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This provides the rock 'n roll and the sex,
you provide the drugs.

"Blue Öyster 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."
- Trailer

"A shadow shall fall over the universe...and evil will grow in its path...and death will come from the skies..."

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 (Percy Rodriguez), "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 (Caroline Semple) its influence across space and time (after killing her astronaut father (Don Francks), who had just brought it back to Earth, de-orbiting in a classic Corvette convertible).

  • Harry Canyon (Richard Romanus), a New York taxi driver in the distant future, gets caught up in a fight between a gang and an archaeologist'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 finds himself in the middle of a deadly rivalry 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.) Is also the Trope Namer for Normally, I Would Be Dead Now, spoken by Den while swimming a LONG way underwater).
  • Captain Sternn (Eugene Levy), on trial for multiple crimes (including a moving violation), gets more than he bargained for when Hanover Fiste (Rodger Bumpass), the man he paid to act as his character witness, goes berserk under the Loc-Nar's influence.
  • B-17 tells the story of a WWII bomber, whose crew after sustaining heavy losses during a night raid, encounter the Loc-Nar and are transformed into fearsome, undead creatures. 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 the Heavy Metal magazine, an American version of the French comic Métal Hurlant founded by Mœbius and Philippe Druillet. A number of other adaptations have also been made, including the film Heavy Metal 2000 and the Third-Person Shooter Heavy Metal 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. Another adaptation is the TV series Metal Hurlant Chronicles, as was Love, Death & Robots during its origins.

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. This, too, would fall to the wayside as Rodriguez began focusing more on his own television channel.

In 2018-19, Heavy Metal publishing released a four-issue Taarna comic-book scripted by Alex de Campi, with art by Esau and Isaac Escorza. More comics starring Taarna by other writers and artists continued to follow.

At the 2022 San Diego Comic-Con, the Heavy Metal publications unveiled the creation of their own production company, with plans to produce a slate of various series and films, both live-action and animated. Among the projects revealed to be in the works is a live-action Taarna, of which a test-reel was released.

The original 1981 film contains examples of:

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  • 20 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.
  • Absent Aliens: Dr. Anrak from "So Beautiful & So Dangerous" assures the press that humans are the only intelligent lifeforms in the universe seconds before getting abducted.
  • 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.
  • Acid-Trip Dimension: Neverwhere's skies consist of trippy, shifting colours.
  • Action Girl: Taarna, who is as beautiful as she is deadly.
  • Adaptational Modesty: Downplayed in the Den segment. The original comics had the title character go naked, but in the animated segment he makes himself a loincloth at the first opportunity to avoid going about with his "dork" hanging out. As for the major female leads of that story, they have loincloths that seem to disappear whenever they are not viewed frontally, and/or fleetingly depicted at a distance when the animators felt they could dare to have them fully naked.
  • Adaptation Species Change: The undead soldiers from "B-17" were gremlins in the original comic.
  • Adapted Out: During the chase in the Captain Sternn segment after the Captain leaves through the steel door that Hanover Fiste smashes through, he runs into a group of robots who try to stop him and Hanover who in turn grabs their weapons and eats them before Hanover Fiste smashes their heads together.
  • After the End: Several stories take place in a post-apocalyptic setting.
  • Age Lift: In the original animated short and comics, Den was an adult before coming to Neverwhere, now he's an eighteen year old.
  • Alien Abduction: Alien stoners Zeke and Edsel capture Gloria by accident in "So Beautiful, So Dangerous".
  • All Amazons Want Hercules: In 'the "Den" story, Den is a 98-pound weakling voiced by John Candy. Sent to an alternate dimension, he transforms into a bald, muscle-bound, loin-cloth-wearing Action Hero, "with his dork hanging out." He rescues a Damsel in Distress, Kath, and when they have a moment to talk in peace (Expanded upon in a deleted scene), Kath explains that she brought into that world as well and changed to her delight into a naked Ms. Fanservice ideal and would love to offer her attentions to her hero, and he accepts eagerly. Later, Den is forced to join a small raid against an evil queen's palace only to blunder into the queen in the dark. When the lights come on, he is clearly grabbing her (very much uncovered) breasts. The queen doesn't mind; a few seconds of animated sex later, she proclaims Den her messiah. About par for female characters in that movie.
  • 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, which aren't spoken onscreen, but given in the segment's credits. The robot, however, has no name listed.
  • All Women Are Lustful: It varies wildly: the girl in "Harry Canyon" sleeps with Harry to manipulate him for her scheme, Gloria in "So Beautiful, So Dangerous" is seduced by a robot well enough to stay with him, and in "Den," Kath and the Queen are in the fantasy realm of Neverwhere where they have gained naked idealized bodies and are eager to enjoy them with a studly hero like Den. By contrast, the young girl in the connecting story is too occupied as the Locnar terrorizes her and Taarna is too busy with her vendetta to indulge in anything.
  • Ambiguously Gay: In "Taarna", the Council chamber sentry wears a pink jacket, a pink bow-knot and really short and tight shorts that leave his entire legs bare. His death is displayed in graphic detail a mere minute after he appears on screen.
  • Anthology Film: The movie is a collection of different animated shorts connected by the presence of the Loc-Nar.
  • Artifact of Doom: The Loc-Nar is an ancient and powerful artifact of evil..
  • 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.
  • Artistic License – Space:
    • 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.)
  • Art Shift: The changes in art style between the segments is justified, as each segment was handled by a different animation studio.
  • As Long as There Is Evil: The Loc-Nar boasts that it will always be around as long as malice and greed exist.
  • Ascended Fanboy: Den, who goes from being a geek to being a brave hero in another dimension.
  • Aside Glance: "Den". After Ard gives his ultimatum (" die, she dies, everybody dies!"), Den turns to the camera and thinks/narrates "Sounded reasonable to me!"
  • Alien Blood: The Mutants in the Taarna segment have green blood.
  • 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."
  • Barbarian Hero: Den is the hero of his story and also happens to be muscular and nearly naked.
  • Bathe Her and Bring Her to Me: Said almost word-for-word by the mutant leader in "Taarna", ordering his men to have the heroine stripped, bathed, and brought to him.
  • Bathos: Much of the humor in "Den" comes from how the straight-faced, if lurid, high fantasy and Den's own heroic exterior are both contrasted by his inner monologue, e.g., the thoughts of a very dorky teenage boy.
    [Den and Katherine are interrupted from having sex by several of Ard's soldiers]
    Soldier: Come.
    Dan: [frustrated] I don't know who these ASSHOLES were, but they sure picked a bad time to show up.
    Den: And if I refuse?
    Ard: [sounding very bored] If you refuse you die, she dies, everybody dies.
    [Den smirks at the camera]
    Dan: Sounded reasonable to me.
  • Beast Man: The Red Queen's troops are animal men.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished:
    • Averted when Taarna is seen in the dungeon with visible scars in the aftermath of being whipped by the Barbarian Leader.
    • Also averted in the final showdown the Barbarian Leader, when Taarna is wounded, which likely would have proved fatal if she hadn't decided to sacrifice herself to destroy the Loc-Nar instead.
  • Big Damn Heroes: In “Den”, when Katherine is thrown into the water while tied up as part of a sacrifice, the titular hero leaps into the water to save her. Without him, she would have drowned.
  • Big "NO!": A pilot in the end of "B-17" lets out a hollered "No" many times when he is surrounded by zombie airmen.
  • The Big Rotten Apple: The New York that is the backdrop for the "Harry Canyon" short has definitely seen better days. Very early on we get a mention of the United Nations headquarters having been turned into a (really shitty, by Harry's recognition) housing project, for example.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Harry Canyon's arc; He ends up with alot of money after getting rid of Loc Nar, but he had to kill the archaeologist's daughter after revealing her true motives, leaving him by himself.
  • Body Horror: In "B-17". The poor airmen are already dead, but still. Also happens to the astronaut father of the girl.
  • The Body Parts That Must Not Be Named: When Den appears naked on the planet Neverwhere in his new body, he covers himself with a cloth and mentions that he isn't going to walk around with his "dork" hanging out.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: "B-17" ends on an inconclusive but grim note with the sole survivor of the titular plane trapped on a deserted island and surrounded by zombies.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: The Loc-Nar spends almost the entire film bragging about his plans instead of killing the girl while she's defenseless.
  • Breather Episode: With the exception of the list of heinous adulterated crimes committed by the segment-title character mentioned, "Captain Sternn" does not have any graphic violence or sexual content like the other segments and it's more cartoonish in comparison to the others.
  • 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 Leader's thugs learned that the hard way.
  • The Cameo:
    • Robby the Robot sells Harry Canyon a hotdog.
    • Edsel and Zeke nearly crash their ship into the USS Enterprise.
    • "Through Being Cool" by Devo plays during "Taarna" and a futuristically dressed version of the band appear performing it on a bar.
  • Canon Welding: The comics this movie is based on weren't set in the same universe as each other. Here the Loc-Nar MacGuffin from Den linking most of the stories.
  • Captain Space, Defender of Earth!: Sternn, as one of the darker examples of a space-faring hero, ends up on trial for a string of heinous crimes, one of them being rape.
  • Caught in a Snare: Taarna is caught in a net trap while flying.
  • Central Theme: Metal (as in the material) appears as this and an Arc Symbol in all segments:
    • Grimaldi/Soft Landing: The titular astronaut's Corvette.
    • Harry Canyon: Again, the main character's modified vehicle and the bounty on the Loc-Nar.
    • Den: The heavy chains used by the hero to dispatch the villains.
    • Captain Sternn: The Planet Spaceship setting and again, what is essentially blood money.
    • B-17: The titular bomber, the copious firepower employed, and the Derelict Graveyard at the end.
    • So Beautiful And So Dangerous: Intricate alien machinery and another space dreadnought.
    • Taarna: Taarna's sword against the cyborg chief's lethal instruments.
  • Characterizing Sitting Pose: Ard, the Supreme Leader of the Revolution, is seen slumped across his throne. His legs dangle over the left armrest, while his shoulders rest on the right armrest. He greets the muscular Den flippantly, and seems unperturbed when Den overpowers his guards, then aims a firearm at Ard. Even after Five Rounds Rapid, Ard merely giggles at his bullet holes, which heal in seconds. "I could see why they made this guy their leader," Den thinks to himself.
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: In 2018-19, Heavy Metal publishing released a four-issue Taarna comic-book scripted by Alex de Campi, with art by Esau and Isaac Escorza. More comics starring Taarna by other writers and artists continued to follow.
  • Crucified Hero Shot: And not a particularly subtle one.
  • Cruel Twist Ending: In "B-17," the captain bails out of the plane to escape his zombified crewmates, and lands on an island filled with wrecked planes.. and a whole bunch more zombies.
  • Damsel in Distress: Katherine ends up having to be rescued by Den.
  • 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. Interestingly, the one career criminal who gets into his car instantly notices it and prevents Harry from using it.
  • Death by Adaptation: The original comic ended right after Hanover Fiste was paid for lying about Captain Sternn's transgressions in court. In this film, Sternn immediately shoots Fiste into space and kills him after handing over the promised bribe.
  • 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.
  • Delayed Safety Feature: An astronaut pilots a car as it enters a planet's atmosphere. After it hits the ground, the astronaut pulls a lever and a parachute deploys.
  • Dem Bones: "B-17" has a World War II pilot attacked by the resurrected skeletons of his dead crewmates.
  • 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. It was intended to have a larger role, and would have had the vignette not ended abruptly. See What Happened to the Mouse?, below.
  • Depraved Homosexual: Ard is a villain in Den's segment and at least acts Camp Gay.
  • Derelict Graveyard: "B-17". After bailing out of his B-17 bomber, the pilot lands on a tropical island and finds it filled with crashed airplanes. Unfortunately, the pilots of those planes are still around, and they're hungry zombies.
  • Determinator: Taarna doesn't let anything deter her from defeating the barbarians.
  • Disintegrator Ray: Harry Canyon has a disintegrator ray installed in his cab to dispose of passengers who try to rob him.
  • Disney Acid Sequence: We get a short acid sequence 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!
  • Downer Ending: Captain Sternn and the B-17 arcs; the former ends up with him getting away with his crimes and killing off Hanover while the latter ends up with both living pilots killed off by the zombies.
  • Dragon Rider: Taarna...sort of. It's not clear what her winged mount is supposed to be, though.
  • Drop Ship: It starts with an astronaut exiting his space shuttle and landing on Earth in a convertible Corvette.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Den's arc is played up as this; In spite of all the obstacles he's faced in rescuing Katherine, he defeats both antagonists and chooses to stay with her after saving her. Even though he won't see his old world again, he's content with that given he has decided he has more of a future on Neverwhere with her than on Earth.
  • Earth All Along: The deleted "Neverwhere Land" segment would have had the Loc-Nar crashing on a nearby planet that turns out to be Earth and starting life after being Thrown Out the Airlock in the previous "Captain Sternn" short.
  • 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. Note 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, has a raspy voice.
  • Excuse Plot: The Loc-Nar shows these segments to a young girl it intends to kill to show her what kind of evil he's capable of.
  • Exty Years from Publication: "Harry Canyon" takes place in 2031, fifty years after the film's 1981 release date.
  • Face, Nod, Action:
    • "Harry Canyon". Rudnick's two flying goons look at each other and nod briefly before following Harry's cab.
    • "Den". Den and his companion Korg look at each other and nod just before entering the Queen's quarters.
  • Failure Hero: 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.
      • They die immediately after calling out to her. So, nope, couldn't be saved.
      • Not a random lightning bolt. That's the energy from her sword that was infused during her swimming scene. She fights the leader of the mutants, who seems to be also the strongest, and destroys the real problem, the Loc-Nar with the electricity/power from her weapon, so she personally destroys everyone that caused the deaths of the people she was meant to protect/avenge. She has zero chance of getting to them quickly enough to save them, as they died moments after calling her. So, this could best be in the YMMV section.
    • Then again, the people she's supposed to protect wait until the last possible second to summon her. This can also be seen as an aversion of this trope, as the pact is described that if the Taarakians cannot defend, their mission is to avenge those they swore to protect.
  • Fanservice: So many huge-breasted naked women they could have called the film Heavy Silicone. Special mention goes to Taarna for managing to make putting her clothes back on look sexy.
  • 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.
  • Fantastic Firearms: The barbarian horde that attacks the city and its civilian populace in the final vigniette have firearms that launch darts. These are like huge nails but without the head. There isn't the usual "bang!" of gunpowder or other explosive propelling these darts, so it must be compressed air (some guns have hoses) or else a pressurized striker (other guns have a reciprocal piston mechanism). The darts are propelled with sufficient force to skewer people through the thorax.
  • The Federation: Seems to be the government putting Captain Sternn on trial as he's charged with stealing federation property and Hanover Fiste calls him a law-abiding citizen of the federation.
  • Flipping the Bird: In the "Harry Canyon" segment, Harry at one point gives the finger to some prostitutes at the police station.
  • Framing Device: Basically the whole film is the Loc-Nar bragging what a bad-ass it is.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: In the "Captain Stern" segment, Hanover Fiste starts off as a milksop weakling and is mutated by the Loc-Nar into a gigantic, vicious muscle-bound brute.
  • The Future Is Noir: Pretty much the premise of Harry Canyon's segment. It takes place in the future, but follows a noir style.
  • Gender Flip: Taarna is based on a man from the comics called Arzach
  • A God Am I: The Loc-Nar says he's worshipped as God on some world's before introducing the "Den" segment.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: The Red Queen in Den's segment is a very harsh ruler.
  • Good Is Not Soft: The few characters who do manage to resist and even fight back the Loc-Nar, namely Harry Canyon, Den, Skip the pilot, Taarna, and the Girl, are invariably kind-hearted and just, but also forces to be reckoned with. Even so, vanquishing the ultimate evil changes their lives forever, and not for the better in every case.
  • Green Rocks: The Loc-Nar is literally a green rock that can raise zombies, transform humans into monsters, alter personalities, etc.
  • Hammerspace: Where, exactly, was Taarna hiding that sword before her sacrifice?
  • 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 turns out to be able to heal from any injury when Den attempts to shoot him.
  • Heavy Mithril: The Blue Öyster 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 "Taarna", never says a single word.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: "Taarna". Taarna kills the Barbarian Leader by pushing his chainsaw hand into his own chest.
  • Homage: The film uses the same Theremin Standard Snippet that was used in The '50s B Movies; the score was unsurprising by Elmer Bernstein, who was very familiar with it, and would later use it in another supernatural film directed by Ivan Reitman (who was a co-producer in this one).
  • The Horde: Barbarian minions are seen in "Den" and "Taarna".
  • Horse of a Different Color: Taarna's bird-dinosaur-thing is her mount. Also the bat-like steeds tied up outside the Bad Guy Bar Taarna visits, and the giant winged bugs from "Den".
  • Hulking Out: Hanover Fiste ends up transforming into a muscular brute because of the Loc-Nar.
  • Human Sacrifice: The queen in "Den" sacrifices women 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 Choose to Stay: Den chooses not to return to Earth, satisfied that he was pulled away from home to a better home.
  • I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder: When the elder from "Taarna" is told that they must arm themselves he says that they're not warriors, they're statesmen and scientists and have to summon a Taarakian to defend them.
  • I'm Melting!: Many people in this film meet their ends by melting, mostly by exposure to the Loc Nar.
  • Intimidation Demonstration: Before fighting Taarna, the Barbarian Leader shows off the cutting power of his circular saw hand by cutting through a metal pipe.
  • It's Snowing Cocaine: The "So Beautiful, So Dangerous" segment - Zeke and Edsel, the alien pilots, each hoist out what looks like a 25-pound bag of plutonium nyborg, lay them out in lines long enough to travel the entire ship, then proceed to snort all of it.
  • Judicial Wig: The segment that focuses on the trial of Captain Lincoln Sternn is presided over by a corpulent judge wearing the classic woolen wig, even though the courtroom is aboard a huge space station, with a Cast of Snowflakes gallery of bizarre aliens. He presumably bugs out when star witness Hanover Fiste goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • Karma Houdini: Sternn gets off scot-free for his transgressions thanks to hiring Hanover Fiste to lie in court and making a run for it when the Loc-Nar causes Fiste to go berserk and try to attack him. He even avoids getting killed by Fiste by paying him the money he promised him and then shooting him into space.
  • Lantern Jaw of Justice: The trope of a good guy having a large chin is inverted. They give the chin to Sternn, whose segment has him on trial for many awful crimes he's committed.
  • Large Ham: Hanover Fiste really chews the scenery while bringing up Captain Sternn's atrocities.
  • Last of His Kind: Taarna is the last of the Taarakians. Until the end.
  • Law Enforcement, Inc.: In "Harry Canyon", Harry tries to report a murder and seeks assistance from the police but in this dystopian future they've become privatized and are no longer a public good instead demanding $1000 a day for their services.
  • Lightning Can Do Anything: Lightning passing through the Loc-Nar is what transported Den to Neverwhere. He letter redirects electricity through it to banish Ard and the Queen.
  • 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.
  • Little Useless Gun: At the end of "Harry Canyon", the archaeologist's daughter pulls a pocket pistol on Harry, who disintegrates her with his cab's death ray. He catches the dropped pistol, but disgustedly chucks it at the (closed) window instead of putting it in his glovebox with the other weapons passengers had used to threaten him.
  • A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far, Far Away...: "Captain Sternn" was originally going to end with the Loc-Nar starting life on Earth meaning Sternn must belong to a society of Human Aliens billions of years in the past.
  • Lodged Blade Removal: Attempted during the "Taarna" segment. As the Council of Elders try to summon a Defender, an acolyte rushes to barricade the chamber door against the barbarian horde. The barrier crumbles before their assault, and the acolyte receives a number of darts at close range, falling supine at this barrage. One dart is lodged in his throat, and he tries in a panic to pull it out. He dies before that happens, however.
  • Made of Bologna: The three mooks that harass Taarna in the bar get their heads cut off in two deft strokes. One mook's headless body falls prone, revealing green bologna with a spinal bone and a universal conduit, and nothing else besides green blood.
  • Made of Evil: The Loc-Nar is an artifact of pure evil that brings out the worst in people.
  • Mage in Manhattan: Den uses the Loc-Nar to banish Ard and the Queen from Neverwhere and figures they're probably in his house back on Earth.
  • Magic Meteor: Loc-Nar is referred to as a meteor a couple of times.
  • 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 the movie, there's plenty of focus on women's breasts and buttocks.
  • 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.
  • Martians: Some graffiti on the side of the Space Station in "So Beautiful & So Dangerous" says "Martians are people too".
  • Moe Greene Special: The co-pilot of the B-17 finds the bespectacled radioman shot through the eye.
  • Most Common Superpower: Taarna is a heroine with large breasts.
    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.)
  • Mr. Fanservice: Den, a teenager who is brought to Neverwhere and changed into a musclebound, bald and hung Adonis. The only way to make him more an example would have been for him to stay naked as in the original comics.
  • Ms. Fanservice: They appears through most of the stories, and in different ways:
    • The Girl in "Harry Canyon" is a villainous manipulator who easily seduces Harry for her scheme until she tries to dispose of him.
    • Kath and The Queen in "Den" are Shameless Fanservice Girl characters who revel in becoming naked physical ideals in the primitive and magical land of Neverwhere and enjoy having the attentions of the ultimate Mr. Fanservice.
    • Gloria in "So Beautiful, So Dangerous" is a relatively vapid secretary who grows to enjoy the seduction of a goofy robot.
    • Taarna is a Stripperific Action Girl who spends much of her time both bloodily fighting barbarians and being captured, stripped naked and whipped by them.
  • Mugging the Monster: One of Harry Canyon's fares tries to rob him at gun point, causing Canyon to kick a secret button that activates a Disintegrator Ray.
  • Mutants: "So Beautiful & So Dangerous" starts with a scientist being asked about green radiation from space turning people into mutants. They apparently turned green and grew arms from their backs.
  • Mystical White Hair: Though Taarna looks like a young woman, her hair is all white with streaks of grey. Also, at the end, the girl develops white hair after she's revealed as Taarna's reincarnation.

  • Naked on Arrival: Den is nude when he first appears on Neverwhere, though he quickly grabs a loincloth.
  • Never Trust a Title: This movie really does not focus on heavy metal music. 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.
    • This is more an example of a misunderstood title. The title of the film comes from the American version of the incredibly influential French graphic/comic book anthology "Métal hurlant", in which the Metal refers not to music but to the application of a Metal attitude to graphic novels, just as Punk literature does not have to involve Punk music.
  • Nipple and Dimed: Every clip but B-17 has completely uncensored bare boobs. B-17 is Adult for another reason.
  • No Body Left Behind: The Disintegrator Ray that Harry Canyon uses to melt customers that try to rob him leaves nothing behind.
  • 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.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: In "B-17". They're reanimated by the Loc-nar, and apparently have Super-Strength, as seen when they rip through the solid steel door of the titular plane's cockpit.
  • Panspermia: The deleted "Neverwhere Land" had the Loc-Nar starting life on Earth.
  • Percussive Maintenance: In "So Beautiful and So Dangerous" one of the aliens causes a compartment to slide open by kicking it.
  • Police Are Useless: In "Harry Canyon", Harry tries to report a murder and seeks assistance from the police but in this dystopian future they've become privatized and are no longer a public good instead demanding $1000 a day for their services. Harry snarks, "Thanks for nothing".
  • Possessing a Dead Body: In the segment "B-17", an aerial sortee of B-17's conduct a bombing raid over hostile territory. One plane in particular suffers heavy casualties, leaving only the pilot and co-pilot alive. During the return trip, a green orb called the Loc-Nar smashes its way aboard, where it reanimates the dead crewmen into shambling zombies hellbent on killing the two survivors.
  • 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 Canyon talk to himself like he's a noir protagonist.
  • 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!"
  • "Reason You Suck" Speech: Regarding Captain Sternn..
    Hanover Fiste: He's nothing but a low-down, double-dealing, backstabbing, larcenous perverted worm! Hangin's too good for him. Burnin's too good for him! He should be torn into little bitsy pieces and buried alive!
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: The evil queen in "Den" and the Barbarian Leader's giant evil rat Right Hand Cats in "Taarna" have red eyes.
  • 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".
  • Reincarnate in Another World: After dying on a distant planet Taarna reincarnates as Grimaldi's daughter on Earth.
  • Reincarnation-Identifying Trait: Astronaut Grimaldi's daughter witnesses the demise of the last Taarakian warrior as she vanquishes the Big Bad. Escaping her home just before it's blown to smithereens, Grimaldi's daughter discovers a featherless bird has come to her side. Her hair turns white in the moonlight, and she develops a ring-and-sword birthmark on her neck, which indicates that she has become the newest Taarakian warrior. Some closing exposition by August Schellenberg as the narrator verifies this spirit-transfer.
  • 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.
  • Reveling in the New Form: In the segment "Den", a scrawny science nerd is studying lightning in his room when a bolt creates an electric arc that teleports him through space and time to the world called Neverwhere, transforming his body into that of muscular warrior. "Hmm, big," Den notes of his new physique, and promptly snags a pennant to use as a loincloth.
  • Ridiculously Human Robot: The robot in "So Beautiful and So Dangerous", to the point that he has sex with Gloria and ends up begging her to marry him.
  • Right-Hand Cat: The giant rat-like pet of the Big Bad Barbarian Leader in "Taarna".
  • Robby the Robot: Cameos selling Harry Canyon a hotdog from a cart.
  • Robosexual: Gloria and the robot, somehow, get it on.
  • Rocketless Reentry: In the opening an astronaut exits the space shuttle in a 1959 Corvette and descends to Earth. Strangely, he only deploys a parachute after he lands.
  • 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, logic is thrown out for the sake of humor.
  • Samus Is a Girl: Taarna turns out to be female after it's assumed she'd be male.
  • Saved by the Platform Below: Subverted. Taarna come to upon a ledge within a very deep pit. Some poor Red Shirt is thrown in, and he misses the ledge and continues plummeting into the depths, screaming all the way.
  • 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: In the segment "Den", the deity that several characters try to make a Human Sacrifice to is named "Uhluhtc": Cthulhu (from the Cthulhu Mythos) backwards.
  • Sex Bot: A robot capable of sex is featured in "So Beautiful and So Dangerous".
    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...
  • Shooting Superman: Ard isn't bothered by Den shooting him and the bullet wounds heal instantly.
  • 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).
    • There's a moment in the final scene of the movie which is probably a reference to the Andrew Wyeth painting "Christina's World".
  • Shrouded in Myth: The Loc-Nar.
  • Sickly Green Glow: The Loc-Nar glows green to show how sinister he is.
  • Sissy Villain: Ard, "Leader of the Revolution, and Next Ruler of the World."
    Ard: Well, aren't we fierce! Guards, castrate him!
  • Sleeps in the Nude: In “Harry Canyon”, the titular character sleeps in his apartment bed this way. When a smitten woman he saved is taken there, she decides to join him like this, taking off her clothes and getting into bed.
  • Smoking Hot Sex: Gloria smokes a cigarette after sleeping with the robot.
  • Solar System Neighbors: The Venutians are after the Loc-Nar in the "Harry Canyon" segment. They're possibly the short aliens helping a human archeologist dig it up in the beginning.
  • So Near, Yet So Far: This sort of plot is used in the episode "Den". Den knows where Katherine Wells is - she's sleeping inside a glass case in Ard's palace. Unfortunately, Ard will only allow her to wake after Den has stolen the Loc-Nar from the Queen and returned it to him. Things don't turn out quite as planned.
  • So Unfunny, It's Funny: "Goddamn illegal aliens..."
  • Space Pirate: One of the many crimes Sternness is charged with is piracy.
  • Space Station:
    • Captain Sternn is set entirely on one.
    • "So Beautiful & So Dangerous" ends with the ship half crashing and half landing inside a vast one.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: In the original comic, Norl was killed by the Queen's guards when they captured Den. In the film, he enters the chambers from the other entrance and disappears after stealing the Loc-Nar.
  • Spiritual Successor: Den -> Brütal Legend, in many ways.
  • Stab the Sky: Appears on the film poster and during the "Taarna" segment.
  • Stripperific
    • Taarna, as visible in the poster (although her battle gear doesn't cover much either, and sports Combat Stilettos). Although, there were real life warrior cultures where going to war wearing little or nothing was both an actual practice and a sign of being a total badass who wasn't afraid to fight without armor. Plus, it allows for better movement and everything in Taarna's story takes place on a desert planet.
    • Exploited when the Barbarian Leader slashes Taarna across the stomach. Another reason not to expose your skin in combat.
  • Tempting Fate. "Captain Sternn". While Sternn is fleeing Hanover Fiste, he takes refuge in a tunnel and says "Lost him" to his robot companion. A second later he hears Fiste smashing through things and approaching him.
  • Thanks for the Mammary: How Den first meets the evil queen.
  • Theme Song Reveal: Blue Öyster Cult wrote "Vengeance (The Pact)" for this movie but it was replaced with "Veteran Of The Psychic Wars" due to the former song's lyrics having major spoilers for Taarna.
  • Thong of Shielding: Taarna's thong doesn't cover her buttocks.
  • Thrown Out the Airlock: The fate of Hanover Fiste is that he's shot into space after Sternn pays him for lying in court.
  • Trap Door: Captain Sternn uses one to get rid of Hanover Fiste.
  • Unconventional Courtroom Tactics: Sternn bribes Hanover Fiste so that he'll lie about what a good person he is and have his charges dropped.
  • Undressing the Unconscious: Done in reverse during the "Taarna" segment. Taarna has been captured by the barbarians, and stripped naked. Their chief then horsewhips her into unconsciousness. Taarna awakens naked on a ledge in a bottomless pit, and has her outfit thrown down to her.
  • Undying Loyalty: Taarna's winged mount shows this towards its master.
  • Unstoppable Rage: STEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERNNNNNNNNNNNN!!!!!!! Or at least it WOULD be this if it wasn't all an act.
  • Villainesses Want Heroes: The evil queen really wants Den to "please" her.
  • Villain Protagonist: Captain Sternn, is the most immoral segment protagonist, when you considered his actions.
  • The Voiceless: Taarna. It is never stated whether she is actually mute or simply chooses not to speak.
  • Wish-Fulfillment: For straight men: lots of horny busty women who get naked at the drop of a hat and screw anything that moves.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?
    • "Harry Canyon." After taking the girl to his apartment (where they have sex), Harry is woken up the next morning by two cops demanding to know where she was, "or you're dead!" While it's not unreasonable for the villain to have corrupt cops working for him, this is never hinted at, and the villain just sends two thugs after Harry.
    • "Den." After Norl splits up with Den during the attempt to steal the Loc-Nar from the Queen, he is never seen again. Since his master Ard ends up with the Loc-Nar, Norl presumably acquired it and returned it to him. However, he doesn't appear during the final battle between the Queen and Ard. (This differs from the comic, where Norl dies fighting the guards.)
    • "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.
  • You Are Too Late: Tarnaa doesn't arrive at the city that summoned her until everyone is dead, and the bad guys are gone.
  • X Meets Y: The Imagining Heavy Metal documentary refers to the movie as "Sword and Sorcery meets Science Fiction meets Playboy".
  • Your Size May Vary: The Loc-Nar can be anywhere from the size of a large marble to being able to fill a volcano.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: The B-17 segment. First the dead crew of the B-17 turn into zombies, then the B-17's pilot parachutes onto an island infested with zombies who were once the crew of crashed planes.

Won't you take a ride, ride, ride, ride...on Heavy Metal...
"...And the spirit of time is transferred across the universe, to a new defender, and the power of evil is contained for another generation, and a new Taarakian is born, to protect the next."


Video Example(s):


Captain Sternn

Captain Lincoln Sternn is put on trial for his long spree of crimes and felonies, including one moving violation.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / ArsonMurderAndJaywalking

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