Exclusive: Director Rob Reiner on Life Imitating Art With 'This Is Spinal Tap' - Rolling Stone
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Rob Reiner on Life Imitating Art With ‘This Is Spinal Tap’

The director explains the connections between the 30-year-old mockumentary and the bands Toto and Black Sabbath

Hello Cleveland! The 1984 mock rockumentary This Is Spinal Tap turned 30 last week, so the anniversary is getting a special re-release via AMC Networks’ iPad app YEAH! Fans and newcomers to the movie will be able to watch the “Special Features Version” of the film for free, beginning tomorrow through April 11th, along with new interviews and extras that offer insight about how filmmaker Rob Reiner and the cast made a move that was anything but a “shit sandwich.”

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It includes interviews with Reiner, actor Fred Willard and real-life rocker Paul Shortino, who has sung for Quiet Riot and Rough Cutt and played “Duke Fame” in Spinal Tap. It also includes commentary by Jack Black, AC/DC frontman Brian Johnson, Jane’s Addiction‘s Dave Navarro, Megadeth‘s Dave Mustaine, Smashing Pumpkins‘ Billy Corgan, Pearl Jam‘s Mike McCready and more.

In a clip of Reiner’s interview that Rolling Stone is premiering, the director recalls how life imitated art in some cases after the release of the movie, since they had written it so believably. “We tried to think of all those things that can go wrong on tour,” he says.

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One instance, he says, is that a member of a soft-rock band that was popular in the Eighties actually did die in a “bizarre gardening accident” – spraying insecticide in his yard – in the early Nineties. “That, you can’t make it up,” he says. “It’s just bizarre.” And another is about how one of the founding bands of heavy metal, Black Sabbath, alleged the filmmakers had stolen their touring Stonehenge theme. “They were so furious,” he says. “They said, ‘They stole it from us.’ It took us two years to make the movie. They thought that we shot it, we filmed it, we cut it together, we got it into the theater in a two-week period.”

The YEAH! version of the movie delivers between 400 and 500 pieces of trivia and extras like these, scene by scene, as the movie plays. Viewers can turn the content on or off if they want. In addition to This Is Spinal Tap the app offers movies with director interviews including Superman: The Movie, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Clerks, Kick-Ass and more.


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