Rock & Rule (1983)


In this animated rock musical out of Canada, a waning pop star named Mok seeks to summon a demon for his own nefarious gain. But to do so, he must find a voice powerful enough to open the gateway to the demon’s dimension. He finds that voice in Angel, a singer vying along with her boyfriend, Omar, for the top spot in their band. When Mok kidnaps Angel, Omar and his band mates must travel to “Nuke York” city to rescue her.

There’s plenty of promise in this ambitious production. I like that the backdrop is a post-World War III world where everyone is a mutated version of a rat, dog, or cat with humanoid features. The idea of a rock and roll soundtrack featuring Debbie Harry, Prince, Cheap Trick, and Earth Wind and Fire is certainly a plus, too. As a villain, Mok (voiced by Don Francks, with singing provided by Iggy Pop and Lou Reed) comes across as one of the film’s most successful elements. He’s shrouded in mystery and kept in the shadows for a few scenes, and when we finally see him, he’s like a grotesque version of Pop and David Bowie, always changing wigs or head pieces. His is the best character animation in the movie, with his long face, huge mouth full of teeth, and long expressionistic fingers.

Unfortunately, Rock & Rule suffers from an underdeveloped screenplay and (reportedly) many cost-cutting compromises along the way to completion. The hero characters never engage our emotions, and the animation is often so dark it’s indiscernible. The whole thing feels rushed and disjointed, and despite the roster of musical talent, none of the songs are likely to stick in your memory.

With the voices of Paul Le Mat, Greg Salata, Susan Roman, and Catherine O’Hara.

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