A long time ago in a wussy country called France, a comic book artist named Moebius decided that his people needed something awesome. So Moebius, along with three other authors and artists, created the magazine "Metal Hurlant" a sci-fi/horror anthology full of blood, gore and naked ladies. Very classy. After a couple years of little French kids sneaking it out of many comic shop's "Mature" section, National Lampoon wanted to buy the magazine and sell it to an American audience. Of course the French surrendered to NL's checkbook and it became "Heavy Metal". And that is how the weirdest comic book partnership of all time was created.
Seriously how does this happen?
The magazine became really popular, so popular that an animated movie spin-off was created by some of the magazine's main illustrators and film producer Ivan Reitman. The final product is a series of stories that revolves around a giant green orb of evil that loves to talk. The stories include:
- "Den": A nerd that transforms into a well-hung wizard killing strongman, who has a sexy girlfriend.
- "Harry Canyon": A taxi driver with a cab thats better equipped than the %$#@ing Bat Mobile, who has a sexy girlfriend.
- "So Beautiful and So Dangerous": Coke sniffing aliens and their robot assistant... who meets a sexy girl.
- "Captain Sternn" The trial of an sexy space captain (think Zap Brannigan of Futurama), no ladies in this one.
- And my personal favorite, "B-17": zombies in a plane.
The stories are very faithful to the style of the magazine, in that they are awesomely crass. Every unimportant character seems to die in the most violent way possible. The female characters have DDDDs and they seem to have an allergy to all clothing materials. Drugs are used so frequently that even the background was experiencing tie-die flashbacks at one point. While this film may offend the majority of old people, it becomes so ridiculous that it really starts to look like "Tom & Jerry".
While the stories are great nerd fantasies, the actual animation is a mixed bag. The plus is that the illustrations are amazing, the settings were written with great detail and the use of color (especially in "Den") is unbelievably dramatic. But once you see characters move, its pretty ugly. The majority of the film was shot in rotoscope, where human models were filmed and then traced in during production. While this makes for realistic pictures, the models motions were very slow and exaggerated. It's even worse during fights where these models clearly do not know what they are doing.
"This is why stunt men exist, now take me to a hospital!"
The worst part is near the end of the film. They filmed a scene where a house explodes into huge ball of fire. But according to Wikipedia the production was near the end of its deadline and the artist could not trace the explosion in time. They put the explosion in the film anyway... seriously, they did. Apparently extending the deadline by a month or using stock footage of was impossible to do. If there is a saving grace for this messy flick, it's the %$#@ing awesome soundtrack.
What happens when you have Grand Funk Railroad, Devo, Black Sabbath, Sammy Haggar, Don Felder, and Blue Oyster Cult? A cure for cancer. It even has a good songs by Cheap Trick and Journey, and they are legally obligated to suck. While most people will complain that doesn't sound like METAL then they really need to take a history lesson. Before the mid-80s #$%@ music in the ear, the blues/psychedelic rock genre known as Heavy Metal was actually awesome and listenable. Anyway, the music is badass without trying to overwhelm the picture.
In the end its a classic example of a really good concept and bad execution. It is still a fun film to see as a historical relic or a drinking game (1 shot every time you see boobs or genitals). Just don't take it seriously, like "Rocky Horror Picture Show", it's a pretty stupid film with a soundtrack that should in your mp3 player.
3 outta 5