Okay, so as many of you probably know, I'm a big fan of heavy metal. The music, that is, but not so much the magazine. The magazine Heavy Metal is neat if you want to intake the various art styles and fantastic worlds the stories create. However, if your mindset is that of an adolescent male and you happen to judge the book by its cover, you'll find Heavy Metal magazine disappointing. For a magazine that has fantastic & futuristic T&A plastered across the front cover, there's a surprisingly low amount of said T&A in the pages within. Having read a few issues of the magazine, it's always the same: interesting artwork and environments, but very little nudity. I think there's more nudity in the ads than the actual story itself. Buying an issue of Heavy Metal for nudity is like watching Bordello Of Blood for Whoopi Goldberg's performance: there's not enough of it within to warrant the retail price. However, upon stumbling across the film Heavy Metal on Netflix, I decided to give it a gander and see how it stands up to what issues of the magazine I've read.
Heavy Metal: Providing People With Van-Mural Ideas Since 1977.
Okay, so the plot behind Heavy Metal is...well, odd. It's not so much one long 90 minute story but more like 8 mini stories intertwined with each other...sort of. The film begins with the belly of a space shuttle opening and a 1960 Corvette going into the atmosphere of the planet below. The astronaut driving the Corvette goes up to a farm house where he's greeted by his daughter. He shows her what he's brought home for her: a large glowing green orb. Unfortunately for him, once it starts glowing, it reduces him to a pile of crimson pulp before evaporating him altogether. The orb (voiced by Percy Rodriguez) then confronts the little girl and shows her stories of how it has influenced cultures and societies in different places in space and time.
Confused yet? I was a bit at first, too. It wasn't until it went from the farm house to a dystopian 2031 New York City and back that I realized that there was more than one story going on, the only thing connecting them all was the green orb, which describes itself as the "sum of all evils." Once this clicked in, I decided to ditch standard analysis methods and just run with it. Much like the magazine, each story has a very unique art style, all of which are pretty visually mesmerizing in that deliciously way that only the 1980s could pull off. Anyone who was around during the 80s or has YouTubed old commercials from MTV (yeah, back when they played music) or various cartoons from the decade can vouch for this. I can't help but wonder if Heavy Metal would become a visual inspiration on shows like Transformers, G.I. Joe and various other cartoon shows that we nostalgia whores go crazy over. Hell, I know this movie came out before The Real Ghostbusters aired, but the character Gloria instantly made me think of Janine Melnitz.
Am I the only one who sees a resemblance here?
Actually, on the note of Ghostbusters, this movie was produced by Ivan Reitman, composed by Elmer Bernstein & features a voice appearance by Harold Ramis. I honestly didn't pick out which character was voiced by Ramis, but I imagine that his voice for Egon Spengler probably isn't really his speaking voice...or perhaps that it is and he just didn't use it for this one. Other SCTV alumni featured in this film are John Candy (loved every scene he was in) and Eugene Levy. I didn't recognize much of the rest of the cast, so I didn't pay much attention to them. None of their lines were phoned in, by any means, so I guess they did their job.
Like WW2-era zombies? You'll love the B-17 segment then.
I haven't mentioned it since the beginning of this review, so I'll touch base on it really quickly: yes, this movie has far more nudity in it than I remember the magazines containing. Pretty much every single female character with any sort of relevance to the film (except for the little girl at the beginning) shows everything. Perverted males rejoice!
Finally, I gotta talk about the soundtrack. I already mentioned that Elmer Bernstein composed music for this film, but what about the guest artists? If the fantastic animation and environments don't pull you in, the soundtrack sure will. Here's a sample of what you get in the movie: Riggs' "Radar Rider", Blue Oyster Cult's "Veteran Of The Psychic Wars", Journey's "Open Arms" (during a sex scene, no less), Don Felder's "Heavy Metal (Takin' A Ride)", Sammy Hagar's "Heavy Metal" and, my personal favorite, Black Sabbath's "The Mob Rules", which sounds even more fucking awesome when you have an army of mutants swarming through a city, slaughtering everything in sight. Also, somehow Devo manages to get two songs into the film. Not sure how I feel about Devo being in a film called Heavy Metal, but it worked. I was still headbanging in my head to Hagar and Sabbath, so it was all good.
"I'm scantily clad and demand more DIO!"
So what's my final verdict on Heavy Metal? This movie is truly a feast for the eyes and the ears, but aside from that, I don't really have much else to say to this movie. It doesn't contain a plot that runs smoothly from beginning to end, so you just have to run with it and enjoy it for what it is: gratuitous nudity and carnage to a kick ass soundtrack, regardless of whether it be composed with an orchestra or a band. I don't find it likely that I'd revisit this one immediately until I had seen the follow-up film. Unfortunately, the sequel/homage Heavy Metal 2000 is not on Netflix, but perhaps someone has uploaded it to YouTube or something so I can just stream it. That being said, I'd recommend the film over the magazines, but I'd recommend a metal album over either. Throw your fucking horns up, people!