If you missed I Am Thor earlier this year, then you’re probably like the rest of the world. The documentary, which debuted at San Francisco’s Slamdance Film Festival in January, chronicles the life of former competitive body builder-turned-heavy metal superstar Jon Mikl Thor. The Canadian Thor (see what I did there?) was a muscled metal frontman and sometime B horror movie star during the 1980s, when excess was cool and girls lusted after a golden-maned meathead who could bend steel with his mouth or inflate a hot water bottle with his well-developed lungs. During the days when sex, drugs, and rock and roll was more than just a TV show with Denis Leary, John Corbett, and Robert “You Know What Dude?” Kelly, Thor was the real deal – a mondo, macho sex icon who performed driving power metal in front of stages decorated with castle walls all the while wearing a leather cape, black spandex, and a silver army of spikes and studs. In short, Thor was ‘80s metal gone nuclear.
You know what comes next, right? When Thor fell, he fell hard. Financial mismanagement, which had been plaguing him since his glam days in the 1970s, managerial hijinks, and one mental breakdown helped to kill off the metal god for two decades. Before the release of I am Thor, Thor had gone from being the pioneer of muscle rock who showed his stuff on the Merv Griffith Show to a flabby older man forced to wear fake chest pieces in front of single-digit crowds.
Now that you, the fine readers of Metal Injection, know that I am Thor exists, it’s your duty to support this once great ambassador of our genre’s cheesiest impulses. Similar to other back-from-the-dead rock docs like 2008’s Anvil!: The Story of Anvil and 2011’s Last Days Here, I am Thor shows you the highs and lows of trying to capture lighting once again, and unlike Pentagram’s Bobby Liebling, who seems one toke or snort away from death in Last Days Here, Thor is a thoroughly likable weirdo whose sole goal is to make a platinum record in the U.S.. And once he gets that, I’m sure he’ll bend it in half with his teeth.
As much as I Am Thor serves as a reminder that metal in the ‘80s really did capture the teenage zeitgeist, it also forces even the most recalcitrant metalhead to admit one thing: Thor actually ruled. Although you might want to hate the guy, you have to admit songs like “Warhammer” absolutely rip. Even Thor’s ridiculous videos kind of make sense given that at the time everyone was on blow or playing Dungeons & Dragons around the clock. This lifestyle does not, however, explain Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare, a straight-to-video humdinger produced by and starring Thor himself that features the greatest final battle in cinema history. Some mistakes are unforgivable, I guess.
For more on the film, check out I am Thor’s website