Michael Cavacini

An award-winning arts and culture blog.

ARROW: The El Duce Tapes

You may recall that in my most recent post about the ARROW streaming service I mentioned The El Duce Tapes. As a massive music fan and lover of documentaries, I want to take a closer look at this movie because it’s an interesting one with a subject matter that I was previously unfamiliar with. Read on for more details.

Below is the official description for The El Duce Tapes:

The El Duce Tapes

In the early 90s, aspiring filmmaker (and General Hospital co-star) Ryan Sexton lugged a giant camcorder into some of the seediest clubs and filthiest apartments in Hollywood. There he filmed hour upon hour of VHS footage of the jaw-droppingly offensive Shock Rock band The Mentors, focusing on their infamous lead singer, “El Duce.”

30 years later, the team behind The Nightmare and Room 237 and the editor of Leap of Faith: William Friedkin on the Exorcist uncover this dusty stockpile of long forgotten – and unseen – footage. They begin to piece together a picture of the man under the black executioner’s hood and what his willfully offensive act and controversial views might tell us about 21st Century America.

An incendiary, tragicomic documentary (midway between The Decline of Western Civilization and Crumb) which has been hailed as “Essential Viewing” by CineVue and called “Dark and irresistible” by director John Carpenter. The El Duce Tapes will chew you up, spit you out and leave you floored.

If this film sounds interesting, it’s because it is. Unlike some documentaries, this one isn’t about being polished and perfect. Instead, like its subject matter, The El Duce Tapes is raw, gritty, and irreverent. It’s an unfiltered look at a musician many people don’t know. I knew nothing about The Mentors or El Duce prior to this. Their music isn’t my cup of tea, but that doesn’t make this documentary any less intriguing. If anything, it makes it more enjoyable because I came into it knowing nothing. Therefore, I learned way more than I expected to. If you have an open mind and can get past, potentially, not liking the genre of music The Mentors are known for, then there is plenty to learn from The El Duce Tapes.

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