The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, April 27-May 3

heavy metal 1981 movie

Heavy Metal (1981)
Directed by Gerald Potterton
Somewhere in the dystopian future, a downtrodden cab driver picks up a stunning, tawny-haired, white-clad damsel in distress. She falls asleep in the back of his cab, so he brings her back to his pod-like apartment where the two consummate their meeting, only for him to discover she’s holding the key to possible world domination. No, it’s not The Fifth Element; this cab driver is Harry Canyon, the tougher, hairier predecessor to Bruce Willis’s Korben Dallas. Harry is inspired more by the Continental Op than Sir Lancelot, and when his love interest goes sour and the mystery woman threatens him, he exterminates her, quite literally. Gerald Potterton’s anthological ode to Heavy Metal magazine—full of rotoscoped Dick Tracy-ish villains, stoner aliens, and a storytime starring the sum of all evil—is nihilistic in tone, calling to mind fellow animator Ralph Bakshi’s films. (Bakshi’s underrated and wildly enjoyable Hey Good Lookin’ came out a year later, and boasts an equally memorable soundtrack.) The Loc-Nar, an illuminated green orb, loosely connects each tale, and mutant armies ravaging desolate wastelands are bookended by music from Black Sabbath, Cheap Trick, Devo, and an opportune use of Journey’s otherwise irksome “Open Arms.” Canadian comedy bigwigs John Candy and Eugene Levy and fellow SCTV alum Harold Ramis lend their voice-over moxie, while Ivan Reitman produced. A cult classic of throbbing muscles, mysticism, and rock and roll—the verve of the animation and mindless aggression are a beautiful homage to the loud-mouthed weirdos of yesteryear. Samantha Vacca (April 29, 30, midnight at the Nitehawk)

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