Heavy Metal (1981) – Review 4K Ultra HD

heavy metalnineteen eighty one.

Directed by Gerald Potterton.
Featuring the voice talents of Rodger Bumpass, Jackie Burroughs, John Candy, Joe Flaherty, Don Francks, Martin Lavut, Marilyn Lightstone, Eugene Levy, Alice Playten, Harold Ramis, Susan Roman, Richard Romanus, August Schellenberg, John Vernon and Zal Yanovsky.


Cult classic animated film heavy metal debuts in 4K with a new retrospective bonus feature, as well as the movie on Blu-ray which is a port of the original high definition disc, complete with the extras it had at the time. The following, Heavy Metal 2000is also included on a Blu-ray with some bonus features, and you’ll find codes for digital copies of both films.


Revisit heavy metal for the first time in many years for this review, I confess that I recoiled a little while looking at his portraits of women. The film is largely a product of its time, when fantasy and sci-fi films and comic books were full of scantily clad women who resorted to sex to get what they wanted. Of course, there were exceptions to this rule, but the heavy metal magazine that served as the basis for the animated film was squarely in a male-dominated camp.

Drawing inspiration from the characters and stories created by luminaries such as Richard Corben, Angus McKie, Dan O’Bannon and Bernie Wrightson, heavy metal is an anthology film whose stories are tied together by the presence of an evil green floating orb known as Loc-Nar. The framing story involves a girl whose astronaut father brings Loc-Nar home, only to have it kill him and terrorize her. The conceit is that the orb shows the girl her travels through other planets before doing what she wants with her, unless she can end her evil rule.


The film’s animation is admittedly crude, even on this new 4K disc released by Sony, and some of it seems to have been heavily influenced by artist Moebius, whose work was also a staple of the heavy metal magazine. The animation team used rotoscoping for many shots, a low-budget technique that involves filming live actors and then tracing the footage by hand – animator Ralph Bakshi also used it for several of his films of that time.

However, one of the great attractions of heavy metal at the time was its soundtrack, which includes songs from Blue Oyster Cult, Black Sabbath, Journey, Cheap Trick, Devo and others who were in their prime at the time. This, combined with the fact that there weren’t many adult-oriented animated films in the 70s and 80s, led to the film becoming a cult classic over the years, despite its lukewarm reception from critics. of the time. Personally, I can enjoy the music and animation while putting a big asterisk on the experience given its crude and juvenile approach to the subject.


Its status as a cult classic eventually led to a sequel, Heavy Metal 2000, which Sony also included in this release, but only on a Blu-ray set. Additionally, you will find a copy of heavy metal on Blu-ray with bonus features as well as codes for digital copies of both films. Heavy Metal 2000 is more or less the same in terms of gratuitous sex and violence, though the animation is cleaner and there’s a storyline, rather than the anthology approach. Overall, however, it falls short of the expectations set by the original.

Most of the bonus features of this SteelBook edition are heavy metal, including a new nine-minute flashback featuring interviews with Ivan Reitman (who produced the film and who sadly passed away recently), filmmaker Kevin Smith, actor Norman Reedus and others. It’s only on the 4K shelf, while the rest of the bonus features are on the Blu-ray, which I guess Sony did so they could just reissue the original Blu-ray.


On the 1080p disc you will find the following bonus items:

  • heavy metal Raw Edit: This is a preliminary version of the film that alternates between black-and-white storyboards and raw animated footage. You can watch it with or without a commentary track from Carl Macek, who has written books about the magazine and the film. It gives technical information on how the rough cut was used to create the final film, as well as a variety of trivia.
  • Imagine Heavy Metal (35.5 mins): This documentary looks like it was originally shot for DVD release, but it’s still worth watching as a full throwback to the making of the film. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles co-creator Kevin Eastman, who bought the heavy metal magazine in 1992 and sold in 2014, features prominently there, alongside Reitman and various people involved in the making of the film.
  • Deleted Scenes: These consist of excised footage that is approximately 3.5 minutes long and is represented by rough animation. There is also an alternate version of part of the frame sequence in which the astronaut does not live and instead accompanies the young girl as she experiences different Loc-nar stories. You can watch it with or without commentary from Macek, which gives more context to what you’re watching.

In the meantime, here are the bonus features for Heavy Metal 2000which seem to have been originally created for a DVD release:

  • Julie Strain: Super Goddess (13 mins): Strain, who died last year, was married to Eastman at one point and served as the voice and visual model for the character Julie, also known as FAKK 2, in the film. This featurette is a snapshot of his career, which included acting in dozens of low-budget films as well as modeling.
  • voice talent (3.75 mins): Strain reappears here with his voice-over co-stars Michael Ironside and Billy Idol.
  • Animation Tests (1 minute): Eastman narrates some rough animation tests, explaining how they fit into the filmmaking process.
  • Animatic Comparisons (11.5 minutes): This is a comparison between storyboards and finished footage of five sequences from the film.

Scintillating Myth Rating – Movie: ★★★ / Movie: ★★★

Brad Cook