Heavy Metal / quad / UK


Heavy Metal
Year of Film
Gerald Potterton
Harvey Atkin, Jackie Burroughs, John Candy, Eugene Levy, Marilyn Lightstone, Harold Ramis, Richard Romanus
Origin of Film
Genre(s) of Film
Animation | Sci-Fi
Type of Poster
Style of Poster
Origin of Poster
Year of Poster
Chris Achilleos
Size (inches)
30" x 40"
SS or DS
A Step Beyond Science Fiction

A great piece of artwork by Chris Achilleos on this UK quad for the release of Heavy Metal, an animated film based on stories from the magazine of the same name, which was known for its blend of science fiction, fantasy and erotica. Developed over a period of three years, the film is an anthology of tales connected by a framing story, with each one being based on a segment from the magazine or created specifically for the film. Like its source material it contains plenty of graphic violence and sexual imagery, although the film is somewhat softer in comparison to the tales seen in print. Several different animation houses worked on the segments, which is how it was able to be completed in a relatively short period of time. The voice cast included John CandyEugene Levy and Harold Ramis.

Chris Achilleos is one of the foremost British sci-fi and fantasy artists and has been working for over 40 years, creating some of the most celebrated artwork in the genre. Born in Cyprus, Achilleos and his family emigrated to London in 1959 and he went on to study illustration at Hornsey Art College where he learned the skills of technical illustration and became proficient with the airbrush in his final year. The artist would go on to create illustrations and painted work for album covers, book covers, magazines and would publish a series of books showcasing his skills. In addition, Achilleos also worked on concept designs for films including Willow (1988), King Arthur (2004) and the Last Legion (2007). This portrait of the heroine Taarna and her faithful steed was influential on the creation of the segment in the film, although the level of detail in the animation doesn’t quite match up to his skills!

Sim Branaghan, author of the brilliant British Film Posters, interviewed the artist for his book and notes that Achilleos’ film work often ended in frustration and disappointment. His first contact with the film industry came with a call from Julian Senior, a marketing executive at Warners at the time, who invited Achilleos to produce some concepts for Greystoke (1984). These were swept aside for an urgent job to produce three big illustrations for posters for Supergirl (1984) that ended up being scrapped when the distribution of the film changed and the work went to the FEREF agency.

Achilleos was also asked to work on posters for Blade Runner that ended up being rejected by the clients who decided to go with the photo montage of the UK quad. There were other frustrating no-gos with designs for Clash of the Titans, Twilight Zone (1983) and an illustration for Batman (1989) that was caught up in a knotty legal wrangle. Some posters designs did make it through, including Riding High (1979), this artwork for Heavy Metal that was used on the UK quad as well as the US one sheet and Japanese B2, plus a quad for Jackie Chan vehicle The Protector (1986).

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