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Factory 515 presents
Heavy Metal Parking Lot (1986)

"It's crazy man. Real crazy."
- unnamed Jamaican Capitol Centre parking lot security attendant

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: January 25, 2006

Director: John Heyn, Jeff Krulik

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (language)
Run Time: 16m:39s
Release Date: November 11, 2005
Genre: documentary

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A+ A+A+B- A+

DVD Review

Like the fuzzy history of the Zapruder film or the legendary saunter of the Patterson Bigfoot footage, the short rock doc Heavy Metal Parking Lot proves that length is in no way a direct correlation to any kind of timeless point-and-stare curiosity. Passed around over the years via sloppy VHS dubs since its East Coast public access television debut in the mid-1980s, this feature runs just under 17 minutes, but in that time it packs a weird comic wallop, operating under the simple premise of interviewing a batch of long-haired tailgating stoner types partying it up in the parking lot of the Largo, Maryland Capitol Centre before a Judas Priest/Dokken concert in 1986.

Filmmakers John Heyn and Jeff Krulik don't seem to be operating under any preconceived agenda, and just allow the exuberantly inebriated masses to shout into the microphone, praising their love of metal, Priest and the need to party hard. One of the film's iconic characters is the so-called Zebraman (that's him on the cover), clad in matching zebra-pattern spandex, top and bottom. He easily spouts some of the best random lines, boldly condemning Madonna and punk, while offering his own deep philosophy of life, with a denouement that everything "sucks s**t" and that heavy metal rules. That's pretty direct, and ends up being the basic sentiment throughout.

It's easy to chuckle at the belly-shirt of the supposed metalhead pestered to do air guitar, who ends up strumming to a Beach Boys song of all things, or stare and shake your head at the 20-year-old with the 13-year-old girlfriend. There's a neverending wall of guys with no shirts driving Camaros or girls with big hair sipping Budweisers and smoking something that doesn't quite resemble a cigarette, all swaggering with the same the numb stoner glee. According to the majority: Priest rules.

Yes, the mature adult in me knows that drugs and alcohol are bad for teenagers, but those that will admit to having dabbled illegally can look at Heavy Metal Parking Lot and maybe see more than just some random teens getting stoned to the bejesus belt. Though this was shot a good 10-plus years after my own high school days, there is still a regretful and nostalgic sense of vague identification with these Maryland area Priest fans. It's that been-there-done-that-didn't-we-look-stupid kind of freewheeling singlemindedness for a rock concert that makes "adult" things like mortgages and taxes seem like a whole universe away, and laughing at a lot of these people is much the same as laughing at ourselves, like looking back through a blurry set of beer goggles.

Rating for Style: A+
Rating for Substance: A+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Considering the sketchy underground VHS dub-of-a-dub-of-a-dub history that Heavy Metal Parking Lot has had over the years, the formal release of this 1.33:1 transfer from the original 3/4 inch master videotape is a good thing. Sure, colors are pretty faded, and things are a little grainy in spots, but the guerilla style stoner/rocker interview segments look presentable, and certainly the best this cult title has ever looked.

Image Transfer Grade: A+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: Audio is presented in no-frills 2.0 stereo; an unremarkable mix that delivers the essentials: clear voice quality and minimal hiss.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 17 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 TV Spots/Teasers
3 Documentaries
18 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by John Heyn, Jeff Krulik
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Not to be deterred by the risk of trying sell a less than 17-minute feature (cult status or not) as the main attraction, Factory 515 has included over two hours of additional content for this DVD release. Filmmakers John Heyn and Jeff Krulik provide a commentary, offering recollections about the day and some of the memorable characters. They admit to asking idiotic questions and being clueless, but they seem have a steady stream of geeky recollections.

There is an optional Count Gore De Vol Intro (01m:45s), where the former Washington DC Creature Features host rises out of a Vampirella-lined coffin to plug his website and speak reverentially of Heavy Metal Parking Lot. The Dub-O-Vision option requires the use of the angle button to view film alternated with a horrendous bootleg version copied "dozens of times" to replicate the sensation of the way this little doc has been passed around over the years.

Under the "sequels" header are Heyn and Krulik's attempt to recapture the premise with Monster Truck Parking Lot (01m:34s), Neil Diamond Parking Lot (11m:41s), and Harry Potter Parking Lot (07m:12s). The monster truck is more of a treatise, and rather brief, but the Diamond and Potter segments have much of the same gawky goofiness that made Heavy Metal Parking Lot unique, but for entirely different reasons.

The Bogus Features section opens with a batch of outtakes (08m:03s) and a look at media coverage (03m:33s) that the film has had. One of the best bits is Parking Lot Alumni (18m:53s) where Heyn and Krulik track down a few parking lot party people, most of whom stumbled upon the film years after the fact. The capper is the followup on Zebraman, who has drifted into country music and hunting. Weird.

Parking Lot Annihilation (08m:28s) has the filmmakers documenting the destruction of Capitol Centre, and that serves as a perfectly strange coda. Heavy Metal Basement (48m:33s) is a whopper, running nearly an hour, and ventures into the basement of an aging rock fan who proudly shows off his extensive Judas Priest album collection.

"Tributes & Knockoffs" features a space station-themed 15th Anniversary Tour Animation (01m:24s), a quick stop inside Mondo Video Hollywood (01m:30s) to search for bootleg video, a DVD TV spot (08m:02s) and a talkshow clip entitled Jenny Jones Imposters (02m:31s), in which a cartoonish Goth/metal pair try to pass off something called "Heavy Metal Parking Lot 2000" as an original creation. The best piece overall is the music video for American Hi-Fi's Flavor of the Weak (03m:51s), which is a perfect spot-on parody of Heavy Metal Parking Lot, complete with Zebraman imitation.

A look under the "Filmmakers" section has bios and filmographies on Heyn and Krulik, as well as four brief works from their past, including Pancakes (03m:44s), First Business Today (02m:33s), VA News (01m:34s) and the artsy Girls on Film (02m:00s). A Heyn/Krulik directed music video for TVs from Outer Space (02m;20s) by Butch Willis & The Rocks sports some oversized snakeskin boots, and The Philly Fiasco (05m:03s) documents a 2002 attempt to screen the film before a metal concert, which goes horribly and comically wrong.

And there's no shortage of chapter stops, with 17 for an almost 17-minute film. Do the math.

Extras Grade: A+


Final Comments

Heavy Metal Parking Lot rose out of its 1986 public access television roots to achieve a sweeping underground cult status, existing as progressively shakier bootleg VHS copies that trickled from person to person like a slow moving virus.

Factory 515 has now formally released this 17-minute shirtless/big-hair rock parking lot doc, along with over 2 hours of bonus material, and it thankfully negates the need for watching one of those horrendous video dubs. Simple in concept, this is brilliantly comic in its representation of a mass of metal stoners waiting for the show to start, not realizing they're vastly more entertaining.

Party on, Garth. This one should have been on my 2005 Top Ten list. Really, it should have.

Highly recommended.


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