Howdy all you Supercultists out there on the interwebz!
I’m Bad Movie Professor Cameron Coker (BS in “Moebius” with a minor in “Movies Based on Magazinesl”) and I’ll be posting my hype-tacular speeches every week along with some long lost speeches from past Supercult Shows!
This week Supercult takes you beyond the future to a universe of awesome good and terrifying evil with Heavy Metal!
When a glowing orb called the Loc-Nar finds its way into the home of a space man and his daughter, the orb unlocks visions of devious evil to a universe never seen before. Mystery, passionate fantasies, and magic! It’s your one-way ticket to midnight…Call it Heavy Metal!
The original Heavy Metal magazine debuted in the US in the spring of 1977. It was published by the same company responsible for the National Lampoon and compiled primarily from the contents of the French magazine Metal Hurlant (“Howling Metal”), which had already been going for several years and had become a phenomenon in Europe. Metal Hurlant was published by an organization fronted by artists Philippe Druillet and Jean Guraud (aka Moebius), writer Jean-Pierre Dionnet, and Bernard Farkas. Metal Hurlant was stream-of-consciousness, erotic, violent, grotesque, and above all gorgeous. It came out at the right time when Star Wars and the rest of the sci-fi genre was in high demand, but it did things and went places that no one else dared, flaunting taboos like sex and drugs while still being funny and entertaining. Metal Hurlant has been called the most influential magazine of all time, having inspired or been a direct influence of everything from Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind to Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element, but the most direct link from legend to film is Gerald Potterton’s Heavy Metal, the feature length animated film.
Heavy Metal is a 1981 Canadian adult animated science fiction fantasy film. A sweeping tale of the battle of good against evil, this cult animated classic is an anthology of various stories adapted from the American Heavy Metal magazine and original stories in the same spirit in 8 parts:
- Soft Landing, the kick-ass title sequence
- Grimaldi, our introduction to the Loc-Nar and the connecting thread between all of the other segments
- Harry Canyon, a futuristic film noir starring a cab driver in a dystopian New York…with BOOBS!
- Den, a male pornographic fantasy about a dorky kid transported to a far away world and transformed into a burly black guy with his dork hangin’ out…also starring BOOBS!
- Captain Ternn, about an anti-hero facing an alien tribunal
- B-17, a horror thriller set during a WWII bomber run
- So Beautiful and So Dangerous, about a hot office wench who is abducted by two cokehead aliens and a lecherous robot…and BOOBS!
- And finally, Taarna, featuring barbarians, epic landscapes, sinister aliens…and, you guessed it, BOOOOOOOOBS!!
As you can tell, the segments that DON’T feature BOOBS are at a slight disadvantage!
Heavy Metal is saturated with the violence and sexuality that made the magazine so popular, but it also features a stellar soundtrack that, though not strictly representative of the heavy metal music genre, does represent 1981. Cheap Trick, Sammy Hagar, Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult, Donald Fagen, Stevie Nicks, Journey, Nazareth, and Grand Funk Railroad and other classic names fill out the track list while Devo also makes an appearance in animated form in a bar during the Taarna sequence. Meanwhile the equally fantastic symphonic score was written by Elmer Bernstein who also worked on the music for Ghostbusters, Stripes, Meatballs, Animal House, True Grit, the Great Escape, To Kill a Mockingbird, and the Ten Commandments just to name a few.
Several animation houses and directors worked simultaneously on the different segments and the film uses rotoscoping (an animation technique in which animators trace over live-action footage frame by frame) in several shots and for several props and characters. The B-17 bomber was shot using a 10-foot replica and then animated while Taarna the Taarakian was animated using Toronto model Carole Desbiens as reference. The shot of the exploding house near the end of the film was meant to be rotoscoped, but a shift in the release date prevented this and it remains the only non-animated effect in the film.
Heavy Metal was generally dismissed by critics upon release and enjoyed only limited appeal in its initial run. However, it became a popular cult attraction for midnight theatrical showings similar to The Rocky Horror Picture Show and The Room. While legal issues with the music prevented a home video version of the film for 15 years, Heavy Metal was in rotation on some cable channels including Cinemax, HBO, and TBS allowing for fans to record and circulate bootleg copies. Heavy Metal’s cult status prompted a limited re-release in 1996 which took in $550,000 and a ill-fated sequel, Heavy Metal 2000, which currently has a 0% on Rotten Tomatoes.
The ORIGINAL Heavy Metal has a 6.7 on IMDB and a solid 56% on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s raunchy, sexist, juvenile, and the limited animation budget of just $9.3 million leaves much to be desired, but Heavy Metal makes up for it with eye-popping visuals, a kick ass soundtrack, and an R rating that puts it in the history books right next to Ralph Bakshi and La Planète sauvage.
It’s a step beyond science fiction and a hallmark of cult classic animation!
The Supercult Show is proud to present: Heavy Metal!
Read more about how awesome Heavy Metal is here: