It’d be a shame if Gwar never shared the stage with Peelander-Z, a Japanese band whose over-the-top theatrics and made-up mythology rival those of the self-proclaimed Scumdogs of the Universe.
Jon Yi and Michael Haertlein’s Mad Tiger (named for one of the group’s signature anthems) is yet another documentary paean to an unsung musical act whose fringe staying power is as remarkable as its lack of mainstream coverage, but there’s little room for the usual music-doc self-importance when following a band that considers being called stupid a compliment — Peelander Pink reminds us that acting that way as an adult is something of luxury. She and her fellow color-coded band members collectively resemble punk-rock Power Rangers, with bare-bones production values to match.
Mad Tiger is occasioned in part by the imminent departure of bassist Peelander Red after twelve years with the quartet, a difficult transition that gradually takes the film in a less carefree direction. Peelander-Z’s nature doesn’t allow things to get saccharine, however, especially when frontman Yellow declares that “of course we practice song, but we don’t care about song,” as music accounts for only 10 percent of what makes their live shows special. (Asked in an interview his main weakness as a performer, he hesitates for a while before the answer comes to him: “I can’t play guitar.”)
Slight variations on that formula have served the likes of Kiss and Alice Cooper well, but Yellow and Red in particular don’t hesitate to show that there’s real pain behind their personas. Some costumes are for fun, but others are uniforms projecting a level of self-confidence that otherwise wouldn’t exist.
Directed by Jon Yi and Michael Haertlein
Opens May 6, IFC Center