Chattanooga Film Festival: The History of Metal and Horror (2022)

Metal and horror are the two things that got me out of a small-minded high school during the height of the Satanic Panic and have been part of my life every single day.

So why did I just finish a two and a half hour plus documentary about both and feel let down? Is it the absolute waste of time framing story that I disliked despite Michael Berryman being in it? Or the fact that just like every other one of these talking head endless runtime docs, it devolves into “that’s really the best of the sequels” babble? How many times do we have to hear so many people discuss the same movie and add nothing new to the conversation?

That said, there are a few folks in here who I could listen to at length, like Alice Cooper, Corey Taylor, Phil Anselmo and a few others who genuinely have a lot to say about films and intriguing bands — as much as I dislike his politics, Phil at least name drops Australian maniacs Portal and Ghoul is in it for a second — and that’s what I want to get more of.

This movie takes more than an hour before it glosses over a very important point: horror movies begat heavy metal which has repaid horror movies. Earth was a blues band that kept walking past a marquee for a packed theater playing Mario Bava’s Black Sabbath. A name change later, some lost fingers and a detuned lead guitar line and you have the reason why metal was born.

So yes, some lip service gets paid to Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Arthur Brown or Screaming Lord Sutch, who were true shock rockers before we knew there was such a thing. And in the seven years it took to make this, I can only assume how much was taken out about Marilyn Manson. But true gems like Corpsegrinder mentioning Baltimore’s Ghost Host get lost amongst chest puffery, metal brodom and “this is my family” inanity.

Perhaps the best line is reserved for Gunnar Hansen, who reminds us all that no one should like horror or metal and we should celebrate being outsiders instead of continually feeling that we’re put upon. We choose to have long hair, to wear this vest, to love bands with logos that no one can ever read. Put up the horns and be proud of being something no one is proud of.

If you check out the official page, there are a ton of stars in this movie. I just wish it built to a better story. There’s a glimmer of connecting the two worlds, comparing the video nasty era with the PMRC, but that intriguing notion is quickly dashed. There’s so much to get to, so many people to hear from, but most of this is sadly sound and fury signifying nothing.

Just get Mike McPadden’s Heavy Metal Movies instead. Or watch Trick or Treat.

Remember — this weekend, you can buy a back half half price badge to watch all of the awesome movies at the Chattanooga Film Festival and see them until 6/29!  Get yours right here!

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