Heavy Metal (Gerald Potterton / Canada, 1981):

Sammy Hagar at last used purposefully, trumpeting the barbarities of the '80s as callous lightshows. Dan O'Bannon's rotoscoped opening cites Dark Star and segues into Kiss Me Deadly as the platform for the animated stories: The "sum of all evils" arrives on Earth as a phosphorescent green orb, putrefies its astronaut carrier and projects its visions onto his young daughter. The first segment, Harry Canyon, is a futuristic depredation of Murder My Sweet in which E.T. is manhandled at the police station ("Goddamn illegal aliens," mutters the cabbie-antihero). Den, the next story, recognizes its audience, nerdhood is laid out and transformed: Puberty is a matter of being whisked away from the suburban bedroom and set loose in Conan the Barbarian's turf, where you can claim a naked Amazon ("She had the most beautiful eyes. I wanted to make some conversation," goes John Candy's voiceover). There's also an abrupt horror yarn set aboard a devastated WWII bomber, an unctuous Dudley-Do-Right dodging intergalactic trial, and a gory early sketch for "He-Man" and "She-Ra" and every other cartoon based on toy commercials. The presiding spirit finds the druggy subversion of the '70s settling into the sarcastic stupor that informs So Beautiful, So Dangerous, certainly the most knowing of its episodes -- a cosmic smiley-face button (piloted by the SCTV crew) looms over the Pentagon, the hippified aliens savor a roomful of white powder and the robotic supervisor savors a buxom reporter ("Earth women who experience sexual ecstasy with mechanical assistance always tend to feel guilty"). Archly stunted, and incalculably influential: Blade Runner, Beavis & Butt-head, The City of Lost Children, Ghostbusters, The Fifth Element... Music by Black Sabbath, Journey, and Blue Oyster Cult

--- Fernando F. Croce

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