Rockwood Cinema Review: Hysteria -The Def Leppard Story (2001)

In our next Rock & Roll movie review, we take a look at the Def Leppard bio-pic, Hysteria: The Def Leppard Story (2001).

Before Motley Crue’s recent Netflix movie bio-pic, The Dirt (2019), there was Hysteria: The Def Leppard Story (2001). Before streaming, this made-for-TV-movie focused on one of the most recognizable names in rock history, Def Leppard. However, here they may not be so recognizable. For the most part the casting is good but Joe Elliot (played by Orlando Seale) looks more like Biff Byford from Saxon and guitarist Phil Collen (played by Esteban Powell) looks like the dude from Styx, Tommy Shaw. You will, however, recognize Def Leppard’s original music as it helps move the drama along in this bio-pic.

More Def Leppard on
Put it on, leave it on – Essential albums: Def Leppard – Hysteria
Day 5/10 Album Challenge: Def Leppard – “Hysteria” (1987)
40 Years Later: Def Leppard’s Logo Still Inspiring Greek Restaurants Across the World

“Phil Collen (left bottom) looks more like Styx guitarist, Tommy Shaw, and “Joe Elliot” (right bottom) looks more like Biff Byford from Saxon.

Presented by VH1 this bio-pic has the look and feel of made for TV movie, so you have to take it with a grain of salt or sugar as it were. It follows the history of the band from their early formation in Sheffield to world domination with multi-platinum selling albums, tours and adoring fans. With plenty of real life trials and tribulations including the Steve Clark’s addiction to alcohol and the drummer, Rick Allen’s car accident and the subsequent loss of his arm. So, there is enough material to warrant a bio-pic, however the execution leaves a little to be desired.

A terrible tragedy…. this movie.

Bloody accidents and “bloody” terrible British accents abound in Hysteria: The Def Leppard Story. The off-stage performances are at times melodramatic but not the worst, however, and the cast do a reasonable job considering the budget and circumstance. That being said, the on-stage musical performances are pretty unforgivably bad. It’s as if the director gave them some encouragement and said “just go out there and show that you are having a good time, you got this!” There’s lots of rock and roll gesturing and antics with some questionable slow motion shots, including any time the guitarist hits a high note or the whammy bar (bam, slow motion out of nowhere).

Maybe just listen to Def Leppard’s “Rocket” on Cottage Country Vol. 20, skip the movie.

Hysteria -The Def Leppard Story(2001) has a lot of Canadian connections, but keep in mind we are not accepting any responsibility. Filmed in Montreal, it features some Canadian actors including astonishingly, Tori Spelling’s husband, Dean McDermott as their manager. Actor Adam MacDonald , who plays bassist Rick Savage is well cast. Adam Mcdonald is also a director now, having wrote and directed Backcountry, a riveting outdoor/bear survivalist movie that we have also reviewed.

More Rock and Roll Movie Reviews:
Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage (2010)
A Band Called Death (2013)

Robert “Mutt” Lange played by Anthony Michael Hall just wants to get a good take so he can go home. Both of them.

Outstanding performance goes to Anthony Michael Hall (Breakfast Club, Weird Science, Freddy Got Fingered) for portraying Mutt Lange, who is a very private person. I mean does anybody know what Mutt Lange’s mannerisms are? No! Well, the result is Anthony Michael Hall pretty much plays himself. Snarky guy: “Hey guys! You think we can…” (lots of that kind of stuff).

Def Leppard’s “Animal” is featured on Cottage Country Vol. 15:

Hysteria, the movie (not the album) does suffer a bit from an obvious lack of budget. Other elements include, inter-spliced fake crowd footage, which is always a crowd pleaser. Not without irony because Def Leppard sings with that “chorus of people” back up voice (you know what I mean). So. expect lots of terrible visual editing FX, but they are fun to make fun of. You will be singing: “Pour some salt into my eyes.” Not to mention, some questionable sets. I would say that, although this leopard (leppard?) may be spotty at times it’s not all bad and will probably appeal to fans.

Here is the whole rock bio-pic Hysteria: The Def Leppard Story (2001) to watch.

Rating:  /  5
Length: 1h 30m
Rated: R (probably for the drug use and alcohol consumption)
Best time to watch: During the day, early evening.

Hear Def Leppard’s “Rock Brigade” on Cottage Country Mix Vol. 4!

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