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Omar saving Angel, his girlfriend, from Mok's Beast.
Rock & Rule is a 1983 animated film from the Canadian animation studio Nelvana. It was produced and directed by the company's founders, Michael Hirsh, Patrick Loubert and Clive A. Smith. The film features the voices of Paul Le Mat, Susan Roman and Don Francks, with Catherine O'Hara, Chris Wiggins and Maurice LaMarche as guests. This film was rated PG by the MPAA. Rock & Rule is Nelvana's first feature movie.

Centering on rock and roll music, the film includes songs by Cheap Trick, Chris Stein and Debbie Harry of the pop group Blondie, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, and Earth, Wind & Fire. The story takes place in a post-apocalyptic United Statesmarker populated by mutated humanoid animals. Protagonists and antagonists alike are rock musicians in this movie.

With John Halfpenny, Patrick Loubert and Peter Sauder at the helm of its screenplay, Rock & Rule was a heavily-derived spinoff of Nelvana's earlier TV special from 1978, The Devil and Daniel Mouse. It's distributer MGM was newly-acquired by United Artists and the new management team had no interest in it so it was never released in North America. It received a screening at a film festival in Germany and because it was funded in part by CBC which had obtained the Canadian TV rights it did get some minor exposure . A rare-to-find home VHS video was released at that time to be followed by a laser disc . The film built up a cult following from its repeated airings on HBO and Showtime and the circulation of bootleg VHS copies at Comicon booths ( with Ralph Bakshi's name as director ). In 2005, Unearthed Films released a special two-disc edition DVD of the film.


Omar, Angel, Dizzy, and Stretch perform in a small-time rock band in their home city of Ohmtown. The aging but still popular rock star Mok, in search of the "one voice" needed to summon a demon from another dimension, hears Angel sing while the band performs in a club and realizes that she is the voice he needs. Although initially unaware of Mok's true intentions, she refuses to abandon her band despite his prodding insistence. Unwilling to take no for an answer, Mok kidnaps her and flies away with her in his blimp to Nuke York (the post-apocalyptic version of New York Citymarker) to perform the concert that will summon his demon.

Omar, Dizzy, and Stretch follow in a stolen police car to rescue their friend. Meanwhile, Angel attempts to escape, in the process learning of Mok's plans, and that computer analysis seems to indicate that there is "no one" capable of stopping him. Mok soon recaptures Angel and uses an impersonator to fool Omar into thinking that she is spurning him willingly. To manipulate Angel, Mok then captures the band and tortures them in order to compel her to agree to his demands for their release, but not before brainwashing them to ensure that they will not interfere further.

When Mok's first concert attempt at "Carnage Hall" proves a fiasco due to an insufficient electrical supply, he is advised to relocate the summoning to Ohmtown, where the power plant has access to unlimited energy. During that second concert, there is a power surge that requires sudden draining into the town electrical grid, causing overloads which both darken the city and shock Omar and his friends out of their stupor.

Omar, still embittered by Mok's earlier deception, initially refuses to help Dizzy and Stretch try to stop the concert, but finally decides to trust Angel. All three make their way to the event. However, they are unable to prevent the demonic summoning, only managing to free Angel from her restraints after it is too late. The invoked demon starts consuming members of the audience and moves to attack Omar, who is saved thanks to the self-sacrificing heroism of one of Mok's simple-minded minions, Zip. Desperately, Angel tries singing to force the demon's dimensional retreat, but her voice alone has no effect. The situation changes when Omar begins to sing in harmony with Angel, causing the demon to be driven back through the portal. Mok realizes too late that his computer's reference to "no one" did not mean that an effective individual did not exist, but that more than one person was required to activate the counterspell. As he ineffectually scrambles to stop the duo's interference, Toad, the brother of the fallen Zip turns on Mok and throws him down the portal.

The concert ends with massive audience approval as the band is introduced as the newest superstar talent, fronted by a vocalist duo, in the now sunny Ohmtown.

Production and Release

Rock & Rule was Nelvana's first animated feature film, and also Canada's first to be produced in English. (Le Village enchanté, a 1956 production from Quebec, was the country's first overall. [159878]) The film spent several years in production and underwent many changes from the original concept, which was titled Drats! and aimed for children. The cost of production, $8 million in studio resources, nearly put Nelvana out of business.

The animation was of unusually high quality for the era (it began production in 1979), and the special effects were mostly photographic techniques, as computer graphics were in their infancy. Computers were used to generate only a few images in the film.

Controversy and reaction

Because of scenes involving drug use, implied devil worship, and mild sexuality, the film could only be marketed to an adult audience. No soundtrack album was ever released (though some of the songs appeared as B-sides on subsequent albums by the musicians involved with the film). Commentary on the Special Edition DVD partially lays the blame for the film's lack of release in the U.S. on MGM. The DVD claims that management at MGM changed and the new overseers of the project were not as enthusiastic about the film as their predecessors. This caused script revisions and other changes which damaged the flow of the story, delayed its release date and raised costs. In the end, MGM was still unhappy with the film so it was shelved.

Critic Janet Maslin of The New York Times commented: "The animation [...] has an unfortunate way of endowing the male characters with doggy-looking muzzles. In any case, the mood is dopey and loud."

In spite of its lack of release, the film soon received a cult following in the United States, although it was already popular in its native Canada. It occasionally received late-night airings on the cable channels HBO and Showtime, allowing the film to build a fanbase.

Alternate versions

US version

The American distributor, MGM, disliked the original actor who voiced Omar (Greg Salata) and insisted that he be re-dubbed along with several edits being made to the film. Under the misnomer Ring of Power, the revised film was unable to find an audience at the box office, and it was this chopped version that quickly found its way to video and laserdisc.

Canadian version

The film was initially broadcast on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in 1984 (uncut, and including parental warnings). In 1988, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation began airing the alternate cut, which featured extra footage, a different, clearer audio mix, the original voice of Omar, and the shot of a still-alive Zip at the conclusion.

Home video and DVD

Original home video release copies of Rock & Rule are extremely difficult to find. MGM released the film on VHS video in 1984, and again on the Laserdisc format in 1986. Both of these editions soon went out of print. Bootleg copies of the film ended up being sold at comic conventions but these copies erroneously listed the film as being done by famous animation rebel Ralph Bakshi. Soon after its demise in the home entertainment market, copies of the film could only be acquired by writing to Nelvana. The studio charged a fee of $80 to create and send a video copy of the film.

On June 7, 2005, a DVD and a two-disc Special Edition DVD set were released by Unearthed Films, and are available at The two-disc set includes the CBC video version of the film (though the original print was destroyed in a fire — this is taken from a VHS source); The Devil and Daniel Mouse, the TV special that was the inspiration for Rock & Rule; and a slightly different rough cut version of the ending.


The only visible merchandise ever made for Rock and Rule was an official Marvel Comics adaptation, with authentic pictures from the film and its production. A sequel was planned but for obvious reasons was shut down, but rumors are going around that Nelvana is thinking of doing either a reboot or a sequel since there is a new heavy metal movie in the works. There are no plans for an official soundtrack release.


The film's lack of release nearly bankrupted Nelvana and it sold half its interest in NAC (Nelvanas Animated Commercials) to keep from total bankruptcy. Many of the major animators who worked on it never again came back to the studio. Some would remain for a few more years but most went on to become well known animators at Disney, DreamWorks, Warner Bros and well known studios around the world. To recover, the company turned to more commercial fare. Strawberry Shortcake's House Warming Surprise, Herself the Elf, The Get-Along Gang (the half hour special, not the series which was produced by DIC), Strawberry Shortcake Meets the Berrykins were half hour service jobs that were used to fill the gap giving animation staff 2 months on each to keep financially alive. Finally Nelvana was saved from bankruptcy by the successful film, The Care Bears Movie. A senior animator from Rock and Rule was brought in to do a 1 minute Care Bear promo that was sold as a test for American Greeting Cards (the same animator who animated the now famous Nelvana polar bear logo which is now seen at the end of every Nelvana production), it was shown at an AGC meeting and that sold the movie. To the shock of the Canadian film community the film went on to become Canada's highest grossing film that year and taking the coveted "Golden Reel" award at the Canadian Genie Awards (It also was nominated for best original song). This spawned the Nelvana Care Bears franchise with television series on the ABC network and two more Care Bear features were to follow.

Successful children's series My Pet Monster, Beetlejuice, Mr. Microchip, Babar and DiC's Inspector Gadget, as well as Droids and Ewoks (based on the Star Wars franchise) were to follow. Thus, Nelvana was on its way to becoming one of the most prolific and well-known animation companies in the world.


  • Omar — The hero of the movie, and the guitarist of a punk-rock band. He is very sarcastic and rude, but he does have a soft side, especially for his girlfriend, Angel.

  • Angel — The heroine of the movie, and the keyboardist in the band. She is also an excellent singer, which is why she is kidnapped by Mok and his goons. Despite facing her share of trouble, she is spunky, independent, and can hold her own.

  • Dizzy — One of Omar's friends and the drummer in his band. He is very intelligent and tries to teach Omar a thing or two every now and then.

  • Stretch — Another of Omar's friends. He plays the bass in Omar's band and is apparently the only one who drives a car. He is a comedy-relief character and tends to say silly things.

  • Mok — The villain of the story. Cold, calculating, and decadent, Mok abducts Angel to force her to assist him in summoning a demon from another dimension so that he can take over the world.


Actor Role
Donny Burns Capt. Quadhole and 1st Radio Announcer
Greg Duffell Stretch and Zip  (voice)
Don Francks Mok  (speaking voice)
Catherine Gallant Cindy
Deborah Harry Angel  (singing voice)
Dan Hennessey Dizzy  (voice)
Samantha Langevin Mok's Computer  (voice)
Martin Lavut Mylar and 2nd Radio Announcer
Paul Le Mat Omar  (speaking voice, non-CBC version)
Catherine O'Hara Aunt Edith  (voice)
Lou Reed Mok  (singing voice)
Susan Roman Angel  (speaking voice)
Gregory Salata Omar  (speaking voice, CBC version)
Iggy Pop Monster From Another Dimension  (singing voice)
Brent Titcomb Sleazy  (voice)
Chris Wiggins Toad  (voice)
Robin Zander Omar  (singing voice)



  • The film's original title, Drats!, happens to be the name of Omar's group.
  • Mok's full name is "Mok Swagger". His character is a parody of Mick Jagger, whose lawyers threatened to sue Nelvana.[159879]
  • Omar's group seems roughly based on three members of Cheap Trick.
  • According to the commentary on the DVD release, the effects for the demon in the movie's final sequence were produced by smearing cow brains over one plane of a slit scan multiplane camera.
  • Despite the number of songs used in the film a soundtrack was never released.
  • Debbie Harry did a song with the same tune as Angel's song only called "Maybe For Sure" featured on her "Def Dumb and Blonde" album.
  • The director Clive Smith once mentioned they had 90 minutes of what they call "wedge tests" (these are tests to set the f stop exposure for second run bipacks) and could release them as a feature on their own.

See also

Similar in nature

Other Nelvana franchises

(All aimed at older audiences)


  1. Movie Reviews, Showtimes and Trailers - Movies - New York Times

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