Hawk The Slayer: The Best or Worst D&D Film Ever Made?

Hawk Banner 2

Yes, I’m well aware that Hawk the Slayer is NOT in fact, a Dungeons & Dragons movie. However, it IS more like actual D&D (at the time at least) than that weird movie we did get. A Wayans? Really?  Anyway, this isn’t about that movie where we all secretly hoped we’d get to see a topless Thora Birch riding a dragon. No. This is about something far, far….better?

coverHawk the Slayer is one of those odd little films that managed to catch your eye while you were perusing the genre racks at your local video rental store (when they were still around). It had an epic-looking poster that looked more like the popular “Choose Your Own Adventure” style books. You were just drawn to it. I was drawn to it. But then, I was a young, impressionable lad at the time, and just learning the ways of the world. Thankfully, the heyday of Sword & Sandal films was just getting into swing and I had a legion of warriors with magic and sharpened steel to lead me. Hawk, however, was just the door man, a “gateway drug” type of movie….clean enough for kids, dirty enough to give them urges towards long hair, leather pants, and Manowar records.

Originally shown on TV in the UK, Hawk the Slayer was picked up for a limited theatrical distribution in 1980. At that time, yes, movies like this were shown theatrically, it was the end of the “good ol’ days” when just about anything could get a theatrical release. A short while later it would end up on VHS and into my grubby little mitts.
I was completely enamored. Here was everything I wanted to see: Continue reading

This Song Sends Love Through

 

Written by: Christopher Lee

From “Rock & Rule” – 1983 – Nelvana Studios

Odds are, even if you are in your mid-30’s+, you may not have seen or remember this movie. But if you have and you love it, you’re a better person in my book.
If you haven’t, there’s never a better time than now to check it out. I still kinda holds up I think. Even if it didn’t, the music is definitely amazing with contributions from punk, rock, and new wave legends of the 70’s & 80’s like Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, Blondie (Debbie Harry), Cheap Trick and Earth, Wind & Fire.

Rock & Rule poster

As the opening dialog reveals

“The War was over, the only survivors were street animals, dogs, cats, and rats. From them a new race had evolved. That was a long time ago.”

From there, we’re told that aging rock legend “Mok” (himself looking like a conglomeration of Iggy Pop and Mick Jagger), has been researching the means to open the door to a dark dimension. At this point, he has everything he needs, save a single, special voice….and now, his search has led him back to his roots, in “Ohmtown”. There’s plenty of futurism in the movie playing on the themes of apocalyptic tech and electricity, but that just lends to the films wonderful atmosphere.

If nothing else, Mok is a good host.

From here we meet our “heroes”, Omar & Angel, and their sidekicks, Dizzy & Stretch (effectively whose characters are sort of tropes of Donatello from TMNT and Shaggy from Scooby Doo). They’re a band, and they’re performing at a seedy little club and having a bit of tension. This is what you see in the clip I posted.
Mok has found his voice.

Our heroes!

The movie itself is a big-budget remake of a 1978 Nelvana cartoon called “The Devil and Daniel Mouse”, which had been a Canadian Halloween special, itself, if you traced back the inspiring tales, a retelling of the story of “Faust”.

“Rock & Rule” had started production in 1979 and was in constant peril over the next 4 years of it’s inception due to constant rewrites (from the studios, not certain what to do with the film, shelving and un-shelving it), a high turnover (over 300 animators worked on the film) and almost bankrupting the company (it ended up costing Nelvana around 8 million dollars, unheard of for the studio at the time, which had yet released a film produced for English-speaking audiences), was finally release 4 years later in 1983 to unfortunately lackluster reviews.

Their hadn’t really been a film like this. A (relatively) big budget animated film aimed at adults. It had drugs, bad language, “sexual situations” and what is/was considered “satanic” imagery.
In 1983, cartoons were still considered “kiddy fare” even with the underground and fairly obscure movies like “Heavy Metal” or Ralph Bakshi films like “Fritz the Cat” and “Wizards” running the back alley theater and midnight movie circuits. Unlike them, however, “Rock & Rule” had a distinct quality to it. Above par animation, a soundtrack featuring some of the bigger artists of the time. I mean, c’mon, Blondie practically DEFINED the early 80’s. Still, the film had trouble. The studios didn’t know how to market it. The theaters didn’t know when to show it. The public didn’t know what to make of it. It sort of faded away.
Had it not been for late night showings on cable TV stations like HBO and Cinemax, it may never have developed it’s following. Thanks to them and the growing convention circuits, it had become a Cult Film phenom, with copies of the hard-to-find home video versions and bootlegs of the very rare laser discs, making their way into circulation. As a matter of fact, there were two versions of the film to hunt down! The theatrical version, and the American release with a bit of editing (ohhh…we love editing don’t we?) and some different voice acting. The VHS release is actually included on the DVD released a few years back by Unearthed Films.
For me, it was always so exciting to find someone else who loved the movie, much less knew about it. Honestly, it’s sort of still like that today. I’m okay with that.

So, long story short, do yourself a favor. Go out and grab the DVD. It was released as a double disc collector’s edition that includes different versions of the film AND the original “Devil and Daniel Mouse”, along with a booklet telling a more detailed history of the production.

Here’s some AMAZING fan art by Deviantart user, Fpeniche!

Rock & Rule fan art

 

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