernest but the fact of the matter is that this guy was out there having a complete and total blast seeing the country and meeting people from all walks of life.

    Girls On Film is a quick two minute film that shows off different glamor photos of different female models with some shoegazer style music playing out over top of it all.

    I Created Lancelot Link is a wacky fifteen minute documentary short that talks to Stan Burns and Mike Marmer, the two creators of the Lancelot Link Secret Chimp television show. They show off some memorabilia from the series and talk here about what went into creating a series in which a chimpanzee was the actual star of the show. We learn about their career writing comedy television before creating the series in 1970 for ABC where they were given a very big budget to work with. Lots of clips from the show are included here.

    Invocation Of My Demon Bus Driver is a very quick fifty-two second absurdist short where a man sits in front of a camera as someone off camera recites some arcane dialogue that plays off of Kenneth Anger's Invocation of My Demon Brother.

    In the seven minute King Of Porn, Krulik journeys to the home of Ralph Whittington, a man who worked at the Library Of Congress, to review his collection of pornography. Whittington is a quirky, seemingly harmless, aging follow with porn stashed everywhere in his home. The six minute King Of Porn 2: The Retirement, catches up with him a few years later when he retires from his position at the Library Of Congress. Throughout both of these short documentaries, Whittington talks about some of the highlights of his collection and why he collects what he does.

    Led Zeppelin Played Here is a feature length, eighty minute piece from 2014 where Krulik tries to find out once and for all if Led Zeppelin ever actually played in front of a crowd of fifty people at The Wheaton Youth Center on January 20th, 1969. In hopes of getting to the bottom of this, Krulik interviews quite an interesting assortment of record company employees, concert promotors, musicians and fans about what really happened, with some of the interviewees claiming to have been in attendance for the event. They even track down the person who managed the venue at the time. Along the way he manages to paint an interesting picture of the music and concert scene in the Maryland of the late sixties. The urban legend about all of this stems back to a promotor boasting that he had booked the band in this odd venue where they didn't make any money and then moved on to their next show. The problem is that there isn't really any records out there of this having happened. Plenty of other bands did play the venue around this time but not much comes up. At the same time, this was an era where schedules were made over the phone without much of a paper trail. At one point, Krulik is doing press at a Kennedy Center event where the surviving members of Led Zeppelin are in attendance. He tries to get Dave Grohl to ask John Paul Jones if the gig ever happened.

    The Real Pinball Wizard spends seven minutes documenting a man named Tom Hintenach who, for years has been in charge of keeping the substantial collection of pinball machines housed in the back of a restaurant at the CrabTowne USA in Glen Burnie, Maryland. It’s a very cool look at a very niche job that also shows off a lot of fantastic vintage pinball machines while it explores Hintenach’s work.

    In the extra features on this disc we’re treated to Scenes From The Last Drive-In, a four minute documentary short that goes experiences at the Hillside Drive-In in 1988. We get interviews with the projectionist, who shows off his Grim Reaper tattoo, and see a tour being given where we get a bit of history of the place and find out what happened to it.

    Led Zeppelin Treasure Chest is a six minute piece that shows off a huge Led Zeppelin collection owned by a man named Brian Knapp who has been collection since he was a teenager. He shows off some of the highlights of his collection and talks about why he got into the band and has remained such a massive fan ever since. He has essentially created a legitimate archive of the band's career, it's pretty impressive!

    Punk & Tomatoes is a thirty-seven minute selection of clips from the series starting with an interview with a buy named Bill MacKenzie where he talks about doing art for the first Teen Idles E.P. from Dischord Records before then going on to show off other pieces of memorabilia, rare records, and other related bits of ephemera. Bills place is a bit of a mess but he's got plenty of great stories and seems to have saved everything from the scene that he was involved with. Different clips see him reminiscing about various shows, different bands and various different venues. Bill also grows tomatoes in his backyard and seems to be fairly passionate about, but mostly, this is all about going over the guy's insane collection of 'stuff' from the eighties DC punk scene.

    You Can't Take Pictures In Here is a six minute bit where we see a selection of photos shot at a Rolling Stones concert where Krulik attended with a press pass only to be told he wasn't allowed to take pictures at the show by some bouncers who, after seeing his press pass, left him alone. Some of the pictures included here are pretty great. Krulik talks about his experiences as the pictures play out slideshow style.

    This disc also features a fun Easter Egg on it that you can easily find by poking around on the menus screens that shows the two directors of Heavy Metal Parking getting ready for their interview in front of the Capitals Center.

    The two discs fit inside a clear keepcase that also houses a color booklet that contains an essay on Heavy Metal Parking Lot written by author Dan Ozzi as well as some archival photos. As to the packaging, this limited edition release comes with an embossed slipcover and some reversible cover sleeve art

    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 ridiculously huge selection of really entertaining extra features on here that give the short film a whole lot of added value and do just as good a job at covering their own esoteric subjects. Definitely one of the best discs of 2022 so far.

    Note that this release is limited to 2,500 pieces and will not be re-pressed.

    Click on the images below, or right click and open in a new window, for full sized Heavy Metal Parking Lot (and Ernest Borgnine On The Bus!) Blu-ray screen caps!

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