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HEAVY METAL ($28) is a very popular animated cult movie from 1981, which took almost forever to debut on home video. Fortunately, the lengthy waiting period predated the introduction of the DVD format, making the release of this Special Edition DVD far timelier. Derived from the adult illustrated magazine of the same name, HEAVY METAL weaves together several tales that are basically unrelated, except for the presence of the Loc-Nar, a glowing green orb, which is the embodiment of evil. Another common element (at least stylistically) is the sex, drugs and rock -n- roll approach that the filmmakers have applied to all of the tales.

Animation styles themselves are varied, except for the fact that all of the artists seem to have a penchant for drawing big breasted woman who lose their clothes at the drop of a hat (not that I'm complaining). I genuinely like HEAVY METAL. In fact, I'm amongst those who saw HEAVY METAL theatrically in 1981. Despite my long time love for this movie, I have to admit that some of the stories are less than great. Still, the movie features a couple of really fantastic sequences that maintain their impact, even to this day. HEAVY METAL is best experienced firsthand, so I will let viewers go into the movie cold and decide which of the stories are best. HEAVY METAL features a number of familiar voices including John Candy, Joe Flaherty, Eugene Levy, Harold Ramis and John Vernon.

Columbia TriStar Home Video has made HEAVY METAL available on DVD in a 16:9 enhanced wide screen presentation that looks as good as it is possible for this film to look on NTSC video. The transfer recreates the film's 1.85:1 theatrical dimensions and the image is as clear and well defined as its animation will allow. Colors are quite vivid and are reproduced without any signs of chroma noise or distortion. The film element used for the transfer display occasional blemishes, but they do not detract from the presentation. This well authored DVD keeps digital compression artifacts at bay.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack is designed so that the rock songs play back at a high volume level, plus the mix utilizes the discrete nature of the format bounce sound effects around the entire soundstage. Additionally, there are a number of split surround effects that are effective and a bit surprising for an animated film of this vintage. Dialogue is relatively clean sounding and always intelligible. Elmer Bernsteinís terrific score is also well integrated into the mix. A matrixed Dolby Surround soundtrack is also encoded onto the DVD, as are English, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles.

The interactive menus are nicely designed, but fairly basic in implementation. Through the menus system one can access the standard set up and scene selection features, as well as the DVD's extensive array of supplements. The most fascinating supplement is the Original Feature Length Rough Cut of HEAVY METAL, which is in essence a second movie included on the DVD. Basically a Workprint with incomplete animation, the rough cut is a true work in progress, differing from the completed movie in a number of ways. The rough cut also features an audio commentary by Carl Macek, author of the book Heavy Metal Animation For The Eighties.

Also included amongst the supplements is Imagining Heavy Metal, a thirty-minute documentary about the creation of the movie, featuring recent interviews with members of the production team. The DVD also sports a couple of deleted scenes including the superb Neverwhere Land sequence and an alternate framing story for the film. Other supplements include an artwork gallery, production photo gallery and a HEAVY METAL Magazine Cover gallery. Lastly Carl Macek reads the text of Heavy Metal Animation For The Eighties on an alternate audio track as the theatrical version of the movie unspools.

HEAVY METAL is a cult movie with a definite audience. Columbia TriStar Home Video has produced a first rate DVD that will be a delight to any fan. Not only am I going to recommend the DVD to fans, I also recommend that fans buy a DVD player (if they donít own one) just so they can watch this really cool DVD.




DVD reviews are Copyright © 1999 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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