The best heavy metal movies of all time will always be a fascinating topic because of how they portray the subject. Let’s not beat around the bushes: Heavy metal is a very niche genre and its community is very unique, mainly because of how loyal they are to bands they love.
One thing that most movies usually get right is not taking things very seriously. Heavy metal is a very over-the-top genre; these films get it, which is why they work so well. Of course, you must also factor in elements such as choreography, filming quality, acting performance, and similar filmmaking traits.
Be that as it may, the best heavy metal movies all have something in common: a huge love for the genre. These movies celebrate Metal for what it is, not what outsiders want it to be. This is why these films are so beloved by metalheads all over the Earth.
12 of the Best Heavy Metal Movies to Headbang To
It’s also worth pointing out that several factors can judge the best heavy metal movies. As mentioned earlier, the cinematography, the acting, and the way the genre is portrayed matter a lot. Of course, this is also in the eye of the beholder, which is always subjective in art meets heavy metal.
Be that as it may, let’s begin!
Which are the best heavy metal movies of all time?
- Tenacious D
- School of Rock
- This is Spinal Tap
- Wayne’s World
- The Dirt
- Metallica: Through the Never
- Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure
- Lords of Chaos
- Detroit Rock City
- Heavy Trip
1. Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny (2006)
Jack Black and Kyle Gass, the two members of Tenacious D, were the directors of this comedy film that deals with the band’s origin. It’s probably one of the most known heavy metal movies and certainly one of the best.
It is a fictional story that leads them both to search for an object that belongs to Satan that will allow them to become rock legends. The object is in a museum and the owner manages to acquire enormous skill with the guitar. The film features the presence of some important personalities in the genre such as Ronnie James Dio, Meat Loaf or Dave Grohl. It has become an iconic movie and one of the best heavy metal movies.
The thing that makes this movie work so well is that Jack Black loves the genre and knows what makes it tick. He is not trying to write a philosophical masterpiece but just a story with a lot of heart. Tenacious D is a film that celebrates the core of Heavy Metal and is hilarious to boot.
2. School of Rock (2003)
School of Rock is another film with Jack Black as the protagonist, which tells the story of a musician who was kicked out of his band and got a job at a high school. Upon noticing the amazing musical talent of his students, he decides to join them to form a band.
The idea was for them to participate in a competition called Battle of Bands and use the prize money to pay their rent. Black’s simple humor and charisma make the film among the best heavy metal movies.
Another huge selling point of the series is how it shows Black’s love for the genre. It shows how younger generations can get into metal and some legendary bands and songs are name-dropped. Jack Black’s insane reaction when the kids don’t know who Black Sabbath, Motorhead, and Led Zeppelin are is legendary.
3. Airheads (1994)
Brendan Fraser, Steve Buscemi, and Adam Sandler star in this film as a band that wants to have their big break. The band called Lone Rangers had no better idea than to try to hijack a radio station to play their music. The situation leads to a kidnapping with plastic guns and a lot of hilarious insanity ensues.
The great thing about Airheads, especially compared to the other best Heavy Metal movies, is how much it portrays the times. This is a very 1994 film, with a lot of emphasis on comedy, and portraying what was popular at the time. Furthermore, having someone like Lemmy from Motorhead gives the series a lot of legitimacy.
Sure, the film has a lot of satire and comedy but is done with very good intentions. It is a wonderful film and, despite being clearly from its time, it has aged very well over the years.
4. This is Spinal Tap (1984)
It is a mockumentary that tells the story of a fictional band called Spinal Tap and which is considered one of the best heavy metal movies. The band is considered in the film to be the loudest in England. This is Spinal Tap is about a film director who makes a documentary about the band’s tour and features many rock clichés and references to other films of this genre.
What makes this film so iconic is how it captures some of the genre’s classic tropes. For example, the Stonehenge scene was inspired by Black Sabbath’s 1983 tour. It’s even been mentioned that Eddie Van Halen didn’t find it funny because of how faithful it was to reality.
5. Wayne’s World (1992)
It is curious that Wayne’s World was born from a Saturday Night Live sketch and became one of the best heavy metal movies of all time.
The film is about two friends who are rock fans who start their own public television program about the genre. The show makes them go through many things and allows us to see the development of the characters. The film had considerable success at the box office and within popular culture. In 1993, a sequel to the film came out.
Most music fans know this movie and it makes sense because it even brought Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody back to the spotlight. And besides, when someone like Alice Cooper shows up, you know that this film is something special.
6. The Dirt (2019)
The film is based on Motley Crue‘s autobiography, The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band. The plot shows how four boys from California formed a rock band and became world stars and details their lifestyle. The project had several ups and downs until Netflix finally released the film in 2019.
The Dirt has become one of the best heavy metal movies of all time because it captures the life of an iconic band. People love gossip and drama and that is something that Motley Crue have in spades. This film is particularly of interest to people who love 80s music.
Sure, the movie doesn’t stick to everything that happens in the book, but that’s how adaptations go. It can be a good way to get into the band.
7. Metallica: Through the Never (2013)
The most iconic metal band could not be left out of the list of best heavy metal movies.
The plot focuses on a Metallica roadie charged with a mission during a concert of the band that leads him to very particular situations. What happens to the roadie is interspersed with the band’s performance at the concert.
Truth be told, the plot of the roadie has never been the main focal point of the story. However, this is just a glorified Metallica concert and is done very well, which is always a nice treat. There isn’t much of a story but a lot of heavy metal.
8. Metalhead (2013)
This Icelandic film Metalhead has a very different tone than most of those on the list of best heavy metal movies.
Metalhead is about a young Icelandic girl who witnesses the death of her older brother in a tractor accident on her family’s farm. In black metal, the young woman finds a way to cope with the situation and move forward. Her love for metal grew and that led her to have problems inserting herself into a community that was not used to that type of music.
The film explores a lot of what it represents as being part of the Metal community and also suffering from loneliness. It is a very good representation of how people deal with grief and how to move on. A very unique inclusion on this list.
9. Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)
Returning to the comedy profile that is mostly on the list of best heavy metal movies, we have Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.
Bill and Ted are two students who gain access to a time machine, which is already a fun idea for a heavy metal film. To make the best history report for their class, they travel back in time to meet great historical figures. The personalities of its protagonists (Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter) make the film stand out a little from the rest.
It is a classic film, it kicked off Keanu’s career, and it represents metal in a very lighthearted manner. This is the way to go if people want to have fun.
10. Lords of Chaos (2018)
Another film that can be added to the comedy exceptions on the list of best heavy metal movies. The film is based on the book Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground.
The story is about the Nordic black metal scene in the late 80s and early 90s. The bulk of the story is focused on the band Mayhem. The tone of the film is quite serious and pushes the limits of the horror genre.
Black Metal has a lot of unique and peculiar traits and a singular place in the genre. This film explores a lot of what made it be and why it evolved the way it did. It could be argued that this movie is more of a documentary than a film but is still a very good watch.
If people want to learn more about what made Black Metal the way it did, particularly the band Mayhem, then give this film a chance. It has a lot of historical value and is a very interesting watch.
11. Detroit Rock City (1999)
The title of this comedy is based on the KISS song and this is not by chance. The film is about four KISS fans who have a tribute band. The mother of one of the boys hates Kiss because she considers them messengers of Satan and burns the tickets to a concert of the band the boys were going to go to. The story takes us to everything those four fans had to go through to reach a KISS concert, all in a seventies atmosphere.
While this is obviously a comedy film, this is also a good representation of rock music in the seventies. It is also a very fun reminder of how big KISS used to be back in the day and what they represented to the genre. It is simply an entertaining watch and deserves a chance.
In addition to that, KISS biopic ‘Shout It Out Loud‘ will be released on Netflix in 2024.
12. Heavy Trip (2018)
Heavy Trip is a Finnish comedy that tells the story of an insurgent metal band. The band later called Impaled Rektum, has been together for around 12 years covering famous bands. However, one day they get the opportunity to perform at a local Norwegian festival and this changes everything.
The band, which had never performed live and has no songs of its own, is on a journey to be able to perform at the festival. The simple sense of humor makes it enjoyable for anyone even if they are not rock fans and that is why it is one of the best heavy metal movies.
It is fun, it is enjoyable, and it has a very good message of doing it yourself. What is more Metal than a band trying to play at a festival with no experience and no songs? It is a very entertaining film, with a very simple premise, and is executed with a lot of care and dedication. Made for people who just want to have a good time.
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What are your favorite heavy metal movies of all time? Let us know in the comment section!