Premiering in 1977, Heavy Metal magazine shattered old comics taboos regarding sex, violence, and drugs to the delight of horny adolescent boys of all ages. Inspired by adult European comics and fantasy artists, it enlisted foreign and domestic talent to produce tales of the fantastic, many involving scantily clad women equipped with weapons and enormous breasts. A 1981 anthology film attempted, with mixed results, to bring the magazine to the big screen. Basing a handful of stories on the work of artists such as Berni Wrightson and Richard Corben, at its best it served as a showcase for some innovative (if financially constrained) animation. At its worst, it seemed to aim squarely for a core audience of sexually retarded stoners. Some lean years followed for the magazine, which saw sales and interest flag, and the film, which spent years in copyright limbo, unavailable to the public thanks to a packed soundtrack. The '90s, however, helped turn Metal's fortunes. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles co-creator Kevin Eastman purchased and helped resuscitate its published form, eventually installing his wife, ex-Penthouse Pet and B-movie favorite Julie Strain, as an occasional cover girl. Elsewhere, the film's belated video premiere met with interest beyond expectations, making possible Heavy Metal 2000, a theater-bypassing sequel. Abandoning its predecessor's omnibus approach, HM2K features only one story and doesn't benefit from the reduction. Though burdened with weak segments, nothing in the original, however icky, outstayed its welcome. Here, viewers looking for anything beyond a gun-toting, vengeance-fixated woman with a gravity-defying physique will have to look elsewhere. HM2K pits its heroine, voiced by and modeled after Strain (billed as Julie Strain Eastman), against a hapless miner (Michael Ironside) who turns into the incarnation of evil after discovering a mysterious glowing rock. Traveling across the universe and discovering lizard-men, a robot sex slave, a noble dwarf made out of rock, and a creature with the voice of Billy Idol, Strain wastes few opportunities to talk tough and act tougher while moving through animation that's alternately dull and state-of-the-art. But aside from isolated flashes of imaginative design, HM2K does little to distinguish itself and may prove too sluggish and limited even for hardcore fans. Having abandoned its late-period counterculture roots, Heavy Metal's continued existence may owe a lot to the notion that if you've seen one half-naked cartoon amazon punishing galactic evildoers, you haven't necessarily seen them all. Even by those standards, this sequel feels awfully familiar.