'Heavy Metal' comes up from the underground

March 09, 1996|By Teresa Gubbins | Teresa Gubbins,DALLAS MORNING NEWS

Despite limited cult success the first time around, the animated 1981 film "Heavy Metal" returned to theaters yesterday with remastered soundtrack and color.

When first released, the film, a spinoff of the Heavy Metal comic book published by the National Lampoon organization, followed

a mini-wave of post-'60s adult animation led by Ralph Bakshi's "Fritz the Cat." "Heavy Metal" consists of six short science-fiction stories, each drawn by a different group of animators, but all sharing an emphasis on sex, drugs and rock and roll.

Columbia is re-releasing the film this weekend in 39 North American cities to capitalize on its popularity as a midnight-movie favorite, says Dan Goldberg, who wrote the script with partner Len Blum. The updated version hasn't been released in the Baltimore area yet. Mr. Goldberg and Mr. Blum also wrote "Stripes" and "Meatballs," and just finished the adaptation of Howard Stern's "Private Parts."

The studio "said that, underground-wise, this film is huge," says Mr. Goldberg. "Apparently it plays a lot, like 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show.' But they've been using these old prints which have gotten destroyed because they do all these midnight shows."

The reissue also gives the studio the opportunity to release the film on video later this year. The only video versions now available are poor-quality bootlegs, recorded from cable television.

"It never went to video officially because of music rights," Mr. Goldberg says. "We've been trying for years to get releases on the music. There's a score by Elmer Bernstein, but there's also a whole bunch of songs -- songs they didn't have the rights to when they put the movie out."

Unfortunately, even digital remastering can't do much for music by Grand Funk Railroad, Sammy Hagar and Nazareth.

Pub Date: 3/09/96

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