by Ryan Wise

I Am Thor is an uplifting documentary about the rise and fall (and rise again!) of gladiator-rocker Jon Mikl Thor, best known for his hit songs "Keep The Dogs Away", "Knock Them Down" and "Lightening Strikes". Sadly his success was short lived, and the film seems to emulate this by minimizing that particular portion of his life story. But the focus of this film is not so much about Thor the band as it is about Thor the man, or should I say Jon: the man behind the persona that is Thor.

The film begins as an easy going chronological journey. We're treated to snapshots of the Canadian born rocker's childhood, his bodybuilding career and his time as a naked waiter in Hawaii before we get to his transition from bodybuilder to rock 'n roll icon. The personal stories and tidbits of info that Thor reveals about the first wave of his career are amongst the most fascinating and outlandish narrative in the entire film. It borderlines on being downright unbelievable when he explains the reason for his thwarted success as a rockstar.

The film turns briefly to document Thor's reinvention of himself as an actor, essentially playing the Thor character in a handful of shlock metalsploitation flicks (Zombie Nightmare and Rock 'n' Roll Nightmare). Although not really mentioned in the film, it would've been at this point where Thor partnered with the late director and horror filmmaker John Fasano. If I could change anything in the film it would have been to include a little more of Fasano's influence on Thor, and vice versa. But that's just my personal perspective.

The meat of the film is really spent on Thor's uphill battle to return to music and reclaim the relevance of his prior incarnation despite having single handedly pioneered an entire genre of heavy metal before leaving the spotlight in the late eighties. It's here that we see what a likeable person Jon is, and how truly passionate he is about his craft. We are also introduced to the loyal friends and connections that Jon has made over the decades, members of the cast that will play an integral role in the saga of Thor's return to rock.

I quite enjoyed this documentary. Even more so than I expected. It could have so easily have become a real life Spinal Tap, poking fun at the trials and tribulations of this unshakeable man, but it never does. This film was an ongoing side project for director Ryan Wise and his producing partner Alan Higbee for fifteen years!! They truly succeeded in capturing the human side of Jon Mikl Thor and presenting him in a way that is both honest and inspiring.

It is the duty of any rock enthusiast to check out this film immediately. I also urge you to read our interview with Ryan Wise to gain some insights into the making of this admirable film. You also need to check out P.J's interview with Thor himself!

Rich Leggatt, HMS

Back to Eerie Sounds

More band info here:

Jon Mikl Thor, better known as simply Thor, is a Canadian bodybuilding champion, actor, songwriter, screenwriter, historian, vocalist and musician. As a bodybuilder, he was the first Canadian to win both the Mr. Canada and Mr. USA titles. During his bodybuilding career, he has achieved over 40 titles around the world. – Wikipedia

Also be sure to check out:

Thor poster