Description On The Back Cover - A universe of mystery.  A universe of magic.  A universe of awesome.  Good... and terrifying evil.  Based on the fantastical illustrated magazine Heavy Metal, producer Ivan Reitman enlists the help of some of Hollywood's animation masters to create the otherworldly tale of a glowing green orb from outer space that spreads destruction throughout the galaxy.  Only when encountered by its one true enemy, to whom it is inexplicably drawn, will goodness prevail throughout the universe.  Richly and lavishly drawn, the vignettes of the orb's dark victories include the character voices of John Candy, Harold Ramis and a pounding soundtrack by Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult, Cheap Trick, Devo, Donald Fagen, Don Felder, Grand Funk Railroad, Sammy Hagar, Journey, Nazareth, Stevie Nicks, Riggs, and Trust.  Highly imaginative and full of surprising special effects, Heavy Metal set the standard for alternative contemporary animation.  An intoxicating experience not to be missed!
The Adult Illustrated Fantasy Magazine Fan Page


Basic Information


Release Date - August 7, 1981 in Theaters by Columbia Pictures.  VHS released June 4, 1996 by Columbia TriStar Home Video.  Laserdisc released July 2, 1996 by Columbia TriStar Home Video.  DVD released November 23, 1999 by Columbia TriStar Home Video.  Superbit DVD released March 4, 2003 by Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment.  UMD for PSP released October 25, 2005 by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.  DVD with Digital Copy released August 5, 2008 by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.  Blu-ray released February 1, 2011 (excluside to Best Buy stores until June 14, 2011) by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

Running Time - 1hr. 30min.

MPAA Rating - R

Links:
HeavyMetal.Com
The Internet Movie Database


Disc Features


Region A, B, and C - Best Buy exclusive Blu-ray:
- Audio: English (5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio) and French (PAR) (5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio)
- Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, and Spanish
- 1.85:1 Widescreen
- Sony Pictures Blu-ray Trailer - 1.5min.
- The main menu features a mute button, which doesn't work.
- Original Feature Length Rough Cut (Optional Commentary by Carl Macek)
- Deleted Scene: Neverwhere Land Sequence - A rough animation of a short story by Cornelius Cole III with the song "Passacaglia" by Krzyszlof Penderecki: 3min.
- Deleted Scene: Alternate Framing Story - A rough animation of the story that was going to be used instead of Grimaldi.  It also has optional commentary: 2.5min.
- Imagining Heavy Metal - Documentary: 35min.
- Get More On BD-Live: Sony Pictures


Region 1 - Collector's Series and Double Feature DVDs:
- Audio: English (Dolby Surround 2.0, Dolby Digital 5.1, and Carl Macek reading his book, "Heavy Metal: The Movie" Dolby Digital 2.0)
- Subtitles: English, Spanish, and Portuguese
- 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
- Original Feature Length Rough Cut (Optional Commentary by Carl Macek): 1hr. 30min.
- Deleted Scene: Neverwhere Land - A rough animation of a short story by Cornelius Cole III with the song "Passacaglia" by Krzyszlof Penderecki: 3min.
- Deleted Scene: Alternate Framing Story - A rough animation of the story that was going to be used instead of Grimaldi.  It also has optional commentary: 2.5min.
- Artwork Of Heavy Metal: Pencil Portfolio: Grimaldi: 6 drawings
- Artwork Of Heavy Metal: Pencil Portfolio: Harry Canyon: 2 drawings
- Artwork Of Heavy Metal: Pencil Portfolio: Den: 4 drawings and 1 animation
- Artwork Of Heavy Metal: Pencil Portfolio: Captain Sternn: 2 drawings
- Artwork Of Heavy Metal: Pencil Portfolio: B-17 / Gremlins: 3 drawings
- Artwork Of Heavy Metal: Pencil Portfolio: So Beautiful And So Dangerous: 4 drawings
- Artwork Of Heavy Metal: Pencil Portfolio: Taarna: 4 drawings
- Artwork Of Heavy Metal: Conceptual Art: Grimaldi: 2 drawings
- Artwork Of Heavy Metal: Conceptual Art: Den: 4 drawings and 1 painting
- Artwork Of Heavy Metal: Conceptual Art: B-17 / Gremlins: 6 drawings
- Artwork Of Heavy Metal: Conceptual Art: Taarna: 44 drawings and 2 animations
- Artwork Of Heavy Metal: Single Cel Portfolio: Harry Canyon: 3 cels
- Artwork Of Heavy Metal: Single Cel Portfolio: Den: 4 cels
- Artwork Of Heavy Metal: Single Cel Portfolio: Captain Sternn: 2 cels
- Artwork Of Heavy Metal: Single Cel Portfolio: Neverwhere Land: 10 drawings
- Artwork Of Heavy Metal: Single Cel Portfolio: So Beautiful And So Dangerous: 2 cels
- Artwork Of Heavy Metal: Single Cel Portfolio: Taarna: 8 cels
- Artwork Of Heavy Metal: Layered Cel Portfolio: Soft Landing: 1 cel layer
- Artwork Of Heavy Metal: Layered Cel Portfolio: Grimaldi: 3 cel layers
- Artwork Of Heavy Metal: Layered Cel Portfolio: Harry Canyon: 1 cel certificate of authenticity picture and 9 cel layers
- Artwork Of Heavy Metal: Layered Cel Portfolio: Den: 1 cel certificate of authenticity picture and 3 cel layers
- Artwork Of Heavy Metal: Layered Cel Portfolio: Captain Sternn: 2 cel layers
- Artwork Of Heavy Metal: Layered Cel Portfolio: B-17 / Gremlins: 1 cel certificate of authenticity picture and 2 cel layers
- Artwork Of Heavy Metal: Layered Cel Portfolio: So Beautiful And So Dangerous: 1 cel certificate of authenticity picture and 9 cel layers
- Artwork Of Heavy Metal: Layered Cel Portfolio: Taarna: 21 cel layers and 2 cel layered animation
- Production Photo Gallery: B-17 / Gremlins: 10 pictures
- Production Photo Gallery: Taarna: 8 pictures
- Imagining Heavy Metal - Documentary: 35min.
- Heavy Metal Magazine Cover Gallery - This is a nice feature but it's missing a few covers, and some back covers are just ads for Heavy Metal things, and a few covers aren't in good condition including one that still has the mailing address on it.  It stops at the Spring 1999 issue: 254 covers
- Production notes in booklet: 2 pages

Region 1 - Superbit DVD:
- About double the normal DVD bit rate for high video quality
- Audio: English (Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1)
- Subtitles: English, Spanish, and Portuguese
- 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen

Region 1 - Digital Copy Edition DVD:
- Digital Copy to play on your PC, PSP, or PS3 without the disc
- Audio: English (Dolby Surround 2.0 and Carl Macek reading his book, "Heavy Metal: The Movie" Dolby Digital 2.0)
- Subtitles: English and French
- 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
- Deleted Scene: Neverwhere Land - A rough animation of a short story by Cornelius Cole III with the song "Passacaglia" by Krzyszlof Penderecki: 3min.
- Deleted Scene: Alternate Framing Story - A rough animation of the story that was going to be used instead of Grimaldi.  It also has optional commentary: 2.5min.
- Imagining Heavy Metal - Documentary: 35min.
- Previews: Hot Action Movies - 4min.
- Previews: Men In Black - 1min.


Credits


Main Crew:
Director - Gerald Potterton
Writer - Dan Goldberg and Len Blum
Writer - Dan O'Bannon (Soft Landing and B-17)
Writer - Richard Corben (Den)
Writer - Berni Wrightson (Captain Sternn)
Writer - Angus McKie (So Beautiful & So Dangerous)
Producer - Ivan Reitman and Leonard Mogel

Main Cast:
- August Schellenberg - Taarak and Norl
- Don Francks - Grimaldi, Co-Pilot, and Barbarian
- Caroline Semple - Girl (in Grimaldi)
- Richard Romanus - Harry Canyon
- Susan Roman - Girl (in Harry Canyon) and Satellite
- Al Waxman - Rudnick
- John Candy - Desk Sergeant, Dan/Den, and Robot
- Marilyn Lightstone - Whore and Queen
- Jackie Burroughs - Katherine
- Martin Lavut - Ard
- John Vernon - Prosecutor
- Eugene Levy - Captain Sternn, Male Reporter, and Edsel
- Joe Flaherty - Lawyer and General
- Rodger Bumpass - Hanover Fiste and Dr. Anrak
- George Touliatos - Pilot and Barbarian
- Alice Playten - Gloria
- Harold Ramis - Zeke
- Vlastra Vrana -  Barbarian Leader
- Mavor Moore - Elder

Music - Score:
Composer - Elmer Bernstein
Performer
- Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Music - Songs:
- Riggs - "Radar Rider"
- Blue Öyster Cult - "Veteran Of The Psychic Wars"
- Donald Fagen - "True Companion"
- Riggs - "Heartbeat"
- Stevie Nicks - "Blue Lamp"
- Journey - "Open Arms"
- Cheap Trick - "Reach Out"
- Don Felder - "Takin' A Ride (On Heavy Metal)"
- Grand Funk Railroad - "Queen Bee"
- Cheap Trick - "I Must Be Dreamin'"
- Nazareth - "Crazy? (A Suitable Case for Treatment)"
- Don Felder - "All of You"
- Sammy Hagar - "Heavy Metal"
- Trust - "Prefabricated"
- Black Sabbath - "E5150"
- Black Sabbath - "The Mob Rules"
- Devo - "Through Being Cool"
- Devo - "Workin' In A Coal Mine"


Additional Information


When Heavy Metal Magazine started in 1977, it was published by the same people as National Lampoon magazine.  In 1978, the first full length National Lampoon movie, Animal House, was released.  It was co-produced by Ivan Reitman, who first worked with National Lampoon producing the Off Broadway The National Lampoon Show in 1975.  Animal House was an instant blockbuster, and became one of the most profitable movies of all time.  Shortly after, co-publisher Leonard Mogel had the idea to turn its new magazine Heavy Metal into a movie.  A deal between Universal Pictures and Heavy Metal was made to create an animated movie based on the magazine.  For over a year, Mogel worked on putting together a movie package and Harry Harrison originally wrote the screenplay.  However, Universal decided to pass on making the movie.

Twentieth Century Fox was next to pick it up and then-president Alan Ladd Jr was all for the idea.  However in 1979, Ladd left Fox to start his own production company The Ladd Company, and Heavy Metal was again without a production studio.

All this time in pre-production, the movie budget kept growing to $7.5 million.  In seeking out additional finances, in December 1979, he called co-publisher Matty Simmons to consult Canadian Ivan Reitman about Canadian filmmaking finances.  Reitman, a comic book fan, was excited and asked if he could get the funds and co-produce the movie, even though at that time there had been very few financially successful animated movies, other then the early days of Disney.

At first, they wanted to use stories from the French Métal Hurlant magazine, just like the magazine did.  However Métal Hurlant declined at the time because they had planned to make their own movie (which never did happen).  Mœbius' story "Arzach" was written for the Heavy Metal movie, but when they couldn't acquire the rights to it, it was drastically changed and became "Taarna".

Reitman was able to get Canadian filmmaking finances for the movie, so because of this, 75% of production had to be in Canada, and therefore it is technically a Canadian film and includes mostly Canadian talent.  Reitman decided not to use the script written by Harrison, but instead hired Dan Goldberg and Len Blum to write it.  Many performers were hired from the The Second City Toronto comedy troupe, and there were over 1000 animators and support personnel from Montréal, Ottawa, New York, Los Angeles, and London.

In late 1980 the movie was then picked up by distributor Columbia TriStar.  It was originally scheduled to be released by Christmas 1981, however Columbia decided it would be better if it was a summer release, which forced the production to be rushed so it could finish on time.  It would hit theaters August 7, 1981.  "Heavy Metal: The Movie" grossed nearly $8 million in its first 10 days and grew to over $20 million while in theaters.  It received mixed reviews.  However the movie wasn't available in stores until 1996 because of copyright issues, mainly with music.  It became a popular cult classic, partly due to no video release, and became the second most screened midnight movie of the 1980's (second only to The Rocky Horror Picture Show).  When it finally did come out on video, it sold more then 2 million copies and became the tenth best selling video for 1996.

The movie features many different stories loosely connected by one main story.  Some stories are from the magazine (see Review below for details), and some are new for the movie.  Every story has a unique style and is animated differently to match the style of the artist for that story.

In the story "B-17", the original idea was to have Gremlins take over, but they decided to change them to zombies instead.  So in some places you may still see the story referred to as Gremlins.


Lostboy's Review


Being three years old in 1981, I didn't get to see the first Heavy Metal movie in theatres.  In fact I didn't even know that Heavy Metal existed until 1996.  I've mentioned that I first got into the world of Heavy Metal by seeing the movie on TV one night.  It was about the time that Heavy Metal was getting ready to have the movie finally released onto video, and because of this, it was playing on TV.  One night I had a few friends over while it was on.  At this point I hadn't heard anything about Heavy Metal.  My friends all knew what it was and thought I should watch it sometime.  But for now, it was just something playing in the background that I wasn't really paying attention to.  I only saw a bit of it, and my reaction to it was:  "What the fuck is this?  This is kind of cheesy, but kind of cool, I should rent it sometime."  Anyways, a few days later, I caught it on TV again, and this time I watched it by myself from beginning to end.  I had my first real taste of Heavy Metal.  I thought it was a very entertaining movie, and had a little mixture of everything in it.  In fact, it went right into my list of favorite movies.  But I think if you went into the movie expecting a major epic or some great philosophical mind fuck, you may not think it was that great.  I watched the movie with an open mind, with no expectations, not knowing what to expect; and I think that's the way it should be watched.

What is "Heavy Metal: The Movie"?  It's definitely fantasy.  It's a little comedy; action; a touch of art; and mixed with early 1980's heavy metal music.

The animation is a bit clumsy and raw compared to today's standards, but when the movie first came out, they were trying things no one had done before, or hadn't done in a long time.  It outshined anything animated at that time.  The voice acting is filled with great talent such as John Candy (Uncle Buck, Spaceballs), Joe Flaherty (Detroit Rock City, Maniac Mansion), Eugene Levy (American Pie, Down To Earth), Harold Ramis (Ghostbusters).  The score by Elmer Bernstein is done extremely well and the soundtrack contains many popular 1980's Heavy Metal bands such as Sammy Hagar, Blue Oyster Cult, Black Sabbath, and Grand Funk Railroad.

The movie is split into eight stories, so it's hard to write a review without giving away spoilers, so from here on this review will probably spoil the movie if you haven't watched it yet.

Soft Landing

So the movie starts out with the very short "Soft Landing" story that was from the September 1979 issue.  I think this is one of the best introductions to any movie!  It has no point, it's physically impossible, but it has this great attitude that says to me "Fuck you, we're doing it anyway."  I think it sums up a lot of what Heavy Metal is.

Grimaldi

"Grimaldi" is the linking story that gives a reason for telling many different stories throughout the movie, which would otherwise have no connection.  It's simple, but not bad.  I like the idea of the plain green orb being the sum of all evils.  The original idea they had was to include a magic carousel that held a different figure for each story, which would have been much better, but it turned out fine the way it is.  Although at the end of the movie, when the house blows up and they use the rough live image; that looked awful.  They should have found the time and money to draw that last little bit.

Harry Canyon

The story of "Harry Canyon" takes place in the future of New York City.  I really enjoyed this story and the personality of Harry Canyon.  He's a what's-in-it-for-me hero with a cool laid-back attitude.  I only wish that it had been a little longer.  It's trying to tell a story in a short amount of time, so it seems a little rushed.

Den

Richard Corben's "Den" was in many issues of Heavy Metal magazine, starting from the first in April 1977.  This story is the definition of the fantasy genre.  It's about this nerdy kid who somehow gets transported to another world, and becomes very muscular.  He finds he's very strong, he gets laid, he's an excellent fighter, and in the end he gets the girl and becomes the hero.  A nice happily-ever-after ending.  Much like Harry Canyon, I only wish that it had been a little longer.  It's trying to tell a story in a short amount of time, so it seems a little rushed.

Captain Sternn

From the June 1980 issue comes "Captain Sternn".  This story is a bit comedic and simply involves a bit of the courtroom, then a chase.  There's not much to this story as it's pretty short, but it's great for it's subtle humor.  However, every time I watch it, the ending always bugs the shit out of me.  Out of nowhere, Sternn pulls a lever, which makes Hanover get sucked out into space.  I'm not sure if that's purposely supposed to be stupid, or is just simply stupid.  But I wish they would have come up with a different ending.

B-17

One of my (and a lot of others) favorite stories in the movie.  It's very good, and not rushed.  The story is fairly basic, but suspenseful.  The art animation is also exceptional.

So Beautiful & So Dangerous

This story is from many issues in Heavy Metal magazine starting with October 1978, although the movie version is quite a bit different.  This is my personal favorite story in the movie, and is also the funniest.  It has great characters.  John Candy for the voice of the robot is perfect, and the two pilot stoners are great.  It has a great introduction when people at the Pentagon building are saying there's no other advanced life in the universe, just as this humongous space ship is hovering over the building.

Taarna

The story of "Taarna" is by far the longest story in the movie, filling nearly 1/3 of the whole movie.  This story is many people's favorite, and I can see why.  It actually has the time to tell a story, so it doesn't have to rush.  Although some parts I wish it would speed up a bit, as they become uninteresting, such as the dressing scene.  "Taarna" could be seen as the definition of a typical Heavy Metal story.  It's heroic good vs. evil.  And unlike many stereotypical "man saves the world" stories, this main character is a female warrior who, although doesn't save everyone, does even better and sacrifices herself to contain evil for a generation.  Excellent story.

So overall, "Heavy Metal: The Movie" is a great experience.  It may not be perfect, but it's worth the ride.  And being made with limited technology in 1981 and a low budget, I would love to see what they could do if they were making the movie today with a decent budget.
Heavy Metal: The Movie