Heavy Metal

The light through the darkness remains thanks to the art and fantasy of Heavy Metal. If you think Elon Musk’s idea to put a car in space was original, you better sit yourself down and watch the crazy opening of this animated gem. It’s 1981 all over again, thanks to remastering and restoration here in the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray from Sony, which was reviewed and approved by Ivan Reitman before his passing.

"remains a pop culture zeitgeist that absolutely doesn’t age"

Produced by Ivan Reitman and directed by Gerald Potterton, Heavy Metal holds up surprisingly well for a Canadian animated anthology feature made in 1981. Maybe it's the music which features everyone from Stevie Nicks to Cheap Trick. Maybe it's the rotoscoping technique used in the film. Whatever it is, Heavy Metal remains a stylish and wild slice of fantasy art as one young woman faces the ultimate evil, a glowing green orb who terrorizes her with dark fantastical stories.

Featuring the music of Black Sabbath, Stevie Nicks, Blue Öyster Cult, Sammy Hagar, Don Felder, Cheap Trick, DEVO, Journey, Nazareth, and Donald Fagen, Heavy Metal opens with a 1960 Corvette floating in space. Soon, it descends and lands in the desert, providing the framework for the stories that follow as the astronaut Grimaldi (voiced by Don Fancks) arrives home and is immediately melted by the Loc-Nar he is bringing to his daughter as a gift. Some gift, eh?

Loc-Nar then brings us to the first story in the anthology, Harry Canyon, in which a taxi cab driver (voiced by Richard Romanus) is hounded by frequent robberies in crime-ridden New York City. His solution is to install a disintegrator beam in his backseat. While it does the job, it makes meeting people a bit tricky. So, when he rescues a woman from a local crime boss, he counts it as a blessing and takes her and the cash she stole back to his apartment where they make love. This is adult animation, you know? Heavy Metal lets it all hang out.

Harry enjoys his time with her, too bad that he has to eradicate her when she decides to keep the money for herself. Using animation studios from all over the world, the animation approaches in this film are unique and, thanks to the magic of glass lenses, causes a scope of fantasy and movement that one wouldn’t expect from a film released in the early 1980s.Heavy Metal

In the second story, the Loc-Nar takes us to the “Den” where David Ellis Norman (voiced by John Candy) is transformed from nerd to a well-endowed warrior by a glowing green orb. He then saves big breasted females from other big-breasted females and, ultimately, facing Ard and his minions who want the green orb for themselves

The third story, Captain Sternn, features the voice talents of Roger Bumpass, Eugene Levy, Joe Flaherty, and John Vernon as a crooked space captain faces so many charges against him that his latest, bribery, seems like nothing to him. Unfortunately, it will leave him running through the space stations as the Loc-Nar demands his payment before being jettisoned into space.

The lessons continue with B-17, So Beautiful & So Dangerous, and Taarna, as erupting green slime turns onlookers into mutant armies who attack professors and leave the innocent with no one but ancient warriors to turn to. Fans get robot sex, feminist warriors, malfuntioning robots, raunchy humor geared toward adolescent boys, as well as a hell of a lot of rock and roll as a little girl is transformed and flies away thanks to the stories told by the Loc-Nar..

Heavy Metal remains a pop culture zeitgeist that absolutely doesn’t age. The proof is this release from Sony.

5/5 stars


Heavy Metal

4k details divider

4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital

Home Video Distributor: Sony Pictures
Available on Blu-ray
- August 16, 2022
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
: English, English SDH, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Spanish SDH, Arabic, Cantonese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Russian, Swedish, Thai, Turkish
English: Dolby Atmos; English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1; English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0; French: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; German: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; Italian: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; Spanish: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; Korean: Dolby Digital 5.1; Polish: Dolby Digital 5.1; Russian: Dolby Digital 5.1; Turkish: Dolby Digital 2.0
Discs: 4K Ultra HD; Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set
Region Encoding: 4K region-free; blu-ray locked to Region A

Based on the fantastical illustrated magazine HEAVY METAL, producer Ivan Reitman enlists the help of some of Hollywood's animation masters to create the otherworldly tale of a glowing green orb from outer space that spreads destruction throughout the galaxy. Only when encountered by its one true enemy, to whom it is inexplicably drawn, will goodness prevail throughout the universe. Richly and lavishly drawn, the vignettes of the orb's dark victories include the character voices of John Candy, Harold Ramis and a pounding soundtrack by Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult, Cheap Trick, Devo, Donald Fagen, Don Felder, Grand Funk Railroad, Sammy Hagar, Journey, Nazareth, Stevie Nicks, Riggs, and Trust. Highly imaginative and full of surprising special effects, HEAVY METAL set the standard for alternative contemporary animation. An intoxicating experience not to be missed!


The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray from Sony says it is “presented” in 4K with Dolby Vision “reviewed and approved by Ivan Reitman” and while they don’t say it has been remastered and restored, there is little doubt in my mind that they did as such. The sound is through the roof and the clarity in the animation is crisp and detailed, echoing into an absolutely unbelievable future where babes are badasses and a green orb rules them all. Black levels are impenetrable and colors pop with a vivacy unexpected from a film this old. The effects are indeed eye catching and encompassing, proving that nerds and metal really do rule the subconscious of every person on this planet. Welcome back, old friend!


The all-new immersive Dolby Atmos mix that utilizes enhanced sound effects is simply off the charts with a rich robustness in sound, proving to be its own unique experience as glowing green orbs take over everything.various members aboard a B-17 bomber.



  • None

Special Features:

There’s only a 9-minute retrospect on the 4K disc, but the previously released blu-ray has a commentary, Heavy Metal 2000, and a featurette.

  • Heavy Metal: A Look Back
  • Heavy Metal: Feature-Length Rough Cut w/optional commentary by Carl Mack
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Imagining Metal

4k rating divider

  Movie 5/5 stars
  Video  5/5 stars
  Audio 4/5 stars
  Extras 4/5 stars

Composite Blu-ray Grade

4.5/5 stars

Film Details

Heavy Metal

MPAA Rating: R.
86 mins
: Gerald Potterton
Daniel Goldberg & Len Blum
Richard Romanus; John Candy; Joe Flaherty
: Animation | Sci-fi | Adventure
Sex and crime and rock 'n' roll!.
Memorable Movie Quote: "The U.N. Building. What a joke! They turned it into low rent housing. It's a dump."
Theatrical Distributor:
Columbia Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
August 7, 1981
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
August 16, 2022.
Synopsis: A glowing green orb - which embodies ultimate evil - terrorizes a young girl with an anthology of bizarre and fantastic stories of dark fantasy, eroticism and horror.


Heavy Metal