[box cover]

Heavy Metal: Special Edition

Columbia TriStar Home Video

Starring the voices of John Candy, Joe Flaherty, Eugene Levy,
Harold Ramis, Richard Romanus, John Vernon and Al Waxman

Written by Len Blum, Cornelius Cole, Richard Corben,
Juan Gimenez, Daniel Goldberg, Angus McKie,
Dan O'Bannon, Thomas Warkentin, and Berni Wrightson

Directed by Gerald Potterton

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Ignoring style, animated films can usually be divided up between cartoons for kids and cartoons for adults. Disney stuff, for example, is obviously marketed primarily at moppets, while a majority of Japanese Anime is strictly adult-themed fare. There is, of course, a fair amount of crossover. Some urchin-aimed animation, like Toy Story, can be fun for the whole family.

Heavy Metal is that rare animated film aimed at neither adults nor kids, but a rather a suspicious breed of sub-cretinous mouth-breathers who seem to inhabit adult-sized bodies but carry the perverted, pea-sized intellects of underdeveloped pre-teen malcontents.

This 1981 cult-favorite starts out like an anthology about the evils of greed, as a menacing green orb relates to a young girl harrowing tales of destruction. This glowing ball, you see, is coveted across the universe, and yet leaves a path of ruin in its wake. At least for the first three stories — none of them aspiring to greater than Saturday-morning cartoon morality plays — Heavy Metal sticks to a common theme: greed = bad. But with another 45 minutes to fill, the nine writers charged with assembling this monstrosity give up on theme and the film peters out from simple inadequacy into rambling incoherence.

If there is one hallmark of consistency in Heavy Metal, it's an infatuation with breasty naked women. Although each story was designed by different artists with varyingly non-expressionist and prosaic styles, they all share a common fascination with mammoth jahoobies. While mammary-fixations are nothing new — nor, necessarily, bad — it does beg the disturbing question: In the midst of such dull storytelling, are these animated melons the key to Heavy Metal's enduring popularity? If so, said film's devotees would do well to rent a porno, or, better yet, meet some real boobs for once.

Not even the sorry rock-star soundtrack can zip any life into this stale effort. Boasting ax-heavy tunes from the likes of Blue Oyster Cult, Stevie Nicks, Journey, Cheap Trick, Grand Funk Railroad, Nazareth, and Black Sabbath, only Sammy Hagar's title tune boosts the flagging energy and assimilates organically into the movie's context.

Heavy Metal features uninspired vocal talents of SCTV alumni John Candy, Joe Flaherty, and Eugene Levy, as well as Harold Ramis, Richard Romanus, John Vernon and Al Waxman, and is produced by Ivan Reitman. The source print for this 1.85:1 widescreen transfer shows serious wear, particularly during the opening credits. Dolby Digital 5.1 or Dolby Surround 2.0, one deleted segment, "Neverland," as well as an alternate frame story, commentary by Carl Macek, the documentary Imagining Heavy Metal, galleries of production photos, Heavy Metal Magazine covers, related conceptual art, and portfolios of pencil animation and single and layered cels.

— Gregory P. Dorr

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