Cinophile: Heavy Metal

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Sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll, mixed with a dash of the old ultra-violence. Animated movies generally serve to entertain bored toddlers and giddy fans with cutesy characters and flowery plotlines. Far fewer tackle such heady topics as intergalactic space, interstellar drugs and inter-species intercourse. Then again, there was a time when few comics touched on these lurid topics either. But not the Heavy Metal books – and certainly not the movie spin-off… (Warning: NSFW)Heavy Metal

The Heavy Metal comics have long been celebrations of exceptional art combined with highly exotic stories. It is the place where artists like Simon Bisley, Moebius and Frank Frazetta plied their trade and became a blueprint for adult comic entertainment everywhere. Heavy Metal the movie would be no different, bringing together the art and stories from an eclectic stable of hard-nosed mature science-fiction and fantasy creators. Very comfortable with its French origins, the anthology called Metal Mammoth, Heavy Metal never shied away from explicit material. The movie wasn’t going to do things any differently…

Heavy Metal

Basically an anthology, Heavy Metal starts with a mystical green orb holding a young girl hostage so as to tell its story. This morphs into a day in the life of a near-future cab driver, then a tale about a geek who is transported to a distant galaxy of barbarians. Along the way we swing by the trial of the outrageous Captain Sternn, see how the crew of a B-17 bomber is ambushed by the terror orb, watch aliens kidnap a buxom secretary from the White House and culminate in the final story which no doubt influenced the art style of He-Man. In between are hard rock songs, jokes completely unworthy of polite company and more than a bit of nudity and violence. Basically the kind of movie you’d never see from Disney.

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Years later the series produced Heavy Metal 2000, which focused on a single story, but kept the sex-drugs-rock theme firmly intact. There are talks of a third film, though the rumours have been swirling around for years. Fans would love to see it, since Heavy Metal is the perfect canvas to blend the latest animation tech with the best artists in the game. Also, there is a distressing lack of over-the-top science fiction in animation. It’s been a decade since The Animatrix and going on nearly 20 years for Ghost In The Shell. And neither come close to the giddy excessiveness that was Heavy Metal. But even if a third film never arrives, there are the originals. And the 1981 classic stands above them all.

Cinophile is a weekly feature showcasing films that are strange, brilliant, bizarre and explains why we love the movies.

Last Updated: September 23, 2013

James

A total movie glutton, nothing is too bad or too obscure to watch, unless it's something like The Human Centipede. If you enjoyed that, there is something wrong with you. But bless you anyway - even video nasties need love...

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