Lords of Chaos, from Spun/Spawn director Jonas Akerlund, opened in limited release this past weekend. It depicts one of my favorite obscure, lurid corners of music history, the Norwegian black metal scene of the early 90s, which eventually dissolved into murder, suicide, Satanism, and arson (which is paradoxically also the only reason it was ever known).
Lords of Chaos is the first scripted film about the saga, but far from the first film to tell it. As someone who can’t get enough of this story, Akerlund’s film felt like both a novel take on the material and true to it. In one invented scene, Euronymous (played by Rory Culkin), guitarist of Mayhem and sort of the ringleader of the scene, meets Varg Vikernes (played by Emory Cohen), the eventual singer of Burzem. Euronymous walks up to Vikernes, points to a Scorpions patch on his jacket, and says, simply and condescendingly, “Scorpions.”
It’s a great scene, that seems to succinctly capture the kind of dick measuring/purity testing that used to characterize music scenes, and still characterizes so many fandoms. Euronymous shames Vikernes just by reading the patch, that Vikernes knows he’s supposed to be ashamed makes it so much worse. But speaking to Akerlund recently, he revealed that as originally shot, the scene didn’t involve the Scorpions at all.
“We made a point out of their relationship starting in a weird way, and also [wanted to convey] how affected Varg was by Euronymous and his black circle,” Akerlund explains. “It was actually meant to be shot with a Dr. Feelgood, Mötley Crüe’s patch.”