Ask its many generations of passionate fans, and they'll agree: calling This Is Spinal Tap a mere "mockumentary" is a grave disservice. It is a candle at the altar of rock bombast, a hysterical dissembling of artistic pretension, a landmark of filmmaking that was selected for preservation in the Library of Congress, fer chrissakes.
It's also, of course, completely fake. Directed by Rob Reiner, the 1984 film is an intricate satire of hard rock culture that hinges on the brilliant, mostly improvised performances of actors Michael McKean, Harry Shearer and Christopher Guest. Using the same breathless reverence of most rockumentaries of the Eighties, it follows the band's inception (when they were called the Originals, then the New Originals) through their rise to stadiums and ill-suited stylistic experimentations, to their interpersonal strife and breakup. And they only sacrificed a handful of drummers along the way.
Rock fans all have their favorite moments from the flick, whether it's the band's disastrous homage to Stonehenge or lead guitarist Nigel Tufnel's immortal line, "These go to 11." For many rock stars of the era, it all felt familiar: Ozzy Osbourne admitted that he'd also gotten lost on his way to the stage, and Metallica singer James Hetfield suffered mysteriously similar burns as one incident in the film. Steven Tyler reportedly refused to get the joke; surely Aerosmith's cover art of Stonehenge on their 1982 album Rock in a Hard Place did not factor in. Not at all.