Viking Night: Heavy Metal
By Bruce Hall
May 29, 2012
What do you get when you cross The Twilight Zone with a little European eroticism with the contents of a 13-year-old boy’s mind as he spends quality time with the latest Victoria’s Secret catalogue? You get Heavy Metal - and how you feel about that depends on both your level of maturity, and your opinion of what constitutes “art.” The film version is more or less the movie version of the magazine that shares its name. It’s a science fiction/fantasy showcase of cutting edge hand drawn art, with a healthy dose of erotica and snarky teenage humor. Basically, if you’ve ever seen a picture of an improbably gorgeous woman on the back of a dragon wearing a metal bikini and swinging a broadsword, this is where they come from.
But before I continue, let’s get something out of the way. Review or commentary on Heavy Metal tends to fall into one of two categories. There are the egghead reviews that are 500 word rants about how the film is nothing more than a 90 minute homage to gaping head wounds and women with massive breasts. And then there are the people eager to cultivate Geek Cred with their readership, and they wax on about how Heavy Metal is a pioneering work of art, and if you can’t handle that it’s because you aren't as clever and sophisticated as the writer. I can’t entirely agree with either view.
I’m about 60/40 on that, in fact. I guess I’m a fan of Heavy Metal but I will admit it’s for the same reasons I still giggle at Tom and Jerry cartoons - it’s the nostalgia factor. And, maybe I’m still a little immature. On the other hand, the movie is also an excellent example of something that should be celebrated simply because it’s never going to happen again. So, you want to make a hand drawn film about an evil green beach ball and an albino Victoria’s Secret model who rides a giant plucked chicken into battle against a space zombie with a mechanical hand? And it’s going to be rated R?
It has now been done once, and it will never happen again. And before you fire off an email to me entitled “Heavy Metal 2000”, may I remind you: See? I told you so.
As I mentioned earlier, Heavy Metal Episode One was inspired by the magazine, which is basically an erotic art periodical. The sexuality and violence were toned down for the movie, but the spirit of the original remains. In fact, the movie’s...um...”plot”...is based in part on material from the magazine. Stop me if it sounds familiar, or if your name is Luc Besson. There’s this giant, incredibly smug ball of pure evil that threatens civilization, you see. It annihilates everything and everyone it touches and just when all seems lost, only a scantily clad woman, designated by prophecy, and with incredible breasts, can save us from our own shortsightedness.