Ivan Reitman's cult animated film Heavy Metal has been dismissed for being both juvenile and an anachronism, but for fans of both the magazine that inspired it and classic animation, neither charge sticks. Rife with violence and full-frontal nudity, the film is no more puerile than Homer's Odyssey in subject matter or storytelling — folks get naked and fight like hell in both, after all. Released in a post-Star Wars world (1981, which seems so long ago), Heavy Metal does seem slightly off visually; that's a credit to the hand-done animation, which is a lost art in this CGI post-production era. The plot, an anthology of short stories linked by the framing narrative of the Loc-Nar, an orb of ultimate evil that corrupts all who encounter it, means the visual style changes throughout the film to emulate the source stories of artists whose work appeared in the magazine. So Richard Corben's high-fantasy Den section features voluptuous colors and nightmarish scenery, while Angus McKie's sardonic science fiction comedy So Beautiful, So Dangerous gets a hard-edged realism. Throw in the music of Blue Oyster Cult, Dio-era Black Sabbath and Journey (during a love scene, of course) and the score by Elmer Bernstein and you have a weirdly satisfying and effective melding of the cult and the classical. All this and voice talent by SCTV alumni John Candy, Eugene Levy and Joe Flaherty — it's an epic that transcends time and space. And clothing. The Webster Film Series presents Heavy Metal as this month's Strange Brew film at 8 p.m. tonight at the Schlafly Bottleworks (7260 Southwest Avenue; 314-2337 or www.schlafly.com). Tickets are $4.
Wed., March 4, 2009