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Heavy Metal in Baghdad (2008)



Average Rating: 6.4/10
Reviews Counted: 23
Fresh: 19 | Rotten: 4

Despite being a Gonzo-esque rockumentary following the fortunes of Iraq's one and only heavy metal band, Acrassicauda, Heavy Metal is actually a moving and impassioned account of the middle-east crisis.


Average Rating: 6.5/10
Critic Reviews: 8
Fresh: 7 | Rotten: 1

Despite being a Gonzo-esque rockumentary following the fortunes of Iraq's one and only heavy metal band, Acrassicauda, Heavy Metal is actually a moving and impassioned account of the middle-east crisis.



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Average Rating: 3.9/5
User Ratings: 967

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Movie Info

VICE Magazine co-founder Suroosh Alvi and VICE Films head Eddy Moretti embark on a gonzo journey to meet Iraq's only heavy metal band in a freewheeling documentary focusing on youth culture in war-torn Iraq. In the summer of 2005, shortly after Saddam Hussein's brutal rule came to an end, Iraqi heavy metal group Acrassicauda (named after an especially venomous breed of black scorpion) teamed with VICE Magazine to stage a sold out rock concert. Over a year later, VICE co-founder Alvi and

Jun 10, 2008

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All Critics (24) | Top Critics (9) | Fresh (19) | Rotten (4)

The guerrilla-movie-making ethic of the directors is reflected in the band members, who sport goatees and speak excellent, hipster/metalhead-inflected American English.

September 12, 2008 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The low-budget movie's technical qualities aren't always the best, but considering the conditions under which the filmmakers worked, it's amazing that Heavy Metal in Baghdad was made at all.

May 23, 2008 Full Review Source: New York Post
New York Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The dangers these musicians experience every single day are bound to impact any audience. This is what it really looks like to bang your head against the wall.

May 23, 2008 Full Review Source: New York Daily News
New York Daily News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

More than just another Iraq-doc, Heavy Metal is a surprisingly up-close look at the toll of the war on young people, and how they still have dreams and still want to jam, party and get down.

May 23, 2008 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

An intrepid, unlikely and altogether splendid feat of D.I.Y. reportage.

May 23, 2008 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The movie reclaims metal's appeal to the powerless as well as its threat--when you can get shot for wearing a Slipknot T-shirt (talk about "Death, be not proud")... raising those devil horns isn't an empty act of aggression.

May 21, 2008 Full Review Source: Village Voice
Village Voice
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Doc on Baghdad's only heavy metal band provides fascinating insights into war-torn country.

January 2, 2011 Full Review Source:

Gives us a rough idea of how bloody awful it is to be living in Baghdad.

March 26, 2009 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

It feels like a spoof, yet this documentary, which follows the fortunes of a monumentally rubbish Iraqi band called Acrassicauda, is for real.

September 12, 2008 Full Review Source: This is London | Comment (1)
This is London

And so this low-budget film says more about Gulf War II than all of Hollywood's efforts put together.

September 12, 2008 Full Review Source: Sun Online
Sun Online

Watching the disintegration of Baghdad alongside the band members' aspirations makes this an enlightening and impassioned account of the Middle Eastern crisis.

September 12, 2008 Full Review Source: Sky Movies
Sky Movies

Heavy Metal in Baghdad is one of those sneaky documentaries that starts out a light-hearted look at a semi-serious subject, and then suddenly turns into something far more moving and profound.

September 12, 2008 Full Review Source: IGN Movies UK
IGN Movies UK

Though they struggle to build a fan base, and end up seeking refuge in Syria, their dreams persist, still blazing fiercely at the close of this chastening and inspiring film.

September 12, 2008 Full Review Source: Daily Telegraph
Daily Telegraph

This ill-starred four-piece are the heroes of a flawed, fascinating documentary, shot on digital video by two excitable gonzo-esque journalists from Vice magazine.

September 12, 2008 Full Review Source: Guardian

You mourn the wasted opportunities to explore a culture in which the ultimate rebellion is to copy America's corporate rock.

September 12, 2008 Full Review Source: Times [UK]
Times [UK]

Sprawling and unfocussed but still a fascinating window onto an unreported world.

September 12, 2008 Full Review Source: Film4

The film's at its strongest when Moretti and Alvi make it to Baghdad, but it suffers from a focusing too much on the music and not enough on the band's circumstances.

September 12, 2008 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Excellent documentary about the struggle of a heavy metal band to survive in Iraq.

June 5, 2008 Full Review Source:

frustrating but nearly impossible to forget

May 23, 2008 Full Review Source:

Concentrating on the story of Acrassicauda, Iraq's sole metal band, filmmakers Moretti and Alvi reveal the heart-wrenching circumstances for the people caught between the occupiers and the militias.

May 9, 2008 Full Review Source: eye WEEKLY

Audience Reviews for Heavy Metal in Baghdad

Acrassicauda means 'black scorpion' in latin. It's also the name of the only heavy metal band in Iraq. Needless to say, heavy metal is frowned upon by the fundamentalist authorities, who see their music as a form of Western propaganda. The journey of filmmakers finding this controversial band allows the audience a very unique point of view into the Iraq War. The film is about the effect of the war on the ordinary working people of Iraq. People like you and I who might want to play the music they like, and raise families.

They might not be the most talented metal band in the world, but unlike some American musicians who like to boast about how they'd "die for metal", this is one band that looks everyone dead in the eye and means it, and for that, they immediately earn the respect of the entire metal community, not to mention casual viewers worldwide.
March 11, 2009
El Hombre Invisible

Super Reviewer


This is one of the best documentaries I have ever seen.
Heavy Metal in Baghdad tells the story of Acrassicauda, a metal band from Iraq, whose members are stuck in the middle of Baghdad and the Civil War that is ripping the country apart. Through all the danger, pain, and death these guys take there love of Metal, and use it to vent their frustrations about everything going on in their lives.

The film offers a very personal, and gut-wrenching look into the plight of the Iraqi as their country has become, Hell on Earth, and even when they do escape Iraq. They are treated like lepers by the world, because they are Iraqi's.

This is not only Metal in its purest form, but it is human existence in its
purest form. Barely getting by, and unsure of their futures, a group of Iraqi's with a common interest. Try to survive in a world that makes it increasingly harder and harder to live their lives, how they want.

March 18, 2009
Jason Reneau

Super Reviewer

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