Looking Back On The Heavy Metal Parking Lot
cale | Aug 21, 2013 | 1:30PM |

This interview was originally published for a special 25th anniversary screening of Heavy Metal Parking Lot. On that momentous occasion we decided to run this awesome interview Cale did with Jeff Krulik, the movie’s co-creator. (bonus reading: THE CAST-WHERE ARE THEY NOW?)

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Thursday 03/30
Carlos Mencia from Mind of Mencia @ Arlington Cinema N Drafthouse
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Carlos Mencia is undoubtedly one of today’s most popular entertainers and comics. Whether it is man-on-the-street interviews, studio comedy, commercial parodies, nationwide sold-out tours, or films, Mencia demonstrates an extraordinary ability to connect with a wide and diverse audience. Mencia comes from a humble background, born in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, the 17th of 18 children. His parents sent him to the United States when he was about three months old, where he was raised in Maravilla Projects in Los Angeles, California by his aunt and uncle. In his early teens, Mencia moved back to Honduras because his family wanted him to avoid the destructive gang culture of East Los Angeles. When Mencia later returned to Los Angeles, he showed such educational prowess that he was immediately promoted to the tenth grade. Soon after, he successfully graduated from Garfield High School. Mencia began his career doing stand-up on amateur night. After he found success on the L.A comedy circuit, Mencia was named “International Comedy Grand Champion” from Buscando Estrellas (the Latino version of Star Search). This led to appearances on “In Living Color,” “The Arsenio Hall Show,” “Moesha” and “An Evening at the Improv.” In 1994, he hosted the HBO comedy series “Loco Slam” and in 1998 he hosted “Funny is Funny!” on Galavision. Mencia released a comedy album in 2000 called “Take a Joke, America” that showcased his brand of humor. Mencia continued his journey up the comedy ladder by headlining “The Three Amigos” tour with Freddy Soto and Pablo Francisco in 2002, which sold out in record time around the United States. He was also featured in the independent films, “Outta Time” and “29 Palms” and starred in guest spots on “The Shield” and “The Bernie Mac Show,” among others. In 2002, he received a CableACE Award nomination for Best Stand-Up Comedy Special for his HBO special. That same year, Mencia was featured on “Comedy Central Presents.” Mencia remained busy and after the success of his solo dvd, “Carlos Mencia: Not For The Easily Offended,” “Mind of Mencia” went into development. The show was an instant hit and after the first season, Comedy Central signed Mencia back for his own original stand-up special, “Carlos Mencia: No Strings Attached.” The special was the first Comedy Central Stand-up Special DVD to achieve Platinum sales status. “Mind of Mencia” debuted on Comedy Central in early 2005. It became one of the strongest shows in the network’s history, averaging about 1.5 million total viewers. “Mind of Mencia” was executive produced by Carlos Mencia and Robert Morton (“Late Night with David Letterman”). In the summer of 2007, Mencia starred opposite Ben Stiller and Michelle Monaghan in the Farrelly Brothers’ hit feature film, THE HEARTBREAK KID (DreamWorks). In the fall of that year Mencia headlined a nationwide comedy tour titled “Carlos Mencia Live Presented by Bud Light.” The highly anticipated tour brought Mencia face-to-face with his fans from September 2007 through December 2007. Shortly thereafter, Mencia taped a new comedy special for Comedy Central, “Carlos Mencia: Performance Enhanced,” that aired in May 2008. Since 2007, every holiday season Mencia has embarked on a USO Tour to the Persian Gulf to entertain the troops serving overseas. For his 2008 trip, Mencia visited Kuwait to host “Operation MySpace,” an exclusive concert for American Troops in the Middle East alongside Jessica Simpson and The Pussycat Dolls. The special aired on FX in April 2008. Mencia’s 2009 USO tour had stops in Turkey, Kirkuk, Baghdad, Qatar, Afghanistan, and many other countries. In July 2008, Mencia began his tour, “At Close Range” at Red Rock Amphitheatre in Colorado. The tour was sponsored by Bud Light and co-promoted by Icon Entertainment and Live Nation. Larger than all of his previous tours, Mencia performed in 80 cities across the country. In the summer of 2009, he kicked off a nationwide comedy tour entitled “The Administration of Laughter” which brought him to excited audiences all around the country. In March 2010, Mencia starred in the family comedy OUR FAMILY WEDDING (FOX Searchlight) alongside America Ferrara and Forrest Whitaker. In the last couple years, Mencia chose to go back to his comedic roots, performing at a number of comedy stores throughout the country – allowing him to share his newest material with smaller and more intimate audiences.
>>>>>>>>>>>> Ok, back to the article! >>>>>>>>>>>>

The cult classic documentary film “Heavy Metal Parking Lot” is 16 glorious minutes filmed in the parking lot of the since demolished Capital Centre in Landover, MD during a 1986 Judas Priest concert. What was once a rarity passed along on dubbed VHS tapes, is now readily available on DVD and Vimeo for immediate consumption, and should be considered required viewing for any regular BYT reader. John Waters said it gave *him* the creeps, so if that’s not an endorsement, I don’t know what is. I pinged Heavy Metal Parking Lot co-director Jeff Krulik to find out the backstory of this fascinating slice of pop culture…

Cale: So give us a brief back story to Heavy Metal Parking Lot? Who are you guys?

Jeff Krulik: We’re Jeff Krulik and John Heyn, long term local residents who were fortunate enough to be toting around a video camera in a Judas Priest concert parking lot in 1986. I ran a public access studio in Southern Prince George’s County, not long after graduating from the University of Maryland. John and I were new friends and aspiring documentary filmmakers stoked to have unlimited access to professional TV gear. John had the original idea to tape metal fans, and after I saw the footage I came up with the title. We paid a few dollars to park at the Capital Centre, and taped an hour’s worth of footage. Then we left. Who’d imagine we’d still be talking about our short documentary 25 years later!

C: No shit! What do you think it is about HMPL that has led to its longevity?

JK: It’s always managed to strike a chord with people, over these many years. I’ve always said that you were either at that concert, or sat next to someone in homeroom who was at that concert. There’s something archetypal and I’m very glad for that. Another reason for the longevity is that Judas Priest’ music holds up, and artists that are mentioned include Madonna and Metallica, both still vital today.

C: Do you think it would have still caught on if it has been unearthed for the first time this year?

JK: If it were discovered today I don’t know about it having the same type of grass roots build up. We live in such a viral instantaneous universe now, things tend to flame out quickly from overexposure.

C: Was everyone in 1986 ugly, or was it just Judas Priest fans? Or was it just Maryland?

JK: Ugly is in the eye of the beholder. No one is ugly in my opinion. These people on camera are all like family to me.

C: Right. How much material did you have to film to get that 16 min of goodness?

JK: We only shot three 20 minute tapes. Check out what these Umatic tapes used to look like. And now you can imagine what the camera and deck must have looked like. John took the tapes and edited it over several months at his job. This is way before non-linear computerized editing so it took a while.

C: What were you guys sporting while filming? Did you blend in with the crowd?

JK: I’m sure we looked completely out of place. Sadly there’s no photo of us and we never wandered into frame. But I’m sure I was wearing some OP shorts and a lacoste shirt. We weren’t metal fans, but we were curious.

C: How did the film start getting passed around originally?

JK: We used to show it to our friends at parties, and give copies out to anyone who requested a VHS dub. This was the day when video was not screened at film festivals, and there were very few outlets for it. And although it was made with public access television equipment, it never screened on public access (too raw and I couldn’t risk losing my job). So for many years it was just tape to tape sharing, and somehow it made its way across country.

C: When did you realize it was becoming a cult fave?

JK: We credit a friend named Mike Heath who was well placed with the alternative music crowd and it actually made its way to the Nirvana camp, among others. This video store in Hollywood called Mondo Video made everyone watch it who came in the store. This is what we heard when we got wind that it was becoming a cult film, this was around 1994 when Sophia Coppola called John out of the blue (she wanted to include the film in a never-produced tv show for Comedy Central called Hi Octane).

C: What’s interesting to me is that you saw potential in it that early on. What I mean is, I think HMPL is enjoyable on two levels, one is the great characters and hilarious quotes, the other is the cheesy nostalgia for the 80s culture and fashion. But that second level is only apparent with age, were you guys aware of that change at some point in people’s enjoyment of it?

JK: We knew from jump that it was funny material. But we never felt we were mocking anyone. We let them be themselves. It’s always been enjoyable as entertainment. But I think over the years it’s become more of an anthropological study, dissected like the Talmud even. Well, maybe not dissected like that. But it’s been analyzed on different levels, even taught in some classrooms so I’ve heard, which is very flattering.

C: How did you team up with the found footage dorks?

JK: Joe and Nick are not dorks! They are two cool guys who have created a great thing. They are alright with me.

C: I love Joe and Nick. But c’mon, I think they would admit they are dorks. I think they are proud to be dorks. Actually that was just a little inside joke stemming from a fake feud between the FFF and Everything is Terrible guys on our site that nobody will remember but me.

JK: We are all on the same wavelength, so when their current program was a few minutes short, it seemed like a good opportunity for us to tour for our 25th anniversary. Speaking of which, here’s my own anniversary video featuring a lot of significant images from the life of HMPL:

C: Do you think for the 30th anniversary youtube video you could include a screen shot of this HMPL inspired Halloween Costume that we ran ages ago?

JK: Yes. Be glad to. If we have a 30th Anniversary celebration… by then we’ll be having the five year anniversary of our new project Heavy Metal Picnic. Check out it out at http://www.heavymetalpicnic.com

C: Yeah, I caught a couple scenes at a previous Found Footage Fest, it was awesome.  Will you guys be at the screening this Sat?

JK: Yes, both John and I will be at the Arlington Drafthouse on Feb 5.

C: I know you’ve tracked down some of the characters in the film over the years – what was the most memorable reunion?

JK: I’d say meeting the fellow known affectionately as Zebraman was a real thrill. He’s got a successful business, he owns some sweet cars and boat, and he’s into country and western music now. Meeting him is included on our DVD, which features other alumni as well.

C: Your short lived Parking Lot TV series seems like a great idea, any chance that will get resurrected? Any way to see it online?

JK: Funny you should ask Cale, I actually just created a youtube channel called ParkingLotTV.  We were very lucky to have this opportunity. Sadly it was on a tv network called Trio that nobody could get.

C: How does the heavy metal parking lot scene of today compare?

JK: We weren’t metal fans in 1986, and we are not metal fans today. However we’ve never been dismissive of the music, and we have a great appreciation for it. I just don’t necessarily listen to it. I will however crank any song that strikes my fancy, like Crazy Train or Living After Midnight or Shook Me All Night Long. If that’s lame so be it.

C: Nothing lame there.

JK: I do want to point you to a true metal fan, and someone who is also on our dvd giving a thorough lesson on all things Priest:

C: Do you know if Judas Priest are fans of the film?

JK: Judas Priest have referenced the film several times in articles, etc. We’ve never met them face to face, but we are grateful to have their support. In fact, since i’m in link mode, check out this recent 98Rock interview with Rob Halford. Towards the end, he gives a real nice soundbite about Heavy Metal Parking Lot:
So thanks Rob, and thanks Cale for this interview.

Recent Comments:
  • Carlos says:

    Wow, your post makes mine look febeel. More power to you!

  • Gramadope says:

    1986 + Glen Burnie, MD + heavy metal fans = the perfect storm of Ugly.

  • suzycreamcheese says:

    Greatest film of 2010! I recognized people in it I haven’t seen in about seven years . . .