Heavy Metal (1981): the 40th Anniversary

The Blind Eternities forum

Posted on Jan. 12, 2021, 8:22 p.m. by DemonDragonJ

This year is the 40th anniversary of Heavy Metal, an animated film adapted from stories that were featured in Heavy Metal magazine, an anniversary that I definitely feel is worth commemorating.

The film does not have a central plot, and is instead an anthology of numerous different story segments, most of which were adapted from stories that originally were featured in Heavy Metal magazine. Although this was not the first animated film that was intended specifically for adults, it was certainly a groundbreaking work, with its extreme graphic violence and occasional nudity and sexual content.

I did not see this film for the first time until I was in my late twenties, regrettably, but, as soon as I saw it, I purchased it on blu-ray, so that I could watch it, again, whenever I chose to do so. This film will never be regarded as a masterpiece, in the way that most Disney and Warner Bros. animated films are, but it is definitely a cult classic, with a small but loyal fanbase. The film is uncompromising in its graphic nature and is delightfully over the top and campy, but that is why audiences enjoy it. It does not attempt to promote any political agendas or change the viewers minds on any subjects; it exists to provide entertainment, and it succeeds at that task, very admirably.

In 2000, a sequel, Heavy Metal 2000, was released, which was not a poor film, but did not equal its original; I personally feel that waiting a full nineteen years was the main reason for the sequel's relative lack of success; if the sequel had been made, earlier, it likely would have performed far better. I very much would like to see a third Heavy Metal film, but, given that more time has now passed since the sequel was made than passed between the original and the sequel, I believe that it is safe to presume that a third film will never be made, which is very unfortunate.

What does everyone else say about this? What are your thoughts about this year being the 40th anniversary of Heavy Metal?

MagicMarc says... #2

I am a huge fan of this film, the animation and the amazing music that makes up the soundtrack. I have even made a deck inspired by Veteran of the Psychic Wars by Blue Oyster Cult that uses Psychic Vortex and Words of War to win games. Which is literally a "Psychic War". You can see it here: Veteran Of The Psychic Wars.

So, thank you for posting this anniversary thread!

There actually is a central theme and story to Heavy Metal. It even comes full circle over the course of the various vignettes.

Spoiler Alert

After the opening sequence we are, in the first vignette, introduced to the Loc-Nar which is the "Sum of All Evils" and it begins to terrorize the little girl and show her how through the ages and in various worlds it twists and destroys all that is good. During each of the following stories you see the Loc-Nar over and over again tempt and destroy everything and then, in the Taarna sequence, a warrior women sacrifices herself to destroy the Loc-Nar. In the final scene, you discover the little girl is a reincarnation of the warrior woman who flies away as the Loc-Nar explodes.

End Spoiler

For me, the movie is all about choice and the cycle of life. This means that evil is real, omnipresent and never truly can be defeated. But your life and your deeds matter. And you can make a decision to do the right thing or let the Mob Rule. So how you live your life is what's important.

And the soundtrack is one of the best samples of rock and roll in the era at the time the film was made. Black Sabbath, Nazareth, Blue Oyster Cult, Riggs, Don Felder, Devo, Steve Nicks and more. Lot of great music.

I was a kid when I saw this at a Midnight show in the movie theater when it came out and I have seen many of the featured bands in concert.

January 12, 2021 10:28 p.m.

I’m just trying to think of a way to explain to people who grew up with the internet how magazines like Heavy Metal were even a thing ;D

January 13, 2021 1:57 p.m.

MagicMarc says... #4

Both Analog and Heavy Metal were where I got most of my exposure to sci-fi writers I may not have known about yet or new writers I had never seen before and I would go buy books from them after reading their short stories or excerpts inside issues of Heavy Metal and Analog.

January 13, 2021 5:41 p.m.

DemonDragonJ says... #5

MagicMarc, I like your analysis of the movie, since it helps to give depth and complexity to a movie that most people do not typically imagine as having either.

Also, I read that Blue Oyster Cult did not originally intend for Veteran of the Psychic Wars to be included in the film and its soundtrack, yet it was chosen instead of a song that they actually did write for the film, Vengeance: the Pact, which is quite possibly my favorite song by them.

January 13, 2021 9:49 p.m.

MagicMarc says... #6

I remember seeing somewhere that Veteran of the Psychic Wars was a late replacement for another song they had written but I don't remember why it was changed.

January 13, 2021 11:35 p.m.

DemonDragonJ says... #7

MagicMarc, one theory that I read was that Vengeance (the Pact) tells the story of Taarna quite excellent, so the producers of the film did not want it to spoil the story, but that is not a very strong reason, in my mind.

January 14, 2021 10:06 p.m.

MagicMarc says... #8

I can't imagine a viewer was going to dissect 100% of the lyrics of 1 song in the film during their first viewing ever and have the ending spoiled for them. I agree it seems a weak reason.

January 14, 2021 11:06 p.m.

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