A brief summary for the uninitiated: Heavy Metal Parking Lot is a 16 minute slice of life cult classic by filmmakers Jeff Krulik and John Heyn, as they walk through an arena parking lot just before a Judas Priest concert in 1986. The people that Jeff and John meet (and their stories) are the stars of the film for sure, but when viewed through the lens of decades of nostalgia, the clothing, outfits, and hair of the era start to take center stage.
Enter Craig Giffen.
Back in 2011 Craig started a website to categorize every tshirt that appeared in HMPL. To accomplish this, he digitized the film and then scrutinized 30,000 individual frames to tease out every shirt he could identify. The project got put on hiatus for a few years, but in 2016 he got back at it. Most recently in April, as Judas Priest returned to Portland for a show, local paper Willamette Week reached out to Craig to write up a running commentary of HMPL.
Even if you’re not a fan of the music, Heavy Metal Parking Lot is worth watching. The ’80s metal culture is in full regalia, but there’s clearly an innocence behind the aggression that is missing from today’s metal scene, and reminding us of that is what makes HMPL special.