“Screaming Metal”: Makeover for cult cartoons

VHave you ever wondered why Bruce Willis was driving a flying taxi through the heart of futuristic New York City? The fifth element (1997) by Luc Besson? Why did billionaire Elon Musk place an astronaut on a Tesla Roadster in space orbit during the flight of his Falcon Heavy rocket launched by his company SpaceX in 2018? Why David Fincher produced an adult animated series for Netflix in 2019 Love, Death and Robots ? Don’t think about it anymore, the answer is in two words (and a movie-more-cult-you-die): Screaming metal ! Produced by Canadian Ivan Reitman (father of Ghostbustersrecently released) and directed by the British Gerald Potterton, this funny and spectacular SF cartoon still stands out, more than 40 years after its release, as one of the most cult works of the 80’s. finally gets to the video. in a 4K Ultra HD French edition, twenty-four hours after the United States.

The makeover is splendid, with a completely restored new copy, accompanied by a sound remix of the movie on a stunning Dolby Atmos 7.1! A mix of eroticism, fantasy and science fiction, Screaming metal (Heavy metal in the original version) was then started to transcribe into cinema the universe of the famous French comic magazine created in December 1974 by Philippe Druillet, Mœbius, Jean-Pierre Dionnet and Bernard Farkas. But how did this magazine, independently published by Les Humanoides Associés dans l’Hexagone, give birth to this $ 9 million American blockbuster, funded by a Hollywood studio, Columbia Pictures? The road was winding, but when it arrived, this animated version of a newspaper completely turned into a dream was a great success, which probably embodied the last breath of the countercultural revolution of the dawn of the time.Reagan.

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Paved in the pond

See you again Screaming metal, four decades after its release, makes you dizzy. This abundant six-sketch play contains everything that current Hollywood cinema rejects en bloc, that is, a cocktail of “sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll,” but also violence, capable of scaring all leagues. of virtue. His freedom of spirit and his negligence, his lightness and his audacity have the effect of a refreshing breath of oxygen in the suffocating puritanical environment. In fact, we are Screaming metal Desirable and sexy heroines whom the authors enjoy undressing, cocaine-addicted and lustful aliens, flirtatious robots with big ears and nymphomaniac queens. Everything is sprinkled with a good dose of humor and a thunderous soundtrack between hard rock and heavy metal (obviously). A pure fantasy film for all the pubescent geeks of the early eighties, in short. In 1981, no one had ever signed an adult feature film except for Ralph Bakshi (with Fritz the cat in 1972, based on the comic strip by Robert Crumb), by René Laloux (with The wild planet in 1973) and the Belgian Picha (with Tarzoon, The Shame of the Jungle, banned from children under 18 in 1975). And in a sector dominated by family political correctness of Disney productions, Screaming metal it made, as soon as it came out, the appearance of a noisy cobblestone in the pond.

Each of its six segments offers a separate story, in genres as diverse as space opera, crime fiction, heroic fantasy, war stories, horror, and SF parody. A common thread connects all these stories: the Loc-Nar, a green sphere of space that sows destruction across the galaxy. Symbolizing Absolute Evil, this speechless ball corrupts all the characters in the movie and makes the connection between the different stories. The opening sequence of Screaming metal adapts a four – page comic by Dan O’Bannon (one of the screenwriters ofAlien) and Thomas Warkentin, soft landing (1979). We see a NASA launcher fall into space … a Corvette and its driver, entering the atmosphere! So in 2018, Elon Musk will adopt this idea by sending a Tesla into space. A tribute to black cinema, “Harry Canyon”, the first sketch of the film, takes place in a post-apocalyptic New York and takes as its hero a cynical and grumpy taxi driver who picks up a young woman in danger in her flying mess . Luc Besson was obviously inspired by this character to create, sixteen years later, Korben Dallas (played by Bruce Willis) in The fifth element. The second outline is the adaptation of DenRichard Corben’s famous comic, where a thin, binocular, and pimp high school student is propelled to another planet and becomes a muscular warrior, falling in love with the girls!

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720 drawings per minute

But the final sketch of the film, “Taarna,” is arguably the most beautiful and majestic. It tells the story of a princess who rides a strange bird and seeks revenge on her people massacred by a tyrant. Twenty-five minutes of charming fantasy! For this sketch, the designers used rotoscoping, an animation technique that involves redrawing, frame by frame, live footage with actors. Never before has a cartoon brought together such a variety of stories, themes, drawing styles and animation, using different techniques. Miracle: The set is quite coherent, thanks to the close supervision of Gerald Potterton. British-Canadian director who had previously worked as an animator on the Beatles cartoons Yellow submarine (1968), Potterton (still alive and now 91) directed nine more colleagues for each of the segments of Screaming metal. And in the end, the film was created by seventy animators from fourteen different countries! Artists working in animation studios located in London, Paris, Toronto, Montreal, Los Angeles …

At a rate of 24 frames per second (or rather 720 drawings per minute), they managed to develop in a year and a half this feature film produced by Ivan Reitman, the future director of Ghostbusters. Some actors and comedians, such as John Candy, Harold Ramis or Eugene Levy, also lent their voices to some animated characters during the post-sync. Elmer Bernstein composed an excellent score for the film, mostly using Martenot Waves, an electronic musical instrument. The soundtrack also brings together the burning of hard rock and heavy metal bands to illustrate the delirious images of this cartoon: Black Sabbath, Blue Öyster Cult, Cheap Trick, Devo, Donald Fagen (of the group Steely Dan), Grand Funk Railroad, Sammy Hagar, Journey, Nazareth, Stevie Nicks (the singer of Fleetwood Mac) and even the French Trust have sounded this graphic monument! The film was a huge success in the United States (it grossed more than $ 20 million), but it left a somewhat bitter memory for the magazine’s founders. Screaming metal

From dream to nightmare for the French

In the mid-1970s, this tricolor magazine revolutionized the ninth art. Quarterly converted into a monthly, it looks like a real laboratory from which came the big names in comics, including Philippe Druillet. A big fan of the latter, George Lucas himself becomes addicted Screaming metal. Ridley Scott too. The fascination with the legendary magazine soon crossed the Atlantic. Leonard Mogel, the wealthy owner of the humor magazine National Chocolatekind of Hara-kiri American, decides to buy the rights to Screaming metal to publish in the United States. In April 1977, the first issue of its American edition ofHeavy metal blooms in newsstands. But Mogel does not intend to stop here and intends to decline the brand. As an executive producer, he wants to fund an animated feature film that will serve as a showcase for the magazine.

In his autobiography co-written with Christophe Quillien My moirespublished in 2019 by the Hors collection, Jean-Pierre Dionnet, co-founder and editor-in-chief of Screaming metal“At first, Americans thought of adapting to the movies stories published in the French newspaper, such as The lane by François Schuiten and Claude Renard o The long tomorrow by Dan O’Bannon and Moebius [qui influencera plus tard au cinéma le look de Blade Runner, NDLR]. We were offered a ridiculous sum and a percentage of the profits. Our lawyer immediately asked for the double and the percentage on the big budget, that is, the gross budget. The Americans came to spend a few days in Paris. We argued, argued, argued, fought, but the deal was not concluded. And they appealed to other artists. […] It’s a shame. Missed appointment. »

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Editor-in-Chief at the time, editor-in-chief of the magazine from 1976 to 1985, says Philippe Maneuver, in the work of Gilles Poussin and Christian Marmonnier Screaming metal, the dream machine, published in 2005 by Denoël Graphic: “Dionnet fought with the Americans. He had a very bad lawyer who was not a film specialist and did not know how to deal with Hollywood. They decided to make the film with Canadian illustrators and American cartoonists. Result: Next to what could have been, is average. Designer Jean Giraud (aka Mœbius) adds: “Jean-Pierre led the negotiations. Maybe he didn’t do them as well or too well. However, one day we realized that the movie was over, without us. And it was a little hard. […] We could have attacked them. But instead of committing suicide by getting lawyers and filing lawsuits, we thought we could come to an agreement with them so that the title of the film would not be. Heavy metalBut Screaming metal, when it premiered in theaters in France. We had imagined that this would be the consecration of our diary. »

A second film with drawings by Schuiten, Mœbius and Druillet was later proposed. But it never saw the light of day … We had to wait for the broadcast of the TV series Chronicles of metal eyesbetween 2012 and 2014, to discover twelve fantastic French short films taken from comics published in the magazine Screaming metal. A beautiful tribute to the review, but not about to erase our memory of the amazing Gerald Potterton movie.

Howling Metal – 40i birthday. Available. € 24.99 for the 4K Ultra HD / Blu-ray combination. Distribution Sony Pictures Home Entertainment / ESC.

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