Heavy Metal the Movie (1981) Den Sequence

Den sequence in Heavy Metal the Movie (1981)

Den, Animation vs. Comic Story

Heavy Metal the Movie (1981, 1996). Director: Gerald Potterton. Story: Corny Cole. Voices: Dan/Den – John Candy (rather big guy for a muscular hero, I must say). Queen – Marilyn Lightstone. Katherine – Jackie Burroughs. Ard – Martin Lavut. Nort – August Schellenberg. 14 min sequence from complete 86 min full-animation movie.

Model sheet for Den character made by Richard Corben

Model sheet for Den character made by Richard Corben

Movie is an animation in separate sequences combined with a loose leading story. Stories are taken straightly from the pages of Heavy Metal the Magazine, from the most famous artists. Richard Corben was asked to collaborate with the movie sequence originated on his characters but he declined, he did model sheet for Den character though. Animation is made without his touch, and it is unfortunately evident. Characters are clumsy and the leading character simple-minded. The story is taken from the original comic story, “Den [I]”, though they consider also for the Movie an alternative story, “Arabian Nights” – first story won and latter one was only test animated. The story in the animation is kind of the entire “Den [I]”, but they simplyfied it to fit into 14 minutes!

Spoiler: Because this is not the story as Richard Corben intented it, it will be interesting to compare the differences between two:

Young skinny guy finds something glowing from the ground

Young skinny guy finds something glowing from the ground (left: Neverwhere, 1969, right: Heavy Metal the Movie, 1981)

Story starts with the green meteorite that lands the backyard of the main character, who is a teenage, skiny, boy with glases as in the ogirinal story. They mention him to be an 18 yrs old boy. Green meteorite is actually a green, glowing orb that runs in leading story to combine separate sequences. Boy, unnamed in sequence (in ending titles as “Dan”), picks up the ball and puts it into his stone collection.

Dan transforms into Den

Dan transforms into Den (left: the original comic story, right: Heavy Metal the Movie)

During his natural electronics test the lightning activates the ball and the boy will be transported to Neverwhere, the planet far away from ours. Boy files through space, through our solar system and further away to the remote planet called “Neverwhere” (mentioned once during sequence). A boy goes through the same transformation to the muscular adonis as in the comic story.

Dork hanging out (left: comics, right: film)

Den lands to the statue’s head, you can find from the beginning of the comic story. He likes changes on his body, but loin cloathes himself immediately! He does not question anything, this is an action story.

Den resques Kath from the Red Queen

Den resques Kath from the Red Queen (left: comics, right: film)

He resques right away Kath from the hands of the Queen, but he dives rather long time underwater to have time for inner talk. Kath has no bra, but tiny strings.

The Red Queen

The Red Queen (left: comics, right: film)

The Queen has got the same red cloak on her soulders; remember that the Queen was not called as the Red Queen until “Den II”!

Gel interrupts

Gel interrupts (left: comics, right: film)

Katherine Wells from Gibraltar, the British colony and Den from the Earth make love, but Gel interrupts them. Gel separates our couple and brings them to Ard.

Kang, Uncle Dan, and the lizard girl with bells

Kang, Uncle Dan, and the lizard girl with bells (comics)

Kang, Uncle Dan, and the lizarad girl with bells are enitrely ruled out from this version!

Den shoots Ard

Den shoots Ard (left: comics, right: film)

Ard is immortal (shooting scene repeated as it was in the comic story) and he has casted Kath already into her glass casket.

Kath in a glass casket

Kath in a glass casket (left: comics, right: film)

One can wonder when he did it, since he was talking with Den all the time. Maybe he’d got help or did it quckly before Den entered to his company. But in the end he talks Den over to steal Loc-Nar staff from the Queen. Ard keeps Kath inprisoned for the time.

Underground beasts

Underground beasts (left: comics, right: film)

Den, joined with a group of non-talking “gorillas” who are leaded by talking-one Nort, goes to the Queen’s castle through a secret underwater way (follows in details comic story version, even beast in catacombs is there). Den will be separated from the group and catched by the Queen. He realizes that Loc-Nar contains a green, glowing orb, similar to his green meteorite! The Queen’s guards are disappointed that this muscular guy can join the Queen’s bed on the roof top, “Not again” (!), one says, but the other answers, “She’s the boss”, what to do.

The Red Queen tries to kill Den

The Red Queen tries to kill Den (left: comics, right: film)

Den and the Queen make love and the Queen almost kills him (as we learned in the comic story version). Den escapes and the story jumps straightly to the end.

The Red Queen flies

The Red Queen flies (left: comics, right: film)

Den rides with horse and the Queen flies with insect flyer. Everything inbetween is deleted from this version.

Den rescues Karth from Ard

Den rescues Karth from Ard (left: comics, right: film)

Ard is going to sacrifice Kath like the Queen was doing in the beginning of the story. Even the place is the very same.

The Red Queen vs. Ard

The Red Queen vs. Ard (left: comics, right: film)

Den rescues Kath, again, and Ard and the Queen fight for Loc-Nar staff. Den throws a spear with an attached metal chain above fighting couple. The lightning (again) strikes to the chain, to water, back to the green globe, and fries fighters. And Uluhtc gets it’s sacrifice. This version does not show anything for sure, but lets us believe that both Ard and the Queen will be dead.


Uluhtc (left: comics, right: film)

“Boy, mum will be surprised”, Den replies!

Fallen staff

Fallen staff (left: comics, right: film)

Loc-Nar staff fells down the stairs but Den refuses to take it. Kath and Den fly away with the Queen’s insect flyer. Kath proposes Den to use Loc-Nar to go back to the Earth, but he prefers to stay, because in the Earth he’s nobody but here in Neverwhere totally different (muscular hero, though they do not mention a word “hero” in this version). And they sound like to forget that Kath was also from the Earth. Why she does not want to go back to Earth. Why she does not want to talk that kind of possibility… Probably because the script writer forgot that detail. Anyway, when everybody are gone, the Loc-Nar (i.e. the green, glowing orb) files away to space and leads us to the next sequence.

The ending

The ending (left: comics, right: film)

This story is more straight forewards than the comic story version. They skip all complications and make story as a run through. They focus in this version more scenes where Den fights, makes love or travels to the Queen’s castle. Also diving in the very beginning has got rather long period. There is no glory of the comic story version, because they have to do everything in quite short time. Instead of taking an interesting excerpt they try to fit in the whole story. Shame. Richard Corben‘s own Neverwhere the Movie (1968) was much more interesting version of the story.


Copyright © 2003 Heart-Attack-Series, Ink!
Created: Dec. 28, 2003. Last updated: December 15, 2018 at 7:23 am

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