Released: 2015, Pink Mermaid Productions
This month I decided to review three documentary films all released on bands anniversary dates in 2015. They are Death Angel’s, A THRASHUMENTARY (30th anniversary), Quiet Riot’s, NOW THAT YOU ARE HERE, THERE’S NO WAY BACK (40th anniversary) and Scorpions, FOREVER AND A DAY (50th anniversary). Please feel free to enjoy my reviews of the three films in this feature.
I have a pet peeve. Despite what many people think, Quiet Riot do NOT have a song called ‘Bang Your Head’. Angel Dust has a song called ‘Bang Your Head’. Dream Evil has a song called ‘Bang Your Head’. Hammerfall has a song called ‘Bang Your Head’. Quiet Riot do not have a song called ‘Bang Your Head’. The name of their iconic 1983 hit with the catchy chorus is called ‘Metal Health’ not Bang Your Head. I could not count how many times people made that mistake in the film, even a guy they interviewed who claims to be the #1 Quiet Riot fan in the world, and he doesn’t even know the name of their biggest hit! Now, that I got that off my chest let’s review this excellent film!
The DVD looks really great it runs about an hour and 40 minutes and has a generous amount of bonus features, extended interviews and deleted scenes. I didn’t like how the press referred to them as an ‘80’s Metal band’ and the Spinal Tap references as it sort of makes the band seem sad or out-dated, which is not the case. I would have marketed it a bit differently and even the awkward and unwieldy title doesn’t roll off the tongue. In fact the website is called Quietriotmovie.com because very few people could remember or figure out how to type http://www.wellnowyou
It ran in theaters for a bit and I’m so glad it came out on DVD. I ordered it and the service was very fast. The production values are excellent, top-notch it is visually very well designed. It is big, bright and loud, like the band.
The anchor of the movie is long-time member Frankie Banali. At the end of the film he said he got engaged to the director, so it is not a surprise that he commands the vast majority of screen time. However, as the longest standing member by years, he is really the only person who is qualified to tell the story. Banali is not the sole spotlight, there are tons and tons of interviews including an interview with one of the two original surviving members, Kelly Garni. The band has had a long and confusing history and there is a hilarious segment where various members try to figure out who has been in the band over the past 40 years, since forming in 1975. For the record there have been at least 28 people in the band! It is really well executed.
Banali comes across as a very level headed guy, a hard-working, single father with hobbies and interests outside his ‘job’ of being a rock star. His modest but comfortable living shows that he is the brains of the outfit. One thing that came across was that he is rally haunted, tortured even by the premature drug-related death of his life-long friend Kevin DuBrow. I feel it was brave for him to show that difficult side and that he was always not a nice person, lashing out in anger and grief at friends and band-mates. He doesn’t smile a lot in the film as the times are tough trying to maintain a career and do all the work, booking, managing, playing etc and be a single dad. The director also made brave choices for discussing how fame went to the head of Kevin DuBrow and how he made a lot of enemies. There is also some fairly extensive detail about his death. Another brave choice was including an interview with a somewhat skeptical Dee Snider who blatantly says he doesn’t think Quiet Riot has what it takes to make it anymore. All of these elements help demonstrate the level of adversity that Banali has risen above to keep the band going.
There was a long segment how Banali decided to reform QUIET RIOT, (with the blessing of Mrs. DuBrow) and the audition process. The Mark Huff era was very interesting. I did not realize that Huff only played a total of 39 gigs with the band and I consider myself lucky to have seen DuBrow, Shortino and Huff all front the band. This is one of the main thrusts of the film, the bands return which is only partially successfully as members come and go and the band still struggle to record any new material, just preferring to play live once in while. For the record the band released an EP in 2014, eight years since their last album, but not many people noticed.
I found that the movie had one huge, major flaw. The documentary did not focus on the music. I know that sounds weird about a music film, but there was virtually no mention about Quiet Riot’s recording career. Did you know they wrote and recorded 11 full-length studio albums? Do you know how many albums get mentioned? Three. 30%. Unacceptable. They focus is almost exclusively focused on their third album METAL HEALTH with a cursory mention of the fourth album CONDITION CRITICAL and their sixth album QUIET RIOT. They complete ignore the fact that the band has two albums in the 70’s on a major label, before Frankie Banali was in the band. It is almost unforgiveable. Even if there was some sort of legal injunction to stop use of the music or images of those two albums, (Quiet Riot, 1977 and II, 1978) they should have been referenced. The recent Randy Rhoads movie does a far better job of covering the early era of the band so that maybe why the director decided to largely skip the first eight years of the band because that story has been told.
The soundtrack deployed lots of Quiet Riot music from across their career including heavy use of ‘It Sucks To Be You’, a great track from their excellent 11th studio album REHAB (2006) but they never mention the last five albums. The band recorded, TERRIFIED (1993), DOWN TO THE BONE (1995), ALIVE AND WELL (1999), GUILTY PLEASURES (2001), and REHAB (2006) and they all get skipped completely. I understand the director had to choose a focus and/or theme but there should have been at least some overview of the music and recording history which would have gone a long way to combat the incorrect perception that the band was a on (or two) hit wonder. Also it would have been a fitting legacy to Kevin DuBrow whose powerful pipes graced all those albums with great songs for the true fans who followed the band after the 1980’s. The definitive documentary of Quiet Riot has yet to be filmed.
The other big problem was that the movie was not linear at all. It jumps all over the place. For fans who were not as familiar with the band, it doesn’t make sense. There should have been some sort of chronological aspect to it, but they jumped from the 1970’s, to the 2000’s and back to the 80’s and so on. It really needs to be re-edited to make it more cohesive and understandable.
Those two problems aside, NOW THAT YOU ARE HERE, THERE’S NO WAY BACK is a simply marvelous movie. I loved every minute of it, despite my few gripes. The quality was higher than I expected despite huge changes in sound levels across the film, but if it is too loud…well…you know how that saying goes…. The film is sincere, passionate, honest and at times heart-wrenching and I don’t think anyone else could have done as good a job focusing on the people behind the timeless Metal institution.