Metal Movie Maniac Mike “McBeardo” McPadden Unleashes His New Book HEAVY METAL MOVIES via Bazillion Points Publishing and Cranks the Rock N Roll Cinema Celebration and Appreciation to Eleven!
Mike pledging allegiance to all things Metal and transforming into a Party Animal Deluxe. Dig those personalized Mouse Ears, mang.Can you tell us a little bit about your creative / writing history? What was the impetus to write HEAVY METAL MOVIES? The first thing I ever wrote for public consumption was “The Downtown Beirut Top 10 List.” Downtown Beirut was a punk bar on First Avenue in Manhattan where I occupied a stool essentially without interruption from 1988 to 1993. For about a year starting in 1990, I’d write and illustrate ten dopey little thoughts or jokes or plugs for movies, zines, and bands I liked as a one-page Xeroxed list, and then I’d hang the lists in the shooting gallery bathrooms and hand out them to female patrons as they entered the joint. From that evolved Happyland, my sleaze zine extraordinaire that chronicled my personal adventures going to the movies on 42nd Street in the dying days of the grindhouses, scoring drugs at the Full Moon Saloon on 8th Avenue, a glorious pit where peep show dancers hung out after their Show World shifts, and then stumbling down to the East Village to the HQ of Downtown Beirut. In between, I’d rant and rave about porn and human relations and the pretentious pomposity of New York City and I’d pick fights with other zines and basically attempt to drown the whole of humanity in my hard-hurled puke. Happyland led to me writing for the alt-weekly The New York Press, which led to me writing for Hustler as a freelancer and then relocating to L.A. to work as a Hustler editor from 1993 to 1996. While I was there, I wrote a handful of movies for porn director Gregory Dark, including the hardcore Devil in Miss Jones 5: The Inferno and the softcore Animal Instincts III: The Seductress. One of them is great, the other is horrendous but maybe also its own kind of great. You’ll have to watch both and decide for yourself. After Hustler, I moved back to New York, bounced around different slap mags, went “legit” for a while working for dot-com businesses, then settled in at Celebrity Skin magazine, where Mr. Skin discovered me and airlifted me to Chicago in 2003. I’ve been the Head Writer at Mr. Skin ever since. The bulk of the books I’ve loved most dearly in life are particularly pointed film guides, like the Cult Movies series by Danny Peary, Michael Weldon’s two Psychotronic guides, and the Medved Brothers’ Golden Turkey books and their other associated titles. So I’ve been walking around since I was twelve years old or so thinking in terms of set by movie guides, forever pondering questions like, “How does this movie fit with other movies?” and “What kind of thematic list could I assemble out of this list of films?” and “If I were to put these ten or twenty or 2,000 titles together, would they naturally create their own genre and how could I persuasively make the case for it?” In 2009, I got a great opportunity when my friend Eric Danville oversaw The Official Heavy Metal Book of Lists and asked me to contribute. I wrote two chapters: “The 13 Greatest Heavy Metal Horror Movies of All Time” and “The 13 Most Metal Moments in Non-Metal Movies.” A year or so later, I picked up the mind-blowingly great Destroy All Movies: The Complete History of Punks in Film by Zack Carlson and Bryan Connolly, and I immediately thought: “I’m going to write the heavy metal answer book to this and I hope Bazillion Points will publish it!” And, three-and-a-half years of blood-sweating labor later, that’s what happened.
Now this looks like a party right here. Popcorn, pill-poppin' and Werewolf dude is sippin' on some radioactive drank. Dig that MANIAC shirt, too.The title gives us a pretty good idea, but tell us what the book is all about. What kinds of flicks can we expect to melt our faces while we read through? Is it mainly reviews? Interviews? Anecdotes? All of the above? It’s a review book, but the reviews are wide-ranging, info-packed, and turbo-loaded with all manner of maniacal metal factoids, anecdotes, and other assorted madness. As a fan of gimmicks, I set out to write up 666 films, but I just kept going, ultimately composing something like 1,300 entries. I then boiled the book down to the 850 most muscularly metallic reviews. Eventually, I’ll do something with the mountains of excised material. In fact: everybody buy enough copies of Heavy Metal Movies so we can launch right into assembling Volume II! As for what makes a Heavy Metal Movie, the short answer is: you know one when you see—and hear—one. The longer answer is what I hope is contained in the book. Right off the bat, there are concert films and documentaries like The Song Remains the Same and The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years. Then there are movies about heavy metal music, like Spinal Tap and Airheads, and the explosion of heavy metal horror flicks in the ’80s on the order of Trick or Treat, The Gate, Rocktober Blood, Rock-n-Roll Nightmare, and such. From there, you’ve got movies with characters who love heavy metal—Wayne and Garth, Bill and Ted, Beavis and Butt-Head. And then there are movies containing metal performances or cameos, such as Twisted Sister in Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure and Alice Cooper in Prince of Darkness. Movies that get name-checked in metal songs or band names make the cut, beginning with Black Sabbath who named themselves after a 1963 Mario Bava horror anthology starring Boris Karloff. Rob Zombie’s movies obviously must get included, as must the classic 1981 animated boobs-blood-and-broadswords blowout, Heavy Metal—which is one of my all-time favorites, by any standard. After that is where you get into more conceptual territory. Here’s where I cite movies that were influenced by or profoundly influenced heavy metal, so think in terms of Conan the Barbarian, the Mad Max series, George Romero’s zombie films, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Exorcist, Eraserhead, and so on. It goes for whole genres, too: ’80s slasher movies, Italian splatter epics, shockumentaries, the new wave of digital pseudo-snuff, and the recent onslaught of completely terrifying extreme horror from France. These films feel metal to the point that they breathe metal—and they’ve all bred metal.
The question is how much more Metal can this be... and the answer is none. None more Metal.A ton of these movies were unleashed in the video era. How many of the films in HMM did you first view on VHS? How crucial was the VHS format when it comes to the inspiration and essence of the book? I was 13 in 1982 when VHS conquered the universe. As a movie fanatic from infancy, and in particular a fanatic for the old, the obscure, and the exploitive, Santa empowering the Family McBeardo with a VCR for Christmas ’82 will always be a major before-and-after line in my life. That stated, I ultimately had mixed feelings about the home video revolution because it eliminated theatrically released B-movies and drove my favorite hell-pit theaters to extinction. What killed Times Square as the sleaze center of the universe wasn’t Giuliani—it was a goddamned ghost town by the time he took office, and one where Dinkins had blasphemed the empty marquees of those legendary trash-movie palaces with left-wing re-education phrases by high art scamstress Jenny Holzer deemed “Truisms”—shit like “Everyone’s work is equally important” and “Raise boys and girls the same way” and “All surplus is evil.” THAT baby-vomit was diarrhea’d all over the sacred spots that just a couple of years earlier had read Women’s Prison Massacre and Make Them Die Slowly and Mad Monkey Kung Fu. PUUUUUUKKKE! Anyway, it was the VCR that killed the Deuce. AIDS and crack emptied out Times Square to some degree, but on a much more direct and profound level home video hit midtown Manhattan—and drive-ins and dive movie houses everywhere—like the asteroid, or whatever, that wiped out the dinosaurs. So now that the out-of-your-house movie-going experience consists exclusively of infantile boy-man superhero blockbusters with the sole exception being even more infantile Wes Anderson boy-man piddle… well, I trace that back to seeing the movies Sweet Sixteen and Hunter’s Blood on the shelf at Video Stop before I saw them lighting up 42nd Street marquees. Now, all that stated, my VCR functioned as my closest friend throughout puberty. Video Stop on Avenue L and Vinnie’s Video on Avenue J were daily after-school destinations. A buck a movie, at least one movie a day. Competition got to be such that late fees were a scant fifty cents. So you can imagine how many movies I consumed while actively NOT doing any homework throughout high school.
Two classic VHS rentals, no doubt. DIG 'EM.Were there any amazing first-finds through researching and watching stuff for the book, and conversely, were there any flicks that you just couldn’t believe existed and totally bludgeoned your brain? The craziest goddamned thing I’d never even heard of before was Paganini Horror, directed in 1989 by Luigi Cozzi, who made, among many other wonders, the Lou Ferrigno Hercules movies. This is a late-era slasher movie about the classical violinist Paganini slaughtering a rock band that played a tune of his from some haunted sheet music. He uses a razor-sharp violin bow! Blodaren aka The Bleeder, from 1983, was something I’d maybe read a little about in passing, but the final movie exploded my skull in a thousand directions at once. It’s Sweden’s first slasher movie, about a killer who cries blood as he hunts down members of the all-female group, the Rock Cats. The Bleeder himself is played by prog drummer “Dr. Åke” Eriksson from the bands Attack and Wasa Express.
The radical artwork for the Cozzi cult classic. Skull dude is R.I.P.'n it up.What is it about the Rock n’ Roll, Heavy Metal flick genre that does it for you? Why do you think there’s such a crossover of appreciation with metal and horror, and why it melds together so well? Revered ’70s rock critic Lester Bangs, famous for his beastly appetite for every aspect of existence, once defined “good” rock as that which makes you feel more alive. And I agree. The same goes for movies. If a song or a movie grips me and jolts me and shakes me up and transforms me, if it just makes me feel more plugged into the rush of existing and interacting and sharing the experience, it’s done its job. And where I have found that feeling most in life, art-wise, is from hard rock and cult/horror/exploitation films. I can dig it, brother. So, the cover artwork is killer, man. Who conjured it up? Are there other original illustrations and / or groovy artwork throughout the book? The book comes with a radical limited edition patch, too, right?! Andrei Bouzikov painted the cover of Heavy Metal Movies. He’s originally from Belarus and he’s painted killer album covers for Toxic Holocaust, Municipal Waste, Autopsy, Skeletonwitch, Violator, Hellmouth, Cannabis Corpse, and many other bands. When Bazillion Points honcho Ian Christe told me Andrei was doing the cover, I actually did tear up a little at Roll-N-Roaster, my favorite roast beef sandwich place in Brooklyn. Inside, the book is illustrated with movie posters, stills, VHS box covers, and other rarities. And, yes, the book comes with a patch AND a barf bag.
A look at the radical patch and bodacious barf bag that comes along with the book! Mouse Ears not included, dude.Okay, so you have to whip together a Heavy Metal flick survivor kit. Which heavy metal movies do you find to be your absolute essentials, and why? Which ones do you think deserve more love? I always say 2001: A Space Odyssey is the greatest film I’ve ever seen, and Forbidden Zone is my all-time favorite film, so those make it. Those are also both maybe-not-so-obvious Heavy Metal Movies. 2001’s monolith alone is a totem of cosmic metal, and the movie has been cited by Black Sabbath as an early influence. Forbidden Zone made the book because of Danny Elfman’s unforgettable performance as an all-singing, all-dancing Satan. No movie makes me laugh harder, every time, than This Is Spinal Tap. None. So I’d need that to keep my spirits up. I’d bring Heavy Metal Parking Lot, too, for much the same reason. And then to just fire off the titles that immediately come to mind: Heavy Metal, Conan the Barbarian, The Road Warrior, Eraserhead, Stuntrock… and all the ’80s heavy metal horrors, meaning Black Roses, Rock-n-Roll Nightmare, Rocktober Blood, and so on.
Now you KNEW this was gonna make it in here somewhere. CRANK IT AND DRANK IT.Okay, I have a feeling I know you’re answer, but just for funzo, let’s say there’s a battle of the bands with Spinal Tap, The Lone Rangers, Black Roses, Sacrifyx, Sammi Curr and the band from Hard Rock Zombies. Who’s getting your vote and why?! Spinal Tap is in a league of its own. After that, I’d have to go with Black Roses, because their music was provided by the real-life bands Lizzy Borden and King Kobra. And I’m actually a fan of the Names, who changed their moniker and donned appropriate makeup to play the Clowns in Terror on Tour.
Another absolute VHS classic straight from the rental shelves. No word on if the tape pictured here has the bottom flap.What’s next for you, Mike? I’m working on an encyclopedia of a particular comedy subgenre specific to the VHS era. I imagine it might appeal to the LUNCHMEAT audience. Ohh, sounds sexy!? Anything else you’d like to shout out to all the Videovores eyeballin’ this blog? I am you and you are me and Heavy Metal Movies is a book that erupted through me for all of us to read and enjoy and debate and love and hate and, I hope, to serve as inspiration.
Indeed, I agree! Mike is most scholarly when it comes to movies that possess you to party down and ultimately make you feel more alive, so snub out that spliff (maybe just one more hit), slurp down that last sip of Beast and clickity-click your way to one of the most fun-loving, well-informed and awesomely invigorating movie books currently on the market. You’ll be glad ya did, Tapeheads. And be sure to stay tuned to McBeardo’s Official website to see when that next installment HMM is gonna rise up and infiltrate your metal-masticating minds. Eat fire, shit lightning and watch as many movies as possible.