Western Animation: Heavy Metal
"Blue Oyster Cult, Black Sabbath, Sammy Hagar and Riggs take you to a universe you've never seen before. A universe of magic. A universe of mystery. A universe of sexual fantasies. A universe of awesome good, and terrifying evil."If you were looking for the music genre, go to Heavy Metal.
The 1981 Canadian-animated film anthology of stories from the magazine of the same name. Laden with sex, violence, profanity, decent animation, and a rippin' soundtrack
The framing story for each short concerns the Loc-Nar, "the sum of all evil," a sentient, floating green orb
that kills people by painfully melting them into goo
or turning them into monsters (and a plot device that figures into each short), showing a young girl its influence across space and time (after killing her astronaut father, who had just brought it back to Earth, de-orbiting in a classic Corvette convertible
- Harry Canyon, New York taxi driver, gets caught up in a fight between a gang and an archeologist's daughter over the Loc-Nar. She screws him more than once.
- Den, originally a skinny, nerdy kid named Dan (voiced by John Candy), gets sucked into Neverwhere, becomes a bald, naked, musclebound hunk (still voiced by John Candy) that every woman in the story (equally naked and buxom) apparently throws herself at, and involves himself in a fight between an evil queen and an unkillable dandy to save the girl he encountered upon arrival. One of the better received stories, thanks in part to Candy's narration giving the macho fantasy a refreshingly lighthearted humourous touch that takes away none of the eroticism. Due to the fairly consistent female nudity, this segment is generally excised from TV prints of the movie altogether. (Incidentally, this is one of the few segments of the movie to have no songs - Elmer Bernstein's score is front and centre here.)
- Captain Sternn, on trial for multiple crimes (including a moving violation), gets more than he bargained for when Hanover Fiste, the man he paid to act as his character witness, goes berserk under the Loc-Nar's influence.
- B-17: limping home after a World War II bombing run with most of the crew dead, a USAAF B-17 encounters the Loc-Nar, which then reanimates the dead into flesh eating zombies. The pilot bails out and lands on an island filled with plane wrecks and more zombies. The scariest part of the film. Among critics of the movie, also regarded as the strongest segment, and rarely spoken of in anything but a positive light.
- So Beautiful, So Dangerous: aliens abduct a buxom Pentagon secretary, and the robot leader takes a shine to her. The pilots ingest a massive amount of plutonium nyborg and fly home utterly stoned, while the robot gets into the secretary's knickers. The Breather Episode after B-17, and seems to be playing things for laughs.
- Taarna, the last Taarakian, is called to defend a peaceful civilization from Loc-Nar-mutated barbarians. She arrives too late, and she turns to vengeance to fulfill her pact.
At the climax, Taarna's defeat of the Loc-Nar echoes, and the orb menacing the girl is destroyed. A purple bird of the same kind that Taarna flew arrives at her side, and she flies off
, her hair turning white and the Taarakian crest appearing on her neck.
Once noted for Keep Circulating the Tapes
because music rights kept it from being released on home video. Bootleg tapes of it would routinely turn up, some taped off airings on pay cable channels. Now legally available as well.
The film is adapted from a number of stories in Heavy Metal Magazine
, an American version of the French comic Métal Hurlant
founded by Moebius
and Philippe Druillet
. A number of other adaptations have also been made, including the film Heavy Metal 2000
(which had almost nothing to do with
the first film) and the Third-Person Shooter F.A.K.K.2
(which was based upon Heavy Metal 2000
). Somewhat strangely, the film Heavy Metal 2000
is also sometimes seen under the title Heavy Metal: F.A.K.K.2
Plans for a new version of the film began to take shape in 2008, with lots of big names
floated around to direct segments. However, the project fell into Development Hell
, since nobody was interested in investing in it. However, in August 2011, Robert Rodriguez
acquired the rights for a Heavy Metal
movie and started the project over from scratch at his newly created company, Quick Draw Studios.
The original 1981 film contains examples of:
- The Ace: Subverted with Captain Sternn. Outwardly he looks to be the typical Ace, with the heroic clothes, the swagger, the lantern jaw, etc., but we soon discover he's really a despicable character despite his outward charms.
- Alien Abduction: Gloria, by accident in "So Beautiful, So Dangerous".
- All There in the Script: In "So Beautiful, So Dangerous," Zeke and Edsel are the names of the stoner aliens, and Gloria is the redheaded secretary they abduct. The robot, however, has no name listed.
- Anthology Film
- Artifact of Doom: The Loc-Nar.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: The charges against Captain Sternn:
Prosecutor: Lincoln Sternn, you stand here accused of 12 counts of murder in the first degree, 14 counts of armed theft of Federation property, 22 counts of piracy in high space, 18 counts of fraud, 37 counts of rape...and one moving violation.
- Art Shift: Justified, as each segment was handled by a different animation studio.
- Ascended Fanboy: Den.
- Aside Glance: The title character in "Den".
- Badass Creed: Taarna, "To defend, this is the Pact. But when life loses its value and is taken for naught - the Pact is to avenge."
- Bald of Awesome: Den, again.
- Ballistic Discount: Averted.
- Bathe Her and Bring Her to Me: Said almost work-for-work by the mutant leader in "Taarna".
- Beast Man: The Red Queen's troops.
- Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted when Taarna is lashed during her fight with the Barbarian Leader.
- Body Horror: In "B-17". The poor airmen are already dead, but still. Also happens to the astronaut father of the girl.
- Bond Villain Stupidity: The Loc-Nar spends almost the entire film bragging about his plans instead of killing the girl while she's defenseless.
- Bowdlerise: In this incredibly graphic adult-oriented film, there is still some bowdlerization. In the Den segment, the titular character is wearing a loincloth. Guess what was different in the original Den comics.
- Bullying a Dragon: If you value your life do not do the following: Do not grope Taarna, do not challenge Taarna to a fight. Three of the Barbarian's thugs learned that the hard way.
- Captain Space, Defender of Earth!: Sternn, as one of the darker examples.
- Caught in a Snare: Taarna is caught in a net trap while flying.
- The Chosen Zero: Taarna. The people she's supposed to defend get slaughtered, she gets captured, whipped, and sliced by the bad guys, and wins only due to a Heroic Sacrifice from her pet and a random lightning bolt. Aside from decapitating three Mooks in a bar, her fighting skills are strictly an Informed Ability.
- Her winged mount bails her out of trouble twice, and she wastes so much time sexily getting dressed for battle that if the elder council had prayed for the bird instead of her, they might well have all survived.
- Then again, the people she's supposed to protect wait until the last possible second to summon her.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Norl is set up as Ard's top mook...and then disappears after Den "distracts" the queen.
- Although he does mention he and the rest of the troop would enter the chambers from the other entrance, then steals the Loc Nar after Den is found.
- Courtroom Antic: Big time.
- Crucified Hero Shot: And not a particularly subtle one.◊
- Damsel in Distress: Katherine.
- Danger Takes a Backseat: Several times in the Harry Canyon segment. Not very smart, considering taxi cabs in this world have a security system that vaporizes anyone in the backseat. Or at least, Harry's does. The fact people keep trying to threaten him while in his cab's back seat suggests this is not the norm. They can't all be under the crazy-making influence of the Loc-Nar (although one is).
- Death by Adaptation: Hanover Fiste didn't die in the original comic.
- Death Is the Only Option: Taarna the Taarakian sacrifices herself and her mount to defeat the sum-of-all-evils Loc-Nar. It works, and Taarna's spirit transfers to Grimaldi's daughter, making her the new Taarakian.
- Delayed Reaction: It takes a handful more lines of dialogue from Hanover Fiste after he mutates before everyone in the courtroom panics and flees for their lives.
- Demoted to Extra: In "So Beautiful, So Dangerous," the Loc-Nar only appears as a bauble on Gloria's necklace at the beginning of the segment. At most, all it does is make Dr. Anrak freak out and attack Gloria; other than that, it plays absolutely NO role in the story. Which makes one wonder why the Loc-Nar bothered to show that story to the little girl in the first place.
- Depraved Homosexual: Ard at least acts Camp Gay.
- Determinator: Taarna.
- Disintegrator Ray: Harry Canyon has one installed in his cab to dispose of passengers who try to rob him.
- Disney Acid Sequence: We get a short one in "So Beautiful, So Dangerous," to the tune of "All of You" by Don Felder. And the U.S.S. Enterprise even makes a cameo!
- Eldritch Abomination: The Loc-Nar, which travels through time and space wrecking people's lives and turning them into zombies, and is clearly sentient. Uhluhtc in the Den segment. Does this look familiar?
- Emerald Power: The Loc-Nar, which glows green whenever it exerts its power.
- Everybody Has Lots of Sex: Den lampshades the fact that, on this new planet, he got lucky twice in one day after arriving a virgin.
- Not that the fact he's now tall and muscular, saved one of the women from an unpleasant death and had something the other one desperately wanted might have had anything to do with it...
- Evil Sounds Raspy: Rudnick, the main villain of the "Harry Canyon" segment.
- Excuse Plot
- Face Nod Action: Den and his companion just before entering the Queen's quarters.
- Fanservice: So many huge-breasted naked women they could have called the film Heavy Silicone.
- Fantastic Drug: The plutonium nyborg that the alien pilots snort up in "So Beautiful, So Dangerous". It is ingested like cocaine and produces hallucinogenic effects while leaving its users in a mellow state of euphoria, basically a combination of marijuana and LSD in powder form.
- Follow the Leader: The Fifth Element borrows heavily from the Harry Canyon segment.
- Framing Device: Basically the whole film is the Loc-Nar bragging what a bad-ass it is.
- The Federation: Sternn is part of one.
- The Future Is Noir: Pretty much the premise of Harry Canyon's segment.
- Green Rocks: The Loc-Nar can raise zombies, transform humans into monsters, alter personalities, etc.
- Hates Being Touched: A couple of thugs learned the hard way that Taarna hates being touched inappropriately... by losing their heads. It didn't help that they belonged to the faction that killed the people she was summoned to defend either.
- Healing Factor: Ard.
- Heavy Mithril: The Blue Oyster Cult album Fire Of Unknown Origin was composed to be the soundtrack for the film - ultimately, only the song Veteran of the Psychic Wars (written by Michael Moorcock) made it into the film, though the song Vengeance (The Pact) off the same album is a blatant retelling of Taarna's story.
- Heroic Mime: Taarna, the lead action girl in the final segment, never says a single word.
- Horse of a Different Color: Taarna's bird-dinosaur-thing.
- Hulking Out: Hanover Fiste, care of the Loc-Nar.
- Human Sacrifice: The queen in "Den" does this to appease "Uhluhtc" and gain the powers of the Loc-Nar. Ard does the same thing later, with the same intended sacrifice, even.
- Hypercompetent Sidekick: Taarna's bird not only saves her from certain death twice, but also ends up kicking more ass than she does.
- I'm Melting: How many people in this film meet their ends, mostly by exposure to the Loc Nar.
- Intimidation Demonstration: The Barbarian Leader shows off the cutting power of his circular saw hand before fighting Taarna.
- Karma Houdini: Sternn.
- Large Ham: STEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERNNNNNNNNNNNN!!!!!!!
- Lantern Jaw of Justice: Inverted. They give the chin to Sternn.
- Last of Her Kind: Taarna. Until the end.
- Limited Animation: The Grimaldi bridge sequence has certain parts, like the Corvette, poorly rotoscoped, and the house blowing up in the end not rotoscoped at all, but this is due to time constraints.
- List of Transgressions / Long List: The charges against Sternn.
- Made of Evil: The Loc-Nar.
- Make Them Rot: The Loc-Nar can give off a green energy that causes highly accelerated decomposition. If used on living creatures it causes death ("Grimaldi", "Harry Canyon"). If used on dead bodies it makes their flesh rot away and turns them into animated skeletons ("B-17").
- Male Gaze: Throughout.
- Marijuana Is LSD: Plutonium nyborg, a Fantastic Drug in the film, is a powder that is ingested like cocaine by the alien pilots of the segment "So Beautiful, So Dangerous" and produces hallucinogenic effects while leaving its users in a mellow state of euphoria, as sort of a combination of marijuana and LSD.
- Most Common Superpower: Taarna.
The Agony Booth:
Revenge-seeking warrior, with boobs
! Just think every strong, silent fantasy hero cliché, and you’ll get the idea. Plus, boobs
- Most Writers Are Male: There was almost no female character that behaved in any way, shape, or form the way a reasonable and intelligent person would act. You had a woman who worked at the Pentagon, whose first reaction to being abducted by aliens was to complain that she was going to miss her gynecologist appointment, and who later fell in love with a robot who didn't look remotely human. (Of course, the archaeologist's daughter was trying to manipulate Harry, which makes her behavior to that point make sense. And as for Gloria...even the most sensible of us will panic and babble about random things while in shock—although, admittedly, that only explains her going off about her check-up, not jumping in bed with the robot.)
- The main exceptions are Taarna (a badass and grim Lady of War, even dressed like that) and the girl in the bridge segments. The girl is appropriately terrified of a green ball that just vaporized her dad. Even when she transforms into the new Taarna, she's never portrayed in a lurid manner as Taarna was in the last story (Taarna was ogled, whipped, sexually abused, and ogled.)
- Taarna is only a partial exception, because she was dressed like that. She's the right-hand side of the page image for a reason.
- Never Trust a Title: This movie really does not focus on the metal. The soundtrack is subdued enough that most of the music is barely audible in the background, there are long gaps between songs, and by today's standards most of the songs would not really be considered heavy metal. The name comes from the magazine the stories were taken from rather than the music.
- As far as the soundtrack album goes, only the Sammy Hagar, Riggs, Nazareth, and Black Sabbath songs were considered "metal" (or hard rock, at best). The Donald Fagen and Stevie Nicks songs were soft rock, the Journey song was a power ballad, the Devo song was New Wave, and everything else was regular rock.
- Indeed, as much as half the music heard in the film is a well-regarded symphonic score, composed by Elmer Bernstein.
- Nipple and Dimed: Every clip but B-17 has completely uncensored bare boobs. B-17 is Adult for another reason.
- Normally, I Would Be Dead Now: The Trope Namer, after Den, in his new body, swims an extremely long distance underwater.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Barkeeping: In "Taarna", when the title character enters a bar the bartender is repeatedly shown drying a glass.
- Percussive Maintenance: In "So Beautiful and So Dangerous" one of the aliens causes a compartment to slide open by kicking it.
- Pragmatic Adaptation: Most of the magazine-based stories are altered to fit the format. In particular, Den, who is perfectly comfortable being buck naked in the original comics, gets a loincloth. On the plus side, the comic's stiff English translation of the dialogue is replaced by a much relaxed tone that sounds more natural and humorous with a horny teenager's take on the macho fantasy story.
- Originally there was going to be a lot more overlap between the stories (e.g. Hanover Fiste is seen traveling on the same ship as the stoner aliens and declares that Sternn WILL go free). However this became impossible due to the filming of each segment being handled by different studios, with collaboration between them being incredibly difficult.
- Private Eye Monologue: "Harry Canyon" has it.
- Punny Name: Hanover Fiste. Harry Canyon.
- Raised Hand of Survival: The Taarna segment has the huge Loc-Nar spew a torrent of greenish ooze, which floods the valley and inundates everyone beneath it, including the red-robed leader. After much time submerged in this ooze, the leader's organic hand breaks the surface, still clutching his "Z" medallion. Then his mechanical hand also breaks the surface, and makes a fist. The leader emerges as an undead evil minion of the Loc-Nar, promptly declaring war on the rest of the living world: "Death to all who oppose us!"
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: The evil queen in "Den" and the Barbarian Leader's giant rat Right Hand Cats in "Taarna".
- Refuge in Audacity: Some of the charges against Sternn are so over the top they're hilarious, including running a prostitute ring consisting of preschoolers and dealing drugs while disguised as a nun.
- Religion of Evil: The Uhluhtc worshipers in "Den".
- Rescue Sex: In the "Den" sequence.
Katherine: I have no reward to give you, but - if any part of me pleases your senses, I would give it to you... willingly.
- Ridiculously Human Robot
- Right-Hand Cat: The giant rat-like pet of the Big Bad Barbarian Leader in "Taarna".
- Robosexual: Gloria and the robot, somehow.
- Rotoscoping: Much of Taarna's actions, especially the dressing scenes, were rotoscoped from Toronto model Carole Desbiens. Also some of the B-17 footage and parts of "Grimaldi".
- Rule of Cool: The entire film not only uses this, it runs wild with it.
- Rule of Funny: During the "Captain Sternn" and "So Beautiful, So Dangerous" segments.
- Samus is a Girl: Taarna.
- Scenery Porn: Particularly in the alien abduction segment and the Taarna segment.
- Schizo Tech: Present in the settings of Den and Taarna, which feature automatic weapons in tandem with swords, axes, and spears.
- Sdrawkcab Name: Uhluhtc.
- Sex Bot
Robot: Earth women who experience sexual ecstasy with mechanical assistance always tend to feel guilty!
- Shameful Strip: When Taarna is captured by the Barbarian Leader, he has her stripped. Not that there was much to take off to begin with...
- Shout-Out: In the "Den" story, the name of the eldritch god "Uhluhtc", whose favor the villains are trying to win is clearly "Cthulhu" spoken backward (the sacrificial altar also clearly resembles Cthulhu).
- Shrouded in Myth: The Loc-Nar.
- Sickly Green Glow: The Loc-Nar.
- Sissy Villain: Ard, "Leader of the Revolution, and Next Ruler of the World."
- Smoking Hot Sex: Gloria lights up after sleeping with the robot.
- So Unfunny It's Funny: "Goddamn illegal aliens..."
- Space Does Not Work That Way:
- In the opening sequence, the Space Shuttle is seen releasing the Corvette from its storage bay through doors in the hull. In real life, the doors are on the other side of the shuttle.
- During his rampage through the station, Hanover Fiste causes a part of it to collapse inwards (complete with a settling cloud of dust), instead of outwards (which would have sent debris floating away into space).
- At the end of Hanover's rampage, Sternn disposes of him by pulling a lever, which drops him through an ordinary trapdoor into space... just as if he were on a planet with gravity, and without an airlock to keep the atmosphere in.
- Though he's not entering a planetary or solar atmosphere, Hanover Fiste somehow catches fire in the vacuum of space. (Although you could handwave this by saying that it's the Loc-Nar's doing, or even solar radiation. But still.)
- Spiritual Successor: Den -> Brütal Legend, in many ways.
- Stab the Sky: Appears on the film poster and during the "Taarna" segment.
- Stripperific: Taarna, in reverse (although her battle gear doesn't cover much either, and sports Combat Stilettos).
- The Renaissance Age of Animation: 1981.
- Thong of Shielding: Taarna.
- Thrown Out the Airlock: The fate of Hanover Fiste.
- Trap Door: Captain Sternn uses one to get rid of Hanover Fiste.
- Twenty Minutes into the Future: the future of 1981, anyway. Manhattan looks like it did before the cleanup in the 80's and 90's , with sex shops, dirty sidewalks and the World Trade Center.
- Unstoppable Rage: STEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERNNNNNNNNNNNN!!!!!!!
- Villainesses Want Heroes: The evil queen really wants Den to "please" her.
- The Voiceless: Taarna. It is never stated whether she is actually mute or simply chooses not to speak.
- Wish Fulfillment: Horny busty women who get naked at the drop of a hat and screw anything that moves? See Most Writers Are Male.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: "So Beautiful, So Dangerous" starts out with government officials discussing mysterious human mutations, and Dr. Anrak seems to be part of a cover-up that is later implied to involve Zeke, Edsel, and the robot. Except the mutation story is completely and utterly forgotten when said aliens abduct Dr. Anrak and Gloria.
- The behind-the-scenes material on disc implies that this story was heavily edited from the original treatment - apparently to the point where it just stops arbitrarily instead of ending.
- In fact, much that went wrong with this film (particularly the inconsistent animation style, some poor writing in places, and sections that just stop or don't really make sense or were entirely left out like an intended link between Captain Sternn and B-17) can be seen as a combination of inexperience, poor planning, and just plain not enough time and money being spent on the project.
- Wretched Hive: New York in "Harry Canyon", much like parts of it around 1980.
- World of Buxom: Except for the young girl in the framing story, every major female character is at least big-breasted. Heck, the Femme Fatale in the Harry Canyon segment has breasts so large they're the last to vaporize.
- Zettai Ryouiki: Grade A with the girl in the Harry Canyon segment.
- Zombie Apocalypse: The B-17 segment.