THE REEL BINGE with Lee Ostler: HEAVY METAL (1981)

Director: Gerald Potterton / Producer: Ivan Reitman
Heavy Metal (1981) has been a cultural touchstone for every self-respecting, stoned, teenage, burgeoning fucking rocker for nearly 35 now. It’s simply something you watched. Post-apocalyptic, fantasy, horror, rockin’ soundtrack (kinda) , a bunch of naked ladies straight out of a Russ Meyer fantasy and heavy_metal_ver3space Corvettes. What’s not to like? For that reason it rightfully takes its place in the pantheon of cult classics. It also shares some of the defining characteristics of all certified cult films. Removed of all context, is it good? Well, in a truly objective sense, no. It’s not a “good” movie.
That completely ignores the cultural relevance and personal importance of this and other films of its ilk. “Heavy Metal”(1981) fucking rules and it’s entirely about context. It fucking rules because my friends and I felt cool watching it when I was that stoned, teenage, burgeoning punk. It wasn’t mainstream. It was subversive (for its time) and older, cooler people name-checked it. If you watched it, you were cool. You were that much closer to being a member of the tribe. It’s part of the cultural fabric, a sacred text if you will, of Rock And Fucking Roll (by the way, RAFR was an awesome term that sadly fell out of fashion in the early 2000’s). That “punk” part was important concerning the soundtrack. Even coming from a metal background, most of the music was kinda wack except Devo, Black Sabbath (obviously) and Cheap Trick.  The rest was forgiven due to… you guessed it, context.

Anyway. On to the task at hand. “Heavy Metal”(1981) is an anthology film centered around an evil, mythical, power manifested by a glowing green orb. MSDHEME EC004So, I’ll give y’all a very brief synopsis of each chapter. More importantly, I’ll try to include notable participants and recommend their other work worth a gander. Now, “notable” means interesting to me. I am not really familiar with the worlds of animation or graphic novels from which many of these artists come from. I’m entirely concerned with the medium of film. So, bear that in mind. I mean no disrespect. If you’ve seen this, you know the score. If you haven’t, WHAT THE FUCK? watch it right now because, like it or not, you kinda have to.

Ivan Reitman (Producer): Produced “Animal House”(1978). Directed/Produced “Stripes” (1981), “Ghostbusters” (1984) and “Draft Day” (2014).
Daniel Goldberg (Screenwriter): Produced “Old School” (2003) and “The Hangover” (2009-14) series.
Len Blum (Screenwriter): Co-wrote “Stripes” (1981) and “Meatballs” (1979).
An astronaut returns home with The Loc-Nar which promptly kills him and takes his young daughter hostage. It’s through The Loc-Nar that the subsequent stories are told. The Loc-Nar is  “the sum of all evils” and somehow the little girl is a threat.
Harold Whitaker (Director): Also directed of  “Animal Farm” (1954), the defining animated adaptation of the George Orwell novel.
Harry Canyon
Story about a hard-scrabble cabbie in post apocalyptic New York. He gets caught up with a mysterious seductress and The Loc-Nar. Shit goes down. (This story and the animation are almost certainly the inspiration for the character of Korben Dallas and his surroundings in “The Fifth Element”(1997). Luc Besson began writing the script for it when he was 16. What does that tell you?)


An 18-year-old nerd from Earth is transformed by The Loc-Nar. He is transported to another world where he’s a fucking boss warrior who scores with a couple of hot ladies and saves the day. Definitely the chapter that stood out to every teenage boy and had the hottest chicks.

John Candy as Den: Watch him as Dean Andrews Jr. in “JFK” (1991). As Buck Russell in “Uncle Buck” (1992) and Del Griffith in “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” (1987).
Captain Sternn
A space Captain is on trial for a bunch of dastardly shit (including a bunch a rapes that he’s grossly proud of). A seemingly meek witness (possessing The Loc-Nar) is his ace in the hole. This one has the cleanest, most precise animation. I’ve always liked this one. Great animation, quick dialogue and funny.
2991_12_screenshot 1290x726Joe Flaherty as Lawyer: Watch him as Sam Slaton in “Used Cars” (1980). As Father McNulty in “Detroit Rock City” (1999) and Donald the Jeering Fan in “Happy Gilmore” (1996).
Eugene Levy as Captain Lincoln F. Sternn: Watch him as Dr. Glatt in the classic, “Goon” (2011). As Gerry Fleck in “Best In Show” (2000) and as Mitch Cohen in “A Mighty Wind” (2003).
Rodger Bumpass as Hanover Fiste: Voices Squidward Tentacles in “SpongeBob SquarePants” (1999 – present) and a truly amazing amount of other animated characters you like.
WWII bomber. Zombies. Fucking Loc-Nar. Notable for being animated by Ottawa-based, Atkinson Film-Arts Studio. Always felt like the most out-of-place. Great animation and gory.
heavy-metal-1981-hd-tributeSo Beautiful and So Dangerous
A buxom Pentagon stenographer (possessing Ther Loc-Nar) is kidnapped by an alien ship captained by a robot and two burnouts who have a penchant for snorting drugs. After bedding their captive, the robot falls for her. He is rebuffed. Poor little guy. A truly strange story of unrequited love.
Harold Ramis as Zeke: He directed “Caddyshack” (1980), “Groundhog Day” (1993) and “The Ice Harvest” (2005). And he’s fucking Egon for christsakes.
Taarna is a super hot, badass warrior from a race called  the Taarakians. She is summoned to help a peaceful society who are getting slaughtered by a bunch of barbarians, mutated by The Loc-Nar. She kicks a bunch of ass. This is my Heavy11favorite story of the bunch. Heavy Metal magazine kinda had a penchant for women who kicked she shit out of bad guys and looked good doing it. This theme would carry on to “Heavy Metal 2000″(2000)
The Loc-Nar is destroyed by the little girl, who is revealed to be the next great Taarakian warrior. She takes off on Taarna’s winged steed. This brings the story full circle. For my money, this and Grimaldi share my favorite animation. The girl’s recoiling, terror of The Loc-Nar is just perfect and has always stood out as the single most striking image of the film.
In conclusion. Watch it, ya Dorks! – LEE
(Lee Ostler is a musician, avid fight fan, man-of-many-words, and huge fan of fine cinema.  We think it’s too cute that he has a Minor in Film Studies, and are tickled pink that he now gets a chance to shine.  So, each Thursday, he will start our minds rolling for the weekend with another gem of a film we can hunt down.  Some will be easier to find than others, but that’s part of the game.  Get the home theatre ready, pop the corn, and prepare to see some friggin’ awesome films)

Heavy Metal – Original 1981 Trailer