More and more films premiere on Video on Demand — if they don’t simply bypass a theatrical release altogether. Because VOD reviews are often scarce and hard to find, Criticwire created VODetails, a recurring column to help you figure out whether a new VOD release is worth your hard-earned dollar. This time we’re looking at “A Band Called Death,” a documentary about a pioneering punk band — not a movie about the rise of parody Livestrong bracelets.
Directors: Jeff Howlett and Mark Covino
Criticwire Average: B (3 critics)
Synopsis: “Before Bad Brains, the Sex Pistols or even the Ramones, there was a band called Death. Punk before punk existed, three teenage brothers in the early ’70s formed a band in their spare bedroom, began playing a few local gigs and even pressed a single in the hopes of getting signed. But this was the era of Motown and emerging disco. Record companies found Death’s music — and band name — too intimidating, and the group were never given a fair shot, disbanding before they even completed one album. Equal parts electrifying rockumentary and epic family love story, ‘A Band Called Death’ chronicles the incredible fairy-tale journey of what happened almost three decades later, when a dusty 1974 demo tape made its way out of the attic and found an audience several generations younger. Playing music impossibly ahead of its time, Death is now being credited as the first black punk band (hell… the first punk band!), and are finally receiving their long overdue recognition as true rock pioneers.”
“The filmmakers’ savvy structural decisions yield powerful momentum and compelling interest from start to finish.”
“An emotional story of faith and family.”
“Determined and persuasive filmmaking pays off with a moving and remarkable true-life account of groundbreaking musicianship.”
“One of the best music documentaries to come out in years.”
“Is ‘A Band Called Death’ a good story well told? I’m on the fence. But it’s sure as hell a good story.”
“A Band Called Death” is now available on VOD and digital download.