This is Spinal Tap

This is Spinal Tap Movie Poster

Spinal Tap, a Rob Reiner movie released in 1984, is a humorous parody about the excess of 80's heavy metal bands (and the excess of rockumentaries).  A lot of the humor came from the fact that much of the dialogue was ad lib.  The movie starred Michael McKean as David St. Hubbins, Harry Shearer as Derek Smalls, Christopher Guest as Nigel, and Rob Reiner as Marty Di Bergi.  There were small part appearances by a number of other recognizable names, such as Bruno Chadwick, Ed Begley, Jr., Fran Drescher, Dana Carvey, Paul Schaffer, Anjelica Houston, Fred Willard, and Billy Crystal.  This is Spinal Tap was not a huge hit with fans on its release, but it did to well with critics.  It was not until it went to video that it began its climb to mega-profitability and cult status.  The sequel Return of Spinal Tap was released in 1992.

The movie is about a faux documentary of the heavy metal band, Spinal Tap, as filmed by the fictional director Marty Di Bergi (Reiner).  Spinal Tap was a British metal band on tour in the USA to promote their latest album, Smell the Glove.  Di Bergi’s interviews of the band members demonstrate their musical ability and their slow mindedness, as band members describe their rock exploits.  We learn about things like amplifiers that go to 11 and drummers that spontaneously combust (or choke on somebody else’s vomit).  As they progress through the USA, and ticket sales are slow and fans seem disinterred, the band decides to take it up a notch by staging a mega-show around the Stonehenge theme, but due to poor dimensional calculations, the Stonehenge prop ends up being a tiny little thing, which the band discovers when it is lowered during a show.  Things continue to go downhill, and the band finds themselves in smaller and smaller venues, playing second fiddle to puppet shows and other humiliating things.  Thankfully for the band, they are still big in Japan, and the movie ends with the group playing in front of sold our crowds in that country.

Spinal Tap was a hit with many metal bands and musicians of the time, who found the movie to be more a reflection of rock reality than humorous.  For example, metal giants like Twisted Sister, Led Zepplin, and Ozzy Osbourne all admit to being lost backstage.  It is also worth mentioning that the faux metal songs created by the band for the movie continue to be popular to this day, although they were meant as parodies.  This is Spinal Tap was released in 1984 by Polydor, and featured songs like “Hell Hole”, “Big Bottom”, and “Sex Farm”.  Break Like the Wind (1992) was the album soundtrack from the 1992 sequel.