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Heavy Metal (1981) Poster

(1981)

Trivia

Jump to: Spoilers (5)
The home video was removed from circulation for several years because of problems with music licensing - with so many bands and artists on the soundtrack, securing rights to the music proved difficult.
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As in the magazine, the evil emanation Den battles is called Uhluhtc. That is Cthulhu spelled backwards, a reference to the God of Chaos in the mythology of H.P. Lovecraft.
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This movie was inspired by a long-running science fiction magazine of the same title, which began in Europe as Metal Hurlant. Most of the story segments are based on stories or characters featured in the magazine.
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According to his creator Richard Corben, Den's name is an acronym for David Ellis Norman. In the original Den storyline, Katherine Wells is an 80-year-old woman on Earth. Regardless, Corben considered the film adaptation of his story satisfactory. In particular, he was especially pleased with John Candy's performance as the main character's voice.
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This segment utilized rotoscoping for Taarna and her long flight over the land. An actress was filmed acting out scenes such as when she puts on her costume and when she attacks the thugs in the bar. She wore a black and white approximation of Taarna's outfit. For the traveling landscape scene a model was built and painted in black and white and filmed. The movie frames were transferred to cels and painted. The lycra reel on the DVD/Blu-ray releases shows most of these filmed segments.
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This movie is made up of eight segments.
  • Soft Landing: A 1959 fiberglass-bodied Chevy Corvette is deployed from a space shuttle, lands on Earth, and drives up to a mansion.
  • Grimaldi: The astronaut goes into the mansion and shows his daughter what he found. When he opens his case, a green glowing orb rises out and melts him.
  • Harry Canyon: A 21st-century New York taxicab driver finds himself involved between a covetous gangster, the beautiful daughter of an archaeologist, and a green glowing orb called the Loc-Nar.
  • Den: A nerdish teenager is transported through space and time to another world into the body of a muscular warrior, and becomes involved in a power struggle revolving around possession of the Loc-Nar.
  • Captain Sternn: A square-jawed space pirate is on trial for numerous serious charges and only his character witness can save him.
  • [Neverwhere Land]: Deleted segment about how the Loc-Nar guided the evolution of life on Earth through violence and anger.
  • B-17: The remaining crew of a damaged World War II B-17 bomber must survive the machinations of the Loc-Nar.
  • So Beautiful & So Dangerous: A voluptuous secretary transported by accident onboard a spaceship when its crew retrieves its android.
  • Taarna: The Loc-Nar corrupts a tribe of human outcasts, turning them into vicious marauders that will overwhelm the world with cold, murderous violence. The last scion of a warrior race, seeking to avenge the deaths of the people she was sworn to protect, is the only being that can stop them.


The Grimaldi segment is the link device that ties this movie together. The Loc-Nar features in some way in the six stories that follow. It narrates to the captive girl tales about its great power before it begins to devour her.
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Elmer Bernstein's theme for Taarna was actually written for the character Alex in Saturn 3 (1980). The theme was never heard in the movie, so Bernstein used the theme for this movie.
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Apparently, Elon Musk was (is) a huge fan of this movie, as his Tesla with Starman at the wheel mounted atop the Falcon Heavy launched 2/06/2018 is nearly identical to the Corvette with the astronaut aboard in the opening segment "Soft Landing".
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The robot that sells Harry Canyon the hot dog is Robby the Robot.
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Actors John Candy, Joe Flaherty, Eugene Levy and Harold Ramis all starred on the ensemble comedy series SCTV (1976). Like this movie, "SCTV" was a Canadian production.
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The sequence of the exploding mansion near the movie's ending was originally to be rotoscoped, but as the movie's release date had been moved up from to August 7, 1981, a lack of time prevented this. This remains as the only non-animated sequence in this movie.
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As the barbarians overrun the city of Kraan, the structure where the council chamber is located resembles the helmets worn by the two men on the cover of Black Sabbath's album "Never Say Die!" (1978) - the last album the band recorded with lead singer Ozzy Osbourne before he left to start his successful solo career in. Black Sabbath, with Ronnie James Dio singing, are featured on the soundtrack with their songs "E5150" and the title track from their album "Mob Rules" (1981).
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In the Taarna sequence, as the Barbarian hordes overrun Kraan, a bunny pops out of a barbarian's bedroll for one or two frames.
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The storyline that connected the various tales was dubbed the "Grimaldi Segment". Austin Grimaldi and Joe Grimaldi were part of the sound crew on the movie.
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The graffiti on the side of the space-going party palace reads "Martians are people too."
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In the "So Beautiful & So Dangerous" segment, the two Plutonian Nyborg snorting aliens are named Zeke and Edsel. In the stoned aliens in space scene, there's a spaceship that was made of two "Ever Ready" batteries.
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The scene where Den decides to improvise a loincloth upon arrival in Neverwhere is a playful reference to the original story in Heavy Metal magazine while being a concession to North American movie classification systems to keep the movie rated "R" and thus able to be distributed in mainstream cinema chains. In that story, one of the original defining ones featured in the magazine, Den and Katherine remain completely naked, are entirely comfortable being so, and are fully visible as such in Neverwhere, a primitive fantasy world which has no nudity taboos.
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The Taarna storyline was illustrated by the acclaimed artist, Moebius. He was concerned about the environment, which is why the background has a great deal of randomly-placed water pipes.
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The date on Harry Canyon's copy of the New York Times is July 3, 2031.
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Elmer Bernstein worked on the scores for both this and John Landis' horror comedy An American Werewolf in London (1981) at the same time.
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This Canadian movie's soundtrack has no Canadian artists.
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The small floating egg-shaped one-eyed robot in the Captain Sternn segment is named Beezer. In the original story, he had four arms and was larger.
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An early red band trailer shows Harry Canyon being held up by the thug, but the thug is voiced by another person. The scene with Tarnna on the rack has her being drawn more detailed, with line work depicting her "six pack" while the movie reverts to just having the basic cartoon look.
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The late Harold Ramis, the voice of Zeke in "So Beautiful & So Dangerous", went on to direct both John Candy and Eugene Levy in the road comedy National Lampoon's Vacation (1983).
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This movie was released from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment on the DVD Collector's Edition on November 23, 1999, and on Blu-ray on June 14, 2011.
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Heavy Metal is primarily a music sub-culture genre whose grassroots derive from the white blue-collar, working class culture whose archetypal bands are, for example, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Metallica and AC/DC. The birthplace of this musical sub-culture is historically acknowledged to be the city of Birmingham, England during the late 1960s and the early 1970s.
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

Body count: 69.
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In the original Captain Sternn story that appeared in Heavy Metal magazine, Hanover Fiste lives at the story's ending. The story as seen in this movie, has Fiste finding the Loc-Nar and dying at the story's ending. Those two changes were made for the movie to facilitate the connecting thread of the Loc-Nar in this movie, and the final scene of Fiste's hand burning up in the atmosphere while holding the Loc-Nar was the scene that connected Captain Sternn with the excised "Neverwhere Land" sequence.
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This movie is parodied by South Park (1997) in their twelfth season in an episode entitled South Park: Major Boobage (2008). Kenny and Gerald gets high off of cat urine and has several hallucinations that uses the same animation style of the movie, songs from the movie's soundtrack, and numerous references to the movie itself.
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When the aliens are stoned and flying through space, one of the damaged starships they pass is the USS Enterprise. Coincidentally, the Enterprise was destroyed in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984) when Captain Kirk activates her self-destruct program while battling the Klingons.
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Apparently, there are two never talked about versions of the movie, the one that has been THX remastered today released in 1996, that everyone knows and loves but, there is however another version predating the THX version, differences include in the B-17 segment when one of the pilots is getting brutally attacked in the bubble on the plane, you can hear his screams in agony, the THX version replaces the screams with music cues, also in B-17 the zombie pilots when first introduced are accompanied by a loud screech, which was completely removed. The original version sadly only exists in VHS recordings of late night cable television recordings predating 1996 released "louder and nastier than ever" copies.
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See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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