Heavy Metal (1981)

Director: Gerald Potterton (and various others)

Well, FINALLY I know who voices so many of the 80s horror trailers in the Drive-In Delirium series, i.e. Percy Rodriguez, the voice of the Loc-Nar in this film… for some reason he’s uncredited in the film itself but he’s listed on Wikipedia; I thought the voice sounded kind of familiar, and lo, his Wiki page does indeed list a few of those very trailers… Another name missing from the credits is that of Jean Giraud, which is a bit rude, given that he only helped create the magazine (Métal Hurlant) that became Heavy Metal in the US and eventually birthed this film, and given also that one of his stories inspired one of the stories in it as well… Anyway, Heavy Metal the film is made up of various stories from Heavy Metal the magazine, all revolving in some way or other around a green orb called the Loc-Nar (voiced by Rodriguez), all glued together with a frame story in such a way that it all makes not a lot of sense; the various stories were handled by various sequence directors and various animation houses, so there’s a certain degree of diversity that kind of undermines the coherence a bit further (although a fair amount of the animation in the film was done by rotoscoping, so the whole thing does have a faintly Ralph Bakshi feel to it). Heavy Metal was unavailable for years thanks to music rights issues, and the soundtrack is probably the most interesting thing about it, not just Elmer Bernstein’s orchestral score (with ondes martenot!) but the many and varied rock/new wave numbers too. A somewhat vexing experience to watch, though; quite apart from having problems with the humdrum storytelling, Heavy Metal just struck me as rooted in its very particular time and place, when the idea of comics (and animation) being pitched at adults and able to encompass this sort of overt sex and violence and all that was still fairly new, and I’m not sure it’s worn too well over the years since then… impressive enough to look at but a bit tiresome to actually watch.

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