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Heavy Metal (1981) Review

Heavy MetalReviewed by Kevin Scott, MoreHorror.com

Heavy Metal (1981)
Director: Gerald Potterton
Writers: Daniel Goldberg, Len Blum, Dan O’Bannon, Richard Corben, Bernie Wrightson, Angus McKie, Jean Giraud
Voice talents: John Candy, Eugene Levy, Richard Romanus, Al Waxman, John Vernon
Soundtrack artists: Sammy Hagar, Journey, Riggs, Devo, Blue Oyster Cult, Cheap Trick, Don Felder, Donald Fagen, Nazareth, Grand Funk Railroad, Black Sabbath, Trust, Stevie Nicks

If you were a kid in a record store in the early 1980’s, you saw this poster. Our record store was poorly lit with carpet crawling up the walls where you could thumb through albums with provocative covers while your parents ran their errands. Ahh, innocence lost. I couldn’t recall an animated film like this before or since, but the most significant thing that I can remember about “Heavy Metal” is that it taught me that animation can have adult and horrific elements. This movie scared me a little. A perverted and distorted dirty and grimy version of all the stuff that I saw on Saturday mornings.

I’m stretching my reach here for More Horror, and you can call me out if this one as more science fiction than horror. I chose it because it is an anthology, it has horror elements, and for many, broke the seal on the premise that animation can be explicitly violent and frightening. Based on the classic magazine of the same name, it’s a close cousin of Creepshow. Both were based on publications that broke ground and established new creative boundaries, and both were usually read by flashlight.

Like most anthologies, it had an anchor scene to tie all the stories together. A mysterious glowing green orb called the Loc Nar is the centerpiece that is supposed to be the root of all evil in the universe. It unravels a tapestry of stories to one frightened girl detailing all the evil and chaos it has begotten all across the universe. I liked most of the segments, and it was nice to hear celebrity voices while not having to watch a Disney film. The animation was cutting edge back in the day, using live models and scale models for planes and spaceships that would later be traced over for the animation process. It reminds me how far we have come in 33 years. It still looks great from the perspective of what it is, a cult pulp fiction masterpiece.

This happens to be required viewing for grindhouse enthusiasts, horror and science fiction geeks, and rock aficionados. The soundtrack is classic rock gold that’s meant to be watched in today’s home theatres. With animated monsters, zombies, blood spatters, and all the cartoon breasts you can handle, it’s way more than fodder for a parody about the fantasy world that huffing cat urine can take you to. Hey, it made it on South Park, it must be socially relevant.

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