A month ago, bought and watched the DVD for the cult animated film Heavy Metal. The appeal of this movie was very obvious. Then I looked into it more. Given the title, I was expecting a rather ear-splitting soundtrack, until I learned that the movie is actually based on some of the serials in the Heavy Metal magazine. Even the logo for the movie is the same as the magazine.
Either way, before any of you feminists complain, this was a movie designed for men. If you have a problem with it, take it somewhere else, because I really don’t need any of that mindless “girl power” crap that’s thrown around a lot.
As I just said, this movie was made for men, and I really like it. I think it holds up as one of the greatest animated films of all time. Why? That’s what this post is about. Sit tight, and be wary that there are spoilers in this post. If you don’t to ruin the movie, look away. Or, if you’re like me, you won’t care about spoilers, and look on ahead.
The story is divided into little vignettes (short stories that present a scene) that are all somehow connected. In this case, the thing that connects all the stories together is the Loc-Nar, a glowing green orb that is “the sum of all evils”. The (briefly summarized) vignettes are as follows:
- Soft Landing – The opening scene of the movie
- Grimaldi – The eponymous astronaut brought back a green cystal (later revealed to be the Loc-Nar), which later melts him.
- Harry Canyon – A taxi driver named Harry Canyon investigates an incident involving a group of gangsters chasing an archaeologist’s daughter for the Loc-Nar.
- Den – A nerdy teenager is transported into a fantasy world, where he is a mighty warrior and spoiler of women.
- Captain Sternn – An amoral space captain named Captain Lincoln F. Sternn is being tried on a plethora of serious charges, and Sternn’s witness quickly turns against him.
- B-17 – A World War II fighter plane flying through space lands on a place where the crew have turned into zombies.
- So Beautiful and So Dangerous – A woman is taken up to a spaceship where she stays in bed with a robot.
- Taarna – The final segment, which follows the quest of the last descendant of a warrior race.
The story is actually brilliantly constructed, and with great voice talent from the likes of John Candy (as Den and a robot), Rodger Bumpass (as Hanover Fiste), and Richard Romanus (as Johnny Canyon), the latter two being relatively unknown actors. Like the magazine, the movie is abundant with strong language, graphic violence, nudity and sexuality, the perfect ingredients for a men’s movie, all benefiting from the unique animation.
I also enjoy the creative fusion of sci-fi and traditional fantasy elements, which is genuinely creative, and serves as an inspiration for me. The other notable aspect of this film is that it features a stand-out soundtrack from such artists as Black Sabbath (during the Ronnie James Dio era), Devo, Blue Öyster Cult, Sammy Hagar, and many more. I can’t get over the Heavy Metal theme song for bizarre reason, and songs like “Veteran of the Psychic Wars” and “Through Being Cool” have become some of my favourite songs.
In conclusion, I feel that this movie is a beacon of masculinity. It’s unashamed, it’s fantastical, and it’s really bold. They released a sequel called Heavy Metal 2000, which has a soundtrack featuring contemporary 90’s metal bands like System of a Down, Pantera, and Insane Clown Posse. I’m not so sure about the sequel, but I may give it a shot.