Canadian Movies You Need To See That Don’t Suck — Heavy Metal

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Heavy Metal (Animated — 1981)
a movie aboot a green orb of ultimate evil with the coolest soundtrack ever.

Heavy Metal Trailer (1981)

Directed by Jimmy T. Murakami, Gerald Potterton
Starring John Candy, Harold Ramis, Al Waxman, Eugene Levy,
and Joe Flaherty as “Lawyer/General”

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Canada’s animated film industry is cutting edge and innovative… but that’s easy to say of any country. All it really takes to be innovative in an “Art” is to draw a circle around a square and call it “the new world.” In as much as Canada has an actual “film and animation industry”, yes, ours gets recognized by more award-givers than most other country’s — the Canadian National Film Board, for example, has more Oscar nominations and wins than any other Film Studio — and Canada is definitely recognized more so than any other country with such a small population. As a result our animators get recruited into Hollywood more than any other country except America. But even that’s not specific to Canadian animators, Canadian filmmakers — regardless of genre — are sucked into Hollywood like Tinseltown was a fifty dollar whore and Canadians were overly talented sperm with no place to get paid for procreating.

The “Animation Film Industry” covers such a wide territory of art. If you’ve ever played “Max Payne”, or any of the EA Sports titles, or any of a huge number of other Video Games available around the world, chances are you’ve watched Canadian taxpayer money at work. But, again, that’s not unique to Canada. Even most of the United States hand out cash to the film industry, either in indirect tax credits or directly through subsidies and handouts to their “Cultural Sectors.” Hollywood may be a whore, or even The Whore, but chances are pretty frigging good that your country has given her a roll of bills taken from taxpayers just like you and your neighbours.

Most, if not all, Hollywood animated movies released in the past thirty years have had Canadians in charge of some part of production. The most recent example would be the movie “300”, which was shot entirely at Montreal’s Icestorm Studios using bluescreens then put together in Montreal’s Meteor Studios and Hybride Technologies. The problem — in terms of actually showing what it is Canadians can do — is the overwhelming majority of mainstream Canadian animation is done in the United States, and they don’t list “nationality” in the credits of Shrek The Third.

Inside the actual Industry, original animation created by Canadians is considered “innovative” and “cutting edge”, but those movies and short films quickly, nearly instantaneously, get lost into the void of the non-distributed and unwatched. So the direct Cultural Impact of the Canadian Animation Industry on mainstream audiences is minimal. Unless you include the coolest animated movie ever produced.

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Heavy Metal definitely does not suck… the movie is sectioned into an anthology, told in sequence by a little green orb called “The LocNor,” which is the manifestation of all that is evil in the universe. The segments, in order, are called “Soft Landing“; “Grimandi”; “Harry Canyon”; “Den”; “Captain Sternn”; “B-17 Flying Fortress”; “So Beautiful, So Dangerous”, and; “Taarna”. None of this makes any difference because two key segments were cut out which basically turned the movie into eight separate movies, each starring a green orb of evil. One of the segments, called “Neverwhere Land” — which included the Pink Floyd classic “Time” — was cut to reduce the run time. The other segment was edited back because of a scene of a dude’s full frontal nudity. Despite the almost constant female nudity, sex and definitely constant violence and blood-letting, it was a dude’s limp cock which almost got this movie an X Rating.

As a result the movie, or at least the story and main plot, comes off as uneven and juvenile. Which probably would have happened anyway. But that’s not the point. The individual segments actually work as short films, the animation is cutting edge, the storylines — based on sex and violence — were almost completely unheard of in a mainstream animated movie, and the soundtrack… the soundtrack is, quite simply, a who’s who of Late 70’s Heavy Metal Music and a perfect example of how cool a soundtrack — at that point almost entirely limited to the Movie’s Score — could be. Among others, the music of Sammy Hagar, Nazareth, Blue Öyster Cult, Cheap Trick, Black Sabbath, Stevie Nicks and Grand Funk Railroad are all featured in the film.

Ironically, even more than the deleted segments, it was the music that doomed Heavy Metal to cult classic status. After its 1981 theatre release Heavy Metal always had a home on HBO and other movie channels however, a handful of legal fights over music licensing kept Heavy Metal from being released into the Home Video Market until aboot 1996. The same fights kept the soundtrack from being re-released on CD until 1995.

The movie is based on an American-based magazine of the same name, which had a Canadian publisher at the time. The animators came from America and Europe, but an equal amount of Canadians worked on this movie. Weirdly, the voice work was mostly done by members of the SCTV Improv Group. The Producers were Canadian and Canadian taxpayers money paid for most of the film and distribution… the animation, through the sequences, has different styles because several different animation houses were used to cut down on time and cost. Among animators Heavy Metal is considered to be a classic, and was the inspiration for “live action” movies such as the “Alien” franchise and “The Fifth Element,” as well as classics like “Akira” and “Bladerunner.”

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Quotes:

Hanover Fiste: He never did anything that was… illegal… unless you count all the times he sold dope disguised as a nun.

Zeks: Look, man, if there’s one thing I know, it’s how to drive while I’m stoned. You know your perception is completely fucked so you just let your hands work the controls as if you were straight.

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About Gabriel

I’ve lived in fifty-two places. I've been paid to pick stones out of fields, take backstage photos of Britney Spears, and report on Internet privacy issues. My photos have been published in several newspapers, and a couple of magazines.
This entry was posted in Canada, Canadian Movies, CSN:AFU Movies, Humor, Humour, Weed, Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Canadian Movies You Need To See That Don’t Suck — Heavy Metal

  1. Anita Marie says:

    Right now I’d settle for one new movie from anywhere that doesn’t suck- but I’ve lost faith in the system since some lazy script writers started going through their computer game collection for inspiration.

    That lot should be strapped into a rocket and shot into the sun…okay, I got that from South Park but a good idea is a good idea

  2. Ach… you’re early, I posted this before putting in the links. I was distracted by House and my grandfather’s need to talk trash aboot the Senators.

    The problem with movies today is they get buried so fast by the Blockbuster. The problem with Blockbusters today is they’re all based on comic books… which is a problem because they mostly — Batman Begins, Sin City and 300 aside — suck as adaptations. Comic books are soap operas, the storylines stretch out over a year, but the Blockbuster takes an entire run, sometimes several storylines, of a comic book and reduces it to 120 minutes where the first hour is used to bring non-fans up to speed.

    There are fantastic movies being made, but they get one screen out of thirty at one out of thirty multiplex’s in each city. The web was supposed to fix distribution, but it hasn’t. It should be so freaking easy by now for movie distributers or the production houses to make movies available for us to watch online, but the film industry, when it comes to technology, is retarded.

    But we’re not without Sin in all of this either. There are always, in every city, movie houses which show independent films. In Ottawa it’s the Mayfair and the Bytowne. But there are also those independent rental places that have “The Nine Lives Of Fritz The Cat” or “Our Lady Of The Assassins” right up close to the counter.

    …holy crap, I didn’t even do a spellcheck before posting…

  3. Anita Marie says:

    Don’t worry about the spellcheck…think of it as creative writing.

    I agree, Independent Films are they’re worth seeking out- we have a few places in Seattle that show some top drawer indie shows ( which are cool places to hit if you can get over the smell of Latte’s and Patchouli all mixed together in this noxious cloud- which is not easy thing to do in a confined space)

    What I enjoy about Independent Films is the fact that all you have is the story…which is going to seperate the writers and actors from the Movie Investors.

  4. Dead Robot says:

    When I was going to Sheridan College for Classical Animation, two of our teachers had worked on that film. They said drug use was pretty rampant within the studio.

    “No shit,” the entire class said back.

    Better stories came from “Rock And Rule”: drug use, money laundering (a hint of), and sheeps blood poured over a camera. Now THERE’S a truly Canadian movie.

  5. feartheseeds says:

    Sonofabitch… I’ve been trying to figure out what that movie is called for… I don’t know, a generation maybe? I saw that thing twice as a kid and I’ve been looking for it ever since. The only way I could describe it was “animated with a dude with Mick Jagger lips…”. Honestly, you’ve made my head hurt just a little less. I still think, mostly by virtue of being first, having the entire cast of SCTV voice the characters and having an incredible soundtrack, Heavy Metal ranks higher as a cultural thing… but as a Movie, you’re right, “Rock And Rule” is the better flick.

  6. Dead Robot says:

    “My name is Mok, Thanks a lot!”

    They released a two disk set of it last winter, I believe. Keep your eye out for a maple leafed moose in the crowded bar scene.

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