Hilarious ’80s Cult Classic Defined A Generation, And It Needs Help

By Jason Collins | Published

The age of the internet, particularly fast broadband connections, has brought about a new era of content distribution. Video-on-demand and streaming services and digital storefronts made it much easier and indefinitely cheaper for streamers to deliver content to their customers.

However, streaming isn’t without its drawbacks, and once the service decides to pull the content, it becomes unavailable, or scarcely available, to end-consumers. Something similar happens to a hilarious ’80s cult classic, This is Spinal Tap.

One Of The Best Comedies Of All Time

For the uninitiated, This is Spinal Tap is a 1984 mockumentary that brilliantly parodies the rock and roll lifestyle of members of a fictional heavy metal band called Spinal Tap. The movie was directed by Rob Reiner and stars actors Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, and Harry Shearer in lead roles, as the story centers on Reiner’s Martin “Marty” Di Bergi, a documentary filmmaker following the band on their American Tour. Of course, This is Spinal Tap satirized the behavior and musical aspirations of rising rock and metal bands, and it does so in a fantastic manner.

Still Quoted Today

This is Spinal Tap could very well be referred to as the masterclass of satire; its dialog is near-completely improvised, and the film’s 82 minutes of runtime are but a tiny fraction of the overall material filmed. Not to mention some of the most unforgettable scenes in cinema, which have etched themselves into popular culture. For example, while the movie was released nearly 40 years ago, today’s generations often use the iconic “up to eleven” phrase without knowing it came from This is Spinal Tap.

Limited Streaming Availability

Still, despite its cult status and vast influence on today’s pop culture, This is Spinal Tap faces a challenge many past-century releases face, threatening its accessibility to younger generations. Of course, we’re referring to distribution. This iconic movie is currently only available through AMC+, which is a relatively limited platform in the current streaming landscape dominated by the likes of Netflix, Disney+, and Hulu, preventing the movie from reaching younger audiences that primarily rely on streaming services for their entertainment.

A Recurring Problem

Unfortunately, this isn’t a novelty. For example, the Italian L’iniziazione from 1986, better known as What Every Frenchwoman Wants, or Exploits of a Young Don Juan in the West, is impossible to find anywhere on streaming. One would have to resort to downloading the movie from the Internet Archive, which is essentially an act of digital piracy, and no matter how artists complain about streaming residuals, it’s better than piracy. However, given the lack of consumer options, fans of This is Spinal Tap have to get creative.

This Is Spinal Tap Needs A Re-Release

Besides distribution issues, This is Spinal Tap is also in dire need of restoration since the visuals and the audio haven’t aged as well as the film’s humor. Fortunately, many movie companies, such as the Vinegar Syndrome, which recently restored Southern Comfort, still restore movies and even print them as BluRay re-releases for physical media collectors. Perhaps one such company will pick up This is Spinal Tap and subject it to advanced digital restoration technology, with the aim to reintroduce this ’80s cult classic to modern audiences, thus ensuring its availability to younger generations.