I’ve seen a lot of weird movies in my day; it’s safe to say I seek them out. I once saw a flick that depicted a “post-apocalypstick” world where men have devolved into apes, and the women of the world have banded into tribes based on hair color. Since gay men no longer exist, they all dress in lingerie and roam the countryside in search of guns, ammo, make-up, and stag-movies (it’s called Superstarlet A.D. in case you’re curious). There was this one movie I watched where a Taoist wizard’s head separate from his body and fly around while his veins and arteries acted as tentacles and attempted to strangle the Shaolin monk fighting him (The Boxer’s Omen). I’ve also seen my share of movies featuring Lloyd Kaufman, probably because I was drunk. And yet, none of these seem as nonsensical and weird as the eighties animated cult oddity Heavy Metal (okay, except maybe The Boxer’s Omen, that one was snarling straight off the chain).
Heavy Metal is named after an anthology magazine that is sort of like Weird Tales, but with comic book stories instead of short fiction, and a lot more violence and nudity. The movie is full of loosely connected short stories that are heavy on the elements of adolescent male fantasy. All the women have huge boobs, get naked at the drop of a hat, it’s insanely violent, and it features music by the likes of Black Sabbath, Devo, Blue Oyster Cult, and Sammy Hagar. In essence, it’s every fourteen-year-old boy’s dream cartoon. Normally something so immature in its intentions would send me screaming in the opposite direction, but Heavy Metal‘s charm overcomes its shallow teenage mindset.
The film practically speaks to its target audience in its best segment, when John Candy voices a nerdy teenage boy who happens upon a malevolent green orb. This strange object transports the boy into a fantasy world and gives him a body akin to Arnold Schwarzenegger. Hearing the childlike voice of John Candy dictate the thoughts of a hyper-sexualized, muscle-bound uber-mensch is hilarious, yet brilliant at the same time. He is a member of the target audience living out the escapist fantasy these stories provide.
Speaking of John Candy, he’s only one member of the truly strange voice cast that populates Heavy Metal, which includes Harold Ramis, Eugene Levy, and John Vernon. When you see that the producer of the film is Ivan Reitman of Ghostbusters and Stripes fame, this casting makes more sense, but still seems totally odd for the types of stories being told, yet it works very well.
Of course, being a bizarre animated property from the eighties, Heavy Metal has aged about as well as Marlon Brando after being left in the sun with a stockpile of rum. But as a weirdo item from the era, Heavy Metal retains its odd charm. The Blu-ray being released this week doesn’t contain anything new in the way of special features, killing the urge to trade in my DVD, but if you don’t own this fun, freaky movie, now is the time to snag it (if you’re a fan of this film, and haven’t seen the brilliant South Park parody, “Major Boobage”, go do so now).
Other Noteworthy Releases
Hall Pass: The Farrelly Brothers have been hit-and-miss over the years. When they hit, they nail you right in the funny bone. When they miss, which is most of the time, it seems as though you’ve come across the latest in interrogation technology. Hall Pass looks to be the latter. No thanks.
Legend of the Fist – The Return of Chen Zhen: Donnie Yen’s latest film, which draws upon the cinematic legacy of Bruce Lee. Read my review for more in-depth thoughts in case you missed it.
Red Riding Hood: Notice the absence of the word “little.” The famous fairy tale gets the Twilight treatment from director Catherine Hardwicke.
The Makioka Sisters: Kon Ichikawa’s 1983 adaptation of the classic Japanese novel by the same name gets a release from Criterion.
Insignificance: I’ve never seen this one, but I’m a big Nicolas Roeg fan, as Walkabout, The Man Who Fell to Earth, and Don’t Look Now are all favorites of mine, so I’ll be nabbing this Criterion release at some point.
The Cincinnati Kid: Steve McQueen, Rip Torn, Edward G. Robinson, Karl Malden…need I say more?
Johnny Mnemonic: Another classic comes to Blu-ray…just kidding. It’s a crappy sci-fi movie with Keanu Reeves and, uh, Takeshi Kitano, who was seriously slumming it here. If this here is your bag, go nuts.
Jackass 3.5: In case Jackass 3 wasn’t enough.
Available on DVD
Big Mommas – Like Father Like Son: No. Martin Lawrence, unless you’re planning on showing up in Bad Boys III, I’d be happy never to see you in a movie ever again.
Harry Potter – Order of the Phoenix and The Half-Blood Prince: “Ultimate Editions” of both movies are coming to Blu-ray and DVD this week.
This article originally appeared over at Parcbench