Reviewed: June 2021
Like many, I’m a big W.A.S.P. fan they were (and still are) one of my all-time favourite bands. I have been following what former members have been doing over the years including Chris Holmes. Naturally I was quite intrigued to see the new documentary MEAN MAN.
After years of struggling in Los Angeles, Chris met a girl and moved to France (or was it the other way around?) As legend has it she helped him get his act together and return to some semblance of a normal life. I’m not exactly sure of the connection, but while in France the couple caught the attention of a young film-maker, Pierre-Anthony Allard. It wasn’t long before MEAN MAN: THE STORY OF CHRIS HOLMES was a documentary.
The film is a brief (78 minutes) but comprehensive look at the legendary guitar player. The film is well shot, well-produced and follows Chris around Europe as he tours small bars in an effort to rebuild his career and capitalize on his brand. The film is a decent mix of archival footage, interviews with family members, friends, and ex-band members and current footage of Chris and his life. The film follows the classic rise-fall-rise or the rags to riches to rags and back to normalcy story line, if you prefer. Holmes had it all and squandered it. He spends much of the time blaming Blackie Lawless and at times the story is very one-sided, but just through the very act of watching how Holmes behavior in the past and how he conducts himself, you can see there are certainly two-sides to the story. I’d be very curious to see what Blackie thinks of this story, but he is way too smart to fall into that trap and provide a formal rebuttal.
Holmes comes across as not all that bright, maybe a bit of a mean-streak; perhaps less so ‘mean’ than just selfish and inconsiderate (his wife chastises him like a child for his behaviour on a few occasions in the film) but that is balanced with a sincerity, honesty and work ethic that tempers his negative traits. There is a montage near the end where everyone says something along the lines is that he has a heart of gold and Holmes demonstrates that on many occasions as well. The movie tag line is that he is ‘The Last True Rock N’ Roller’. I’m not convinced about that but he certainly is an interesting character and a fascinating subject for this modest documentary.
As a big fan, the story is very familiar to me but for the legion of more causal W.A.S.P. fans this falls into the category of ‘Whatever happened to Chris Holmes?” This will certainly satisfy the curiosity of people. The film is currently on streaming services and it was recently announced that it will be released on DVD and Blue-Ray in early 2022.