With “Metal Hurlant Chronicles” airing on SyFy now, I figure my next Vault entry would be a look back at Heavy Metal the movie.
Take a ride!
I love this movie, but I hate this movie. This movie will never do justice to the magazine which inspired it. Now, many think Heavy Metal is just schlock, bullshit, and porn. Well, in many cases they’re right. However, there is some pretty good story material to be remembered from the magazine. Several independent artists and writers have published to Heavy Metal. A famous example is of course, Moebius.
Now, the movie itself is another story. This film is semi-infamous for rushed production. If this film took more time to develop, it would have most certainly been much better. This picture advocated cartoon storytelling for adults. But, the rushed writing and attempt to slap stories that may or may not have appeared in the magazine may make some ask otherwise.
Plot wise, this film is essentially the rambling exposition of a horny cosmic horror baseball of death (“Loc-Nar”) to a little girl whose father was vaporized for no reason… Yeah, that’s pretty much it. Format wise, it’s an anthology film using that gimmick to tie these stories together and I think it falls completely flat. However, the individual stories (for the most part) aren’t too bad. However, there are a few worth talking about.
The sequence known as “B-17” is probably my favorite. This part is set in World War II as a B-17 Flying Fortress is being bombarded by Axis war planes. The ship takes massive damage before attempting to retreat. The remnants of the crew try to restore the ship as best as they can before being visited by good ol’ Loc-Nar. The suspense and twists lend itself to terrifying Tales from the Crypt style story.
Based on art value alone the sequence with “Harry Canyon” (Haww haww!) is my favorite. Both aesthetic and plot wise, It’s very Noir, from a futuristic tinge. Naturally, fans of that type of vibe should appreciate this story a little bit.
The last one, TAARNA, was pretty interesting standard fantasy/sword n planet type of stuff, but the sequence with the main character swimming in the nude for several minutes isn’t just a cheap attempt at fan service, it’s obnoxious. Sometimes I wonder why do female characters in fantasy always have to wear shitty armor. “Chainmail bikini” in combat = get chopped in half. Tangent aside, the story itself is not too bad sword and sorcery fare. The story involves Taarna, a warrior defender of her people. After her barbarian hordes are cursed by Loc-Nar’s evil, she sets out to destroy it! While her power is great, Loc-Nar’s is greater. In order to defeat the gibbering perv orb, she sacrifices herself in epic heroism. After that story, Loc-Nar go ka-boom and the annoying girl from before becomes Taarna! (what?)
The main story/intermissions most certainly holds up, as it mostly consists of the little girl’s hilariously contorted expressions of terror and the gibbering asshole orb. Not to mention the other segments aren’t too wonderful either.
One of the most interesting aspects of this movie is the soundtrack. Instead of going with a traditional score (which was planned initially), the film has a variety of well loved rock songs from a wide range of bands. Because of the nature of the sequences, this causes the film to feel like a bunch of music videos, perhaps intentionally.
Is this a bad movie? Yeah. Is it enjoyable? Depends. If you’re into cheesy goodness, rock music videos, and have a puerile sense of humor and entertainment, you’ll love Heavy Metal. It’s good, dirty, mindless fun. Take a ride on heavy metal!