A sweeping story of the battle of good against evil is told through an anthology of short animated films about a glowing green orb (the Loc-Nar) that is the personification of ultimate evil in the universe. Based loosely on the French magazine "Heavy Metal."
Directed by: Gerald Potterton
, John Bruno
, John Halas
, Julian Harris
, Jimmy T. Murakami
, Barrie Nelson
, Paul Sabella
, Jack Stokes
, Pino Van Lamsweerde
, Harold Whitaker
. Starring: Don Francks
, Caroline Semple
, Richard Romanus
, Susan Roman
, Al Waxman
, Harvey Atkin
, John Candy
, Glenis Wootton Gross
, Marilyn Lightstone
, Jackie Burroughs
, Martin Lavut
, August Schellenberg
, John Vernon
. Music by: Elmer Bernstein
I can't really say what it is I like about this movie. It's got plenty of storyline flaws, characters who behave in an extremely implausible manner, gratuitous nudity and animation that makes the old Looney Tunes cartoons look like The Lion King. By all accounts it should have turned out horrible but instead the grittiness and wild storytelling is actually part of its charm.
Heavy Metal is an anthology of stories that range from gritty noir ("Harry Canyon") to wacky comedy ("So Beautiful, So Dangerous") to straight out gore ("B-17"). They are all tied together rather loosely by the presence of an evil green orb called the Loc Nar. It narrates these random stories to a hapless teenage girl it considers its arch-nemesis.
The film opens with an astronaut returning to earth in a flying convertible. He makes it home to present the previously mentioned green orb as a gift to his daughter only to have it threaten his daughter after melting him into goo. My main problem with the opening segment is that the Loc Nar chooses to tell the girl about all the evil it has perpetrated rather than melting her as it did her father. Of course, if it did that, we wouldn't have a movie. Also some of the faces she makes come off too goofy to take seriously.
The film switches to the first story, "Harry Canyon," a 50's film noir transplanted to a futuristic New York in decline with a gruff cabbie in place of a gumshoe. He is thrust into the action when a girl gets into his cab to escape from gangsters who just murdered her father, the current owner of the Loc Nar. While it's my favorite of all the stories, the problems come from the girl's behavior. She decides to have sex with Harry Canyon within minutes of meeting him and watching her father die; a reaction usually reserved for porn movies. Then she turns against him after she gives the Loc Nar to the gangsters despite there being no foreshadowing that she would do something like this. Perhaps most disappointing is that this is the way the story ends. Harry kills the woman in self defense and drives off to adventures that we will never know.
On to story #2, "Den." This one is more of a fantasy where an 18-year old nerd finds the Loc Nar in his backyard and is teleported to an alternate universe where he is transformed to a muscle bound hero who gets tasked to defeat an evil warlord and, of course, rescue a superhot naked girl. I really enjoyed this story and John Candy's voice-over lends some much needed laughs after the downer resolution of "Harry Canyon." This one also seems to have a more satisfying ending. The only thing I can't understand is why the Loc Nar would include this story as it clearly made Den's life BETTER.
The third story is "Captain Sternn," the story of a lowlife criminal who bribes a meek man to give false testimony at his trial. However, the Loc Nar has other plans and causes Hannover Fiste to hulk out and chase after the titular scumbag. Despite the premise, this is the most light-hearted episode up to this point. It also seems to end before it really gets going. Surprisingly there are no naked women to be found either.
The next story is "B-17," a claustrophobic horror tale about a WWII pilot trying to survive a plane full of zombie comrades reanimated by the Loc Nar naturally. This story is highly effective in its gore and scares and has, by far, the best ending. Once again there are no naked women and there is also little spoken dialogue but it does just fine without them. This is the strongest segment, storywise anyway.
After the brief segue to full on horror, "So Beautiful, So Dangerous," seeks to lighten the mood. We have a sexy secretary who is accidentally beamed aboard an alien spaceship piloted by two stoner aliens. She also finds love with a robot of all things. I'd consider this one to be the weakest. The woman is annoying, the thought of robot sex requires too much suspension of disbelief and I was actually disappointed that the story abandons the far more interesting plot thread about mutations once the spaceship shows up. Also the Loc Nar doesn't do anything evil here and appears as a bauble on the secretary's blouse. How did she get it? Why didn't it kill her? Finally, we conclude with "Taarna," a stoic fantasy involving a mute, but impossibly gorgeous warrior woman and a city of violent thugs mutated by the Loc Nar. All in all, it's a good story with a good ending except for the beginning where Taarna takes an eternity to get dressed while the city that summoned her gets completely slaughtered.
After the stories are concluded, the wraparound plot concludes in case you forgot about it. The Loc Nar explodes, taking the house with it. However, the girl escapes where Taarna's bird shows up to whisk her away and her hair whitens indicating she is Taarna's ancestor or reincarnation or... who knows? The ending makes little sense but it's not the main attraction here anyway.
"Heavy Metal" is a fun escapist fantasy that knows what it is and makes no apologies for it. Even though it's not the most expensive or the best looking movie, it more than makes up for it with its passion and unencumbered approach to storytelling. If you're looking to have a good time, definitely check it out.
Review by Allexander Lyons from the Internet Movie Database.