Heavy Metal (1981) – Gerald Potterton

I remember seeing issues of Heavy Metal on the magazine rack when I would buy my Starlog and movie magazines growing up on CFB Kingston. I was young, I was there when I was ten and eleven, but I remember being intrigued by the covers I saw. They were appealing, fantastic art, beautiful women, and I could only imagine what was contained on the pages within, as I never built up the nerve to look inside one.

In fact, I didn’t see the movie, my next stop on the Sci-Fi Chronicles book until it was released to VHS with a shiny metallic looking cover. But from that moment on, I fell in love with the movie, featuring a fantastic soundtrack, the film is an anthology of stories showcasing various types of tales, animation style, and actors.

Richard Romanus, John Candy, Eugene Levy, Joe Flaherty, John Vernon, and Harold Ramis are among the voice talents at work here, as we are invited into a fantastic world, where a green globe of ultimate evil, the Loc Nar, faces off against young innocence. This encounter bookends the stories, all of which feature stunning images and a wicked late 70s, early 80s rock soundtrack – Cheap Trick, Devo, Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult, Nazareth, Stevie Nicks, and Journey. It also features a score by Elmer Bernstein.

The film has an amazing pedigree, and though it wasn’t successful upon release it attained cult status, and continues to find an audience.

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Each of the tales are based on some of the comics and stories published in the magazine, there are fun tales of a space trial, zombies (my favourite story), tough guy cabbies caught up in a future noir, avenging, barely clad warriors, both male and female, and drugged up aliens.

Names and dialogue filled with double entendre, the animation has layered details, while also seeming somewhat simplistic, and they also include the work of the legendary Moebius.

This one is a lot of fun to watch, you just crank the tunes and enjoy it.

And this is definitely not one for the kiddies. Sex, violence, rock and roll, it’s all here, as well as spaceships, flying insects, women barbarians, fantasy, science fiction, an incredible romp to enjoy that has found a home, and those who love it, love it a lot.

The film doesn’t deal with any real hard science fiction, instead it feels like a cinematic version of a sci-fi pulp magazine, luridly illustrated, colourful, beyond suggestive, and is, in fact, a Canadian film.

This one is definitely an experience, and one I like to revisit, every few years, and it’s always as fun as I remember. It’s too bad they couldn’t capture that seem feel for the less than stellar, and decades late, sequel (which I’ll be looking at soon enough, for the first time in years).

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