The El Duce Tapes (2019) – Film Review
Directors: Ryan Sexton, David Lawrence, Rodney Ascher
Just because a collection of video tapes have been collecting dust in a storage unit for years, does that mean the content is worthy of a documentary?
Well, naturally it depends on the merit of the material. If it’s footage of a great band that has rarely been seen by the fans, then yes, obviously. But what if it’s of a highly contentious figure who promotes sexual violence? No prizes for guessing the answer to that one.
The El Duce Tapes centres on the lead singer of The Mentors, an obnoxious figure whose grunge rock 30 years ago polarised opinion. When the likes of Jerry Springer called him out for his views, you know a character has to be pretty extreme. But is the hooded antagonist sending up liberal America, or is he as bad as this documentary suggests?
Well, that’s up to you to decide. For my money, it was a waste of time and effort on behalf of the directors, because if you’re going to use precious days of your life constructing a film about a musician, it’s a pretty good idea to ensure they’re worthy of the exposure. And that latter word is a key element of El Duce’s act, not that I was keen on hearing a lot of it because regardless of your musical preferences, most is just terrible, though his drumming has a degree of merit.
Take a band like Powermad, that were out at the same time and crafted the brilliant track Slaughterhouse. If you’re a fan of Wild at Heat, it’s the song in which Nicolas Cage goes crazy to on the dancefloor. The same sort of raw, in-your-face energy, and the fact they vanished without a trace makes them well worth a documentary. I’ll repeat that earlier statement: this is just a waste of time and effort.
In the past films such as Searching For Sugarman, Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage, and Anvil have shed well deserved light on acts that were more than worthy of the attention. Obviously some might warm to the eponymous character’s brand of controversial rock, but hopefully i’ll never have to listen to El Duce or The Mentors’ work again. Yes, it’s that bad.
If you want to see something far more worthwhile, co-director Rodney Ascher’s Room 237 is a compelling watch, especially if you’re a fan of The Shining, which it examines with forensic detail.
‘The El Duce Tapes’ is showing on the Arrow Video Channel and also released on Limited Edition VHS in partnership with Witterentertainment.com and Broken Horror