Site created 12/15/97.
review added: 5/6/99
This is Spinal Tap
1984 (1998) New
Line/Embassy Pictures (Criterion)
review by Todd Doogan of
The Digital Bits
Rating: "11" (see review)
Disc Rating (Video/Audio/Extras): B+/A/A
Specs and Features
82 mins, NR, letterboxed widescreen (1.70:1), dual-sided,
single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, theatrical trailers, two
audio commentary tracks (one with director Rob Reiner, producer
Karen Murphy and editors Robert Leighton and Kent Beyda, and another
with stars Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer), 20
minute demo reel Spinal Tap: The Final
Tour, fake commercial for their album Heavy
Metal Memories, video for Hell
Hole, deleted scenes, abandoned subplots, alternate
takes, animated film themed menus with sound, scene access (32
chapters per side), languages: English (DD 2.0), subtitles: none
As you can see, the
only way to rate this film properly is by giving it an "11".
This is the all-time mother of all rockumentaries. Forget
The Music or Lifetime's Intimate
Portrait - this is what it's all about. This
Is Spinal Tap made a minor dent in the Heavy Metal armor
of the youth culture when it hit theaters in 1984. Over the years,
that dent has become bigger and bigger, as Spinal
Tap has gone on to become a major cult phenomenon on
video - metal might be dead, but Tap
The film amusingly tracks the fall of England's least important
metal band, Spinal Tap. I have to say, with much hindsight, this
film is one of comedy's greatest entries. It truly is a laugh riot,
and I can't think of a better way to enjoy this film than on DVD.
Rob Reiner makes his directorial debut, while also playing
documentary filmmaker Marty DiBergi. DiBergi is following the
eponymous English metal band as they try to claw their way through
the Americas in pursuit of money and success.
The Criterion Collection furthers its high standard of DVD
production to new heights with each disc it releases, and they
didn't disappoint with this one. Even the animated menu screens are
well thought out - we get hellfire lying at the bottom of the
screen, licking and spitting at the onscreen options. The disc looks
wonderful for a non-RSDL, non-anamorphic transfer. The film fits
nicely at 82 minutes on one side. The supplemental side isn't as
stellar, but overall it looks fine. The amount of supplemental
material makes up for it - more on that in a second. The sound is
the original 2.0 stereo (Dolby Digital on DVD) and it works fine.
Some might have liked a remastered DD 5.1 track, just to open up the
"live" portions a little more, but then that might have
screwed with the idea that this is a "documentary". In its
original stereo, it is just about perfect. Audio and video-wise,
this is a well-rounded disc.
As for the features, let me just list them off for you: you get two
separate audio tracks (one with the boys of Spinal Tap showcasing
the comedic genius of this team, and another track, almost equally
funny, featuring Rob Reiner and some key talent behind the camera).
These both run the length of the film, and can be found on the movie
side. The highlight of this disc, though, is the supplemental
section. Can you believe that there are so many extras, you actually
have to flip the disc over just to see them all? There are the
hilarious promotional trailers showing an Octoberfest celebration
that has absolutely nothing to do with the movie. There's also the
original 20-minute demo reel that features some of the better bits
of the film, shot with different supporting actors, and some scenes
that didn't even make the theatrical release. This was put together
to raise money for the production, and it gives a completely
different look to some of the characters. They also throw in a fake
commercial for a best-of album Heavy
Metal Memories and the video for Hell
Hole. Both look real, real funny. Last, but certainly not
least, we have about an hour of scenes that didn't make it. Did you
hear that? A whole hour of material that didn't make the final cut!
Can you believe it? It's all really funny, but some of the funnier
bits are the more in-depth scenes with Billy Crystal's ranting mime,
and some great character work by Bruno Kirby as a chauffeur that
can't get enough of Frank Sinatra.
THIS DISC IS CURRENTLY
OUT OF PRINT.