10 Essential Heavy Metal Documentaries You Need to Watch Now

The somewhat recent success of the N.W.A. biopic, Straight Outta Compton, demonstrated that extreme music can be of extreme interest to audiences.

And so, we've opted to take a look at some great metal movies. Of course, there aren’t too many heavy metal biopics out there (other than maybe this one), so instead, here are 10 artist-specific documentaries that are definitely worth your precious time. Grab the popcorn.

10. Ozzy Osbourne: God Bless Ozzy Osbourne

Despite being co-produced by Ozzy’s son Jack, this film takes a surprisingly candid look at the Prince of Darkness. The stories recounted by former band mates like Bill Ward and former tour mates like Motley Crue’s Tommy Lee are, as would be expected, hilarious and often debased. But it’s the interactions between Ozzy and his family, and the examination of his decades-long battle with drugs and alcohol, that are the heart of the movie.

9. Anvil: Anvil! The Story of Anvil

Even people who aren’t into metal fell hard for this hard-luck story about an early Eighties Canadian act who became almost-famous, only to spend the next two decades slogging it out in virtual obscurity. Fittingly, since the release of the film Anvil have enjoyed more success than they ever did in their prime, releasing new albums, touring extensively and playing shows with the likes of AC/DC.

8. Motley Crue: Uncensored

A promo-video-plus-behind-the-scenes footage collection, ‘Uncensored’ stands as a gloriously decadent documentation of glam metal in its mid-Eighties heyday. Wanna know what the Sunset Strip scene was like? Look no further than one Vince Neil being interviewed half-naked…as he’s surrounded by well-endowed women…and having a drink…in a pool…that’s in the back of a limousine.

7. Lemmy Kilmister: Lemmy: 49% Motherf**ker, 51% Son of a Bitch

Lemmy, as they say, was a God. This documentary shows you why.

6. Metallica: Some Kind of Monster

Metallica has been maligned and even ridiculed over the years for their employment of a “performance-enhancing coach” to work out issues between band mates—a situation that forms the crux of much of this movie. But the fact remains that ‘Some Kind of Monster’ is a brave pulling back of the curtain by the world’s biggest metal band, who expose all their messy insides for the whole world to see.

5. Alice Cooper: Super Duper Alice Cooper

Alice Cooper might not be metal, per se, but his musical offspring—everyone from Marilyn Manson to Rammstein to Rob Zombie—certainly are. What’s more, this excellent 2014 documentary, which features amazing archival footage of the ‘Coop in action, demonstrates that, in his prime, he just may have been the scariest of them all. Just ask the poor chicken who had the misfortune of encountering him onstage…

4. Cannibal Corpse: Centuries of Torment: The First 20 Years

This three-hour-plus documentary of the seminal death metal act’s first two decades is shockingly inclusive, with home-video footage of seemingly every step in their long, trailblazing and often disgusting career. As Ice-T aptly puts it in one of the many talking-head appearances, “Yo! This is some crazy shit right here!”

3. Pantera: 3: Watch It Go

The Cowboys from Hell certainly raised plenty of it onstage. But as their home videos attest—and none more so than ’3′—the insanity continued basically everywhere else. Among other antics, witness the band members, along with crew and friends, destroy dressing rooms and cars, play of juvenile pranks on one another, and do plenty of drinking and puking—and in one case, even shitting in the woods.

2. Iron Maiden: Flight 666

Iron Maiden’s 1985 ‘Live After Death’ concert film stands among the greatest live metal videos of all time. So how to top it? By producing another onstage doc that not only includes incredible live performances, but also footage of your singer flying the entire band from massive show to massive show on their own private plane—cheekily dubbed Ed Force One.

1. Celtic Frost: A Dying God

This 2008 doc, directed by Swiss journalist Adrian Winkler, follows Celtic Frost on their 2006-2007 reunion tour in support of their final studio album, ‘Monotheist.’ In addition to capturing the rejuvenated band live onstage across Europe, Japan and the U.S., there’s also plenty of interview segments with Thomas Gabriel Fischer and Martin Ain about the history and then-present state of the influential group. But the real bonus is awesome archival footage of Hellhammer and Celtic Frost in their early days, including an entertaining interview/live performance segment from Swiss television in 1985.

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Richard Bienstock

Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.