HEAVY METAL, Gerard Potterton 1981


The story about how I got acquainted with this animated movie is quite funny and starts with my childhood.
When I was 6 my father had just bought our first VHS video and used to rent lots of movies. All the kids stuff was kept for weekends at my parents siesta time for keeping me quiet when they were spending their bedroom afternoons…hahaha! One Saturday my dad had gone to the video rental store and picked up Heavy Metal just because it was animated, not paying much attention on what it was about, he didn’t even take notice of any viewer advisory. After watching movies as a sort of exercise I had to tell dad about the movie, its plot, what I liked most etc. After I explained my dad he was so shocked he ended up the issue with one of these “don’t tell your mom” thing. No comments. A movie including sex, swearing words and heavy metal is not the kind of thing my mom is very fond of.
Years after this movie came to my mind thanks to a rock magazine and put many efforts in recovering it. Eventually I found it in London and was able to watch it again. I fuckin’ loved it!

The movie compiles several stories whose link is a green glowing sphere, known as Log-Nar.
The meteorite comes to Earth in order evil conquers the human kind and its story is revealed to a young girl, who is obliged to discover the mighty power of Log-Nar, no matter nation, age or universe.
First story portraits a corrupted and dirty futurist NYC, not so different to actual society on which problems such as immigration, drugs and corruption are present. Harry Canyon is a cab driver whose next passenger happens to be a very sexy woman in trouble. She’s being pursued by some mobsters trying to catch this ancient sphere which destroys everybody trying to take control of it. Harry will help her and will get rewarded for his goodwill actions.

Harry and his reward

Harry and his reward

Den is a nerd who finds the meteorite in his garden and while experimenting with electricity the sphere causes him to travel to a far away planet and changes his appearance to a muscled macho. Also by chance, he’s involved in a fight for Log-Nar, the sacred and worshipped sphere., when saving a gorgeous woman from being executed as a sacrifice to the god.

The third situation starts during Captain Sternn’s trial. He’s to be found guilty, however he’s got an angle, which means a witness will confirm he’s an outstanding citizen. What nobody can imagine is that Hannover, the apparent harmless witness, will suffer an outburst caused by playing with a little green ball.
B-17 is a war plane attacked by the enemies killing all crew and soldiers but the two pilots. Suddenly the green sphere will get inside the plane turning dead into skeleton zombies.
During a meeting of high politic, scientist and army figures discussing about mutations and intelligence in the outer space, a sexy secretary is abducted by an UFO and gets very close to a robot.
The final and most serious story is about an apparent extinguished race of warriors the Taarakians, Log-Nar’s main enemies, who had been defending human kind against evil forces throughout centuries. Taarna, the last Taarakian is called to fight against a legion of barbarians commanded by Log-Nar.

Which is the secret for Heavy Metal success? I think there are several factors working here. First thing to be considered is the fact that it’s the first animated movie for adults, in which sex, drugs and swearing words could be included. Moreover the soundtrack is definite: UFO, Nazareth, Black Sabbath, Cheap Trick, Devo and Blue Oyster Cult among others. And the stories told, inspired by the ones appearing on Heavy Metal magazine, are quite original.
DVD edition I have includes a very interesting documentary explaining what Heavy Metal was conceived and the tough work performed to achieve it. You can feel the innocence and excitement for doing something different.
More than 25 years after I saw it for the first time I still find it cool and entertaining and no matter animation is not as sophisticated as today, at least it’s not so cold computer thing.


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