Zebraman did not show.
Otherwise, last Friday was a perfect evening for filmmakers Jeff Krulik and John Heyn, as the University of Maryland celebrated the 30th anniversary of their documentary Heavy Metal Parking Lot with a reception and screening.
On May 31, 1986, Krulik and Heyn captured the goings on outside the Capital Centre in Landover, Md., while fans of Judas Priest tailgated before a concert. Researchers at Maryland, Krulik’s alma mater, recently accepted all the source materials for the movie, and for the next year the campus will host “Heavy Metal Parking Lot: The 30-Year Journey of a Cult Film Sensation,” an exhibit dedicated to the brilliant and beloved period piece.
The setting for the anniversary shindig reeked more of academics than metal. A crowd of a few hundred folks loitered in the lobby of the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center while washing down vegetarian finger foods with Heavy Metal Parking Lot Beer, a brand-new artisanal malt beverage served in tall boy cans, as a woodwind ensemble played classical arrangements of Judas Priest anthems. A gaggle of smarty-pants anthropologists and film scholars spoke of the 15-minute movie’s cultural and cinematic virtuosity before the crowd adjourned to a ornate theater to guffaw and shout out their favorite lines during as the movie was big-screened. Zebraman’s monologue, highlighted by rambled rage against Madonna (“She’s a dick!”) and punk rock, got the biggest reaction.
Zebraman (real name David Wine, now a Baltimore plumber) wasn’t there to soak in the huzzahs. But several fellow cast members did show up to introduce themselves to the filmmakers for the first time in 30 years. Cherie Steinbacher, the girl in the white dress who in the movie counseled “Don’t ever get [laid] in a car!” and yelled out “Metallica!” because she was so wasted she thought she was attending a Metallica concert, came with her husband and appeared nothing but sober. Maureen Maxwell of Upperco, Md., known to HMPL fans only as Leopard Woman for showing up in a feline-ish print jumpsuit early in the movie and flashing the devil’s horns, broke the news to Krulik that she was actually flashing the sign for “I love you!” to her deaf parents when he pointed his camera at her in the parking lot.
James Venuto and the former Sonya Wood, who were in a scene of young metalheads amassed outside the arena’s entrance, also came to the opening. Venuto says that the Priest concert immortalized in the movie was the couple’s first date. They’re celebrating their 29th wedding anniversary this year.
Craig Giffen wasn’t a cast member, but seems to wish he was. Giffen caught the redeye from Portland, Ore., to show his devotion to the movie. Giffen says he and his now-wife bonded early in their relationship on a shared love of HMPL. “She had her own bootleg copy,” he says, adding that they still quote its lines to each other in everyday discourse.
He recently debuted a website, The T-Shirts of Heavy Metal Parking Lot, which aims to catalogue every rock tee that shows up onscreen. (Oddest finding thus far: ZZ Top tour shirts are worn by at least five kids in the doc.) After what he describes as much internal debate, Giffen came to the HMPL opening sporting an “Ozzy Rules!” T-shirt.