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Heavy Metal (1981)



Average Rating: 5.6/10
Reviews Counted: 27
Fresh: 15 | Rotten: 12

It's sexist, juvenile, and dated, but Heavy Metal makes up for its flaws with eye-popping animation and a classic, smartly used soundtrack.


Average Rating: 4.9/10
Critic Reviews: 6
Fresh: 3 | Rotten: 3

It's sexist, juvenile, and dated, but Heavy Metal makes up for its flaws with eye-popping animation and a classic, smartly used soundtrack.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.3/5
User Ratings: 38,367

My Rating

Movie Info

Based on the popular magazine of the same name, this animated cult film interweaves six visionary stories of science fiction and fantasy. The soundtrack includes such rock superstars as Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult, Cheap Trick, Devo, Donald Fagen, Grand Funk Railroad, Sammy Hagar, Journey, Nazareth and Stevie Nicks.

Nov 23, 1999

Columbia Pictures

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All Critics (27) | Top Critics (6) | Fresh (15) | Rotten (12) | DVD (26)

Initial segments have a boisterous blend of dynamic graphics, intriguing plot premises and sly wit that unfortunately slide gradually downhill.

March 26, 2009 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Some of the animation is first-rate, particularly in the more modest comedy segments, and even the heavy set pieces have greater flash and dazzle than anything Ralph Bakshi mustered around the same period.

April 16, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Fantasies that are gratuitously sexist and Fascist (macho whoring and warmongering), and whose roots reach all the way back to post-hippie paranoia, feed the tangled plot-lines of a movie that... should disappoint even the teenage wet-dreamers.

February 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out | Comments (2)
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Heavy Metal has been animated with great verve, and scored very well, with music much less ear-splitting than the title would suggest.

August 30, 2004 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Regardless of its dated stylishness (which still holds up remarkably well a decade plus later), Heavy Metal was a pioneering film in 1981 and remains a pivitol and infuential body of art today.

January 1, 2000
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Asked if I wanted to see it again, I figured, why not? I would have remembered if it was really bad. But memory does play tricks.

January 1, 2000
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Exemplifies the notion that the euphemism "adult material" almost exclusively denotes content which is chiefly of appeal to people other than adults.

August 5, 2014 Full Review Source: Antagony & Ecstasy
Antagony & Ecstasy

In 1981, this may have been state-of-the-art animation, but now it looks rudimentary, clunky, and flat. The writing, likewise, is flat.

January 30, 2012 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media | Comment (1)
Common Sense Media

Archly stunted and incalculably influential

February 12, 2010 Full Review Source: CinePassion

You have to conclude that its makers should have got out more.

March 10, 2008 Full Review Source: Film4

...An unabashed crowd-pleaser. Whenever possible, it goes for the fight scene, the sex joke, the jiggly breasts...

September 17, 2007 Full Review Source:

It's a mixed bag, but successful in a mindless, adolescent way.

April 16, 2007 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Anyone from the era will love it, while everyone else simply won't get it at all.

July 25, 2005 Full Review Source:

Heavy Metal despite all of its flaws and anacrhonisms, nevertheless represents something of a refreshment in today's sterile climate.

May 14, 2003 Full Review

A bit of a mixed bag. Some eye popping animation, chock full of nudity, gore, and alien landscapes. The classic soundtrack is what makes it most worthwhile when the stories fall flat

March 21, 2003

Wild animation, tons of blaring rock music, and fanboy wish fulfillment fantasies of the freakiest order. Good campy fun.

July 26, 2002

...visually stunning some of the time and stunningly juvenile the rest.

April 8, 2001
Movie Metropolis

This animated movie based on the comics of the same title is fun once you accept it on its own terms, i.e., brainless and adolescent.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Sci-Fi Movie Page
Sci-Fi Movie Page

A wildly sophomoric and stupid cartoon celebrating gore, rape and bad music.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: San Francisco Examiner | Comments (2)
San Francisco Examiner

This is simply exploitation on a very juvenile level.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Deseret News, Salt Lake City
Deseret News, Salt Lake City

A genuinely outrageous and occasionally brilliant coupling of American animation and classic early-Eighties heavy metal.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

Audience Reviews for Heavy Metal

I know, it's from 1981; but I bought a copy recently so I had to give it a mention.
Great animation in this one! The film in it's entirety has some problems, but if you want some good Sci-Fi animation and a trip into various fantasy realms, I'd say give this a go.
For me, it's all about the Taarna segment of the film, but there certainly are many interesting things to see here; especially if you appreciate classic animation that isn't afraid of showing some nudity. Sure it's naked woman drawn in voluptuous fashion which could to some seem sexist, but I feel that is a bit extreme. I would definitely say that would be a sign of the time.
What you get is what you take and I took nothing here to be offensive. I know that's easy for me to say as a guy, but I think many people seem to get a bit carried away. So I'm just gonna stay and say tastefully done and very '81(and I mean that as a good thing).
The segment set in 2023 New York has things to it reminiscent of "The Fifth Element", perhaps a touch of "Blade Runner", and dare I say Taxi Driver".?That's a bit of a stretch, but there is a cabbie so I can't help but think of it even though it was done five years prior to Heavy Metal.
The soundtrack consists of music of the time which would mostly be good, but unfortunately kind of let me down. When I learned there was a Black Sabbath song used, I thought alright as a fan of the band. But the song used is an Ozzy-less Sabbath song(The Mob Rules), so I was disappointed with that. However, Devo's cover of "Working in a Coal Mine" put a smile on my face. Remember those guys with the red flower pots on their heads?
Oh, and I should mention there's a glowing green orb known as Loc-Nar flying around which contains the sum total of all evil in the universe to mix things up.
Well, I suppose I've said enough.
July 13, 2014

Super Reviewer

Oh boy, does this movie have a reputation. That reputation varies from person to person. Whether it's its slammin' animation, the plethora of female nudity, or the amazing metal heavy soundtrack, this film appeals to many different people (mostly men) who either love it for all it is or love it despite its obvious flaws. The film was made in Canadian, is completely animated, and boasts the voices of famous Canadians including Harold Ramis, John Candy, and Eugene Levy. The film is made up of various segments and utilizes a diverse amount of animators. The styles are different throughout, but they are all connected by a glowing green orb that travels the universe and makes trouble for humans, aliens, and inter-dimensional warriors alike. The orb itself has a voice, and is relating these stories about the universe via a conduit that looks like a young girl. The stories are sometimes far too short to make any sense, and most of them revolve around the cult of man or space travel. There is also a very niche sense of humor, relating mostly to teenage boys who like to see robots mate with humans, or stoned alien pilots pull into a port. That's just one short, but there are usually some stagnant bits to each one, or else it only appeals to the male sensibilities. Still, the film overall is pretty great, boasting some interesting animation, ideas, and characters that aren't utilized in animation all that much. The last animated short, where the last warrior in an extinct race takes down the original orb, all while bedecked in skimpy armor and not saying a damned word, was actually empowering and awesome. That last short makes up for a lot, because it's long, paced correctly, and gives us a truly cool female hero, which just doesn't happen enough.
March 20, 2013

Super Reviewer

The epitome of cult. It's an odd blend of so bad it's good sci-fi, tongue in cheek amnie and 'crumb' style pornography. Add to the mix an 80's rock soundtrack, popular 80's voices (John Candy, Eugene Levy, Harold Ramis) and some of the funniest dialogue in cinema history and you're on to a winner. Believe everything you've heard, it's as good/bad as it sounds and very much worth a watch!
January 21, 2013

Super Reviewer

Heavy Metal is a bizarre animated anthology that doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Which is probably why it's pretty awesome. Based on a series of stories from a magazine of the same name, Heavy Metal takes a number of different animated styles and creates some science-fiction tales that are loosely connected thanks to a big glowing green thing called the Loc Mar. The tales range in absurdity and quality, but most have time to strip a woman naked for very simplistic reasons, such as thanking a man or tricking a man. SOme stories are very Twilight Zone-esque, such as the tale of Zombies in a bomber. But others are just weird, such as the woman taken into space, where she has coitus with a robot and the pilots of the ship are doing drugs. It really did feel like a long bizarre music video, with a bunch of stories that never really concluded properly. Some fantastic designs, good soundtrack, and things you are bound to not see anywhere else, means this is a strange curiosity you should definitely see at least once in your life.
September 13, 2012

Super Reviewer

    1. Ard: If you refuse, you die; she dies... everybody dies!
    – Submitted by Nick S (15 months ago)
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