‘Heavy Metal Parking Lot’ gets its own exhibition on 30th anniversary

The film's co-producer Jeff Krulik poses with University of Maryland archivist Laura Schnitker, who turned Krulik's idea for a UMD exhibition into a reality. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
‘Heavy Metal Parking Lot’ co-producer Jeff Krulik poses with University of Maryland archivist Laura Schnitker, who turned Krulik’s idea for a U.Md. exhibition into a reality. (WTOP/Michelle Basch) (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
Schnitker and Krulik flash the sign of the horns - a favorite of heavy metal fans - in front of a curtain printed with an image of the Capital Centre. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
Schnitker and Krulik flash the sign of the horns — a favorite of heavy metal fans — in front of a curtain printed with an image of the Capital Centre. (WTOP/Michelle Basch) (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
This is a re-creation of one of the poles that stood in the Capital Centre parking lot that helped guide visitors back to their cars. An iPad attached to the pole provides a non-stop screening of the documentary. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
A re-creation of one of the poles that stood in the Capital Centre parking lot that helped guide visitors back to their cars. An iPad attached to the pole provides a nonstop screening of the documentary. (WTOP/Michelle Basch) (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
A panel from the exhibition explains the film's origins. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
A panel from the exhibition explains the film’s origins. (WTOP/Michelle Basch) (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
The exhibition includes an actual piece of the Capital Centre parking lot.  A shopping center, The Boulevard at the Capital Centre, is located at the site today. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
The exhibition includes an actual piece of the Capital Centre parking lot. A shopping center, The Boulevard at the Capital Centre, is at the site today. (WTOP/Michelle Basch) (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
Does anyone collect ticket stubs anymore? Here’s one from the very concert that the fans featured in “Heavy Metal Parking Lot” attended. (WTOP/Michelle Basch) (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
One part of the exhibition features the film's many memorable people. Jeff Krulik calls them the Heavy Metal Parking Lot Alumni. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
One part of the exhibition features the film’s many memorable people. Jeff Krulik calls them the Heavy Metal Parking Lot Alumni. (WTOP/Michelle Basch) (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
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The film's co-producer Jeff Krulik poses with University of Maryland archivist Laura Schnitker, who turned Krulik's idea for a UMD exhibition into a reality. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
Schnitker and Krulik flash the sign of the horns - a favorite of heavy metal fans - in front of a curtain printed with an image of the Capital Centre. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
This is a re-creation of one of the poles that stood in the Capital Centre parking lot that helped guide visitors back to their cars. An iPad attached to the pole provides a non-stop screening of the documentary. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
A panel from the exhibition explains the film's origins. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
The exhibition includes an actual piece of the Capital Centre parking lot.  A shopping center, The Boulevard at the Capital Centre, is located at the site today. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
One part of the exhibition features the film's many memorable people. Jeff Krulik calls them the Heavy Metal Parking Lot Alumni. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Filmed 30 years ago this week outside the long-gone Capital Centre in Landover, the cult classic rock documentary “Heavy Metal Parking Lot” is the subject of a new exhibition at the University of Maryland College Park.

“Heavy Metal Parking Lot: The 30-Year Journey of a Cult Film Sensation” will be open at the Gallery at the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library through May 2017.

May 31, 1986, was the day Maryland graduate Jeff Krulik and co-producer John Heyn decided to make their short film.

“John had the idea; I had the equipment. We drove my car a mile away to the Capital Centre — just paid our way like any concertgoer — and we took our equipment out and started taping the fans,” Krulik said.

He says they were lucky to film fans of a band that is still performing and relevant today.

“We were there because it was a nice spring night, it was a Saturday night, and it just happened to be Judas Priest,” Krulik said.

“Their music holds up. Nowadays everything’s taped endlessly, but back then it was really rare, which is what’s helped make it special and continue to have this shelf life.”

As years went by, Krulik says, the film was copied and passed around, and earned a following.

“It really kind of was this pre-viral viral video. I mean, it just took on a life of its own that we had no control over. We may have had a small hand in [it] inadvertently by just giving tapes to people. It’s very gratifying — let me tell you — to have something people will be interested in these many years later,” he said.

The University of Maryland Special Collections in Mass Media & Culture acquired the Jeff Krulik Collection last year, and acting curator Laura Schnitker turned Krulik’s idea for an exhibition tied to the 30th anniversary of “Heavy Metal Parking Lot” into reality.

“Everybody who I asked to help out was so enthusiastic. It was unlike any other project I’ve worked on, because as soon as I mention it, it’s like ‘Oh, I love that movie!” and they’d start doing the devil horns or telling me about their own experience with heavy metal,” she said.

The exhibition has a parking lot feel, complete with yellow lines on the floor in front of an image of the Capital Centre on a curtain.

Items on display include a chunk of asphalt taken from the Capital Centre parking lot in 2002, the year it was demolished.

Schnitker says the plan is to offer programming that will get students involved in the exhibition.

“We’re hoping [that] with the School of Music, we might be able to organize a symposium for heavy metal scholars. There are actually quite a few heavy metal scholars,” she said.

“It’s a really rich area of study, because this is a kind of music that has always worn its heart on its sleeve. There’s a lot of identity issues that you can look at when it comes to heavy metal. There’s gender; there’s sexuality; there’s class, politics.”

You can watch “Heavy Metal Parking Lot” free on their website.

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