As far as online criticism goes, “The worst music video ever made!” is harsh but hardly unusual. But it’s a different matter when the person saying it actually produced the video in question.
That’s what it says under the YouTube clip of the promo for Anger, the 1983 single by Canadian muscleman-turned-cult metal icon Thor. The snark came from one Joseph Provede, who took full responsibility for the no-budget Dungeons & Dragons knock-off, the first video he'd made.
“I too stake claim as the producer of this video that this is one of the worst music videos ever made,” wrote Provede, who died in 2012, making reference to “cardboard swords, graffiti-splattered castles and a midget [dwarf]… Embarrassing? Yes, I know. But, at the time it seemed like a good idea."
The man who starred in the video takes it in good humour, although, naturally, he doesn’t agree. “Anger was not a great video,” Thor says today. “But the worst video ever? Not really.”
The singer, full name: Jon-Mikl Thor, was one of the most memorable acts of the early 80s. A teenage bodybuilder and one-time rival of the young Arnold Schwarzenegger, he won more than 40 muscleman contests in the 60s and 70s, being crowned Mr Canada and Mr North America among other things.
But music was his true passion, and he parlayed his love of rock’n’roll into a parallel music career than included 1977's classic proto-punk-metal album Keep The Dogs Away and 1983’s Unchained EP.
Thor’s stage show was memorable for his feats of strength: he would bend iron bars in his teeth and, famously, inflate hot water bottles until they burst using lung power alone.
“The pain in my lungs,” he groans of the latter. “You’re blowing it up and it’s getting bigger and bigger, and it doesn’t explode when you want it to. I got knocked unconscious a few times, cos it’s so big it slaps you back. Boom! Lights out.”
Anger itself was a classic early-80s metal anthem, but it’s that promo that has passed into the annals of so-bad-it’s-brilliant history. Starring Thor as a heroic, blond-bombshell barbarian figure rescuing a swooning damsel from a ruined castle, it also features a hooded villain, a troupe of hobbit-esque followers, and a climactic sword fight that’s more school play than Game Of Thrones.
“We needed a video to get on MTV, but our label weren’t going to put up any money,” says Thor. “So I got together a few bucks and made this very inexpensive video, hoping someone would play it. The idea was to protect the fair maiden from the evil one. In the early eighties there were a lot of sword-’n’-sorcery movies – Conan The Barbarian was out – but I was trying to do my own thing, more tied in with Norse mythology.”
Despite its comedy value, the video possesses an admirable DIY spirit. “Someone like Ozzy could afford to make elaborate videos, but I wasn’t Ozzy, and Anger definitely was not an elaborate video,” says Thor. “But I was doing what I needed to do.
“I never became as big as Ozzy, or as so many others, but I’m satisfied with my stature. I have a beautiful life. All the sacrifices, all the pain, all the battles… I’ve come through them and survived.”