Twenty-five years ago, a viral VHS started making its way around Washington, D.C. Some friends of friends had filmed a parking lot full of Judas Priest fans. Heavy Metal Parking Lot was born. Here's an excerpt.
For the film's anniversary year, and for the benefit of those too young to know any better, I thought it was time to honor this unforgettable work. So I asked filmmaker Jeff Krulik to shed a bit of light all these years later.
"On May 31, 1986, my friend John Heyn and I stumbled into the pop-culture history books by videotaping a few hours of heavy metal fans before a Judas Priest concert in Landover, MD. We certainly didn't go in with an agenda or plan, and 25 years later we are still trying to make sense of Heavy Metal Parking Lot.
"John Heyn and I met in early 1985 and became fast friends. We bonded over our love for old theaters and drive-ins, circus sideshows, weird pop culture and John Waters movies. One day, John suggested a short documentary of heavy metal fans before a heavy metal concert. In less than three seconds, I said yes. The first two seconds, I worried about the professional camera gear. John and I were totally drawn to offbeat subjects, and the aspiring documentarians that we were, this seemed to fit right in with our emerging career goals.
"So it was as simple as that. I had the gear. John had the idea. We paid our $5 parking fee like any other concertgoer, and it was our good fortune that the band playing was Judas Priest, who have iconic status, and their anthems still hold up. It could have been any heavy metal band, but we thank our lucky stars that it was Judas Priest on that last Saturday in May. After we went back to my studio to look at the footage, the title instantly popped into my head. I've always had a knack for titles. But it was John's idea in the first place, and he was the architect, since he took the footage and edited it into the solid 16 minutes that it is.
"Without any official distribution in the pre-Internet age of tape trading, our short film went from VHS to VHS, to the likes of Cameron Crowe, who referenced it as 'one of the top rock documentaries ever.' Actor Ed Norton called it 'anthropological genius.' We once got a phone call from Sofia Coppola. And Dave Grohl confirmed that it was a favorite on the Nirvana tour bus when we met him backstage in 2005.
"Here's a video from our DVD that catches up with a few HMPL alumni. And here's another alum, our first meeting with Nathaniel 'Buda' Dodson, who showed up at the American Film Institute last week to take a well-deserved bow 25 years later."
"Have we made other films? Yes, many. But all roads seem to take us back to that fateful afternoon at the Capital Centre in 1986. And, 25 years later, as Judas Priest are still on the road, we are still out there sharing our film with any audiences who will have us. Our official site is here, and so is our latest film, Heavy Metal Picnic."