I remember seeing bits and pieces of the infamous, 1981 animated Heavy Metal film, which was based off the French comic magazine “Metal Hurlant” (or “Screaming Metal”) that started in the 70’s, back when I was young. It wasn’t until around the mid-90’s when I had saw it in full on a bootleg VHS tape (it had never been available on video back then due to music license issues) and truly understood why most who have seen it consider it a classic. It had a sequel that bombed back in 2000, and now there’s a TV series based off the comics called Metal Hurlant Chronicles. While it may not be as exciting as the first movie, it’s a low-budget, sci-fi anthology series that can be enjoyed by anyone who loves the comics and shows of this genre.
For those who aren’t familiar with the 1981 film, a talking, glowing, green rock which turned out to be evil crashes on earth and kills a guy who comes to investigate it. His young daughter comes to find out what happened and the rock tells her it will kill her too, but not before it shares with her some stories of how its evil has affected planets and people it’s passed. In this series, the rock is an asteroid made from a living planet that was destroyed by the madness its inhabitants suffered through. In this 12 episode collection on three DVD discs, viewers are treated to different stories that take place in different time periods and/or worlds and the crazy effects the asteroid has as it passes by them.
Whether it’s a fight to the death in a Roman colosseum-like era that determines who rules a castle floating the sky, or watching the last survivors of a war between humans and robots play out, or even a story taking place in the old west featuring the town doctor doing some questionable things, there’s always something weird going on in this show. To make things even more trippy, the endings to the episodes usually involve a twist that can either make the episode pretty cool or can be considered a letdown. Either way, there are more twists in this series than Chubby Checker, and some may consider that a good or bad thing.
I did like Metal Hurlant Chronicles for the most part, despite not being the best written or budgeted show. There’s some pretty decent performances by actors such as Rutger Hauer, Scott Adkins, Michael Biehn, John Rhys-Davies, James Marsters, and Michael Jai White. This series is also available on Blu-ray, but I was given the DVD set to review, and the picture and sound quality are as good as the format allows. There are some special features to view after the show is over, but some are only on the Blu-ray release. There’s a few featurettes and cast interviews that take you behind the scenes on how the show was made and filmed, but the Blu-ray set has these and a San Diego Comic-Con Panel, alternate French-language episodes and some motion comics.
Metal Hurlant Chronicles may not be the best sci-fi anthology show out there, but it’s not the worse either. As long as you don’t go in expecting much, there’s some light entertainment to be had here. Couple this with some nice extras, and you have a DVD set worth taking a look at. Just make sure there aren’t any asteroids passing by when you watch though.