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"Metal Retardation" (DVD)

 - "Metal Retardation" DVD cover image

Reviewed by on April 26, 2010

"Weirdly enough Bill almost strikes gold, as his absurd questions and the band’s confused answers are pretty consistently funny, which is something his other movies have a serious problem achieving."

After releasing such cinematic gems as “Metalheads: The Good, The Bad, and the Evil” and “The Worst Horror Movie Ever Made,” director Bill Zebub decided to head out of cringe inducing B-movie land for a brief time. Unlike most of his other movies, “Metal Retardation” isn’t a series of nonsensical and poorly acted scenes only connected by occasional use of metal, but rather is a collection of interviews with bands originally recorded for his magazine, “The Grimoire of Exalted Deeds.” Weirdly enough Bill almost strikes gold, as his absurd questions and the band’s confused answers are pretty consistently funny, which is something his other movies have a serious problem achieving.

Surprisingly, the bands interviewed on the disc aren’t a bunch of unknowns hanging out in their mom’s basements. Each band that appears actually has some recognition in metal, and each gets ribbed as unmercifully as the last. Tyr, Leaves’ Eyes, Ensiferum, Finntroll, Cannibal Corpse, King Diamond, and others all get a dose of absurd questions from Mr. Bezub, who does his best to keep the interviewees from having any idea what he’s about to ask next.

The biggest portion of the disc is taken up with Bill continuously trying to get George Fischer of Cannibal Corpse to sing “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” The kind of confrontational and off-the-wall humor to be found throughout the movie’s run time becomes apparent when George finally relents and starts reciting the poem. As soon as he messes up a line Bill immediately jumps in to let him know former Cannibal Corpse vocalist Chris Barnes never had that sort of timing problem. The stunned and annoyed look in Fischer’s face is absolutely priceless. It’s hilarious and offensive all at once.

While some of the humor is imminently topical and makes sense, other parts are just downright bizarre. The vocalist of Turisas clearly wasn’t informed ahead of time that the interview wasn’t going to be serious, which makes his bafflement all the more humorous as Bill continues down a random line of questioning about the differences between sharks. How he manages to bring the questions full circle until it somehow makes sense that he’s asking if Japanese people want to eat Finnish people is actually quite impressive.

Although the humor level stays consistently high, there are a few parts that might not be as well received as others. Seeing Peter Steele is a bit jarring after the recent news of his death, especially as he appears both drugged and severely depressed throughout part of his appearance. The segment with Nevermore is also a little disconcerting. While the section is funny, the band’s constant and ultimately unsuccessful attempts to get a groupie to remove her pants makes one wonder what exactly happened when the camera turned off. There’s also only so many times George Fischer can talk about farts before the formula gets as stale as the subject matter. Questions of boundaries do arise from time to time as well, such as when Chuck Schuldiner’s brain tumor becomes a punch line.

The “Band Introductions and Some Skits” special feature is officially skipable, as it has Bill returning to form with bottom of the barrel humor that is about as far from funny as it can get. The feature ends with Bill eating a cereal labeled “Nun of your Goddamned Business.” A mostly naked lady then enters and asks what he’s eating. See where this is going?

Bill Zebub has to be given credit for living his dream and continuing to make movies about metal, even when they tend to be really, incredibly bad. “Metal Retardation” finally manages to break out of his rut and be genuinely funny a good portion of the time, which makes it almost a shame that he had to give it such a ridiculous title.

Highs: The interviewer's off-the-wall questions do tend to actually be laugh out loud funny.

Lows: Fart jokes aren't funny, and there's some poor taste that may offend some.

Bottom line: A surprisingly decent movie from Bill Zebub featuring famous metal musicians navigating through absolutely absurd interviews.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)