Dream Deceivers: The Story of James Vance vs. Judas Priest

A singularly unpleasant and unedifying 1991 documentary by David Van Taylor about the young survivor of a suicide pact in Reno who blew half his face off with a shotgun, and the subsequent suit brought against the heavy-metal band Judas Priest for inspiring his friend (consciously and “subliminally”) to pull the trigger on himself. To make art or even sense out of this horrific story—which also involves a lot of family abuse, drugs, violence, and fundamentalism—would require an H.L. Mencken or a Nathanael West. All it gets here is a barely competent documentarist more interested in exploiting his subjects' misery than in attempting anything that resembles serious analysis. The sheer cheapness, crassness, and inhumanity of what emerges certainly makes an impression, but don't expect any intelligence or insight.

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