You’ve read our celebration of the short film Heavy Metal Parking Lot on TG, and it’s a 16 minute cult phenomenon that includes the members of Nirvana and Sofia Coppola as fans.
The basic gist of it is two guys, Jeff Krulik and John Heyn, trying to be documentary filmmakers went around the parking lot of a Judas Priest concert in Maryland, and just filmed fans getting’ doofy and making fools of themselves. If you’ve never seen it, it is genuinely hilarious, and along with Spinal Tap, it’s the truest movie about metal ever made.
The urban legend of this short goes on and on, and five years ago there was a great look back at it in Decibel, an extreme metal mag I contributed for once, and when I saw Slayer on the cover, and saw that Reign in Blood shared the same anniversary as Parking Lot, I had to buy the issue (both are 25 this year.) The article even had a ticket stub from the event, which was on May 31, 1986 at the Capital Centre.
Through the article, written by Nick Green, I found out the cult of Parking Lot grew out of where I first saw it, Mondo Video, a late, lamented video store that was in the Los Feliz area of L.A., where no video was too insane to rent. The Mondo gang recommended it to me, and I was not disappointed.
Parking Lot is a very low tech affair, much like VHS bootleg videos fans make of concerts. The filmmakers had nowhere to take it because you couldn’t submit a video to film festivals back then, something the Blair Witch Project changed in the late ’90’s.
They also tried to get it played before a Priest concert when the band came back to Baltimore two years later, but no go. The filmmakers gave up on it, and then it started going around from person to person, again, like a bootleg video of a gig, or a joint going down the aisle at a gig, and it clearly got around in the same underground, word of mouth spirit.
Throughout the years, a number of fans that were featured in Parking Lot have been tracked down, and they’re far from embarrassed from appearing in it, or at least not at first.
One Parking Lot denizen saw himself in the video, and was indeed embarrassed at first, he had already gone through his “knuckle dragging heavy metal” phase, yet “once I found out how many bands were watching it on their tour buses and I started getting calls from interested people, I came around to viewing it as a badge of honor… This film was made before everybody had hand-held video cameras and reality television and YouTube. People have become really jaded by cameras; it wouldn’t be as pure if they attempted something like Heavy Metal Parking Lot now.”