Heavy Metal Review

Heavy Metal
A glowing green orb that represents all that is evil in the universe has been unknowingly brought to Earth by an astronaut as a gift for his daughter. It kills him, and begins to terrorise the young girl by showing her a series of visions.

by Ian Nathan |
Published on
Release Date:

01 Jan 1981

Running Time:

86 minutes



Original Title:

Heavy Metal

An anthology of adult-orientated animated sci-fi stories linked by a glowing green orb called the Loc-Nar, the representation of ultimate evil. The tales it tells involve a cynical cab driver rescuing a girl from mobsters in New York; a nerd who is transported into the fantasy world of Neverwhere where he is transformed into a muscular stud; a wicked space captain on trial; a WWII bomber crew transformed into zombies; a Pentagon secretary abducted by randy aliens; and a final tale where the horrible Loc-Nar transforms a peaceful people into a rabid hoard of killers.

While undoubtedly rooted in a pubescent male fantasy of gigantic space age breasts, aroused robots and limb-lopping ultraviolence, this animated portmanteau has become a cult film in a genuine sense. It even rivals the Rocky Horror Picture Show on the midnight circuit, a sleazy, sexist brilliantly made adventure movie that says more about the nature of comic books than a brigade of camp-clad X, Y or Z-men.

Its origins lie, suitably enough, in the ‘adult’ comic book Heavy Metal, a trippy fusion of wank-fantasy and geek-fest, a sexually liberated Dungeons And Dragons picture book whipped up with oodles of gore. And rather than circumventing the sheer political incorrectness of its wobbly teenage projections, the film embraces them wholesale. To the shuddering beats of the self-same named style of music, a procession of junky, giggly tales of varied science-fictional parts proceeds. What makes the difference, and allows the film a definite place in the pantheon of animation, is the fact that the stories are, Amazonian virtues aside, well-written, stunningly drawn and, often, very funny.

Indeed, such later sci-fi films as Total Recall, The Matrix, and most transparently The Fifth Element have all borrowed heavily from its fertile store of ideas. That it is a cartoon that takes kids right out of the equation is the best recommendation of all.

Every bit as uneven as you'd expect, it belongs firmly in the 'fans only' filing cabinet.
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