Movies and music always walked hand-in-hand so it was only natural that Rock And Roll would have its fair share of time and space in the big screen. But we’re not talking about those silly Elvis movies or even The Beatles experiences. Here we gonna talk about documentaries or films with deep Rock thread through it. Or maybe both, as in “Hysteria: The Def Leppard Story.”
“Hysteria” is a great telling of the almost unbelievable story of Def Leppard from their humble beginnings in industrial Sheffield to megastardom in America, showing all their trials and tribulations when drummer Rick Allen loses his arm and with guitarist Steve Clark’s alcoholism. It also highlights the importance of producer John “Mutt” Lange in the band’s career. It’s interesting how the actors actually look like the actual musicians!
The other one that comes to mind is the very entertaining “Slade in Flame”. It’s worth for the soundtrack alone (it ended up being one of the best Slade albums) and it shows the story of a band from Northern England. It is actually the story of Slade but disguised as a band called Flame, hence the name. The only downside is the accent. It’s thicker even than that in the Def Leppard movie. When “Slade in Flame” was shown in the US it had to be subtitled.
Of course, there’s also the stoner classic “Dazed and Confused”. Telling the story of a last day at highschool from a senior class in the summer of 1976, not only is chock full of Rock and drug references (the Japanese guy that is always stoned is hilarious) it has many actors that went on to become huge stars like Ben Affleck, Parker Posey and this year Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey. Those statues painted as Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley are brilliant as is the ending when they went on the road to buy tickets for an Aerosmith concert.
In a more mainstream side, you can’t escape “Almost Famous” and “Rockstar”. The first, probably the best of all Rock related movies, a brilliant work from director Cameron Crowe, based on his own experiences with bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Who and his great knowledge of bands like Led Zeppelin, Bad Company and Humble Pie. And having Kate Hudson starring in it didn’t hurt either. The latter a film with huge potential, screwed up by the worst ending in the history of movies. So many things could have happened to the main character: died of an overdose, died in a car or plane crash or form his own band. But a Metal band, for chrissake! Not a ridiculous Grunge project. I remember leaving the theater fuming when I first watched it.
It is a rather long list, so I wanna finished it talking about some great documentaries. The best of all is probably “Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage”. It’s so good it made Rush become mainstream and get inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. Also worth watching is “Lemmy” (the scenes inside his apartment and when he wants to buy a mono Beatles boxset are priceless), “God Bless Ozzy” (brilliant work from Ozzy’s son Jack) and “Anvil: The Story Of Anvil” that even made a friend of mine cry.
There are many more cool options like “Parental Advisory Explicit Lyrics”, that tells the PMRC story, “Sid and Nancy”, “Tommy”, “Quadrophenia”, “The Wall”, the horrible “The Song Remains The Same” and the cult classic “Kiss Meets The Phantom Of The Park” (it’s so bad it’s great).
As a final note, speaking of Kiss, a great documentary is currently being made. I can hardly wait.
Be sure to check out my book “Straight And Lethal”.
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