Strap on your go-go boots and grab your mighty sword, because Heavy Metal is the Greatest Movie EVER?
Click on the poster or the movie title above to download our review of the film, featuring guest cohost Gerald Rathkolb from AnimeWorldOrder.
Review in a Nutshell: Uneven, over-sexed, and outright weird in places, Heavy Metal is nonetheless a unique animated experience. It might be even nerdier than T.R.O.N.
This podcast contains:
Terrible things, man, terrible things.
I like some parts of this film more than others. It’s not my favorite animated film, but I’ll watch every so often. Not the greatest movie ever.
It’s sequel, however, is a firm candidate for the WORST movie ever. An atrocious film with bad animation and a forgettable soundtrack. And it was brought to us by Carl Macek of Robotech fame.
Thanks for reminding me Neil. Now I have to go stare at my Robotech DVDs and scream “WHY CARL WHY?”
But on the bright side, it does have funny line by Micheal Ironside
My favourite section of the film is always ‘So Beautiful and So Dangerous’ involving the stoned aliens. The music and images during the trip were awesome.
Has a great soundtrack too.
Hot air balloons and Nazis… the most expensive date ever
I like Heavy Metal, and in a non-ironic way as well. It’s got a certain charm. You guys talked a bit about how it’s sort of a one-of-a-kind film, so to speak. The noir-ish NYC detective story is probably my favorite part, followed closely by the ending stuff with the Tarakian. And Gerald’s right too; that last part moves quite slowly.
This is also *definitely* a stoner film. Viewing satisfaction is increased exponentially on mind-altering substances (not that I’d ever advocate for the use of said substances).
I actually don’t own a single issue of Heavy Metal. Not even hidden or anything. By the time I saw this movie on cable, MTV had been around for over a decade and the appeal of cartoon blood, boobies, and sex was not the novelty it would have been had I seen it in an era prior to my having easy access to anime, a dial-up modem, and a cable box that could provide proper softcore porn like Cinemax/Showtime/Playboy/Spice. As such, it didn’t leave any real impression with me at all besides “is everyone from SCTV doing the voices in this?” I bet it would have been a totally different story had I saw it before all that the way Gerald did.
Gerald’s affinity for this movie always struck me as the undisputed power of nostalgia in action. The popularity, “cult classic” status, fanbase, and actual content of Heavy Metal is pretty much identical to that of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, and other such “cult films,” all of which Gerald *absolutely vehemently despises with every fiber of his being*. It would thus follow that he’d hate Heavy Metal as well, but he clearly does not. That’s the overriding power of nostalgia. I was amazed at how he could remember with such detail and clarity his first partial exposure to the film. In that sense, Heavy Metal is to Gerald what Area 88 and Riding Bean are to me.
Besides nostalgia, there’s little else to latch onto here. Per both of your admissions, this movie “tries way too hard,” is not at all funny despite repeated attempts at humor (a large amount of which is stoner humor), is quite often a “miss” than it is a “hit” on the technical front, and the segments don’t work together. I agree with you on all these and equate every single one of these failings with all that Ralph Bakshi stuff which as you guys noted is the pits.
I postulate that had Gerald never seen or heard of Heavy Metal in his life until now, he would hate it just as much as he hates all of those other things. I suppose it may still be true nothing else looks like it (except of course for…all those things you guys mentioned that were made to spoof this or be done in its style), but I can name plenty of things Gerald hates for which the same statement holds true. Perhaps it’s more a “nothing else looks like this AND I happen to like how this looks” element at play?
Whatever the answer is, I don’t know it because I don’t consider Heavy Metal worth my time; writing this comment is the most I’ve thought about Heavy Metal in nearly 15 years. It’s not that I hate Heavy Metal so much that I’m completely indifferent to it. Cartoon boobs? I…guess, but that’s also paired with out of control pubes. This takes any “awesome” or “major” out of the “boobage” for me. Violence…eh, it’s not THAT violent. And yet, I’m sort of interested in the new Heavy Metal anthology that’s supposedly going to be made since the gossip is guys like James Cameron, David Fincher, Guillermo del Toro, Zack Snyder, etc. all want to do segments for it. Most of those guys are old enough that they could have seen Heavy Metal when it first came out such they could have been blown away by it.
I have to admit that I’ve never gotten more than twenty minutes into the movie. I can’t stand rotoscope animation and that beats me every time.
Just one question though, was Harry Canyon the basis for Korben Dallas of The Fifth Element?
Watched this one for the second or third tie recently. I always liked the WWII part.
Cabbie John Difool, from the French comic the Incal, is the direct influence for Corben Dallas, both The Incal and Heavy Metal came out in 1981. I heard that french comic artists like to feature slubby unheroic heroes, such as cab drivers, accountants, bureaucrats. Credit the French comic industry, i guess.
Daryl, this is DEFINITELY not a nostalgia trip for me. That would suggest that I actually liked the movie when it first came out, and while I purchased it when it was first released on video in 95 or so, this was mostly due to one of the store employees who knew I liked anime, suggesting it to me.
I’m pretty sure I mentioned that it took a long time for me to see what the movie had to offer. I still see all the flaws in it that I mentioned, and I also mentioned that I wasn’t sure what angle I’d go with since I could easily see this as a pretty bad movie.
The one big thing I think the movie has going for it, which I did mention is that it looks and sounds unlike anything I’ve ever seen before or since, and that’s rather hard to do for me. Buckaroo Banzai and Rocky Horror aren’t anything unique, there’s plenty of movies that look like them and have done what they did, even before those movies came out, they just contained a series of elements, coupled with the time period they came out in that a small group of people saw value in.
If I saw Heavy Metal today, I probably would hate it, and that’s for the simple reason that it took me years to see what it was that made this movie unique. I clearly don’t think it’s very consistent or very well put together, but I can’t deny that it tried to do something that no other movie had tried to do. Did it fail? Probably, but that only makes it more interesting, especially for a movie that is not something I can generally talk about with people. Sure it’s a cult movie, but it’s not like there’s a midnight showing of this at theaters or hundreds of fan shrines on the internet, and if there were I’d be pretty pissed that anyone saw that much value in the movie, which is at least part of my hatred for Buckaroo Banzai and Rocky Horror. Why I hate something is sometimes as interesting for me to figure out for myself as why I like something and Heavy Metal straddled the lines which made it that much more interesting.
Heavy Metal I can deal with since while it is a cult movie, it’s not a terribly popular one, even by cult standards since today there are plenty of people who still don’t like it. I’ve rarely talked to someone who saw remembers seeing Buckaroo Banzai or Rocky Horror when they were young and not seeing them as the crap movies they are.
Gerald, your inability to like Buckaroo Banzai owes greatly to your genetic predisposition to have terrible taste in films. I don’t blame you for it any more than I would blame a puppy for piddling on the carpet.
That being said, you’re fired. Clean out your desk at once, and send Clarissa in here so we can record that Buckaroo Banzai podcast. 🙂
I should warn anyone doing a Buckaroo Bonzai cast with Paul that I am a HUGE fan of said film and that if you are not nice in your critisms then you will feel the fury of not only myself but Julian Perez as well. Goob can attest to that being not an idle boast.
No matter where you go, there you are.
I like Heavy Metal, fantasy stories with automatic weapons are a lot of fun. I like Wizards for almost the same reason.
I have not figured out the appeal of the show and perhaps a podcast will explain to me how such a badly edited and terribly plotted movie like Buckaroo Banzai can have the nerd audience it does. I wonder if it has to do with being something nerds watched a lot when they were young or maybe that with a combination of the weird name? It’s sort of like that old Dungeons and Dragons cartoon from the 80’s that was really, REALLY terrible, but nerds try to pretend was any good, really I have no clue.
I really don’t see how Heavy Metal is more for nerd than TORN.
For me, my love for this movie doesn’t come from this ironic/stoner/so bad that it’s good type of experience, but of what it try to do. As you guys point out this movie is unique. Not many thing really look and sound like this before or after since (spoof don’t count), and A non-porn, non-C.G.I. adult animation is slim picking. All that along sound prefect on paper but not always in practice. I myself put Heavy Metal in the same page as Record of Lodoss war OVA. There a lot of flaws and far from being one of the best, and yet there something that appearing to it you can’t point at.
I’ve been trying for months now to finish a review of Heavy Metal 2000. Some day, I will be strong enough.
Damn it Paul there is no prog on this soundtrack and definitely no “protean evolutions” thereof…speaking of nerdiness…
I think we’ve already established I don’t know a damn thing about music or the history thereof.
In my defense, Pink Floyd’s “Time” was originally used as the musical accompaniment for the never-fully-animated scene that comes between “Captain Sternn” and “B-17”. So, it might have once almost contained a piece of prog rock? Maybe?
I’d certainly have hesitations about calling the soundtrack to Heavy Metal “heavy metal”, since it includes “Open Arms” by Journey and “Through Being Cool” by Devo.
YES!!!! I’ve been waiting for you to talk about this movie for along time. Too bad you didn’t have Daryl on the show.
I know I shouldn’t be saying anything,since I haven’t watched the movie yet,but goddamn,is Gerald’s rapeface scaring the shit out of me.
P.S.:How is Heavy Metal the magazine like?My country would ban it to kingdom come if it ever came here(all praise Allah indeed………).
Geez, so sorry to disappoint you “Moogle Master” but I requested to be on the show for this.
Gerald, you have to realize that when Buckaroo Banzi came out sci-fi/fantay movies came in three flavors, bad Star Wars rip-offs, bad Conan rip-offs, and bad Mad Max rip-offs. Yes, Buckaroo Banzi has its flaws, but compared to what else was around at that time it’s a work of genius.
It’s the same with the D&D cartoon. Which, if I remember correctly, was competing with the Smurfs.
I know what came out in 80’s sci-fi, and I think it’s pretty piss poor to defend a movie based on that it “wasn’t as bad as everything ELSE that came out at the time.” Which still means it’s bad I guess? A polished turd is, in the end, still a turd.
Yeah, so it’s a polished turd.
I’ve no doubt that if BB was made today it would be a made-for-Scyfi-movie. And yes, there were much better sci-fi movies that came out in 1984, this is the year that gave us Ghostbusters and Terminator after all. But it also gave us Dreamscape, Dune, Night of the Comet, Runaway (OK, Runaway is the Greatest Movie Ever), and Starman. But I’d happily watch Buckaroo Banzai over Starman any day.
By “visit New York,” Gerald means he went to tourist sections of Manhattan once as a kid.
I’ve been about 6 – 10 times, but yes, mostly to Manhattan areas and usually for jewelery conventions.
So what if the two strong female leads don’t talk.
Like Ace Hunter says “Deeds not words.”
Because I know Paul reads these things and I don’t have to explain myself over and over so many times, just know that this’ll be an extensive extention of things I should’ve said way, way back but didn’t think to checking out your podcast often so I have a LOT of catching up to do here, but since it’s already been nearly a year old, people’ll only know of this if the bother Googling for it!
Heavy Metal itself, the famed magazine was created as a US franchised version of the French “Métal Hurlant”, that publication however did not have quite the longevity as it’s spawned American offspring but certainly left it’s mark boldly in it’s presence.
I first became aware of this film by chance in the early 90’s, and at 2 or 3 in the morning care of the cable channel TNT, who apparently found a chance to bring this film to basic cable despite being edited severely (mostly nudity as they left the blood/carnage alone). Not even sure how or what I made of it, but I can remember going to school sometime later and being in word processing class when it all clicked! Only a shame I didn’t quite get a video copy of it, but at the time it was still unobtainable prior to it’s 1996 VHS release in time for a 15th Anniversary of the feature. In those days, you had to know someone with a copy or find a bootlegged copy at some random video store that’s been probably rented constantly over time. The film also tend to be part of the cult “Midnight Madness” screenings at movie theaters too (alongside “Rocky Horror” and the like).
The early 80’s Prog Rock scene is one I remember a tad myself for having been through listening to that on MTV or through other places, it was just a phase I guess, and a shame it’s came and went since I sorta liked that moment in time.
Much of the scequence with the car decending onto the planet was created through what I think was a process of filming a live-action prop and then transferring that to cels where they gave them an added treatment with the airbrushed look as it enters the atmosphere. While you thought it was a model, I assume it was a real car with some guy inside playing Grimaldi during that. The reason for the jerkiness might be due to the way they had to individually process each or every other frame of the sequence itself, since I assume they had to enlarge the frames to make photographed copies of the car before cutting them out and then pasting them on the cels themselves. They were essentially re-photographing the footage in this fashion which gave it that jerky look that could only come out of the best we had in those analog days! They certainly didn’t use every frame they might’ve filmed at 24fps but probably still wanted to achieve a look closing to hand-drawn animation (often 12 drawings a second that is a standard in western animation).
That scene of the guy getting killed by the Loc Nar was impressive, and I remember freeze-framing that bit just to see that happening. I do admit the whole “story telling” angle and the way this film is set around it is certainly pretty silly and not something you expect in that scene but given the way the segments are concerned I can see how it was the way to go.
I still have a drawing of the girl in this film as she attempts to double-cross our “hero” at the end of the story, pointing her gun out at him before he uses disintergration button! Certainly giving someone “The Stars & Stripes” was something I faintly remember the 80’s for!
Reminded I picked up the graphic novel of this sometime ago and notice how ‘BIG’ Den was, though they hid most of it with that tiny loin cloth in the film (I’m sure it made it easier for the animators to handle)! I remember TNT airing this film and kept editing through a lot of it with dissovles in and out of the female boobage.
Nothing to say.
Though never used, I often sight this as one of my fav moments from the film I wish was still there. The animator responsible for it was Corney Cole (though written as Cornelius Cole III in the deleted clip), whom has had decades of animation history going back to the 1950’s. Though going by his imdb page, you might not think of him for doing anything greater beyond standard Saturday morning fare (Pink Panther, Alvin & The Chipmunks and My Little Pony to name a few).
He went on to teach at CalArts since the early 90’s and most recently became a victim of a house fire that destroyed most of his belongings…
Certainly has it’s sinister moments watching it through.
SO BEAUTIFUL AND SO DANGEROUS
Have to look for that graphic novel if or when I do. Sounds like the animated segment didn’t do it justice at all.
The crowning big finish to this film! I don’t really have much to say here personally that’s not already explained, though I was glad there wasn’t hardly any dialogue crowding the action!
Although you guys didn’t know much about the director of this film, Gerald Potterton, he was a Canadian animator himself whom has had a number of other interesting productions under his belt that may or may not have been seen before. His career got it’s genesis at the National Film Board of Canada which some of his work can now be seen here for reference…
MY FINANCIAL CAREER (1962): http://www.nfb.ca/film/My_Financial_Career
THE RIDE (1963): http://www.nfb.ca/film/ride
THE RAILRODDER (1965, featuring Buster Keaton): http://www.nfb.ca/film/railrodder
GEORGE & THE CHRISTMAS STAR (1985): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PsqNKo2Hs5E
What Gerald said about Heavy Metal is probably true of it’s one-of-a-kind look and approach that wasn’t met since, though others like Nelvana’s “Rock & Rule” certainly come close. Hell even Hanna-Barbera tried something like that with “Rock Odyssey”…