Saturday, August 16, 2008


The Judas Priest Suicide Case

Thought I would post the Google Video link where you can watch this interesting and rare documentary, directed by David Van Taylor and produced for American public access TV in 1992.

On the night of December 23, 1985, after a heavy session of drinking and marijuana smoking as they sat in their tract house and continualy listened to the LP Stained Class by English heavy rock group Judas Priest, two young men in Reno, Nevada walked to a nearby playground and put shotguns to their own heads.

Raymond Belknap shot himself fatally, while the other, James Vance, was grossly disfigured. Their parents, claiming that subliminal messages in Judas Priest's songs mesmerized the boys into their bizarre suicide pact, filed suit against CBS Records. The mens' parents and their legal team alleged that a subliminal message of "do it" had been included in the Judas Priest song Better By You, Better Than Me from the Stained Class album (the track was actually a cover of a Spooky Tooth song). It was alleged the command in the song triggered the suicide attempt.

Centered around this non jurored trial, Dream Deceivers looks at this tragedy through interviews with Vance, his and Belknap's parents, other Reno "metalheads", and members of Judas Priest themselves. Plastic surgeons tried all they could to restore what was left of Jay's face, but were only able to restore his ability to eat and breathe - the disfigurement was too severe. Jay returned home to live with his parents between hospital visits and would ride his bicycle around town shocking the locals with his grotesque disfigurement. He would eventually die from a deliberate overdose of painkillers.

Writer Harmony Korine: "I used to sneak into the NYU library and they had a copy of it and I would watch it. It gave me the strangest feeling. Just the images of those two kids listening to Stormtroopers of Death, driving around Reno deserts drinking Miller-Lite. Fucking blowing their brains out, listening to Judas Priest backwards. And that guy being interviewed with this face that's completely blown off... It was so eerie."