Cyberpunk Review » Heavy Metal

April 7, 2006

Heavy Metal

Movie Review By: SFAM

Year: 1981

Directed by: Gerald Potterton, Jimmy T. Murakami

Written by: Len Blum et al.

IMDB Reference

Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: Medium

Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Low

Rating: 7 out of 10

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Overview: Heavy Metal represents one of my great teenage film memories. Back in the day, before the porn repository known as the internet was formed, Heavy Metal was edgy stuff. As a young teen, Heavy Metal was everything a kid my age wanted to see – sex, drugs, rock-n-roll, violence, defiance of authority, and hot chicks! Add the most awesome hard rock soundtrack, and Heavy Metal became the drug of choice for young folk back then. That it was animated somehow made it alright with the parents. Make no mistake – Heavy Metal is not high brow fare, nor is it particularly well made. But it is definitely a very fun guilty pleasure.


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The Story: Heavy Metal is a series of somewhat interrelated vignettes about the journey that ultimate evil makes, this time in form of an evil sentient green orb, called the Loch-Nar. The Loch-Nar captures a little girl in present times for reasons unknown till the end, and shows her a series of stories about how the Orb has corrupted people of all races in all times and places.


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In each story segment, we get a strange, otherwordly setting in which the orb enters, corrupts and then leaves. Often a hero stops the orb from fully corrupting everything, but always the orb leaves a stain. The atmosphere is one of interrupting and ongoing scene with something truly unusual that occurs. But it’s the ending vignette, Taarna which is the best, and also the one that finally gives us insight into why the Loch-Nar has captured this little girl. Taarna isn’t really cyberpunk in any way but a few of the visuals, but it is a lot of fun.


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Is it cyberpunk? Clearly, some of the vignettes, many in fact, are more fantasy than cyberpunk. So why do I have this movie listed? While some of the vignettes do have the cyberpunk feel, most clearly Harry Canyon, Heavy Metal absolutely belongs here due to its magazine roots. Both William Gibson and Ridley Scott credit visuals in the Heavy Metal Magazine is very influential for helping create their settings. Most cited is the Moebuis illustrated “The Long Tomorrow” comic. As you can see by the link, the Long tomorrow gives us a gritty neo-noir, near future comic that’s edgy, dangerous, and lots of fun. And more importantly, the atmosphere – the mood in Heavy Metal throughout seems pretty cyberpunk.


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Heavy Metal is Male Fantasy Material: Heavy Metal is NOT sophisticated - far from it in fact. Heavy Metal caters to the sophomoric, prepubescent male, and emphasizes gratuitous nudity, hot chicks kicking butt, nerds who grow massive bodies and get laid, android-hot chick sex, etc. Heavy Metal falls right in line with the old “Gonad the Barbarian” style books, so in this way, it really isn’t cyberpunk. Cyberpunk as a sub-genre dramatically improved the quality and intelligence of what we found on the scifi-fantasy shelves. Heavy Metal the movie does not, although many of the stories do provoke an interesting thought or two.


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The Animation: Each story segment is written and animated by completely different teams, although some of the voice actors such as John Candy appear in many episodes. Some of the segments seem pretty simple, whereas others have more than decent texture. All in all, Heavy Metal represents a mixed bag, but at the time, it truly was on the revolutionary side. While French director René Laloux’s most awesome animated movies were far better, outside of them, few things touched Heavy Metal. The fact that Heavy Metal included the themes and visuals teens were looking for back then transformed it into the ultimate cult rebellion flick.


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The Sound Track: Heavy Metal still should be considered among the best sound tracks for a movie. It SOOO added to the atmosphere. We get a heaping dose of great hard rock from the likes of Blue Oyster Cult, Black Sabbath, Sammy Hagar, Cheap Trick, and Don Felder’s most awesome rendition of Heavy Metal (Takin’ A Ride). In addition, we get great little 80s tunes like Devo’s “Working in a Coal Mine,” Journey’s “Open Arms,” and Stevie Nicks’ “Blue Lamp.” Truly, if you’re interested in experiencing 80s counter-culture at its fantasized finest, Heavy Metal is the movie to watch.


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The Bottom Line: Heavy Metal is not a great movie, but it is a lot of fun. While it has a few vignettes that are clearly cyberpunk in nature, the majority of the movie is unsophisticated SciFi-Fantasy. Still, the visuals and atmosphere are more than interesting, as are the diversity of animation styles. Heavy Metal should be seen more for the vision this film represents from the Magazine. This, as much as anything is responsible for the genre we now call cyberpunk.


~See movies similar to this one~

This post has been filed under 7 Star Movies, Dystopic Future Movies, Hot Cyberchicks Kicking Butt, Animes, Alien Movies, Cyberpunk movies from 1980-1989, Android Movies, Movie by SFAM.


June 8, 2006

Pet-Ex said:

Heavy Metal is on of the coolest trash movies i’ve seen.

Glam Creature said:

it has some cool places, but in main it doesn’t convey the visual power and craftness of “Metal Hurlant/Heavy Metal” comics, while the Japanese anime of the same time even overcomes craft qualities of manga comics.

SFAM said:

Hi Glam, overall I agree with you, but like you said, in some places, Heavy Metal really shines. Unfortunately, HM2000, which I would have wanted to be a nice step up in that direction, went the opposite way.

June 9, 2006

Glam Creature said:

yeah, HM2000 is completely crap

December 24, 2006

lexein said:

Everything I know about European architecture came from Heavy Metal magazine.

January 16, 2007

SFAM said:

Damn, if that’s the case, I need to spend more time in Europe!

March 29, 2007

David said:

Looks like a sci-fi film done by the creator of Beavis and Butthead back in the awesome 80s.

If you like animation, you’ll probably see it anyway unless you haven’t already.

May 9, 2007

Christina said:

Heavy Metal isn’t just for boys 8)

Andy said:

I am so glad to have stumbled upon this review page. The movie Heavy Metal was a pioneer in feature length animated films paving the way for a multimillion dollar industry. The combination of truley animated sequences with video makes for some pretty impressive effects (review the house explosion in the first scene). For me, this film helped to shape my view of animated films that came later. As a Drive-In Theater projectionist (some of you know what this is) I had the luxury of showing nightly a double feature of Heavy Metal and Eat My Dust for an entire summer.

May 10, 2007

SFAM said:

Hi Andy, welcome to Cyberpunk Review! And wow, that sounds like a pretty fun summer. Some movies never seem to get old for me. Heavy Metal definitely fits that bill.

May 23, 2007

neofilip said:

heavy metal i super uber cool
i had one copy but my brother throup on it because he was drunk!!!
i never forgive him

May 25, 2007

Dyce said:

that link - Moebuis illustrated “The Long Tomorrow” - seems to take me to a porn sight,,, SPAM!!!!

May 30, 2007

SFAM said:

Hi Dyce, it looks like the Moebuis link no longer works. Bummer.

randomrob said:

Most of the animation in this film makes me wince these days. Bakshi- not a fan.

(though I do love the vignette w/the zombies attacking the pilot of the WWII bomber as it goes down in flames- good horror)

When I think of the magazine, I think of the Fifth Element.

October 26, 2007

raven the hostile said:

get yur 1 way ticket 2 midnight! luv ur page. foud it at school doin’ a project on teen violence. heavy metal is the glass peice holding the burning bowl of the meattlehead/cartoon revolution. immagin the possibilities…

February 15, 2008

Branden said:

were can i get a free dowload of this movie?

March 3, 2008

Tarnah said:

My name is from this movie. I’m trying to find a pic of the sword on “my” neck. If u know where I can find one, please e-mail me. thanx

March 27, 2008

Al said:

Back in the day i would watch Heavy Metal and other cartoons just like it. I was like maybe 6 or 7 when i first seen Heavy Metal with my brother. Lately ive been dying to see more cartoons like it, and im not talking about japanese anime, im talking american adult anime, like Aeon Flux, Heavy Metal, etc. If anyone knows where i can get these America Animes, i would really appreciate it.

April 15, 2008

Jon Mo said:

does anyone know where to get the sound track from this movie????

April 16, 2008

Hawkeye said:

Jon- You should be able to get the soundtrack at most music stores (I was a kid of the 80s, so I still shop at these stores); you might try one of the download sites like itunes, limewire, etc. I found an old audiotape copy at a Sam Goody in 1992, and the CD was released in 1995 after the copyright restriction was lifted.

Since its release in the summer of 1981, I had to wait 13 years to see this movie. After that, I bought bootleg VHS copies, waited up until o’dark-thirty to see it on HBO, and even bought the 2 disc set that came with Heavy Metal 2000: FAKK 2; it was all well-worth it.

Cyberpunk invokes a sense of revoultion; we see it in Gibson, Card, and the recent British Boom. It intentionally goes against established rules and promotes revolution through technology. By this argument, Heavy Metal IS cyberpunk; not as a motif, but as a product.

This movie truly lives up to the tagline: “Beyond Science-Fiction, beyond Fantasy, beyond Imagination.”

April 23, 2008

mcfizzle said:

was they best animated cartoon in its time. EVER!!!!!!!

April 25, 2008

tarnah said:

my name is tarnah and its from this movie to!!!

May 13, 2008

Anonymous said:

I love to get stoned and watch this film

September 28, 2008

ChucKyLOWdowN said:

does anyone know where and how I can get a copy of the original soundtrack.

October 4, 2008

cock beaverson said:

i havent seen this movie for about 10 years and have been telling my roommates about it… i have been trying to find a free download of the whole movie for about 2 weeks and cant find it anywhere… anyone know of a website??

November 30, 2008

Kevin Bacon said:

You could go The Pirate Bay and find both the soundtrack and the whole movie. It’s also completely free.



January 24, 2009

Anonymous said:

Nah… Beavis & Butt- Head has a different style

April 28, 2011


you´re such a cybercunt Ellis!

May 4, 2011

Burnt_lombard said:

Holy shit, Kevin Bacon reads CPR!

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