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A Band Called Death (2012)

Not Rated | | Documentary, Biography, Music | 28 June 2013 (USA)
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A documentary on the 1970s punk trio Death, and their new-found popularity decades after they disbanded.

Directors:

Mark Christopher Covino (as Mark Covino), Jeff Howlett
7 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Dannis Hackney Dannis Hackney ... Himself, drums, Death
Bobby Hackney Bobby Hackney ... Himself, bass and vocals, Death (as Bobby Hackney Sr.)
David Hackney ... Himself, guitar, Death (archive footage)
Robbie Duncan Robbie Duncan ... Himself / Death-Cuitar
Kathleen Kathleen ... Herself, old friend of Death
Earl V. Hackney Jr. Earl V. Hackney Jr. ... Himself, not a member of Death (as Earl Hackney Jr.)
Victor Veve Victor Veve ... Himself / Lambsbread-Organ, Keyboards
Majora Florida Hackney Majora Florida Hackney ... Herself, mother of the Hackney brothers
Victor Twiggs Victor Twiggs ... Himself / Lamdsbread-Percussion
The Beatles ... Themselves (archive footage)
The Who ... Themselves (archive footage)
Don Davis Don Davis ... Himself - chief executive officer, Groovesville Productions
Brian Spears Brian Spears ... Himself, director of publishing 1972-1978, Groovesville Productions
Steve Williams Steve Williams ... Himself / Rough Francis
Steve Comegno Steve Comegno ... Himself / Rough Francis
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Storyline

Before Bad Brains, the Sex Pistols or even the Ramones, there was a band called Death. Punk before punk existed, three teenage brothers in the early '70s formed a band in their spare bedroom, began playing a few local gigs and even pressed a single in the hoped of getting signed. But this was the era of Motown and emerging disco. Record companies found Death's music - and band name - too intimidating, and the group were never given a fair shot, disbanding before they even completed one album. Equal parts electrifying rockumentary and epic family love story, A Band Called Death chronicles the incredible fairy-tale journey of what happened almost three decades later, when a dusty 1974 demo tape made it way out of the attic and found an audience several generations younger. Playing music impossible ahead of its time, Death is now being credited as the first black punk band (hell...the first punk band!), and are finally receiving their long overdue recognition as true rock pioneers. Written by Drafthouse Films

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

28 June 2013 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A banda neve: Halál See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$34,839, 30 June 2013

Gross USA:

$127,257

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$127,257
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color
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Did You Know?

Soundtracks

Reach The Summit
Written and Performed by Sam Retzer
Courtesy of Echo Park Music and Sound
Tim Matt and Sam, LLC (ASCAP)
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User Reviews

 
"If you give them the title to our band, then you might as well give them everything else..."
29 May 2013 | by plasmic_steveSee all my reviews

Write this one up as fiction and no one would buy it. Three black brothers in Detroit back in the early seventies. Their parents come into a chunk of money and buy their music-loving kids the classic bass/guitar/drums rock configuration. David, the band's guitarist and de facto leader, decides that if he can play chords like Pete Townsend and solo like Jimi Hendrix, he'll be capable of making an all-powerful sound. And as with so much of what David proclaimed, he was right.

This movie feels like a pure rock and roll myth, and like all myths, it has its tragic act. The band called Death independently records an amazing album, but they never get the major push they were hoping for. Their extreme (at the time) name is a constant stumbling block. After a long string of rejections, Death hears word that Clive Davis might sign them - but only if they're willing to change their name. Brothers Bobby and Dannis are willing to make the change in a heartbeat, but David - an uncompromising visionary on every level - dismisses the idea without even a moment's consideration, seemingly dooming the band to permanent obscurity.

Eventually the other Hackney brothers move on without David, evolving their sound into a reggae act. In 2000, David ominously delivers their earlier recordings to his brother, telling him to keep them safe because "the world's going to come looking for the Death master tapes someday." He wasn't wrong on that one, either, or this movie wouldn't exist.

As a documentary, "A Band Called Death" is extremely well made. The Hackney brothers provide lively interviews, as do other family members and people connected with the band. Black and white photos from their well-documented studio sessions fill in the visual pieces that home video would handle in a more modern story. The film is paced well, and even though by its very existence you'll realize that the band and its music were ultimately vindicated, there are many nice surprises along the way.  If you're into music (especially hard rock, punk, hardcore, or thrash) and immersive documentaries like "The King of Kong" and "Capturing the Friedmans", you'll need to check this one out as soon as you have the chance.


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