In 1981, Canada and America got together to prove that animation was not just for kids and made the movie "Heavy Metal". I was in High School at the time but loved the magazine on which it was based. The magazine usually consisted of a series of science fiction and fantasy comics with some seriously graphic adult themes, language and scenes. Great stuff and a real antidote to the pablum that the Comics Code was forcing mainstream comics to print at the time.
The movie was pretty much the same thing, a series of short animated sci-fi and fantasy films, every one of which would have been perfectly at home as comic strips in the book. At least one of them ("Den") had actually originated as a series there. Each story was a little masterpiece IMO. And though I am not the most musically oriented person (I confess that to me most music is just background noise) it had a soundtrack that even I ejoyed.
The framing story is probably the least interesting bit, but still has some great animation. It has a green orb called the "Loc Nar" being brought home by an astronaut and it then comes to life and terrorizes the astronauts daughter by telling her stories of how it has caused terror in the past and of course each story is each of the segments of the movie. Meh, not a great start but it go soooooo much better.
The first segment is a kind of a futuristic film noir story about a cab driver in a dystopian future New York City who ends up stumbling upon a plot by gangsters to get some world shattering artifact which, natch, turns out to be Loc Nar. I have always wondered if The Fifth Element drew some inspiration from this segment but I don't know. It did an excellent job of portraying a hell hole NYC and mixing noir elements with sci-fi.
Next it moves on to "Den" was one I remembered reading in the magazine at the time and the art style of the comic was well captured in the animated version. It is basically about some huge nearly naked barbarian guy with the mind of a 20th century nerd. This serves as kind of an origin story (it may well have been in the comic, but as I was poor and only could read the magazine infrequently, I never got to see the early adventures of Den) wher the Loc Nar hurls said 20th Century nerd across space and time and turn him into the muscle bound freak of the stories. As a whole, the story gave off a very Conan vibe, so I think people who love one will love the other and ditto for those who hate either of them.
Then on to "Captain Stern", an egotistical spaceman in some future society is on trial for a variety of crimes. Imagine Zap Branigan from Futurama if they had a similar episode. A witness, one Hanover Fist, is on the stand prepared to exonerate Stern of his crims when the Loc Nar intervenes and mutates the witness into a muscle bound brute (kind of a theme going on here, now that I think of it) who not only spits out a litany of crimes stern has commited but proceeds to chase him around the space station where the trial is taking place. Probably the weakest entry other than the unnecessary framing story, in my opinion, because 90% of it is just Fist chasing Stern around yelling "STEEEERRRRNNNNN!", which gets kind of boring after a while.
Then the Loc Nar ends up in WW2, as a tiny meteorite that falls from the sky and into the hull of a B-17 Bomber in the middle of an air raid. This mutates the crew into zombies one by one until a single survivor from the craft parachutes out and lands on a deserted island (making the segment take place in the Pacific Theater of the war, I guess) filled with the wreckage of all kinds of ships and craft from various eras...and infested with the zombified remains of their crews. This is my favorite bit in the whole film and I can't pin down why, exactly. I am kind of "meh" on zombies, but the way these ones were drawn made them look genuinely scary. But this is the closest the film gets to a straight up horror story, so I think that's why I like it so.
The we are treated to kind of a comedic segment with some space slackers landing on the pentagon in their space ship and abducting a stenographer. The Loc Nar connection is weak in this one, it is now a piece of jewelry worn by the ill fated abductee. It's basically a short stoner comedy, but the stoners are aliens. It is most notable because one of them, a robot, is very clearly voced by John Candy.
Last but not least, we get to the one that provided the iconic art for most movie posters of the film (though some had "Den"), probably the image most people associate with the film of a half dressed woman wielding a sword and riding a pterodactyl like creature. In this story, the Loc Nar has become a huge meteor which crashes on some alien planet and mutates a bunch of the inhabitants into Totally-Not-Orcs (Because no one wants to be sued by the Tolkein Estate) and the aformentioned pterodactyl riding woman (a member of a warrior race called the Tarakians) is summoned to fight them and fight them she does. This one got a bit of an extra life in my mind because I played a lot of D&D at the time (still do) and upon seeing the movie, the Tarakians promptly became a home brew character class in my D&D games (basically Chaotic Good paladins)
All in all, the movie was the best movie ever to my teenage self, but is a bit hit and miss today. But when it hits, it REALLY hits still. And some things would be a bit cringy to modern audiences, but if any of you haven't seen it, I would recommend you do. And if you HAVE seen it, I'll bet it's been a few years, go take one more ride with Heavy Metal.