My top 20 Comic Book films-18-Heavy Metal

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!

Previously, in this list at #20, X Men, and 19, The Crow

Number 18 is the ridiculous animated version of Heavy Metal.

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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.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FDPBdswW3xU

Next time, it’s wall crawling time….

Fantastic Planet-Or Why French SF Is Far, Far Better Than You Think.

It’s a Sunday night and I’m juggling three or four different blogs at the same time, while digesting Sunday dinner and taking advantage of the fact I don’t have to go to bed on a ridiculously early hour on a Sunday as Monday is only a half day in this new job.

The point is The Fifth Element is on Five and I quite like the film even though there’s many who can’t get past Chris Tucker’s annoying character, or the sheer weirdness of it all, not to mention that it just seems different to every other SF adventure film you’ve ever seen. Well, blame the French. Everything in it is French, even Bruce Willis has been transformed as much as is possible for Bruce Willis into a French action hero and any film featuring Knowle‘s finest Tricky in an exceptionally odd bit of casting deserves love, so love the film. It’s a huge piece of fun, plus it’s got designs by the great comic artist Moebius so that’s a huge plus in any book.

What it did bring up is memories of the animated French film Fantastic Planet, or La Planète Sauvage to give it the original title.

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It’s a film that’s never been shown on British TV as far as I know, and since the age of 12 or 13 I’ve constantly looked out for it so I could see if what I saw was actually real but in the 21st century you don’t need to worry about schedules when Youtube is around.

The film itself is set on an alien world where humans are bred as pets by giant alien creatures in a bizarre and wonderful alien world, and you can read a typically detailed and spoiler filled review of the film on it’s Wikipedia page here. The plot is weird and bizarre, but it’s a set up for the fantastic visuals you see on screen.

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It’s just one of these films where the filmmakers imaginations are allowed free range, and it’s got an amazing score which was cited by the likes of Boards of Canada as an influence.

The first time I saw the film was in fact the last 20 minutes at Albacon 80, the Easter Science Fiction convention held in Glasgow  where I’d been taken by my mother for a day as my first example entrance into the world of fandom, and it was a strange an bizarre world but that’s another story for another time.

Needless to say to my 13 year old self this was a revelation. I didn’t realise film could be this weird, unusual and just bloody brilliant as it was an experience for the senses even if I was watching it in a big room full of sweaty SF fans. It didn’t manage to lose the weird beauty of the images.

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It took me only a few years til I saw the film in full at another SF convention in Glasgow in 1983, I think that was the last time I saw it til a few years ago I stumbled across it on Youtube and it’s worth searching out but watch the trailer to get a jist of it. It’s worth it.

Another time I’ll talk about all those conventions and the other films I saw like Wizards which made an impact on me.