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'Heavy Metal' Gets Ready to Rock Anew

May 31, 1996|SUSAN KING | TIMES STAFF WRITER

"Heavy Metal," the second-most popular flick on the midnight movie circuit ("Rocky Horror Picture Show" is still champ), is finally making its home video debut Tuesday (Columbia TriStar, $20).

The video version of the 1981 cult animated erotic science-fiction fantasy, inspired by the stories and sexual graphics of "Heavy Metal" magazine, includes a three-minute sequence of never-before-seen footage.

The main reason why the home video release was delayed for so many years was a rights problem involving the heavy metal score, which features original music by 13 bands and solo performers, including Black Sabbath, Cheap Trick, Sammy Hagar and Nazareth.

"It was the record companies, which had a policy that I was not aware of when the deals were made which didn't allow for the video release of the film," says producer Ivan Reitman. "They didn't give the music rights. I thought we were getting them. I didn't want to replace all the music because I didn't think it was right because the music worked so well. It took about 10 years [to work out the rights]."

Over the years, though, bootleggers have made plenty of money selling pirated copies, which, Reitman believes, were probably made when HBO aired "Heavy Metal" twice in the 1980s. "I think it was bootlegged more than any other movie," he says.

The three-minute bonus sequence, which looks at evil throughout the ages, wasn't included in the original film, Reitman says, because the animators didn't make the production schedule's deadline. "We were using animators from all over the world who were each doing a few minutes," says Reitman, who has returned to the animation genre as producer of "Space Jam," the upcoming Michael Jordan-Looney Tunes feature. "[It] came in two months after we were in the theaters, so there was no way to hold up the release of the film."

"Heavy Metal" took in $16 million at the box office in its initial release, has earned $8 million on the midnight movie, film festival and college circuit and garnered another $600,000 when it was reissued in general release earlier this year.

Reitman says he believes the film's tremendous success is because the "designs were very unique. The combination of startling visuals with rock 'n' roll and comedy and sort of a sexuality combines for that kind of interest. I don't thing we ever saw, except in some Ralph Bakshi stuff, anything that was designed for an adult audience in the way of animated fare. It's interesting to see how Japanese [animators] have imitated the designs and [also] MTV. It has really influenced a lot of things, so I think the film will feel very contemporary."

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Oldies but Goodies: This Tuesday, Warner Home Video is releasing two OK westerns ($20 each) starring Gary Cooper and Errol Flynn. In the 1950 oater "Dallas," the handsome Coop is a renegade ex-Confederate soldier who woos Ruth Roman. Flynn and Alexis Smith headline 1950's "Montana," in which a dissipated-looking Flynn is an Aussie sheepman battling Montana land barons.

Also new from Warner's is the sumptuous 1955 epic "Helen of Troy" ($20), starring Rossana Podesta and Brigitte Bardot; Robert Wise directed.

FoxVideo's latest addition to its Studio Classics line is the entertaining 1939 drama "The Story of Alexander Graham Bell" ($20), starring Don Ameche as the famous inventor. Henry Fonda and Loretta Young offer fine support.

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Curio: "Those Doggone Dogs & Puppies" (Brentwood, $10 for a single; $20 for the two-volume set) features funny footage set to classical music of man's best friend playing, fighting, bathing, sleeping, barking and running. Cute, but too doggone long for its own good.

New This Week: Henry Jaglom co-wrote and directed "Babyfever" (Fox Lorber), a comedy focusing on a group of women attending a Malibu baby shower who discuss their ticking biological clocks. Victoria Foyt (a.k.a. Mrs. Jaglom) stars.

Coming Next Week: Oscar-winner Nicolas Cage plays a a suicidal alcoholic who falls in love with a prostitute (Elisabeth Shue) in Mike Figgis' "Leaving Las Vegas" (MGM/UA).

Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Ann-Margret and Sophia Loren star in "Grumpier Old Men" (Warner), the hit sequel to the 1993 comedy "Grumpy Old Men."

"Alex" (Orion) is a charming little New Zealand drama about a championship swimmer (Lauren Jackson) who triumphs over adversity to win selection on the 1960 Olympic team.

Lili Taylor stars in the vampire thriller "The Addiction" (Polygram). Also new: "An Unforgettable Summer" (New Yorker); "The Last Klezmer" (New Yorker); "Tied-Died: Rock 'n' Roll's Most Dedicated Fans" (BMG).

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