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Metal: A Headbanger's Journey (2005)

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An examination of the heavy metal music subculture that tries to explain why, despite the longevity and popularity of the genre, fans are marginalized and ridiculed for their passion.
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Tom Araya ... Himself
Gavin Baddeley ... Himself
Blasphemer Blasphemer ... Himself
Randy Blythe ... Himself
Joe Bottiglieri Joe Bottiglieri ... Himself
Eric Bryan Eric Bryan ... Himself
Jackie Chambers Jackie Chambers ... Herself
Monte Conner Monte Conner ... Himself
Alice Cooper ... Himself
Denis D'Amour Denis D'Amour ... Himself (as Denis 'Piggy' D'Amour)
Pamela Des Barres ... Herself
Bruce Dickinson ... Himself
Ronnie James Dio ... Himself
Malcolm Dome Malcolm Dome ... Himself
Rose Dyson Rose Dyson ... Herself


Sam Dunn is a 30-year old anthropologist who wrote his graduate thesis on the plight of Guatemalan refugees. Recenly he has decided to study the plight of a different culture, one he has been a part of since he was a 12-year old: the culture of heavy metal. Sam sets out on a global journey to find out why this music has been consistently stereotyped, dismissed and condemned and yet is loved so passionately by its millions of fans. Along the way, Sam explores metals' obsession with some of life's most provacative subjects - sexuality, religion, violence and death - and discovers some things about the culture that even he can't defend. Shot on location in the UK, Germany, Norway, Canada and the US, this documentary is the first of its kind. It is both a defense of a long-misunderstood art form and a window for the outsider into the spectacle that is heavy metal. Written by Scot McFadyen

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The Film That Will Take You Into the Heart of the Beast.


Documentary | Music

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language, violent images, some nudity and sexual content | See all certifications »






Release Date:

21 June 2006 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Metal - A Headbanger's Journey See more »

Filming Locations:



Box Office


$1,300,000 (estimated)

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The 21 year sentence in Norway is called "life sentence", so the life sentence in Norway is 21 years. See more »


Dunn also mentions the "Filthy 15", a list of artists with lyrics considered obscene in one of a number of ways. Sam mentions that, of the 15, 8 are metal bands- he has miscounted. Upon reviewing the list, Danish black metal band Mercyful Fate make the list but bump the count to 9 bands. They are also not highlighted like the other metal bands sharing spots on the list. See more »


Blasphemer: Can you repeat the question?
Sam Dunn: A lot of people we've talked to have said that...
Blasphemer: [Cuts Sam off] What?
Sam Dunn: ...have said that black metal is starting to lose touch with its roots...
Necrobutcher (Mayhem): [Cuts Sam off] Who are they? Which ones? Who the fuck are you talking to? FUCK THEM! Ya know...
Sam Dunn: ...Do you have a comment on that?
Necrobutcher (Mayhem): Yeah, I have a comment... FUCK YOU!... Ya know?
See more »


References This Is Spinal Tap (1984) See more »


Girls Girls Girls
Performed by Mötley Crüe
See more »

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User Reviews

Sam Dunn hits it out of the park with this documentary film.
25 December 2007 | by thekeethSee all my reviews

This doc is completely awesome in every way I can think of stuff being awesome. It's not even perfect, and there's some things in this film that I don't like. However, to be honest with you, most of this doc is so informative, and fun to watch that I still consider it to be one of the best documentaries ever made.

First off, let me give Sam Dunn some props. He's a lifelong head-banger himself, so he's as qualified as anyone should need to be to lead this film. I am also a lifelong head-banger. I also had to defend my love of this style of music to my parents, teachers, and friends, so I understand where his interest in this approach to the subject comes from. I'm sure most fans of heavy metal can attest to being faced with similar challenges while growing up, and it was good to see that I am not alone. This was a recurring theme in the film. That if you are a metal fan, you may be told or feel that you are weird, that you're a real outsider, but in fact, you have a lot of allies out there in the world. I also like the fact that Sam Dunn has the educational background he does, and is obviously making something productive and positive out of his life because too many people do write off metal heads as being stupid, low class, criminal, uncultured, and most likely, introverted, out of touch, and mentally unstable. He seems like a real good person in general, a friendly and talented guy, and a good person to be an ambassador for metal heads everywhere.

This doc is an investigative film that asks lots of questions, and it gives lot of answers in return. I can't imagine a true fan of music, no matter what kind, not appreciating the goals of Sam Dunn and his crew in this film. Simply, he was looking to find an answer to why heavy metal music, and it's fans, have been stigmatized and labeled as this horrible thing in our society. This is interesting stuff, and it's about time someone stood up and asked the questions, answered them, and presented it all in a package that no one can discount as being, "low-brow." Metal heads across the globe for over 30 years have been asking this very question, and it's nice to see someone really tackle it like this.

The heavy metal, "tree," is a really cool thing, and while I hate the fact that too many discussions surrounding heavy metal spiral downward into arguments over what sub-genre a certain band does or doesn't fall into, it's a really well thought out visual aid to the film. There is so many great interviews in here, and most of them are from really great people. With only a few exceptions, I agreed with the views of the people being interviewed, but there were a few that left me scratching my head and yelling at the screen. Some of them were way off base, but that's okay, it only serves to bring light to the fact that many people can't, or won't, "get," heavy metal music.

But like Sam Dunn says at the end of the film, "that's okay," and I agree with him completely in that, no matter if other people understand why I love heavy metal so much, the fact is, I do love it and I do, "get it." I'm glad I'm not alone.

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