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I waited a bit before contributing a review for I wanted to read a few
reviews to see if what I thought would be true...and it is. So let a
lady step in and point out a few things for those who are interested in
viewing this film.
This film was actually started in 1978, and finally released in 1981 and I was there to see it. It is based on the adult fantasy sci-fi America version magazine "Heavy Metal". The original origin of the magazine is French, very adult, very graphic, very sci-fi, lotsa nudity BUT excellent and compelling storytelling.
The key phrase is "Adult, Fantasy, Illustrated".
Just because its a 'cartoon', does not mean its for kids.
Looking at the Animation now in 2002, its dated. In the mid-80's Japanese Anime has set and kept raising the bar on this kind of adult anime genre. This early mainstream American attempt was good, for it had a good model, the magazine, Heavy Metal.
If Heavy Metal had waited to be produced until now, with all the advancements on technology, animation, graphics, art we have at our disposal, I only wish that the popular artists and storytellers of the magazine Heavy Metal were involved. It would be a different film indeed, and it would get an NC-17 rating. The only pieces that were trademarks of the Heavy Metal magazine were "Soft Landing"/"Grimaldi" "Den" and "Taarna".
More specifically, "Taarna" WAS exactly what the American Heavy Metal Magazine was all about and uncredited was Jean Giraud who has done a hell of a lot of work in the magazines history....both American and French versions is the cause for that. You may know his work by his other more famous name, "Moebius".
If you ask me, the film could have gone one of two ways: just like the magazine story by story without the silly connector of the green orb, or with just the one story of "Taarna". Back in 1978-1981, I would assume the Studio Executives could not venture into that manner without getting squeamish about box office so what we have is a tip-toe cross blend between the two. On one level it works, on another it does not. Its a viewers decision.
I like this 1981 version of the movie Heavy Metal, although a few stories didn't live up to the level of the magazine content..or were not presented as such. "Neverwhereland" should have NEVER been cut, I would have taken it over "Captain Stern" any day. "Neverwhereland" seemed to be along the lines of the magazines' content, too bad it wasn't included. "Harry Canyon" I could have taken or left, made no difference.
Additionally, I JUST loved "Den" and "B-17". I loved the soundtrack, for Metal is America. But just like the magazine, it was adult, it was fantasy, violent at points and contained nudity. It was early "R" Adult Animation American Style. (I know...Fritz the Cat was an "X" rated Animation that instead of using humans, used felines. Besides, Fritz was Ralph Bakshi's ticket outa Disney Animation and Robert Crumb is the 70's counter culture!)
This film, "Heavy Metal" was also marketed as the male dream: Metal Music, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Nudity.
But wait...why was I...a woman interested?!?!?
It was "Taarna". This was the first animated woman in an American made mainstream animated adult feature film that the world needed, that the world depended upon, that was tough, that was independent, not a size four but voluptous, and was still very sexy. Nowadays, it may not mean much, but in 1981 when I was a teen and saw this, it meant a lot. Snow White, she wasn't and was she the Wicked Witch of the West either and that is how women were portrayed up till the release of Heavy Metal.
When I read a few stories in the adult magazines Heavy Metal from the late 70's to the early 90's, both American and French versions, the women in the majority of the stories, although drawn by European men and set in uncertain futures, wear...and in many cases...don't wear at all... and involved in explicit sexual situations..the women WERE the heroes!!
All in all, keep in mind Heavy Metal was made for an adult audience, just like the magazine. It's not just for the teenaged guys, its not just for the stoned and metal heads, its not just for the trekies or x-filers. It's a good effort for its time but if you're expectting work like in late 80s/90's Japanese Anime like "Katsuhiro Ôtomo's Akira", etc., or 2001's "Taro Rin's Metropolis" remember its 1981, and American, and NOT quite like its name sake Magazines, but its still good.
A lot of reviews of this film are negative, and I spotted one that said
this film is merely for the older generation. Well, I just have to say
that this comment is incorrect. I myself was not produced until after
the film had been around for some years (*raises hand* 1986), and I
highly enjoy this wonderful flick.
I got the chance to sit down and watch the movie with my mother when I was 13, and I instantly fell in love with it. I love the way the green orb links the stories together, the humor, the music, and yes - even the animation.
True, the animation is nothing compared to the stuff that's out there these days, but this film is a classic. If you don't understand the film's stories, then you clearly weren't paying attention.
Heavy Metal magazine is fantastic, and this movie is nothing short of the magazine's beautiful creativity.
Also? Comparing Heavy Metal to its sequel, Heavy Metal 2000, is simply wrong. Heavy Metal 2000 pales in comparison to the original. Sure, the soundtrack is amazing, but in my opinion, that's about it.
Gerald Potterton's "Heavy Metal" is definitely one of the best animation movies ever made.It has everything:violence,sex,nudity,humor and intelligent story.Great soundtrack by such hard rock/heavy metal groups like Black Sabbath,Nazareth,Devo,Blue Oyster Cult,Journey,Sammy Hagar,Trust,Grand Funk Railroad etc.My favourite segment from "Heavy Metal" is "B-17"-this one is dark,bloody and creepy!My highest recommendation.
One of my all-time favorite flicks is this animated anthology of stories all bound together by this glowing green "Locnar," an orb of evil unmatched in all of time and space. The animations are terrific: "Harry Canyon" about a futuristic cabbie in NYC, "DEN" about a nerd who is transported to a far off land as a hulking muscleman, "Taarna" about mankinds last stand against the power of the "Locnar," and others. My personal favorite is the short "B-17" about a bomber in WWII and the horrible power of the "Locnar." As I mentioned previously, the animation is spectacular...reminding me of a day when not everything was computer-generated. Features Cheap Trick, Riggs, Nazareth, Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult, Devo and others on the kicking soundtrack. Overall, a classic of the 80's: one that shouldn't be missed at any cost. My Highest Recommendation.
I have to admit, I loved this movie from when I first saw it. A true cult
classic, and second in Midnight Movie viewing only to Rocky
I think one reason that this movie was looked forward to for so long is that it was unavailable for so long. I remember around 1984 when a release was planned, and a dispute with the multiple musicians caused it to be pulled. But thankfully this was finally resolved, so we can own it again.
I bought a pirate copy when i was in Japan in 1988 (On Beta no less), and almost played it to death. And having been a fan of the comic when I could find it, I think it told the stories very well. I admit that the "green sphere" link was silly and did not work, and that the original "carousel" concept would have been much better (watch the DVD release for details on this). The simple fact that I have bought 3 copies of this time and still own all 3 of them says something about the movie.
Harry Canyon, Den, and Taarna are the be the most remembered pieces of this movie. Each in itself could even be fleshed out to hour long length, and still be enjoyable. So Beautiful, So Dangerous is enjoyable, and Harold Ramis and John Candy steal the show with their voices ("Hey man, you got any of that plutonium niborg left?"). And I admit, the film version of the story was MUCH more enjoyable then the original one from the comic.
PS: Watch for the cameo of a destroyed USS Enterprise. I love pointing that out to people that miss it.
Heavy Metal, the movie, is great encapsulation of Heavy Metal, the
Heavy Metal was and is an anthology of the best of American and European
comic writers and artists. It has carried the work of such masters as
Moebius, Druillet, Liberatore, Bernie Wrightson, Howard Chaykin, Walt
Simonson, Arthur Sydam, Enki Bilal, Richard Corben and Simon Bisley. The
movie adapts some of the great stories from the glory days of the
The movie is much like the magazine: a mixed bag of sci-fi, fantasy, horror, comedy, and erotica. Some of it is good, some not. My personal favorites are Harry Canyon, Den, Captain Sternn, B-17, and Tarna. Harry Canyon is a sci-fi tale of thugs, femme fatales, and cynics ala Dashell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, transported to the future. It has been cited as an inspiration for The Fifth Element, by some; but it bears some resemblance to the works of French artist, Moebius, who created designs for The Fifth Element. Moebius also factors into Tarna, as the entire look of this sequence is almost xeroxed from Moebius' Arzach stories.
Captain Sternn is the anti-hero/criminal from Bernie Wrightson, co-creator of Swamp Thing and illustrator of a beautiful edition of Frankenstein. This is a fun sequence, full of comedy and chaos, much like the Sternn stories. Sternn has more than a slight resemblance to a certain Kryptonian.
B-17 captures the flavor of the old EC horror comics, like Tales from the Crypt and the Vault of Horror. The sequence features design work from Mike Ploog, a horror comics master and artist of Marvel's Man-Thing. It has a nice creepy, decayed atmosphere and lets the visuals tell the story.
Den is adapted from Richard Corben's tales. The melon-breasted women that Corben is known for are on fine display here. We also get the humor that also permeates Corben's work. John Candy was quite good here, giving Den the perfect adolescent voice.
Tarna is the most lush sequence, with sweeping vistas and the use of rotoscoping for the character. It is also quite violent. Again, it owes a great deal to Moebius' Arzach.
So Beautiful, So Dangerous is pretty forgettable, with juvenile humor and boring animation. Soft Landing is fairly pointless, except to serve as a title sequence. The whole linking device is unnecessary, as the segments bear little relation to one another and are stronger as separate entities. The soundtrack is great, with most pieces capturing the flavor of the animation.
Ultimately, the uneven stories and lower budget animation holds this movie back. The movie is best viewed as an anthology, rather than a complete story, and with a forgiving eye to the budget. With that said, it's still entertaining and an important work of adult animation.
I'd imagine a lot of people commenting on this site are within a certain demographic and age group as am I. I notice quite a few comments from people who were in their teens when they saw this movie and identified with it and now who cannot fathom it. To them I say, it's not for you now. It was for you then. This is one of those movies that is aimed at people from the ages of 16 to 20 who are just starting to see what the world is about and what a difference they can make if they try. It's about having dreams and pursuing them and it's about making sure that you don't get carried away in the process. It gives you an idea of what awaits you in the wide world and yet it tells you that if you hold true to what you are and make things happen you will get what you want out of life in the end. Now, the animation isn't as good as even the old Batman/Tarzan Saturday morning cartoons of the 70's, but it has style for days. The soundtrack has become a top selling CD although released years afterwards. The voice characterizations are as good as any animated film ever made. And last but not least, it has John Candy, who, in my book, just has to show up to make a movie. Whether you stay to watch the rest of that particular movie is entirely up to you ... 9 out of 10.
Sure, it's not the best animation by today's standards. However, for when it was made the animation was top notch. It does have a great voice cast and the music is great. I graduated highschool in 1991 with long hair down my back. I went to my senior prom wearing a Motley Crue t-shirt--so nothing more to be said. I think anyone like me must appreciate Heavy Metal at least on some level. I also appreciate it for the art work and the small details. Watching a beatiful warrior godess slowly don her ridiculously sexy red outfit before wielding a sword to gut a bunch of mutants--it couldn't get any better. The movie as a whole, a conglomerate of strangley unrelated yet joined stories, makes this movie a cult classic--as true as they come. Perhaps that is what is lacking in Heavy Metal 2000--truely a sad attempt as a sequel, with no potential of ever being a worthy classic to sit on a shelf next to the original. The FAKK sword is the coolest thing about the movie, besides the Simon Beasley cover art. At least I think that's Simon's work and not Royo's--perhaps someone could confirm that. Okay, but not to stray from the topic of Heavy Metal (1981)---take it for what it is--don't over analyze it. Sit back, have a few laughs, poke fun at it, and at the end I think it's worth the watch.
Trying to con Harry Canyon in futuristic New York City ("big deal"),
striking a deal with Den, having sex with a robot (or, as he puts it,
"mechanical assistance"), bribing Hanover Fiste to testify on your behalf
court, praying for Taarna to save you. None of these things have anything
common except for the Loch-nar, a green ball supposedly containing the
essence and entirety of evil.
It doesn't matter if none of this makes complete sense or if it's even that good in terms of plot construction. This is Heavy Metal!
The concept of this 1981 animated experiment is two-fold: show good and evil in a constant state of flux, and bring to life the richness and erotic energy of the popular animated magazine. Add to that some science fiction, a slight reverence for history (in the beautiful ghoul scene in the WWII B-17) and a juvenile insight into drugs and sex, and you have the definition of my '80s youth culture.
I was one of those kids who'd sneak an issue of Heavy Metal, found on the magazine stands in the local drug store next to the grocery store where my father did his weekly shopping, inside another magazine and stare at the drawings, looking for some violence and humor ... and naked women with bi g breasts. I did the same thing whenever I got my hands on a National Lampoon and, if I was lucky, Hustler.
It's pre-pubescence at its hormonal best! And seeing it again as an adult brings all that excitement back to me. Every story, every piece of music ... God, every shot for that matter -- they all bring me back to being 10 years old and wrestling with my older cousin as she tried to block my eyes when the chick Harry Canyon picks up off the street strips and slides into bed with him to the tune of Journey's "Open Arms."
This movie wasn't meant to be cinematic greatness. It was meant to be a boy's fantasy and his coming of age. Sometimes we take these things too seriously. A good movie is a good movie, and a good memory is a good memory. Let's leave it at that ... and let me get a whiff of that stuff the spaceship pilots have lined along the floor...
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Made right before the buzz-crushing ultra-conservative religious right
backlash against the gloriously loose'n'libertine permissiveness of the
70's took hold, this wonderfully wild'n'raucous animated
sci-fi/horror/fantasy anthology film gleefully wallows in excessive
graphic violence, crass leering objectification of the amply
proportioned female form (buxom ladies only, please), and a wickedly
funny line in cheery low-brow humor. This movie sure ain't politically
correct -- and that's exactly why it's such a hugely enjoyable blast
from the funky early 80's past.
An evil glowing orb called the Loknar (the supremely sinister and velvet smooth voice of Percy Rodriguez) spreads its malign influence throughout the decades and galaxies. First tale, "Harry Canyon" - Cynical cabbie Harry (marvelously voiced to weary perfection by veteran character actor Richard Romanus of "Mean Streets") gets involved with a sexy young lass in a bleak and rundown futuristic New York. Second yarn, "Den" - A nerdy teenager (affably voiced by the late, great John Candy) winds up on another planet where he's transformed into a bald and brawny behemoth. Third romp, "Captain Sternn" - Sleazy scoundrel Captain Sternn stands on trail for his many heinous indiscretions. John Vernon scores strongly as the angry voice of the prosecuting attorney. Fourth opus, "B-17" - A very creepy and gruesome World War II zombie outing. Fifth vignette, "So Beautiful and So Dangerous" - A couple of wacky aliens and their goofy robot buddy abduct a sassy hot Jewish chick. Harold Ramis and Eugene Levy are hilarious as the Cheech and Chong-style stoner pilots of a giant smiley face spaceship. Candy once again is a delight as the voice of the charming and amorous robot. Sixth outing, "Taarna" - A lethal and lovely mute warrior woman mixes it up with a vicious horde of nasty marauders.
Boy, does this picture rate highly as the ideal guy flick: we've got a fantastic roaring rock soundtrack (Cheap Trick, Black Sabbath, Devo, Grand Funk Railroad, Nazareth, Blue Oyster Cult, Journey, Stevie Nicks and much more), plenty of sidesplitting sophomoric humor, stunningly voluptuous and often naked women, a handy helping of gore, a nice smattering of soft-core sex, a blithely breezy'n'carefree tone, and no pretense whatsoever to get in the way of the infectiously trashy fun. The strikingly stylized and varied animation is suitably vivid and garish throughout. Elmer Bernstein's lush majestic orchestral score likewise hits the spot. A real cool treat that's wholly deserving of its cult status.
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