Color, 2018, 91 mins. 3 secs.
Directed by Jukka Vidgren and Juuso Laatio
Starring Johannes Holopainen, Samuli Jaskio, Antti Heikkinen, Max Ovaska, Minka Kuustonen, Ville Tiihonen
Music Box Selects / Doppelganger (Blu-ray & DVD) (US R0 HD/NTSC) / WS (1.85:1) (16:9)

Like a lot of music strains, the Finnish Heavy TripHeavy Tripmetal scene is a tough subject to lampoon since it's already quite aware of its own over-the-top tendencies and flair for dramatic showmanship. However, the clever road comedy Heavy Trip (Hevi reissu) came up with an effective method of wringing a lot of humor out of the subject by creating an underdog buddy story filled with a lot of wit and even warmth where you'd least expect it.

Stuck in the small uptight town of Taivalkoski, Turo (Holopainen) is both a nature lover and the devoted lead singer of a metal band along with buddies Jynkky (Heikkinen), Lotvonen (Jaskio), and Pasi (Ovaska). Though they've been together for over a decade, the band has never had a commercial release or done a live gig -- Heavy Tripuntil a promoter for Norway's biggest metal fest crosses paths with them and extends an Heavy Tripinvitation. Adopting the name Impaled Rektum (which gets as much gag mileage as you'd expect), the band hits the road and has to overcome a dizzying amount of obstacles including an impromptu band mate hunt at an insane asylum, an unscheduled detour to Norway, Vikings, multiple near-death experiences, a stolen cadaver, and even a love story.

Among its many positives, the one refreshing thing Heavy Trip really gets right is the idea that a lot of metal fans are extremely kind at heart, something that applies to the majority of horror fans out there as well despite decades of media claims to the contrary. That concept really helps drive this film through its crazy quilt storyline that seems to take a wildly different direction every few minutes, making it sort of the Finnish metal answer to films like Heavy TripHarold and Kumar Go to White Castle and The Hangover. Even when it comes to the improper use of a dead body, the film keeps its sunny disposition firmly in check and builds to an effective, rousing metal fest finale that doesn't really pack in any big Heavy Tripnarrative surprises but still leaves you with a big smile on your face. It's too bad this one came along too late to really hit the midnight movie circuit, as you can easily see this one becoming a staple with the right kind of publicity and bigger fan awareness.

Initially released on U.S. DVD back in 2018 by Doppelganger following its limited theatrical run from Music Box Films, Heavy Trip made the leap to Blu-ray in 2021 as part of the Doppelganger-run Music Box Selects line carried as a partner label by Vinegar Syndrome. Of course, it also comes with a limited edition Impaled Rektum slipcover you'll want to prominently display to impress all your family members, too. The film was shot digitally and looks as crisp, bright, and clean as you'd expect here with a nice significant bump in resolution compared to the old DVD; it's actually debatable whether the ultra-slick digital look works best for the film as the more textured film approach might have been better suited to the Heavy Tripmaterial, but either way it Heavy Triplooks great here. Finnish DTS-HD 5.1 and 2.0 audio options are provided (not a huge difference between the two, though the bass on the 2.0 sounds a bit heftier to these ears) with English or English SDH subtitles provided. "Heavy Trip Goes to Texas" (13m39s) features the cast in character interacting with locals including a colorful trip to a country and western bar and a cow farm, while "Bands React to Impaled Rektum" (50s) features some quick reactions from real black metal bands and fans. Also included are a "Flooding Secretions" music video, a Karaoke version of "Jump Into My Net," a reel of deleted footage and bloopers (5m32s), and the theatrical trailer.

Reviewed on July 12, 2021