Heavy Metal (1981)

heavy metal poster 1981 movie
7.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 6/10
Visuals: 7/10

Experimental nature of the film for adults is fun

Some of the stories and art fall flat

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Heavy Metal

Studio:  Columbia Pictures

Genre(s):  Animated/Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Action/Adventure

Release Date(s):  August 7, 1981

MPAA Rating:  R

heavy metal flying car opening

Welcome to Heavy Metal

Loc-Nar is evil.  Trapping a girl at its disposal, Loc-Nar begins to tell tales of its evil and how it is and always will be.  From a distant savage planet, to a crumbling metropolis, to a space station, Loc-Nar’s influence is felt everywhere.  Can a force of evil like Loc-Nar ever be stopped?

Directed by Gerald Potterton and produced by Leonard Mogel and Ivan Reitman, Heavy Metal is an animated anthology film targeting adults and using the Heavy Metal magazine founded in 1977 as its basis.  The Canadian-American movie was a box-office bomb at its initial release but gained a cult following.  Despite airing on television, there were right issues involving the music in the film that kept it from being on VHS for years, but the movie finally made it to video in 1996.

heavy metal sex r rated den

Wouldn’t be an adult animated movie without animated sex

Heavy Metal at points is pretty dirty and not for kids.  There is a lot of nudity, sex, and violence…so that will either be a selling point or a reason to avoid it.  The cult of Heavy Metal has inspired other films (and the great South Park—Season 12 episode “Major Boobage”) so if you are a fan of different animated films, it is a must.

The stories in Heavy Metal are hit or miss.  This is often the case in anthology films and in this film it is mostly a question of how shocking the stories might be.  The stories that do push the limit of good taste are often the best ones of the film.

heavy metal loc nar ball

I love it when dad comes home with killer sentient orbs when he goes on a business trip

The movie has a weird format but in classic anthology fashion has bookend to give an overall story.  The film starts out with an intro where a man brings Loc-Nar home from a business trip (and is immediately killed).  The movie then is stories by Loc-Nar to the man’s terrified daughter.  The story are done by different artists and mostly in rotoscoping style (which fails to live up to Ralph Bakshi’s films).  The story titles are “Soft Landing” and “Grimaldi” (the opening set-up sequences), “Harry Canyon” (the cab driver), Den (the geek boy turned warrior), “Captain Sternn” (space station trial), “B-17” (World War II horror tale), “So Beautiful, So Dangerous” (alien abduction), and “Taarna” (the most famous sequence with the warrior woman and her flying steed).  The Taarna story wraps around into the opening tale and has the girl destroy Loc-Nar and becoming a new warrior like Taarna.  A segment called “Neverwhere Land” was cut for time and was meant to show how Loc-Nar’s influence spreads on a planet.  A few of the stories have the voice of John Candy as characters which is a bit distracting (and disturbing)…especially if you watched Camp Candy.

heavy metal taarna warrior woman

Weird flying critter…you’re the best

Heavy Metal is definitely an acquired taste.  I will say that the first time I watched it, I didn’t enjoy it, but now I have more of an appreciation for the film.  The animation and style of the film is very adult and won’t sit well with everyone.  The movie often goes for shock value, but some of the stories and art are very strong and memorable.  There has been rumor of a true remake of Heavy Metal with David Fincher’s name tossed around, but as of now, nothing has developed.  Heavy Metal was followed by Heavy Metal 2000 (in 2000) but the movie is an unrelated full-length story.

Related Links:

Heavy Metal 2000 (2000)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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