I did my top 20 horror and SF films last year, and found doing the lists to be more fun than expected, so in a massive bit of logic here’s my top 20 films adapted or inspired from comics. I need to point out I mean comics, not ‘superhero comics’ which is a lazy, and incorrect way to describe a wonderfully varied medium and it’d also cut out some bloody good films!
Number 18 is the ridiculous animated version of Heavy Metal.
I call this a ridiculous film because the idea of adapting stories from Heavy Metal magazine (the American version of the French SF comic magazine Métal Hurlant) is in itself bonkers because you have an anthology magazine so making a film meant making an anthology. Anthology films are, on the whole, a total mess (though there’s more anthology films coming up on this list) , though Heavy Metal works by basically not caring too much and trying to showcase what made the magazine work.
It does this by trying to get core creators like Richard Corben, Dan O’Bannon, and Berni Wrightson to turn out the better stories in the film, with Wrightson’s Captain Sternn, and O’Bannon’s splendid WW2 zombie story, B-17 being real highlights. Though Corben’s Den is a decent attempt to translate his very violent, very sexual fantasy story on screen. The story, Harry Canyon, is also surprisingly good.
Otherwise it’s pretty average at best, with these and all the stories shot through with an American hippy stoner sense of comedy that’s dated awfully, not to mention the annoying heavy metal soundtrack that helps take you out the film several times. I’ve nothing basically against this sort of American heavy metal music but once your balls have dropped you realise it’s utter pish. However the market for this film was teenage boys which is why there’s so much animated female flesh on display. Even Corben’s Den which is normally a sea of tits and cocks in it’s original form has been reduced to a more sanitised version.
Most of the time it’s more like an animated Underground comic from the 1970’s and that’s part of the fun of it. Yes, it is sexist. Yes, it’s dated awfully in places. Yes, the crap heavy metal music is annoying but it somehow works, but if you do watch it don’t fast forward through B-17. It’s an excellent story that I find amazing that no producer has picked up for a remake today.
Anyhow, search it out. It’s worth a look.
Next time, it’s wall crawling time….