With "Rock of Ages" thundering through theaters on Friday, the retro spotlight will once again shine on the crazy '80s, the decade of decadence when rock stars were true rock stars and unapologetic about being so.
In anticipation of the nostalgia this will inspire, we're looking at nine hard-rock and heavy-metal films that have made noise in the mainstream. Horns up!
9. 'Detroit Rock City' (1999)
While a majority of teen flicks tend to focus on love, partying and sex, 'Detroit Rock City' has a singular directive -- getting four teenage KISS fanatics to a concert after one of their mothers burns their tickets and banishes her son to Catholic school. Naturally that's not going to stop them, and once reunited, the four garage bandmates (including Edward Furlong) go on a wild road trip that involves drugs, fights, a botched mugging and robbery, a strip club contest and other ridiculous situations. Despite flopping at the box office, 'Detroit Rock City' has developed a cult following over the years.
8. 'Detroit Metal City' (2008)
Timid college grad Soichi Negishi loves playing sappy bubblegum pop. But he earns his livelihood anonymously behind the sinister visage of the evil Dr. Krauser in the misogynist Satanic metal band DMC (Detroit Metal City), which espouses rape and murder. His pop passion excites his journalist crush, but she abhors the twisted music that has made him famous. This clever Japanese comedy balances the sticky-sweet with the brutally loud as Soichi lives a dual life, not made easy by his gleefully violent band manager. Which side will win out? The resolution is surprising and cleverly riffs on how many rock stars are unlike their alter egos.
7. 'The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years' (1988)
Penelope Spheeris dove headlong into the hard rockin' Sunset Strip scene of late '80s L.A. She sensationalizes the hedonism -- Paul Stanley lounges in bed with numerous groupies, W.A.S.P.'s Chris Holmes floats drunkenly in his pool -- but things were insanely funny, hedonistic and stupid back then. The focus on hair bands discounts the more intelligent metal being made (although Lemmy, Alice Cooper and Dave Mustaine represent), but there are some ugly truths to be found here about the scene's nihilism and misogyny.
6. 'Rock Star' (2001)
Loosely inspired by the real-life story of tribute singer-turned-Judas Priest frontman Tim "Ripper" Owens, this tale of a cover band singer (Mark Wahlberg) who gets to sing for his heroes Steel Dragon gets some real-life details right -- you're now part of the club but will never run it -- while indulging in cliche excess. Real-life musicians Jeff Pilson, Jason Bonham and Zakk Wylde lend credibility, while the original songs are pretty catchy. This '80s period piece is a guilty pleasure, even though it's a stupid film cynically declaring that all rock stars are disposable. That may be true now, but it wasn't back then.
5. 'Conan the Barbarian' (1982)
This isn't a music movie, but few veteran metalheads haven't enjoyed watching Arnold Schwarzenegger seek violent retribution against the evil cult leader who murdered his parents and smashed his childhood innocence. And let's face it -- this sword 'n' sorcery epic has undoubtedly influenced numerous Viking metal bands, while Schwarzenegger's movies have served as fodder for Austrian Death Machine, the heavy side project of As I Lay Dying frontman Tim Lambesis. "Conan" is truly metal, an angry revenge pic with a sword-wielding barbarian unapologetically slashing and screwing his way to his goal.
4. The 'Bill & Ted' Movies (1989 and 1991)
Whether collecting famous historical figures for a high school history project through time travel ("Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure") or seeking to escape hell and stop their evil robot doubles from withholding their music from the masses ('Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey'), the Wyld Stallyns bandmates always manage to be oblivious to the utter craziness around them. They just have fun learning to play as well as Eddie Van Halen, seeing real iron maidens and defeating Death at Twister and Battleship. And excellent news: a third 'Bill & Ted' installment is being planned. Party on, dudes!
3. 'Anvil! The Story of Anvil' (2008)
There have been many great metal documentaries released over the last few years -- Metallica's "Some Kind of Monster," Iron Maiden's "Flight 666" and "Metal: A Headbanger's Journey" among them -- but Anvil's story really represents metal's eternal underdog status. Canadian brothers-in-arms Steve "Lips" Kudlow and Robb Reiner had toiled in obscurity for nearly three decades when their old roadie-turned-screenwriter Sacha Gervasi followed them on a faltering European tour. Revealing an intense friendship that has survived more lows than highs, the film transformed Anvil into folk heroes, securing their legend. Soon after, the band opened for AC/DC.
2. 'Wayne's World' (1992)
Perhaps the only cool "SNL" film (with a sequel), this comedy cleverly features two suburban Illinois dudes (Mike Myers and Dana Carvey) with a public access cable show dreaming of greater TV and music glory (party on!). But potentially bigger success and Wayne's blossoming romance (schwing!) with Crucial Taunt frontwoman Cassandra (Tia Carrere) starts crimping the style of their bromance. Their shenanigans are often hilarious -- the guys and their friends rocking out to Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" in their car is classic -- and the cameo by Alice Cooper, who offers them a quick, scholarly history lesson on their community, is priceless (they're not worthy!).
1. 'This Is Spinal Tap' (1984)
When it first came out, numerous bands thought this mockumentary was about them. Ozzy Osbourne thought it was a real documentary. The film has also created so many legendary moments -- turning amps to 11, penning a piano ballad called "Lick My Love Pump," opening for a puppet show -- that no other movie will ever come closer to accurately satirizing the craziness of the music business and metal. Core members David St. Hubbins (aka Michael McKean), Nigel Tufnel (Christopher Guest) and Derek Smalls (Harry Shearer) took the joke further by playing a secret club tour in 1984 and full-on amphitheater tours in 1992, 2001 and 2009.