Vividly illustrating what a rock-docu fan would call the further decline of Western civilization, Shane Aquino’s earsplitting “Road Dogs” follows a trio of garishly costumed and heinously self-destructive neo-metal bands — Kettle Cadaver, the Peppermint Creeps, and htth — from the Hollywood music scene into (yikes!) middle America. Ungainly in structure but energetic in style, the film shrewdly de-emphasizes the groups’ derivative tunes in favor of an alternately playful and harrowing, cautionary tale of touring under the influence. Copious oncamera drug use, onstage scarification antics and evidently unlicensed soundtrack snippets will keep the determinedly gnarly docu limited to specialized fest play.
Narrated by the director, who throws in animated scenes for sarcastic punctuation, “Road Dogs” runs down a list of top 10 important touring rules — including “Booking Shows” (No. 8). Aquino works hard not to moralize, although the fate of the Creeps’ hard-partying drummer Traci Michaelz can’t be spun as anything other than tragedy. While the pic features numerous interviews with Rock City News scribe and Hollywood scene-booster Ruben MacBlue, its greatest deficiency is its failure to place the bands in rock-historical context. Tech package of Aquino’s DIY thrasher appears suitably scrappy.