Heavy Metal Parking Lot: ´16 perfect minutes´

by Brian Clarey

The short film “Heavy Metal Parking Lot” is not exactly a piece of found footage — it was made by two professional videographers for a slot on a cable access station in 1986 and has since become an underground hit — but it will still open the Found Footage Film Festival’s Saturday night presentation at the Idiot Box because… well, it’s awesome.

“It’s like 16 perfect minutes, basically,” says FFF curator and co-host Nich Prueher. “Endlessly quotable. It doesn’t matter where you’re from, it’s familiar to you. They were in the right place at the right time.”

The scene was the parking lot of the Capitol Centre in Landover, Md. before a Judas Priest/Dokken double bill in the heyday of hair metal, and the piece that resulted is basically a series of interviews with wasted teenage tailgaters that is at once disturbing, revealing and hilarious.

For the filmmakers themselves, Jeff Krulik and John Heyn, the whole thing was kind of a whim.

“John was the first one who came to me with the idea of filming a documentary about fans tailgating at the Capitol Centre,” Krulik says. “John and I were not metalheads, but you couldn’t really escape that vibe in 1986 because it was all around. The ‘Headbangers Ball’ was on MTV, the bands that were popular were these metal bands. They didn’t even have to have hits. Frankly, it could have been any heavy metal band that was appearing at that arena at that time. We were lucky it was Judas Priest.”

And 25 years later, it still resonates with viewers.

“I’ve always said that you either were at that concert or you sat next to someone in homeroom who was at that concert,” Krulik says. “You just kind of knew [the scene] from osmosis and you still do — it’s basically Fan 101.”

Many things are noteworthy about “Heavy Metal Parking Lot”: the 20-yearold guy making out with his 13-year-old girlfriend; the girl with the bandana tied around her ankle who advises, “Don’t ever get it in a car”; the shirtless 19-yearold who is a dead ringer for Matthew McConaughey’s character Wooderson from Dazed and Confused; the relentless use of the word “party” in its verb form; the guy of vague ethnicity with the funny accent, straight out of central casting, bubbling a bottle of SoCo.

The fashion in the short is remarkable as well, a time capsule at the intersection of teenage dirtbaggery and postpunk glam: feathery hair wings, thin lip mustaches, black-and-white three-quarter sleeve concert T-shirts, animal prints, suspenders without shirts, a pair of Levi’s as an entire outfit, the half-shirts, the OP walking shorts, the fedoras and flannel and fingerless gloves.

“We’ve been called ‘anthropological filmmakers,’” Krulik says. “I’m very flattered by that.”

Over the years, fans have given name to some of the more memorable characters: Zebra Man, who called Madonna a “d*ck,” long-haired wastoid Graham of Dope and Jump His Bones, the redhead who was interested sexually in Judas Priest front man Rob Halford.

Herein lies the greatest irony of the film: Halford became clean and sober in 1986, the year this crowd of shirtless teen boys and lustful, young party girls raged in the parking lot before his show. And 12 years later, in 1988, he came out as a gay man, a lifestyle that informed his songwriting and fashion sensibility.

“It is kind of ironic,” Krulik says. “In fact, you might even be curious, there’s the one guy in the video who says, ‘Rob Halford — I don’t know about that guy.’ Interpret that how you wish. But that guy’s now becoming a rabbi. He’s an orthodox Jewish guy.”

“Heavy Metal Parking Lot: can be streamed online can stream it at Snag Films, Hulu, Itunes, Amazon and a few other sites.

The official site

Our newest chapter

“Parking Lot” TV series

DVD extras from Snag Films “Heavy Metal Parking Lot” Alumni:

Where Are They Now metal_parking_lot_alumni_where_are_ they_now/

“Heavy Metal Basement” metal_basement/