Argott, Don & Fenton Demein (Directors)
Last Days Here (DVD)
Released: 2011, 9.14 Pictures
It was in early June of 2013 that I happened to get three documentaries about three different metal artists. I watched them all in a row and recognized a theme; a similar story arc that exists between all three people. All three young men had enormous talent, all were very innovative but all of them had their careers tragically cut short by various circumstances. All of them are still revered today. The artists are Bob Liebling (Pentagram), Randy Rhoads (Quiet Riot/Ozzy) and Jason Backer (Cacophony/David Lee Roth). There is a connection between these three movies, probably more coincidence than anything, but I drew some comparisons between these three films, which were all released within 12 months of each other. Please enjoy the other two films in this feature, NOT DEAD YET and RANDY RHOADS:THE QUIET RIOT YEARS.
Of the three documentaries I had the least sympathy for the situation of Bobby Liebling, because his situation was self-induced from years of drug abuse. It’s not that I am not sympathetic but the other guys had serious tragedies that were not their fault. Bobby is best known as the singer and founder of the legendary and influential Doom band, Pentagram. Filmmakers Don Argott and Demian Fenton tracked this guy down who at 55 was living the life of a drug addict in his parents basement. The simple film traces the attempts by Liebling, his manger, Sean Pelletier, his parents and girlfriend to get him clean and back into the music business.
LAST DAYS HERE is a play on words based on the CD compilation from several years back called FIRST DAZE HERE and it is simultaneously uplifting and tragic. Starting with the tragic it is hard to see someone sink so low. The scene where Bobby is clawing at his skin in fits of crack induced paranoia about imaginary insects on his skin is just grim, as his habit of keeping his scabs so he can smoke them later. He lives in filth and complete squalor surviving only because of the good graces of his parents. It is even sadder to learn that his father was once a member of the elite, a high-ranking Security Policy Advisor for Presidents Johnson, Nixon and Ford. It must be difficult to see their messed up, long-haired ‘rockstar’ son wallowing in his addictions.
The uplifting part is the lengths that people will go to help a friend, a lover a family member, or just another human being. Pelletier is his manager who lives a modest live driven by his love of the Metal and his motives are noble, there is no grand design that Bobby is his meal-ticket, he truly loves the band and the man and wants to save him. The same goes for Liebling’s girlfriend. At first I was skeptical of her motives, a pretty young, 25 year old hanging around with a 55 year old unemployed crack addict but she shows strength that many of us I suspect would not have, by staying by his side.
The film covers the span of a couple of years and is laced with lots of archival footage, music and interviews with ex-members. The band really was profoundly innovative but very few realized that fact until two decades later how influential and talented they were. Their musical output was sporadic at best and again it wasn’t until the mid-90’s when Peaceville Records started to champion the band and churn out some quality product in the form of reissues and quality repackaging older material.
The tone and pace are even and there are some striking scenes, such as when Bobby goes to jail, Bobby goes to Hospital, when Bobby gets to meet Phil Anselmo and painful fan-filmed footage of the ill-fated comeback at the Black Cat nightclub in 2005 where Bobby is so fried on drugs he collapses during the intro to the show. As amazing as it seems, the story does have a positive ending and the film won a bunch of awards and deservedly so. There is not much in the way of bonus features but the DVD is still well worth getting for Metal fans and for the good human interest story at the core.