Reiner, Rob (Director)
This Is Spinal Tap (DVD)
Released: 1984, MGM
What can I say about THIS IS SPINAL TAP that hasn’t already been said? Let’s say for arguments sake you have never seen this classic rock and roll comedy, I’ll give you a quick run-down. The biggest ‘pretend’ Metal band in the world started as a small-scale, mockumentary film about a fictional rock band called Spinal Tap. The film itself was a making fun of not only Heavy Metal but the whole documentary film genre. The 1 hour, 23 minute film was released in 1984 to some critical acclaim. It’s budget of two million was modest and it pulled in about 4 million in the box office. After a while the film started to take on a life of it’s own with the fake band actually releasing albums! The music community took to the film and it has since become an iconic movie in music culture. It has been released on VHS/Laserdisc and DVD two or three times now. I’m reviewing the 2000 ‘Special Edition’ DVD.
I’m not going to bother with a detailed analysis of the plot, nor a description of key scenes, but I will say that there are many scenes and references that many rockers will recall fondly as the movie approaches it’s 30th Anniversary. Essentially it follows, the rise, fall and rise again of a fictional British Metal band across 20+ years in the documentary format with tons of footage, interviews, live clips and so on. Wikipedia has a nice plot summary if you really haven’t seen the movie. It has aged quite well and still holds high ratings in the press and various fan-driven internet movie databases. What attracted me to buy this film on DVD (besides the fact that I think it is hilarious) was the inclusion of almost two hours of bonus features.
Special Features include lots of promotional material (real) and promotional material (fake) for the film and band. There are four videos…(yes, they actually filmed videos!) interviews, audio commentary, just a whole mess of stuff, pretty much everything about the movie, including an hour worth of deleted scenes. Keen eyed metal fans can see a quick non-speaking role of a young Blackie Lawless (W.A.S.P.) in a fake commercial for ‘Heavy Metal Memories’, a type of parody commercial fro a Metal Greatest Hits album, the kind of generic collection that Time-Life or K-Tel puts out and run on late night TV. Very clever. Other ‘metal moments’ are a cameo by Paul Shortino (Rough Cutt, Quiet Riot, King Kobra). The menus are easy to navigate and there is additional humorous voice-over as you navigate the menus. The digital transfer is good and it has been done in 5.1 Surround. I’ve seen the film many times but it was fun to watch again with the audio commentary by Spinal Tap.
Excluding documentaries, there are only a very few fictional, theatrical release caliber movies about Hard Rock and Heavy Metal in existence (eg. Rock Star, Rock Of Ages, Fubar) and this is the first and best. Come to think of it even FUBAR and THIS IS SPINAL TAP are framed as documentaries. I picked up this DVD for $5.00 in my local music retailer and it is worth it to have a nice copy with all the bonus stuff. Iconic, warm, heartfelt, well-done and most of all, funny, THIS IS SPINAL TAP is a cornerstone film of Metal, comedy and culture.