Rob Reiner is ready to turn it up to 11 again. The writer/director revealed on the RHLSTP with Richard Herring podcast this week that he will revisit one of his most iconic projects when he gets the band back together next year for a sequel to his legendary rock mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap.
The beloved 1984 film that skewered all things rock is slated to begin filming in February with original stars/writers Christopher Guest (Nigel Tufnel), Michael McKean (David St. Hubbins) and Harry Shearer (Derek Smalls) repriseing their roles as the hapless metal band who once lost a drummer in a “bizarre gardening accident.”
Reiner said he will revisit his role as documentarian Martin “Marty” Di Bergi, telling Herring, “We’re making a sequel… everybody’s back.” Like the original — which featured cameos from Ed Begley Jr., Fran Drescher, Dana Carvey, Billy Crystal, Angelica Huston and Fred Willard — the reboot will feature some even heavier hitters making cameos, including Paul McCartney, Elton John and Garth Brooks, plus a “few other surprises.”
The original found Reiner filming a documentary on one of “England’s loudest bands,” in a film in which most of the dialogue was improvised, with some of the iconic catchphrases — including “turn it up to 11” — becoming part of modern rock parlance; not for nothing, radios in Teslas go to 11.
It follows the self-important rockers on a 1982 U.S. tour to promote their Smell the Glove album, which some retailers refuse to stock because of its sexist cover image. Along the way there is a scheming astrology-obsessed girlfriend, a ill-fated, accidentally, hilariously tiny Stonehenge stage prop and a classic scene where the band loses their way to stage that was inspired by a real-life video of Tom Petty getting mixed up backstage at a show in Germany.
The accompanying soundtrack album featured such ridiculously over-the-top metal anthems as “Hell Hole,” “Tonight I’m Gonna Rock You Tonight,” “Big Bottom” and early hit “Gimme Some Money,” all performed by the movie’s stars.
Though the film did modest box office at the time, it has since blossomed into a midnight movie must-see, even making it onto the Library of Congress’ list of culturally significant artifacts. “No, we never did,” Reiner said of whether he thought the comedy would have such long legs and garner such accolades as the Library honor and making the list of movies worth preserving from the National Film Registry.
In essentially creating the rock mockumentary genre, Reiner recalled screening the film in Dallas and having confused theatergoers coming up to him after and asking, “I don’t understand, why would you make a movie about a band that nobody’s ever heard of? And they’re so bad!”
In an interview with Deadline last year, Reiner hinted at the direction of the sequel. “I can tell you hardly a day goes by without someone saying, ‘why don’t you do another one?,’” Reiner said of the idea to revisit the film for its 40th anniversary. “For so many years, we said, ‘nah.’ It wasn’t until we came up with the right idea how to do this. You don’t want to just do it, to do it. You want to honor the first one and push it a little further with the story.”
At the time, Reiner said the second Tap would follow the band after a long break. “They’ve played Albert Hall, played Wembley Stadium, all over the country and in Europe,” Reiner said. “They haven’t spent any time together recently, and that became the premise. The idea was that Ian Faith, who was their manager, he passed away. In reality, [actor] Tony Hendra passed away. Ian’s widow inherited a contract that said Spinal Tap owed them one more concert. She was basically going to sue them if they didn’t. All these years and a lot of bad blood we’ll get into and they’re thrown back together and forced to deal with each other and play this concert.”
Listen to Reiner talk Spinal Tap sequel here (movie talk begins around 2:00 mark).