Animalympics (and Other Oddball 80s Animated Movies)

The return of the Olympic games reminded me that I hadn’t seen Animalympics in a few decades. If you had HBO in the early 1980s, you probably saw this 78 minute animated gem about anthropomorphic animals competing in their own Olympic games several times a week.

That of course reminded me of the other “classic” animated films seen on early cable movie channels that all but disappeared when the 80s ended…

Heavy Metal – 1981 Canadian scifi and fantasy anthology loosely based on the Heavy Metal magazine. Packs a respectable amount of graphic violence, sex and nudity in that odd mix that only 80s films had. Known for home video release being delayed due to soundtrack legal issues. Followed by Heavy Metal 2000.

Rock & Rule“My Name is Mok, Thanks A Lot.” Another Canadian animated science fiction and fantasy film from 1983. Music and demon magic collide in a post-apocalyptic world (we had such a love affair with the apocalypse in the 80s) in a story that evolved from the producers’ earlier 1978 TV special The Devil and Daniel Mouse. I own Rock & Rule on DVD. I paid money for that, god help me.

NausicaƤ of the Valley of the Wind – I remember being blown away by the different animation style in this 1984 film, and it was probably my first exposure to Japanese anime in general, but also Hayao Miyazaki in particular. That said, I missed much of the original story as it was generally shown on cable as a toned-down dubbed version titled “Warriors of the Wind” with a wildly inaccurate cover for the VHS tape.

Wizards – 1977 movie from Ralph Bakshi (Fritz the Cat, Heavy Traffic) that mixes fantasy with a post-apocalypse world. Like a really adult version of Thundarr the Barbarian.

American Pop – This seems to be one of the more forgotten Ralph Bakshi films, making heavy use of rotoscoping (live-action actors filmed and then traced onto animation cells) to tell the story of four generations of musicians that weave through the history of American pop music.

Fire and Ice – Another Ralph Bakshi film, this 1983 film also used rotoscoping to tell one of the more straight-up 80s fantasy story.

The Secret of N.I.H.M. – Really, is there anyone that hasn’t seen this 1982 film that marked Don Bluth’s directorial debut, and start of the “Disney is going to be DESTROYED by Bluth”. To be fair, that was true until 1989’s Little Mermaid helped get Disney back into the game.


The Black Cauldron – 1985 fantasy film from Disney that fell into obscurity due to negative reviews and a much darker tale than most other Disney films to that point. I always associate this movie with 1979’s The Black Hole for a weird place Disney went in for that period.

Starchaser: The Legend of Orin – 1985 animated science fiction adventure flick that was released in 3D. Being a 3D sci fi flick with a colon in the name, I often get the story-line mixed up with 1983’s live-action 3D sci fi action flick Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn. I am not sure I lose anything doing so.

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