Enlarge Søren Pilmark and Mads Mikkelsen.

11 Killer Artistic Movies That Metalheads Can Stream Right Now


There comes a time in every metalheads’ life where your neck is too sore from headbanging and it’s time to wind down. When that time comes, there’s no better moment to take a breather, sit down, and enjoy a nice flick. With a bowl of popcorn in hand and the lights dimmed low, we’ve compiled a list of thought-provoking, yet metal as fuck films that are absolutely worth your downtime.

And while our list could include the easy selections like This Is Spinal Tap (1984), Metal Lords (2022), Heavy Trip (2018), Metalhead (2013), and Airheads (1994), we’re looking to broaden your horizons. Get some culture crammed between your eyes for once.

Without further ado, we present our film picks that are bound to appeal to you guys thanks to their dark themes, brutality, wicked humor, and/or overall theme.

Bruce Robinson’s Withnail & I (1987)

Withnail & I is a cult classic. You can’t beat the dialogue writing of filmmaker Bruce Robinson or the acting of Richard E. Grant, who plays the alcohol-dependent Withnail. The character of Withnail was inspired by Robinson’s friend Vivian MacKerrell, who eventually met a tragic end in 1995. As in the film, the trained thespian actually drank lighter fluid on one occasion. Like Withnail, MacKerrell was clearly an extremely hardcore guy; yet, he was also impossibly charming (at times), witty, refined, and charismatic. Blessed with enormous talent and little humility, his biggest flaw was that he knew he was good at what he did. Withnail & I features a soundtrack full of Jimi Hendrix and the Beatles, with the late George Harrison serving as one of the film’s producers.

Where to find: HBO Max and the Criterion Channel.

Joachim Trier’s Oslo, August 31st (2011)

Simply stated, Joachim Trier’s Oslo, August 31st — or Oslo, 31. august — is a modern masterpiece. The film focuses on Anders, a recovering heroin addict who receives permission to leave his facility in order to go on a job interview. Not only is Oslo, August 31st an excellent film, but Anders Danielsen Lie’s performance is stunning. The truth hurts, and this movie is painfully realistic.

Where to find: MUBI and Strand Releasing.

Paul Schrader’s Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985)

Paul Schrader’s Mishima is a profound and unforgettable film that’s based on the life and work of Japanese author and nationalist Yukio Mishima, who founded a private militia known as the Tatenokai. This complex figure committed seppuku at 45 during a failed attempt to overthrow the government. The stellar screenplay was crafted by Paul; his brother, Leonard; and Leonard’s wife, Chieko.

Where to find: the Criterion Channel.

Mikkel Nørgaard’s Klown (2010)

Klown, or Klovn — The Movie, was written by its stars, the amazing Frank Hvam and Casper Christensen. Klown is definitely one of the most hilarious and wildly inappropriate movies you can watch. It is filthy fun for the whole family, loaded with “pearl necklaces” and other types of perversion. (Yes, that is the visionary Jørgen Leth, whose films include Erotic Man [2010], in the clip below.) Fortunately, there’s also Klown Forever (2015), Klovn the Final (2020), and the entire Klovn TV series.

Where to find: Fandor.

Anders Thomas Jensen’s Flickering Lights (2000)

The quirky brilliance of Danish filmmaker Anders Thomas Jensen is something you need to experience in order to understand. Although he has written and directed various films, it’s his black comedies that are bound to be irresistible to metalheads. Flickering Lights, or Blinkende Lygter, is a movie that Jensen both wrote and directed. This atypical gangster film stars so many of Denmark’s finest actors, seriously — their supreme talent is part of what makes the film so funny.

Where to find: Tubi.

Larisa Shepitko’s The Ascent (1977)

The Ukrainian-born Soviet filmmaker Larisa Shepitko tragically passed away in a car accident in 1979. Her 1977 WWII film, The Ascent, or «Восхождение», retains ever bit of its haunting genius today. The hanging scene remains one the most powerful and tear-jerking moments in cinema.

Sheptiko’s husband, Elem Klimov, was also an extraordinary filmmaker. Elem’s 1985 anti-war film Come and See, or «Иди и смотри», which focuses on the occupation of Belarus, certainly feels like the most brutal and tragic movie in existence.

Where to find: The Criterion Channel.

Everything by Ingmar Bergman

R.I.P. Ingmar Bergman (1918-2007). We could have just told you to watch The Seventh Seal (1957), Det sjunde inseglet; The Virgin Spring, Jungfrukällan (1960); or Wild Strawberries, Smultronstället (1957). However, we recommend all of Bergman’s work. No one painted the many shades of darkness quite like this Swedish luminary. Of course, one of the greatest parts of experiencing Bergman’s films is enjoying the contributions of his legendary actors.

Volker Schlöndorff’s The Tin Drum (1979)

The Tin Drum, or Die Blechtrommel, is a wonderful German film about a tyrannical little boy who decides to stop growing up and thus hurls himself down the stairs. An adaptation of Günter Grass’ 1959 novel by the same name, The Tin Drum is an astounding paradigm of cinematic excellence on so many levels. Unsurprisingly, it won the Palme d’Or, an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, and other prestigious awards. We trust that Oskar, the protagonist, will resonate with metalheads as someone who not only marches to his own beat but literally makes others follow his beat as well. In fact, he disrupts a Nazi party rally with his sticks. You’re just going to have to see this movie to believe it!

Where to find: HBO Max and the Criterion Channel.

Thomas Vinterberg’s The Celebration (1998)

The Celebration, or Festen, balances tragedy and comedy in the most masterful of ways. It’s another film that, like Flickering Lights oddly enough, stars many of Denmark’s greatest actors. This classic centers around a 60th birthday party from hell for an abusive father. Not only was The Celebration the recipient of much critical acclaim and numerous awards, but Ingmar Bergman himself told director Thomas Vinterberg that he regarded it as a masterpiece. The fact that it was the first Dogme 95 film further ensured its place in history.

Where to find: the Criterion Channel.

Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac: Vol. I & II (Extended Director’s Cut) (2014)

Regardless of what trolls may say, Nymphomaniac is a highly complex work by one of the only filmmakers worth your attention. Sure, LvT’s The House That Jack Built (2018) is more gruesome, but Nymphomaniac has “Führe mich” by Rammstein! You can’t unsee this cocky film, which is guaranteed to make you wet… in the eyes. If you don’t cry, you’re a monster.

Where to find: Hulu and MUBI.

Andrei Tarkovsky’s Ivan’s Childhood (1962)

Tarkovsky was probably one of the most “metal” directors ever (as well as a source of inspiration to the dude above, who also worships Bergman, Dreyer, etc.). Tarkovsky also happened to have the most sane approach to his craft: “The aim of art is to prepare a person for death…”?! Thus, we recommend all films by this late muse. In particular, however, Ivan’s Childhood, «Иваново детство», will leave you with a black hole in your heart. The story focuses on an orphaned young boy, who insists on fighting during WWII. Others will disagree, but I consider Ivan’s Childhood and Andrei Rublev (1966), or «Страсти по Андрею» / «Андрей Рублёв», to be Tarkovsky’s greatest films.

Where to find: The Criterion Channel. (Please note that Mosfilm has posted this film on YouTube for free with English subtitles.)

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