Based on the fantastical illustrated magazine Heavy Metal, producer Ivan Reitman enlists the help of some of Hollywood’s animation masters to create the otherworldly tale of a glowing green orb from outer space that spreads destruction throughout the galaxy. Only when encountered by its one true enemy, to whom it is inexplicably drawn, will goodness prevail throughout the universe. Richly and lavishly drawn, the vignettes of the orb’s dark victories include the character voices of John Candy, Harold Ramis and a pounding soundtrack by Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult, Cheap Trick, Devo, Donald Fagen, Don Felder, Grand Funk Railroad, Sammy Hagar, Journey, Nazareth, Stevie Nicks, Riggs, and Trust. Highly imaginative and full of surprising special effects, Heavy Metal set the standard for the alternative contemporary animation. An intoxicating experience not to be missed!
As long as there is a need for adolescent male sexual fantasy, there will be an audience for Heavy Metal. Released in 1981 and based on stories from the graphic magazine of the same name (possibly the greatest publication to simultaneously provoke imagination and masturbation), the film has since become the most popular single title in Columbia/TriStar’s entire film library. That’s an amazing fact considering just how silly and senseless the movie really is–an aimless, juvenile amalgam of disjointed stories and clashing visual styles, employing hundreds of animators from around the world with a near-total absence of creative cohesion. It remains, for better and worse, a midnight-movie favorite for the stoner crowd–a movie best enjoyed by randy adolescents or near-adults in an altered state of consciousness.
With a framing story about a glowing green orb claiming to be the embodiment of all evil, the film shuttles through eight episodic tales of sci-fi adventure, each fueled by some of the most wretched rock music to emerge from the 1980s. The most consistent trademark is an abundance of blood-splattering violence and wet-dream sex, the latter involving a succession of huge-breasted babes who shed their clothes at the drop of a G-string. It’s all quite fun in its rampantly brainless desire to fuel the young male libido, and for all its incoherence Heavy Metal remains impressive for the ambitious artistry of its individual segments. Courtesy of producer Ivan Reitman (who’d just scored a hit with Stripes), voice talents include several Canadian veterans of Second City comedy, including John Candy, Harold Ramis, Eugene Levy, and Joe Flaherty. –Jeff Shannon