SUB-GENRES: Action / Adventure / Fantasy / Comedy
DIRECTED BY: Gerald Potterton
WRITTEN BY: Daniel Goldberg & Len Blum (screenplay); Based on art and stories by Richard Corben, Angus McKie, Dan O’Bannon, Thomas Warkentin, & Bernie Wrightson
PEW PEW: There is a great deal of animated action once you get into the thing, and the anthology format guarantees few dull moments.
CAT FOOD: Don’t fly when you’re stoned.
Heavy Metal is one of the single coolest movies ever made. Based on the incredible illustrated adult sci-fi/fantasy publication of the same name, the film perfectly captures the spirit of the early magazine by presenting an array of short stories that range from the ridiculously funny to the intriguingly engaging, and even borderline horrific.
Connecting all of the stories together is the overarching tale of the Loc-Nar, a glowing green sphere that is apparently the sum of all evils. When a young girl’s father, Grimaldi, returns from space (in a friggin car no less) with the sphere, he is obliterated by it. The Loc-Nar then proceeds to boast its power by telling stories of the evil it has spread across the galaxy. Voiced by one of the coolest MF’s ever to walk the planet, Canadian legend Percy Rodriguez, the Loc-Nar briefly narrates each story and has a part to play in all of them.
The most glaringly obvious plus is the film’s animation style. While several animation houses were involved in bringing Heavy Metal to life, the different segments work together incredibly, perfectly capturing what makes the source magazine so friggin incredible. The movie has that early eighties animation style that I can’t get enough of. I would honestly consider this style of animation to be the platinum of animation styles.
The film is adult-oriented and features blatant sexual content. While it’s by no means pornographic, there are a great deal of naked bodies and boobies to be beheld, and surreal sexual encounters that work their way into the plot whenever possible. This, combined with gratuitous, barbaric, and graphic violence, and overt drug use, brilliantly underscores the exploitative nature of Heavy Metal’s pulpy sci-fi/fantasy magazine origins.
The voice cast is a veritable who’s who of some of the most talented individuals from the era. For instance, most people will recognise the voices of John Candy, Eugene Levy, and Harold Ramis in there. Oh, and John Vernon (who I usually refer to as simple The Voice) plays the prosecutor in the Captain Sternn segment. Reading off a ludacrisly long laundry list of crimes, Vernon is the perfect person to have in this role. Yeah man, with Rodriguez in this one too, that makes two of the greatest Canadian voices involved in the project!
People went nuts a couple years over Guardians of the Galaxy’s soundtrack, I’ll admit that I did as well (it was fucking great), but I’d like to note that Heavy Metal’s brilliant soundtrack presents as just as memorable, in my opinion. Using mostly hard rock from the era by the likes of Riggs, Donald Fagen, Sammy Haggar, and many more, Heavy Metal’s soundtrack gels incredibly with the picture to create an unforgettable audio/visual experience. Of note is the Captain Sternn segment and its use of the fantastic Cheap Trick tune “Reach Out.” I love it!
Finally, I have to mention how artfully put together the film is. The stories are insanely interesting little vignettes that are never too long. If, perhaps, you find one uninteresting, never fear! — The stories are quite short and you’re onto the next one before you know it. There’s are so many cool things happening in this one and it’s so much fun. I’m going to single out the “So Beautiful and So Dangerous” segment as my favourite. In this one, two alien pilots snort a savage amount of Plutonian nyborg and attempt to land the ship. Harold Ramis explaining to the co-pilot how to fly stoned, followed by a nearly catastrophic landing process is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.
SO unless you’re easily offended (this movie has neither shame nor fear, I assure you) or have a hard time with suspension of disbelief, do go out of your way to watch Heavy Metal. It’s an insanely well-rounded piece of counterculture art and, again, one of the single coolest films ever made.
WARNING: Red band trailer contains profanity, nudity, and refers to the use of drugs.