There’s not really anything in the entertainment world quite like Gwar. This infamous troupe of intergalactic cannibalistic barbarians has been causing chaos across the world since the early 1980s, playing loud as hell metal while clad in spiky oversized masks and shoulderpads to huge crowds who willingly pay for the privilege of being covered with all manner of bodily fluids sprayed right into their faces from a variety of monstrous orifices.
This is Gwar is a two-hour documentary that tells the band’s story, taking viewers from its initial formation (a collaboration between artists in an abandoned milk bottling factory) to record deals, tours and their inclusion on an episode of MTV’s Beavis & Butt-Head which lead to further TV appearances, run-ins with censors and a huge increase in notoriety. Many of the surviving members who are interviewed talk with great affection for both the ridiculous situations the band found themselves in and (mostly) for each other as human beings.
It’s unfortunate that founding member Dave Brockie is no longer around to tell his own part of the tale, and fellow co-founder Hunter Jackson occasionally brings the mood down with his less-than-affectionate attitude towards his former partner in crime, but it’s still difficult to escape the feeling that being in Gwar during its heyday must have been an absolute blast. A handful of short features included as Blu-ray extras confirm these suspicions – we’re given a look at how the band sets up for a live show, as well as some behind the scenes footage from the band’s brief cameo on Empire Records and a quick summary of Gwar’s fictional backstory. Despite all being less than 5 minutes long, they’re all worth seeing. There are a few more lengthy inclusions too, such as Dave Brockie’s last recorded interview from 2014 (11 minutes) and a 9-minute fan tribute. The highlight though is the 28-minute tour of “the Slave Pit”, where a couple of band members take us around Gwar’s workshop / studio / office which is stuffed to the brim with artwork, props and memorabilia.
Music documentaries are ten a penny these days, but when you’re talking about such a unique band as this – and with plenty of insane footage to accompany the stories – This is Gwar really does stand out amongst all the others as a must-see film. Fans of the band are, of course, likely to get much more out of it than most other viewers, but those with even a passing interest in the wilder side of the music world should find themselves thoroughly entertained by the band’s antics. There’s a pretty powerful message somewhere, too – we’re not here for very long, so do what you want, make the most of what you’ve got, be good to the people around you and just enjoy yourself. Wise words indeed!
This is Gwar is available on Shudder from July 21st