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”
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.
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.”
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.