Heavy Metal Monsters!: Rudctio ad Ridiculum and - Ingenta Connect

Heavy Metal Monsters!: Rudctio ad Ridiculum and - Ingenta Connect

Feature 02 Heavy Metal Monsters!: Rudctio ad Ridiculum and the 1980s Heavy Metal Horror Cycle By Brandon Konecny keywords: heavy metal, horror, cult...

249KB Sizes 0 Downloads 3 Views

Recommend Documents

Violence and Democracy - Ingenta Connect
Other influential. Comparative Politics October 2014. 100 ... After this initial wave of disciplined insurgents, rebel m

Heavy Metal
das Debutalbum von Black Sabbath, ebenfalls aus. England. Von ihm aus wurde im Hardrock eine. Nebenlinie eingeschlagen,

SuSTAINAbLE mObILITY - Ingenta Connect
Train” by Steve Jurvetson is licensed under CC BY 2.0. The full license can be found at: http://creativecommons.org/l

Petrochemicals - Ingenta Connect
During the year 1999, a variety of work regarding treatment and disposal or reuse of ..... seawater (for steam generatio

TADDOLe - Ingenta Connect
den uns zuganglichen Kristallstrukturen geht aus del' ... RUckfluss wurde die Lsg. mit Eis/HzO auf 20° gekilhlt lind la

Petrochemicals - Ingenta Connect
and water was investigated by Gungoren et al. (2007). The yields of liquids, noncondensable gases, and residues were det

Besprechungen - Ingenta Connect
-Register des St. Patroklistiftes in Soest vom ausgehenden ...... CORNELIA POHLMANN: Die Auswanderung aus dem Herzogtum

Author Index - Ingenta Connect
Aprile, J. A., 754*. Arai, K., 705, 755*. Arefanian, H., 327. Argibay, B., 1787 ...... Richie, C. T., 760*, 770*. Ricord

Besprechungen - Ingenta Connect
Witten. THOMAS URBAN. SHULAMIT VOLKOV: Walther Rathenau. .... aus Philadelphia vor Augen geführt, wobei es im ersten Fa

chimia-report - Ingenta Connect
Chapel House, Stock Wood. Redditch. Worcestershire, B96 6ST, UK. Tel.: + 44 (0) 1386 792727. Fax: + 44 (0) 1386 792720.

Feature 02

Heavy Metal Monsters!: Rudctio ad Ridiculum and the 1980s Heavy Metal Horror Cycle By Brandon Konecny keywords:

heavy metal, horror, cultural studies, popular music, film cycles, sociology, Parents Music Resource Center … freedom, it means nothing to me As long as there’s a P.M.R.C. (Megadeth, “Hook in Mouth”) Beginning in the mid-1980s, a handful of filmmakers, in an effort to appeal to the bourgeoning heavy metal market, began producing low-budget horror films which enmeshed aspects of metal music and culture into their narratives, now comprising the little known heavy metal horror cycle. While such a description might inspire one to suppose their scholarly viability – their capacity to reflect and comment on their respective cultural climates, for example – these films have been a hitherto terra incognita in film studies. This academic neglect is particularly unfortunate, since it overlooks these works’ relation to the well-known

moral crusades of various organizations and individuals throughout the decade, which cited heavy metal music as a motivation for the incitement of violence, promotion of the occult, and sexualization of teenagers (Weinstein 250). What is interesting is that these films, in answer to these three prevalent accusations, present demonic metal musicians who satirically fulfill them, and even more interesting is that heavy metal audiences responded well to such caricatures. What accounts for such a welcome reception? Could it be these films’ display of sympathetic ideals? What about overlapping aesthetics and affinities between the two genres? After all, both horror and metal were in vogue and, as metal writer Mike McPadden argues, constitute “two byways of a single continuum” (8). For an answer, I asked Jon Mikl Thor, lead singer of the band Thor and screenwriter and star of

below 

Figure 1. Dethklok as they encounter a mythical adversary during their concert

13

Film Matters Spring 2014

Rock ‘N’ Roll Nightmare (1987), one of the representative texts of this cycle, about the reception from metal fans to his raucous film: Most of the Metal Fans have a great sense of humour…when I go on tour I meet fans who are huge fans of the movie…I continue to be overwhelmed by the response of new generations of fans. (personal communication 28 November 2012) Thor’s comments, I argue, are instructive and gesture toward a characteristic mode of reception among members of the metal subculture, one that concerns the social significance of humor. Thus, to credit these films’ appeal solely to their presentation of related interests would be parochial, as it fails to notice their rhetorical homology with the subculture’s disposition for self-referential humor. In the article that follows, I will demonstrate that the nature of these films’ satirizations of prevalent adversarial notions are rhetorically consistent with the heavy metal subculture’s disposition for self-referential humor, and that this affinity ultimately accounts for these works’ appeal to its members. The present task, then, requires three different lines of action. I will first explore historical precedent for such humor in media specifically produced by individuals entrenched in the heavy metal subculture. In doing so, my examination will validate this to be a pronounced inclination of its participants as well as demonstrate the sardonic dimensions it assumed in the 1980s. Afterwards, I will examine three representative films from the heavy metal horror cycle, namely, Rocktober Blood below 

Figure 2. An excerpt for Youth Subcultures, an educational tract used by police departments to profile “heavy metalists”



Feature 02

Brandon Konecny

In this sense, it is as though Fasano satirizes the aforesaid moral criticisms at both the dramatic level (the expressive performances in the profilmic space) and the formal level (his use of tropes germane to hair metal music videos). (Sebastion, 1984), Trick or Treat (Smith, 1986), and Black Roses (Fasano, 1988). For the sake of brevity, I will focus on specific scenes from these films, though a similar examination could certainly be extended to these films in their entirety. This analysis will demonstrate that these films responded to contemporary criticisms of the music via reductio ad ridiculum, i.e. the humorous replication of prevalent oppositions whereby they are extended to absurd, hyperbolic proportions. Finally, I will conclude by indicating the rhetorical similarities of metal’s subculturally produced media and these filmic texts, thus explaining its members’ interest in this small, yet fascinating collection of films. Self-referential humor in the heavy metal subculture Since its genesis, the heavy metal subculture has consistently demonstrated its large capacity to find humor in its own constituents – that is to say, its participants are able to show reverence to the excesses and absurdities of their subculture while recognizing their comical value. This humor serves an important sociological function for metal in that it localizes the comprehension and appreciation of this humor within the subculture itself. This common reception, then, is analogous to an inside-joke scenario (Bormann 227), and in turn forges, in Emile Durkheim’s sense, a “mechanical solidarity” between its members, i.e. a condition in which “members of a group are not only individually attracted to one another because they resemble one another, but [because] they are also linked to what is the condition for the existence of this collective type, that is, to the society that they form by coming together” (60). Subcultural signifiers such as black clothing, long hair, and abrasive music therefore provide members with both an expressive, legible means of social identification and a source of esoteric humor, which, on a larger level, yields a celebration of the collective form itself. The exclusivity of this comedy, in short, facilitates social interaction among fans and maintains the subculture’s social insularity, and underscores what cultural sociologist Deena Weinstein calls metal’s status as “proud pariahs” (138).

A contemporary example of such exclusive humor is the late-night television show Metalocalypse, co-created by metal musician and comedian Brendon Small. The series follows the misadventures and exploits of a fictitious death metal band known as Dethklok as they play music, encounter mythical adversaries (see Figure 1), and engage in overall metal tomfoolery. The show has attained a niche audience of metal fans due to the cultural specificity of its humor, that is, the tailoring of its jokes to the tastes and experiences of its metal viewers. It parodies, for example, the hearings against metal musicians in the 1980s, and even replaces the characters’ profanity with guitar pinch harmonics, a sonic idiom of metal, rather than beep censors. Ultimately, the presence and success of Metalocalypse testifies the longevity and sociological relevance of self-referential humor to the contemporary metal community. This inclination became markedly transgressive during the 1980s, whereby the subculture’s ability to find humor its own idiosyncrasies began to encompass its increasingly negative social stance. Rather than bemoan the recriminations and ridicule of its various detractors, heavy metal celebrated their attacks as affirmations of its social marginality, which reinvested the subculture with a strong sense of solidarity, an “us-against-the-world” sentiment (Weinstein 138). Within this context, the subculture’s acceptance of social exclusion and disposition for self-referential humor coalesced, and resulted in pointed satirizations of adversarial notions in various subculturally produced media. This signifying practice overtly manifested itself in local, self-published heavy metal fanzines of the 1980s, and an evaluation of their content will yield insight into the rhetorical needs of both its producers and subcultural readers. These magazines, metal journalist and publisher Ian Christe writes, frequently reprinted pejorative representations of the subculture, such as those found in police profiling handbooks (see Figure 2) or Parent Music Resource Center fundraising letters, for the comical enjoyment of metal readers; and rather than reading these reprintings as denotative

14

Film Matters Spring 2014

concurrences with the music’s critics, participants of the subculture understood them to be comical appropriations of oppositional opinions (294). In view of this discursive strategy, and following Dick Hebdige’s assertion that such primary media bespeak the ethos of its producing subculture (111), we can make two observations: (1) these reprints, particularly in Figure 2, indicate a collective acceptance of marginality or of a certain “outlaw” status; and (2) it suggests that its metal readers, in evaluating these print-texts’ contents, possess a type of media literacy specific to the rhetorical needs of the subculture. Violence and onstage artifice gone wrong in Rocktober Blood As the foregoing remarks testify, members of the heavy metal subculture are particularly keen on reading comical appropriations of earnest criticisms of the music as affirmations of their solidarity, and thus indicates a mode of reception specific to its participants. I wish to now extend this analysis to filmic texts. In considering the aforesaid exemplary works from the heavy metal horror cycle, we can see how this same strategy operates during metal viewers’ experience of these films, starting with their satirizations of the music’s supposed incitement of violence. Throughout the 1980s, heavy metal was admonished for its seeming glorification of violent activity. Much of this criticism was aimed towards the violent theatrics exhibited at metal concerts, wherein bands invoked iconography from the horror genre, hypermasculine personas, pyrotechnics, and visual enactments of fantastical scenarios to imbue their musical performance with a dimension dramatic spectacle. But while metalheads viewed such theatricality as Vaudevillian-like entertainment and a recreational release of aggression, outsiders of the subculture perceived it as frighteningly atavistic. Tipper Gore, a founding member of the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC), wrote in her book Raising PG Kids in an X-rated Society (1987) that “heavy metal rock performers have expressly designed their concerts to display depraved, violent behavior that stimulates and inflames hostile emotions” (145). As an example, she cites the over-the-top concerts of the band W.A.S.P. (We Are Sexual Perverts): The band’s lead singer [Blackie Lawless] has convulsed audiences by throwing raw meat into the crowd. The band has used skeletons, axes, blades, and gallons of fake blood as props. To promote their act, they

Feature 02

Heavy Metal Monsters!: Reductio ad Ridiculum and the 1980s Heavy Metal Horror Cycle

below 

below 

Figure 3. Shot of Billy as he slings the dancer’s intestines off-screen to the crowd

below 

Figure 5. Sammie Curr inside a hellish ring of fire

Figure 4. Cutaway shot of the crowd cheering at Billy’s grotesque theatrics

below 

Figure 6. Eddie realizes that the album contains commands from a supernatural force

have used a picture of a bloodied, halfnaked woman chained to a torture rack. Past performances have included the simulated attack and torture of a woman. (51–52) Although Lawless stated that this extremity was only an onstage act, Gore maintained, “maybe rock doesn’t have to get civilized in a middle-class sense, but it doesn’t have to promote barbarianism either” (52). Released a year before the official formation of the PMRC, Beverly and Ferd Sebastion’s Rocktober Blood was among the first films of the heavy metal horror cycle. While unaware of the mounting assault against metal music during the film’s production, co-director Ferd Sebastion claims that the enmeshment of horror and metal was intentional, and that it successfully attracted the attention of members of the heavy metal subculture:

which Billy executes unsuspecting victims during a live concert; however, due to the conventionality of such onstage spectacle, the audience and the band are naive to the real murders that transpire. The scene commences with an unaccompanied guitar player soloing for an inordinate period of time, moving in a convulsive manner redolent of Eddie Van Halen’s performances. Smoke pervades the stage, and shackled, scantily dressed women dance. The full band begins to play, and Billy appears onstage brandishing a pollaxe fashioned into a microphone stand. He proceeds to sing a song called “Killer on the Loose,” which contains the following violent lyrics: “There’s a killer on the loose / You better try to hide / There’s a killer on the loose / It’s your time to die!”

After the first chorus, Billy approaches one of the unsuspecting female dancers and stabs her in the stomach with his microphone stand, brutally digging out her intestines, and slings them into the audience (see Figure 3). The film cuts away to show the cheering crowd (see Figure 4), which is unaware that this violent spectacle is more than onstage artifice. The band, also ignorant of Billy’s actual killing, continue to enthusiastically perform as he proceeds to kill two more dancers, each time throwing parts of their anatomy into the ecstatic audience. This collective ignorance of Billy’s brutality, sordid and devoid of redemption as it may be, gives the scene a pronounced degree of absurdity; and suggests that when Gore’s argument is played out to its hyperbolic end, it appears laughable and lacking any merit to viewers who belong to or are sympathetic with heavy metal. Satanic panic and backwards masking in Trick or Treat While Ferd Sebastion states that the rising assault on metal music “was not even a thought [at the time of the film’s initial release],” and that the work attained satiric weight in the hands of its metal viewers (personal communication 21 June 2014), later films of the cycle began to consciously acknowledge such attacks, particularly those directed at metal’s alleged ability to inculcate of Satanic doctrine, and hence became more tactical in nature. Indeed, ever since the mid1970s some suspicious parents in the United States have linked heavy metal to satanism (Crews 239). However, due to the music’s increasing popularity and extremity during the 1980s, this supposition became prevalent and ignited a nationwide satanic panic, in which metal albums containing satanic imagery were

below 

Figure 7. A side-by-side comparison of Janie before and after attending Black Roses concert

The ones who like it, really like it. I mean crazy about it…the [members of the] sub culture [sic] that I have talked to believes [sic] that it is just the best ever. We did make it as a spoof, like who would have a Concert of Blood where you kill the whole cast? (personal communication 21 June 2014) Sabastion’s so-called “Concert of Blood” concept proves uncanny in its prescience: the film enfleshes Gore’s contentions by presenting a murderous heavy metal vocalist named Billy (or Billy’s evil twin brother, John, as we learn), who supposedly comes back from the dead to continue his relentless killing spree. The conclusion of the film presents Gore’s worst nightmare, in

below 

Figure 8. Synecdochic presentations of female anatomy in both Black Roses and Danger Danger’s music video for “Naughty Naughty”

15

Film Matters Spring 2014



Feature 02

Brandon Konecny

viewed as countertheological proclamations. Notwithstanding the antagonistic humor of such imagery (Mudrian 81), groups such as the Back in Control Center and Moral Majority were not in on the joke and thus took bands like Slayer and Venom seriously. Examples include Dr. Dale Graffis, a former Ohio policeman and self-proclaimed cult and metal expert, who attempted to combat the music’s satanic influence by appearing at court cases around the country, and claimed that “murderous underground satanic cults were operating in America and recruiting young people from the heavy metal scene” (Christe 293). Additionally, backwards masking, i.e. subliminal messages “audible when the records [were] played backwards  – Satan’s technological adaptation of the black mass,” reinforced these sorts of accusations, and galvanized paranoia that the anomalous power underlying metal music’s supposed indoctrination was not just localized to live concerts  – it could find its way into the middle-class suburban home, too (Patison 164). Such accusations and leads from supposed experts turned out to be nothing more than ropes of sand, but concerned parents en masse consumed this paranoia as truth. In answer to these accusations, Charles Martin Smith’s Trick or Treat, by linking metal music to backwards masking, humorously replicates these precise notions promoted by the music’s most strident adversaries. According to Rhet Topham, one of the film’s screenwriters and a self-proclaimed fan of metal music, this mockery was intentional:

examine the scene where Sammi Curr, a recently deceased heavy metal musician, contacts the protagonist Eddie via backwards masking, and offers to aid him in taking vengeance on those who severely bully him at school. Eddie plays Sammi Curr’s last demo on his turntable and sits down on his recliner. The film abruptly cuts to a handheld shot that shows a door opening, which reveals a fiery room. It cuts back to a close-up of Eddie sleeping, thus confirming the film’s previous occupation of his interior imagination. Returning to the dream, the camera now mellifluously climbs a fiery staircase, with an unsourced line of reversed dialogue repeating in the distance. The camera, reaching the top of the stairs, presents another door that opens, and shows a hellish room with Curr sitting cross-legged in the center of a fiery circle repeating the previously unsourced line of reversed dialogue (see Figure 5). This shot gradually dissolves to a close-up of Curr’s face engulfed in flames, giving him a demonic visage redolent of Satan himself. The film suddenly leaves his interiority, and cuts to a close-up of Eddie’s face as he awakens with the reverse speech still audible in the background. While it would be plausible to attribute Eddie’s bizarre dream to the arousal of corresponding dreamimages by this external sensory stimuli, the film subverts such an expectation: Eddie approaches the turntable and stops the album’s rotation with his hand, and curiously pushes it in the opposite direction, revealing the hidden message, “Let the big fish bait themselves. You’re the bait! The bait is you!” (see Figure 6). Eddie slowly retrieves his hand from the turntable, realizing that his dream and the record’s subliminal messages are legitimate commands from a supernatural force. It is the earnestness of scene’s presentation of satanic paranoia, its unabashed sense of not snickering at its own joke, as it were, that renders the seriousness of these actual reactionary criticisms humorous to metal viewers, and in turn dethrones them of their legitimacy.

[These criticisms were] definitely the seed for the film. At that time, Tipper Gore (Al’s [former] wife) was running around screaming about something called ‘Rock-Porn’ [a slang referent to metal bandied about by Gore and others]. Most us metalheads thought she was full of B.S.” (“Interview with ‘Trick or Treat’ Screenwriter”) This dig at backwards masking reverberated with metal audiences, who found the accusations equally absurd and drew this text close to the realm of their lived experience. Writing about his experience of the film in the 1980s, metal writer and journalist Mike McPadden testifies to the effectiveness of this discursive strategy, calling Trick or Treat “our movie, made specifically for headbangers and horror hounds alike” (McPadden’s emphasis, 497). Hence, Topham’s “seed for the film” aligns with the concerns and prejudices of its metal viewers. To see this dismissive attitude towards these allegations on display, let us 16

Hair metal music videos and the sexualization of teenagers in Black Roses In addition to accusations of promoting the occult, various critics reproached heavy metal for its hypersexual imagery and lyrics, and cited it as a catalyst for teenage sexual activity. The majority of this criticism was directed towards the music videos of popular bands, such as Mötley Crüe and Def Leppard, which often display flippant sexuality and hegemonic representations of male–female relations (Walser 118). These depictions, albeit in some cases forthrightly misogynistic, were done in humor and to maintain a marketable persona, and, as Robert Walser incisively points out, few metal videos at the time “approached the degree of narcissistic misogyny displayed by pop star Michael Jackson” (117). Of particular note, too, is the fact that most metal bands had little to no creative input on their own videos. In fact, the creation of a video’s concept was usually the province of the producer or director, who often formulated it prior to ever “hearing the song or knowing about the band for whom they [were] to create the video” (Weinstein 167). These bands were nonetheless held responsible for the sexual content of their music videos, and their popularity concomitant with the increasing amount of female interest in metal music alarmed moral critics, who zealously aimed to validate a causal link between the metal video’s sexual explicitness and social problems such as increases in teenage pregnancies (Chastagner 81). Although no evidence ever corroborated these claims, they successfully pressured MTV’s management to reduce the amount of heavy metal videos broadcasted in 1985 (Martin and Segrave 232). Mocking such allegations, John Fasano’s film Black Roses presents a satanic metal band known as Black Roses, who sexualize teenagers by musically indoctrinating them via their live concerts. When I asked the late Fasano about the inspiration for the film, he commented that

Since its genesis, the heavy metal subculture has consistently demonstrated its large capacity to find humor in its own constituents – that is to say, its participants are able to show reverence to the excesses and absurdities of their subculture while recognizing their comical value. Film Matters Spring 2014

Feature 02

Heavy Metal Monsters!: Reductio ad Ridiculum and the 1980s Heavy Metal Horror Cycle

Rather than bemoan the recriminations and ridicule of its various detractors, heavy metal celebrated their attacks as affirmations of its social marginality, which reinvested the subculture with a strong sense of solidarity, an “us-against-the-world” sentiment

In accordance with Fasano’s statement, the film presents an ironic “what if ?” instance, as it were, where a metal band indeed emboldens teenagers to engage in lewd sexual activity, which is particularly on display in the scene where Black Roses sexualization of Janie and her friend Tina become apparent. In the scene, Janie and her friend, Tina, arrive at her house after Black Roses second concert to find her father, Mr. Miller, still awake. Both girls, who once dressed modestly, yet fashionably before attending the band’s first concert, now wear all black clothing that cling tightly to their skin (see Figure 7). Their sexual façades notwithstanding, the girls exhibit behavior indicative of most well-behaved, carefree teenagers – Tina respectfully addresses Janie’s father as Mr. Miller, for instance, and the girls courteously laugh at his rather mundane humor. In an attempt to be hospitable, Mr. Miller invites them to play a few games of gin to which they accept. During their game play, their sexualization becomes evident: they both sit in a provocative manner, and Tina’s chest glimmers with sweat as she seductively licks her lips while observing her hand of cards. After a few games, Janie strategically goes to bed, leaving Tina and her father alone. She rubs Mr. Miller’s thigh and assertively asks if he would like to play strip gin, to which he responds with a look of shock, as though surprised that an ostensibly well-mannered teenage girl could demonstrate such sexual aggression. He reticently agrees nevertheless, and the two commence their game play. Moments later, the film presents a low angle shot of Tina’s leg as she sensually

peels off her stocking; her leg is situated in the middle ground of the frame, with an overjoyed Mr. Miller observing in the background (see Figure 8). He sweats profusely and his physiognomy is contorted in a sexually aroused manner reminiscent of Tex Avery cartoon characters. In addition, King Kobra’s “Take It Off,” a prototypical hear metal song, accompanies her striptease, with its refrain befitting the profilmic action: “Take it off, take it off / take it off-cuz’ I like it!” In view of such details, this shot is of particular semiological interest: it recalls the paradigmatic imagery of 1980s hair metal music videos, wherein close-ups frequently display women’s anatomical features in a synecdochic fashion, visually isolating partial objects of male sexual desire while negating the totality of the female’s appearance. Tina’s leg in the middle ground of the fame, to take a popular example, is redolent of Danger Danger’s music video for “Naughty Naughty,” in which close-ups exhibit individual parts of a female’s body, especially her legs, to which the band members respond with gaping stares similar to Mr. Miller’s. Further, this imagery in tandem with King Kobra’s sexually themed song contains signifiers indicative of hair metal music videos which critics would condemn as sexually explicit and misogynistic. In this sense, it is as though Fasano satirizes the aforesaid moral criticisms at both the dramatic level (the expressive performances in the profilmic space) and the formal level (his use of tropes germane to hair metal music videos). Eventually, Tina conveniently loses the game, leaving her topless and Mr. Miller eagerly awaiting his prize. She approaches him, sits on his lap, and kisses his neck. A close-up shows Mr. Miller as he begins to run short of breath, and his eyes roll back. Finally, his neck goes limp, allowing his head to fall to his side. Following this scene, it is learned that Jamie’s father died of a heart attack, the catalyst remaining unknown. In sum, Fasano’s presentation of murderous female sexuality overtly flouts common criticisms by not only displaying the drastic change in Janie and Tina’s sartorial appearance and demeanor after Black Roses’s concerts, but also by the large

17

Film Matters Spring 2014

backwards masking, kids committing suicide while listening to heavy metal – all this was going on in the zeitgeist at that time. We just thought it would make a good movie … Cindy [screenwriter] and I got to talking – what if Tipper Gore was right and some heavy metal band was not only playing music of the devil, but was fronted by the Evil Dude himself. (personal communication 21 November 2012)

disparity between the age of Tina and her unlikely sexual conquest, Mr. Miller. In fact, even the characterization of the father – who, in a court of law, would likely be charged with statutory rape – subverts the supposed authority of adulthood, and Fasano stages all this in a manner evocative of the very music video tropes denounced by critics. Here, the film’s hyperbolic display of such arguments, removed from any statistical data or empirical reality, appears ridiculous; and like metal fans’ evaluation of subcultural fanzines’ reprints of derogatory representations, metal audiences, as if “in the know,” possess the ability to view this scene as a dig at the individuals and organizations who promulgate such allegations, in the end reducing them to the subject of laughs. Conclusion Ultimately, my reflection on metal’s subculturally produced media and the three representative works of this cycle reveals a striking commonality between the two – the employment of satire. These filmic texts, in their overt irreverence and willingness to poke fun at metal’s idiosyncrasies, each recontextualize earnest criticisms espoused by metal’s harshest detractors and situate them in hyperbolic scenarios so as to appear ridiculous. Whether it is the climactic concert of murders in Rocktober Bloods, Sammi Curr whispering evil thoughts into Eddie’s ear through backwards masking in Trick or Treat, or the unleashing of teenage female sexuality in Black Roses, such displays of fulfilled paranoia evoke towards them laughter and attitudes of amusement and disparagement. It is this rhetorical congruency which I argue largely accounts for the heavy metal subculture’s interest in this cycle, for it allowed their viewing of these works to be an acknowledgement of their social exclusion and, recalling Eliade’s notion of “mechanical solidarity,” a celebration of the subculture itself. Although these films may continue to remain in obscurity, they illuminate that the heavy metal subculture, in the face of a multiplicity of opponents, responded not with direct action or strident monologues, but with laughter, a laughter that instilled in its members a feeling of righteousness and social unification. /end/

Works Cited Bormann, Ernest G. “Symbolic Convergence Theory and Communication in Group DecisionMaking.” Communication and Group Decision Making. Ed. Randy Y. Hirokawa and Marshall Scott



Feature 02

Brandon Konecny

18



Poole. Thousand Oaks: Sage, 1986. 219–36. Print. \ Chastagner, Claude. “The Parents’ Music Resource Center: From Information to Censorship.” Popular Music 18.2 (1999): 79–92. Print. \ Christe, Ian. Sound of the Beast: The Complete Headbanging History of Heavy Metal. New York: HarperCollins, 2003. Print. \ Crews, Gordon A. “Hate, Pride, Fear, and Religious Intolerance.” The Margins: Special Populations and American Justice. Ed. Reid C. Toth, Gordon A. Crews, and Catherine E. Burton. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Education, Inc., 2008. 213–48. Print. \ Durkheim, Emile. The Division of Labor in Society. New York: Free Press, 1984. Print. \ Gore, Tipper. Raising PG Kids in an X-Rated Society. Nashville: Abington Press, 1987. Print. \ Hebdige, Dick. Subculture: The Meaning of Style. London: Routledge, 1979. Print. \ “Interview with ‘Trick or Treat’ Screenwriter Mr. Rhet Topham.” Sammi Curr.com. n.d. Web. 17 January 2013. \ Martin, Linda, and Kerry Segrave. Anti-Rock: The Opposition to Rock ‘n’ Roll. Cambridge: Da Capo Press, 1993. Print. \ McPadden, Mike “McBeardo.” Heavy Metal Movies: Guitar Barbarians, Mutant Bimbos & Cult Zombies Amok in the 666 Most Ear- and Eye-Ripping Big-Scream Films Ever!. Brooklyn: Bazillion Points, 2014. Print. \ Mudrian, Albert. Choosing Death: The Improbable History of Death Metal & Grindcore. Port Townsend: Feral House, 2004. Print. \ Pattison, Robert. The Triumph of Vulgarity. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987. Print. \ Walser, Robert. Running with the Devil: Power, Gender, and Madness in Heavy Metal Music. Hanover: University Press of New England, 1993. Print. \ Weinstein, Deena. Heavy Metal: The Music and its Culture. Cambridge: Da Capo Press, 2000. Print. \

Author Biography



Brandon Konecny recently graduated from the Film Studies program at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. He is currently an “In the Field” writer for Film International, and frequently researches and publishes on such topics as postwar American avant-garde film, Eastern European cinemas, film theory, theological film criticism, Cinema Novo, and fandom studies. His work has appeared in the Monroe Enquirer Journal, Film International, Film Matters, Journal of Religion & Film, and Journal of Fandom Studies. He is currently a law student at North Carolina Central University School of Law.

Mentor Biography Juan Carlos Kase is Assistant Professor of Film Studies at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. His ongoing research concerns the overlapping aesthetic, historical, and political registers of experimental cinema, documentary, art history, performance, and popular music within American culture.

Department Overview The Department of Film Studies at the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) is built on the principle that critical studies and production are complementary pursuits, and should be interwoven, not set apart. Founded in 2003 and already one of the most popular degrees at the UNCW, the Film Studies Department is currently planning graduate degrees: an MA and MFA, and a degree combining both disciplines. The department is home to the Film Matters editorial offices and produces Visions, an annual international film festival and conference.

Film Matters Spring 2014