Hey guys! Listen, I’m sorry not starting the review like this. Normally, I try not to break character this often, but I just want to give a warning to some of my readers who are not familiar with today’s film, ‘Heavy Metal’. Yes, this may be a cartoon film, but it is NOT a “Kids Movie”. As a matter of fact, I truly do hate the stereotype that animation is for kids or it should only be for kids. Trust me, ‘Heavy Metal’ is NOT for kids! Strong language, heavy violence, gratuitous nudity, some frightening imagery and drug use. I’m telling you all this now because I will have to show some clips and stills from the film. Normally, I would not have a problem showing violent imagery, but this will be one of the very rare occasions where I’ll be showing nudity in one of my articles. The reason why I’ll be showing some of the film in all of its glory is to showcase the film’s animation style. So, if any of you are under the age of 18 or if you’re easily offended by nudity(real or animated), I must ask that you stop reading this article right now. You have been warned. With that said, thank you guys for your votes and your support. Enjoy the review!
Hey kids, it’s Dash Jordan here. You know what time it is? It’s Request Time!
So, you guys must really love seeing me review animated features, because it was a close one between a handful of animated movies. However, the people have spoken. Apparently, it’s like your brain on some high octane. He he he, I’m excited too! So, won’t you take a ride…on HEAVY METAL!!!
Whoa…good trailer, man.
‘Heavy Metal’ is a 1981 animated sci-fi anthology film directed by Gerald Potterton and produced by Ivan Reitman. The film is also based on the sci-fi & fantasy magazine of the same name. Much like the magazines, the film contains distinct animation styles, creative writing, and gratuitous nudity & violence.
Now, this may have to be a slightly longer review since the whole point of an anthology film is that there’s multiple storylines that may or may not be connected. I will be going over these different stories, however, I will try my best not to give away any-
Thank you, River. So, what connects all of these stories altogether? Glad you asked, it’s about as complicated as you think. You see, there’s this omnipotent green-crystal ball called a Loc-Nar. This astronaut brings the Loc-Nar back home to show his daughter, the Loc-Nar kills the astronaut and shows the little girl flashbacks of all of the evil and suffering it has caused all throughout time and space.
The first of the Loc-Nar’s macabre-like stories is called ‘Harry Canyon’, which follows the titular character; a NYC cab driver from the future who gets himself caught in a noir-style adventure involving the Loc-Nar after saving a mysterious young girl from being killed by an alien mobster. Can you take a guess at how she returns the favor?
‘Harry Canyon’ is actually one of my personal favorite of the film’s shorts. With its neo-noir style storytelling, decent animation, a very nihilistic and dry-witted protagonist, not to mention that I have a bit of a soft spot for this particular story as there are many similarities to ‘The Fifth Element’, one of my favorite sci-fi films of all time.
The next story is ‘Den’, which is about a geeky young boy who finds the Loc-Nar and adds it to his rock collection. However, the Loc-Nar teleports him to a fantasy world and becomes a full-grown hero named Den. The young Den from Earth continues to narrate as we see his adult form venture through this strange new world, battling deadly monsters and getting caught in a feud between two insane yet powerful rulers who both want the dreaded Loc-Nar.
‘Den’ is probably one of the more creative, imaginative and fanciful of all of these stories. The characters, setting and story all feel highly inspired by those old adventure serials like ‘Flash Gordon’. ‘Den’ also draws heavily from H.P. Lovecraft, as well as other ‘Conan The Barbarian’. Also, the late, great John Candy is hilarious as always as he voices both the young narrator and the titular hero.
In ‘Captain Sternn’, the titular space captain is a wanted criminal who’s been put on trial for a countless number of charges; including theft, rape, and one moving violation. Think of this guy as Capt. Kirk without the likability.
Anywho, Stern had paid this one guy to testify on his behalf. Of course, this guy just found a bright-green marble lying on the floor…yeah, it goes just about as well as you’d think. Not much to say about this one, however. Definitely one of the weaker stories in this movie.
In ‘B-17’, the Loc-Nar makes its way to Earth during WWII where we see soldiers aboard a B-17 bomber under heavy fire. After an intense battle, the Loc-Nar begins bringing all of the dead soldiers back to life as flesh-eating zombies.
Short and sweet! The eerily-detailed animation, chilling music, claustrophobic atmosphere, the Twilight Zone-style ending, everything about this short is absolutely perfect. Definitely one of the more graphic entries of the film, in terms of violence and gore.
Then there’s ‘So Beautiful & So Dangerous’…this short is a weird one. Seriously, this one is hard to explain. Something about a horny cyborg sent by aliens, they accidently abduct some big-breasted woman, she ends up having sex with another robot, the girl and robot start talking marriage, the alien pilots start snorting space coke…NO! I’M SERIOUS! LOOK!
The only thing noteworthy about this entry is the animation and the music. Don’t worry, I will get to the music eventually…in another separate article.
I know, I know! Trust me, it’ll be worth it. Now, let’s move on to the final story, ‘Taarna’. In this short, we follow a silent warrior woman who’s summoned to hunt down an army of killers who’ve all been mutated by…you guessed it!
Another brilliantly-written fantasy! Arguably one of the most memorable segments of the whole movie, and it’s obvious that the most effort has been put into this particular short. I don’t want to give away too much, but this story is highly inventive, the musical score is beautiful and Taarna is one of the more interesting characters as she never speaks, preferring actions over words.
Jesus! Why do we like her again?
Ahh…anyways, this is where I’ll have to end things. If you haven’t seen ‘Heavy Metal’ before…what the hell is wrong with you?!? This movie has beautiful 80s animation, an amazing score by the legendary Elmer Bernstein, creative writing, and…there was something else about this movie that made it memorable, wasn’t there?
What?!? But you’re the one who’s always talking about…oh, nevermind. The point is this; if you love animation, sci-fi, fantasy, horror, classic rock & roll, 80s cheese or if you just have a thing for cartoon lady parts, put the kids to rest and check out ‘Heavy Metal’. You won’t regret it.
…Yes, still awesome. Until next time, Gotta Dash!
Written By Shane Moose
Heavy Metal(owned by Columbia Pictures, Guardian Trust Company, Canadian Film Development Corporation (CFDC) & Famous Players)
The Blues Brothers(owned by Universal Pictures)
Doctor Who(owned by BBC)
Ken Park(owned by Kasander Film Company, Cinéa, Vitagraph Films, A-Film Distribution & Fortissimo Films)
The Fifth Element(owned by Columbia Pictures & Gaumont)
Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan(owned by Paramount Pictures)
Chappelle’s Show(owned by MGM Television, Comedy Partners & Pilot Boy Productions)
A special thanks to the three big F’s in my life(Friends, Family & Fans) for helping me get this far, pushing me to go even further and for putting up with me when I try going further than that. To hell with my limitations!