Heavy Metal (1981)

Genres - Science Fiction  |   Sub-Genres - Fantasy Adventure, Sci-Fi Adventure  |   Run Time - 90 min.  |   Countries - Canada , Germany , United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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The American magazine Heavy Metal premiered in 1977 as an attempt to Americanize a movement of adult comics and fantasy art that had been going strong in Europe throughout the decade. An odd mix of truly innovative art -- from scenarists the likes of Berni Wrightson, Moebius, and others -- and sensationalist pandering (often within the same piece), the magazine attracted a loyal following of comics fans as well as fans of stories featuring absurdly well-endowed women, sex toy robots, and other Metal staples. This 1981 film essentially brought the same mix to the big screen, but with a heavy emphasis on reaching an unspoken quota of sex and violence. Its best segments, particularly two contributions from Dan O'Bannon, capture the magazine's effortless surrealism. More typical, however, is the "Den" segment, in which a teenage loser (voiced by John Candy) is transported to a fantasy world in which he becomes a muscle-bound sex and fighting machine. The film knows its audience, but seems determined to out-dumb it. Neither the animation, the intrusive soundtrack, nor the presence of juvenile taboo-flaunting nudity, sexism, and drug use have aged especially well, but it surely represents a prayer answered for those wishing to see top-heavy cartoon women riding giant birds and wielding swords.