Friday, November 11, 2016

Cartoons for Adults

This is my entry One of My All-Time Favorite Cartoons blogathon hosted by MovieMovieBlogBlog

"Get you one way ticket to midnight
Call it Heavy Metal"
-Sammy Hagar

In 1977 the publishers of National Lampoon launched a comic book geared towards adults.  It contained science fiction and fantasy stories written by and drawn by some of the most popular authors and artists of the day.  It also contained some highly erotically charged material.  (Remember I said it was a comic book for "adults".  However, it was not pornographic in nature even if it did sometimes have half naked or fully naked women in some of the panels.)

It was, by design, written mostly for young male readers, the same market that frequently snapped up the newest sci-fi and fantasy novels on the market.  It was originally inspired by a French publication, and in fact a few of the early issues were just English language reprints of stories from the French publication.  But by 1980, it had soared in popularity with its young male market and thought was given to producing a movie based on the style of stories presented in the comic.

The film, like the comic book, had, variously, scenes of graphic violence and nudity (cartoon violence and nudity, but still...)  The producers used several different animation houses, and the stories themselves were sometimes continuations of stories already being published in the magazine.  I obviously don't have to tell you at this point that its not one to watch with the kids....  Reading this entry should be OK, though.  I left out  using any of the graphic violence and nudity for illustrations in the pictures...

Heavy Metal (1981)

The film is in an anthology form, but it has a connecting theme that begins with the first story.  An astronaut brings home a gift for his daughter, a green globe, which immediately comes to life and kills her father.  Then it begins to tell the girl tales of its evil influence down through the ages.  The globe, calling itself the Loc-nar, has apparently been around since the dawn of time.

The first internal story involves a woman who is running from a mob boss that has just killed her father, a scientist.  The scientist had been studying the Loc-nar.  She teams up with a NYC cabbie who drives a flying cab (a newspaper claims the year is 2031, and of course, since the movie was made in 1981, the Twin Towers still stand).  The Loc-nar kills a bunch of people.

The second story is a bit more fun but a bit more intricate.  The Loc-nar causes a modern dweeb to be transported to a sword and sorcery world, where not only does he get a muscular virile body, but he gets the attention of at least two women who have the hots for him, one a priestess and the other a woman who was to be a sacrifice in the priestess' rites.  He also gets the attention of an obviously fey man who wants him to steal the Loc-nar from the rival priestess.  The Loc-nar kills a lot of people.

The third story takes place on a space station.  A smarmy captain is up on charges of murder and mayhem before a judge.  The smug captain claims he has an out, a witness whom he has supposedly bribed to testify on his behalf.  The Loc-nar doesn't kill a lot of people, but it causes the witness to become enlarged and chase the captain, and ultimately the influence of the Loc-nar causes someone to be killed. (See, and you were feeling disappointed...)

The fourth story takes place aboard a B-17 in WWII.  The plane takes on heavy damage and all but the pilot and co-pilot are killed by enemy fire.  The Loc-nar appears, but instead of killing off people, it causes the dead soldiers to become zombies, which do kill off the remaining members of the crew.

The fifth story has an event in which a lot of bigwigs and a scientist appear at a meeting at the Pentagon.  An alien spaceship appears and kidnaps the scientist and a stenographer.  The stenographer becomes the paramour of one of the occupants of the spaceship, a robot.  All of which was caused by the Loc-nar which the stenographer was wearing in a locket.  Oh, and the pilots snort a carload of Plutonian nyborg (which bears an uncanny resemblance to cocaine).

The final story involves the Loc-nar crashing into a volcano on a planet.  It grows to immense proportions and erupts from the volcano in a green lava.  This stuff flows down the side of the volcano, causing an entire group of people to become rampaging barbarians, who then lay siege to a peaceful city.  The peaceful citizens call upon the last surviving member of a race of warriors, called Taarna, who comes to the rescue, but is too late.  So instead, she seeks to avenge the citizens by finding the barbarians and killing them.   Eventually she takes on the Loc-nar itself.

 The movie is augmented with lots of songs by heavy metal bands of the day including Sammy Hagar, Black Sabbath, Nazareth, Cheap Trick, Journey and former Eagles member Don Felder.  It also contained some pretty decent orchestral music written by Elmer Bernstein and performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.  It was followed in 2000 by a sequel, Heavy Metal 2000, and there are rumors that another sequel is in the works.

Among the cast of voice actors used in the film, you will immediately recognize John Candy in several roles.  You may (or may not) recognize some of the other voices:  Harold Ramis, Joe Flaherty and Eugene Levy, all SCTV alums.  (if you are unfamiliar with Second City TV, you really should look for it.  It was a Canadian counterpart to Saturday Night Live).

Others in the cast included Percy Rodriguez (as the voice of the Loc-nar), a fellow Canadian who, among other things, did the voice-overs for quite a few movie trailers. John Vernon (famous as Dean Wormer in Animal House) is here as the prosecutor in the trial scene.   Doug Kenney (also in Animal House as Stork) in what was his final appearance before his untimely death.

Among the writers, Dan O'Bannion, who wrote or co-wrote the screenplays for, among others, Alien, Total Recall, and the Tobe Hooper remake of Invaders from Mars (previously reviewed).  Bernie Wrightson, mostly known as an illustrator and comic book artist, who did the illustrations you see in the Stephen King book The Stand: Complete and Un-Cut.  Dan Goldberg, who had previously written the Bill Murray films Meatballs and Stripes, and went on to produce, among others, The Hangover series of comedies.

Well, kiddies, its about time to go home.  If you see a green globe following you, it's probably already too late for you, but....good luck!



  1. I saw this cartoon when I was in college and loved it, and I've blathered on so much about it that my slacker son wants in for Christmas. You did a terrific summary of its many virtues (if that word fits this cartoon). Thanks for contributing to the blogathon!

    1. A perfect movie for a slacker.... Thanks for reading and thanks for letting me contribute.

  2. Hi, Quiggy! Due to the latest events, we decided to split the #AtTheCircus blogathon. You signed in to write about Killer Klowns from Outer Space, but if the election results left you sad and unable to write you can write your piece later in November, on a date yet to be decided. If it is already ready to be posted, you still can send us a link right now.

    1. I don't get depressed over election results. I personally couldn't care less who runs the country, I'm too busy trying to run my own life. I'll be on time for my review.

  3. I found it fascinating to read about this feature. However, the music has never been my scene so I doubt I'll ever watch it. Nonetheless, you have provided me with the tools to carry on an intelligent conversation on the topic should it arise. Thanks.

    1. The music is secondary to the art and story, but it might not be your cup of tea anyway. As I intimated in the review it is primarily geared toward young heterosexual males. But thanks for the comments.

  4. Fantastic post, very informative. I wonder why the other specialists of this sector do not notice this. You must continue your writing. I'm confident, you have a great readers' base already!


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