Book Review: “Heavy Metal Movies”

“Heavy Metal Movies” catalogues a surprising collection of lost gems and campy stinkers, all lovingly curated by McPadden.

KB_hires_cover Review by David Feltman

Mike “McBeardo” McPadden likes his music as extreme as his movies. It’s a passion that shows in his writing. “Heavy Metal Movies” compiles 666 movies in a Leonard Maltin capsule style review guide. Not limiting himself specifically to horror films, McPadden opens his guide up to live concert films, documentaries, sci-fi, fantasy and generally any movie in which a metal musician is referenced or makes an appearance.

“Heavy Metal Movies” catalogues a surprising collection of lost gems and campy stinkers, all lovingly curated by McPadden. He reminisces in the introductory essay about a scrapbook filled with clippings of movie advertisements he kept as a kid and this guide is a natural extension of his childhood collection. McPadden peppers his capsule reviews with trivia illustrating the films’ connections to metal. Some are interesting, like Mario Bava’s “Black Sabbath” inspiring the hippie blues band Earth to change it’s name and approach, effectively creating the dawn of metal music. And some are amusing, as in the “Star Wars” capsule where McPadden links each character to a specific metal genre (Chewbacca is stoner and Obi Wan is progressive). But other connections are a little tenuous. “300” is added because the onscreen action kind of looks like a Manowar album cover and “Back to the Future,” a movie generally associated with Huey Lewis and Chuck Berry, is tossed in because of a Van Halen reference.

These latter inclusions raise some eyebrows, especially in considering some of the omissions. When linking French extreme horror to the French metal bands of the same era, McPadden completely neglects the seminal “Them” while merely referencing “Frontier(s)” and “High Tension.” Likewise, he includes the comic book movie “Dredd” but never references “The Raid: Redemption,” the movie from which “Dredd” steals its story. That plus the fact that “The Raid” was scored by Mike Shinoda for its US release should warrant at least a mention. Maybe dropping a couple of the five “Saw” reviews could have made some room in the 666.

But personal fanboy prejudices aside, it’s these very nitpick arguments and discussions that make “Heavy Metal Movies” a fun read. McPadden especially shines in the introductory essay. His writing is personal and funny and endearing. Heavy metal fans can only hope he follows up this guide with a second, perhaps more direct commentary, on the symbiotic relationship between these movies and the metal music it inspires.

You can find the book on Amazon and on the official website.