If you were into metal or B movies in the 80s, (or like me both) then you should be familiar with Thor, the big blonde bodybuilder turned singer and actor. It seemed like he was everywhere on tour, on vinyl in every issue of Kerrang! And in movies like Rock N Roll Nightmare. Then, just as suddenly as he appeared he was gone. What happened? Where did he go and why? Well, now you can find out.
I Am Thor is a fun, lighthearted look at Jon Mikel Thor, his life and career. And what a life it’s been, from being kidnapped in a record company contract dispute to being a nude waiter to the perils of low budget touring and B movie stardom. We follow him from his school days when he wanted to wear superhero costumes to school to becoming a bodybuilder and starting his first band. And from there on to bigger, if not always more successful things. Management problems and personal demons finally driving him out of showbiz and into a “normal” life.
But after his marriage collapses he realizes he really was never meant to be normal and embarks on a comeback. This is the focus of the film, the older, not so buff Thunder God trying to summon back the magic of past days. And doing a pretty good job of it, even if the venues are smaller and the complications a bit more common. At one point his band even leaves him do to lack of money, but he works around it and puts a new/old one together.
While it would be easy to poke fun at him and mock him for his efforts the film never does, although it does tell some less than flattering tales, such as why he quit his job as a nude waiter. But it’s always with a sense of laughing with him and not at him. It’s a celebration of a man doing what he loves doing and not letting anything get in the way. And while it does deal with his depression and attempts at suicide it doesn’t dwell on them, he acknowledges they happened and that he got help for his depression.
There’s plenty of concert footage both from then and now, (I was particularly happy that Let the Blood Run Red is being performed in several clips), and he still sounds good and can bend a steel bar like he could in his prime. He talks about, and even announces his retirement, but by the film’s end he’s having second thoughts. Indeed he’s been touring with the movie, screening it and then performing.
I admit I may have gone into this biased to like it, I’ve seen Thor live three times over the years and have seen all his films. And it was nice to see that he really is a cool, very genuine guy, (somebody even mentions he did the dishes when he stayed with them on one of his tours), a rarity in the entertainment world these days.
Recommended for fans of metal, B movies and those that are just curious. For added fun get Anvil: The Story of Anvil for a double dose of Canadian bands who should have been a lot more famous.