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30 years old this week: 5 things you didn't know about 'This is Spinal Tap'



There is only one movie on the Internet Movie Database that gets the honor of being rated out of 11 stars: 1984's This is Spinal Tap. The movie that "goes to 11" was released 30 years ago this week, on March 3, 1984. But how much do you really know about the movie? I imean, BESIDES being able to quote every single line.

When it was released in the mid-'80s, not every got that iwas a "mock-umentary." U2's The Edge got it, saying, "I didn't laugh, I wept. It was so close to the truth." Ozzy Osbourne didn't get, saying the first thing he watched it, he thought it was a real documentary. Early home video versions of the movie even had a disclaimer at the start and finish of the movie, stating the band doesn't really exist.

I remember seeing it for the first time at the Midnight Movies Express at AMC Theaters in Countryside, the Caddyshack-like suburb in Tampa Bay where I grew up. In fact, the first three times I saw Spinal Tap, it was at midnight showings. Hence, it would take me a decade before I was actually awake enough to see the ending of the movie.

Here are five things you probably didn't know about This Is Spinal Tap.

1. Director Rob Reiner and actors Harry Shearer, Christopher Guest and Michael McKean were paid $10,000 to write the script. The result was a 20-minute film to prove they could write an entirely improvised movie in order to get studio backing. In fact, according to McKean, only two lines were actually written. The roadie's introduction of the band ("Direct from hell, Spinal Tap") and Sir Denis Eaton-Hogg's party toast ("Tap into AMERICA!").

2. There is no actual "Isle of Lucy" off England's coast, where Spinal Tap claims to have played a blues/jazz festival. The fake name, which most fans didn't catch, is an home to TV's I Love Lucy.

3. Despite being a movie about a band on tour, production of the film never left Los Angeles County. However, a music venue in Milwaukee changed its name to Shank Hall after the fictitious Milwaukee location the band plays midway through the movie.

4. The actors are all actual musicians and the soundtrack is them playing. Derek Smalls' bass-playing style (playing with one hand, so the other can point) is modeled on the bass player from Saxon.

5. It is revealed at one point that "37 different people have been in the band over the years." Do the math: Minus the two original members, one keyboard player, and the original and current bass players, that means 32 different drummers who inexplicably died.


[Last modified: Monday, March 3, 2014 9:48am]


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