No. I'm afraid this isn't a post about painted magic users in White Dwarf. Instead it's about a couple of ancient animated films that my mate Neil and I watched in order to distract ourselves as we got ready for his wedding.
First up, late on Friday night, was 1981's 'Heavy Metal'. Basically an animated version of the magazine which itself was the American version of 'Metal Hurlant'.
What you've got is a series of short stories linked by a themed short about a glowing green sphere who calls itself the 'sum of all evil'.
The stories are all sci-fi / fantasy romps sprinkled liberally with soft porn and gore.
You can see why it was so popular at the time.
All of the short stories are set to the sound of the Metal soundtrack banging away in background from the likes of Black Sabbath, Rush, Blue Oyster Cult and Devo (obviously Devo aren't very metal but they are portrayed as a band in a bar and it fits pretty well). The animation reminded us both of 80's classics like He-man but with more blood, violence and boobs! It also features the voice talents of John Candy and Harold Ramis so there is plenty to reccomend it.
This is the tale of twin wizards who were born to the elf queen thousands of years after the apocalypse. One wizard is good the other is evil and they go on to have an unhealthy rivalry.
Eventually the evil wizard decides he wants to take over the world and builds and army of mutants and demons to follow him. At first they have little success until he orders them to search for lost pieces of technology and builds an army of machines to destroy the peace loving elves and fairy's.
He also discovers a film of Nazi Germany at war and used this a blue print for his forces as well as a method of enthusing his troops as well as psychological terror tool on his enemies.
The elves and fairies fight on however and in a climactic battle..... Well, I shouldn't spoil it for you.
Other parts of the film were animated using Rotoscoping, a process where a part of a traditional film is traced over by animators to produce a shadowy version of the original. Bakshi used footage from films such as 'Alexander Nevski' to give the impression of the massive armies he wanted to appear. He added wings and horns to some individuals as well adding in footage if charging Zulu's to give you a weird nightmare like army.
The film was a fair success at the time, despite it making very little sense and was made at the same time as Star Wars. In fact as well as changing its name from Wizard Wars at Lucas' request, it all features Mark Hamill as the voice of one of the characters.
The next year Bakshi went on to create the first part of Lord of the Rings, still my defining version of the story. Again he used the Rotoscoping technique, especially for the evil characters such as the Balrog....
And the Orcs. For some reason the film company declined to make the second part however, leaving us puzzled by the abrupt end mid way through the second book. What a missed opportunity.
And this is what has puzzled us the most. We watched all kinds of nutty films when we were kids including Lord of the Rings, but we never did see Heavy Metal or Wizards. In fact we have been fairly ignorant of their existence until relatively recently and as film fans that's pretty poor. These two would have been right up our teenage street (especially the boobs!) but somehow they passed is by. I suppose in this era of instant downloads, YouTube, and Amazon it's easy to forget just how hard it was to come by stuff in the dark days of the 80's. Still. At least we are getting to see them now. They may not be classics but they are certainly of there time and well worth a look for any ageing Nerd.