Rock & Rule

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Rock & Rule
Theatrical release poster
Directed byClive A. Smith
Produced byMichael Hirsh
Patrick Loubert
Screenplay byJohn Halfpenny
Peter Sauder
Story byPatrick Loubert
Peter Sauder
StarringDon Francks
Susan Roman
Paul Le Mat
Catherine O'Hara
Music byPatricia Cullen
CinematographyLenora Hume
Edited byG. Scott LaBarge
Distributed byMGM/UA Entertainment Company
Release date
  • April 15, 1983 (1983-04-15)
Running time
77 minutes
Budget$8 million
Box office$30,379[1]

Rock & Rule (known as Ring of Power outside North America) is a 1983 Canadian animated musical science fiction fantasy film from the animated film company Nelvana, and was the animated studio's first ever feature film. Rock & Rule was produced and directed by Michael Hirsh, Patrick Loubert, and Clive A. Smith with John Halfpenny, Patrick Loubert, and Peter Sauder at the helm of its screenplay. The film also features the voices of Don Francks, Greg Salata, and Susan Roman.[2]

Centering upon rock and roll music, Rock & Rule 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 States populated by mutant humanoid animals. Though initially unsuccessful at the box office, the movie has gone on to become a cult classic.[2][3]


Rock & Rule was a heavily derived spinoff of Nelvana's earlier TV special from 1978, The Devil and Daniel Mouse. Its distributor, MGM, acquired United Artists at the time and the new management team had no interest in it. As a result, it was never released in North America except for a limited release in Boston, Massachusetts. It received minor attention in Germany, where it was screened at a film festival. It was funded in part by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, which had obtained the Canadian TV rights. A hard-to-find VHS was released at that time, followed by a laserdisc release. The film developed a cult following from repeated airings on HBO and Showtime and the circulation of bootleg VHS copies at comic book conventions booths (with Ralph Bakshi incorrectly named as director). In 2005, Unearthed Films released a special two-disc edition DVD of the film.


In the American release, an introduction states that a nuclear World War III had erupted between the Soviet Union and the United States of America which destroyed each other and the human race, allowing a new civilization of mutated street animals to grow.

Mok, an aging yet legendary rock musician, is on the search for a very special voice that can unleash a powerful demon from another dimension, his dwindling popularity driving him to destroy the world in vengeance and immortalize himself in the process. After traveling around the world looking for the right voice, he returns to his hometown of Ohmtown, a remote, storm-ravaged village famous for its unique power plant. Meanwhile, at a nightclub, Omar, Angel, Dizzy and Stretch perform in a small rock band. As Angel performs her romantic ballad to a mostly empty audience, Mok hears her sing and realizes that Angel has the voice he needs when a ring he is wearing reacts to her voice. Mok invites Angel and the band to his mansion outside of town, where the band is formally introduced to him and his assistants, the "Rollerskating Schlepper Brothers" Toad, Sleazy and Zip. Mok incapacitates Omar, Dizzy and Stretch with hypnotic "Edison Balls" as he takes Angel on a stroll through his garden and tries to convince her to join him. Although Angel is unaware of Mok's true intentions, she refuses to abandon her band. Unwilling to admit defeat, Mok kidnaps her and takes his blimp to Nuke York, where his summoning, disguised as a concert, will be performed.

Following their ejection from Mok's mansion, the band find out what happened to Angel and they follow the blimp in a stolen police car. Before they reach Nuke York, they are arrested by a border guard. Meanwhile, Angel attempts to escape with the unwitting help of Cinderella, the sister of the Schleppers. While sneaking through the ventilation system, Angel overhears Mok confirming his plans with his computer. At this time, the computer informs Mok that the only way to stop the demon is with "One voice, one heart, one song", but when Mok asks who can do this, the computer replies that there is "no one". Angel and Cindy escape the building and head to the zero-gravity dance club "Club 666", unaware that the Schleppers are following them. Dizzy's aunt bails out Omar and his friends, and tells them of the club. Angel and Cindy are intercepted and taken back to Mok's apartment, and the band tries to follow. Omar eventually bumps into Mok, who uses an impersonator to fool Omar into thinking that Angel has fallen for Mok. To manipulate Angel, Mok captures the band and tortures them with a giant Edison Ball to force her to agree with his demands. He also brainwashes them to ensure that they stay out of the way. The Nuke York concert turns out to be a disaster due to a power failure. Because the invocation requires a titanic amount of electricity, Mok relocates the summoning to Ohmtown's power plant has enough energy, while Zip expresses childlike doubts of whether their actions are good or evil. During the concert, a power surge causes overloads all over the city. The shock also brings Omar and his friends out of their hypnosis.

Omar, still believing Mok's earlier deception, refuses to help Dizzy and Stretch stop the concert. They go without him in a stolen police car, but crash at the concert too late, as Mok forces Angel to summon the demon with her song. Before it can turn on a subdued Angel, Omar appears after a change of heart and frees Angel from her electronic braces. When the demon attacks Omar, Zip seemingly sacrifices himself to save Omar's life. Angel tries singing to force the demon back, but her lone voice has no effect. However, as Omar joins in harmony with Angel, the creature is weakened and eventually driven back into its own dimension. Mok is thrown into the portal by the vengeful Toad, and as he is sealed away, he realizes that "no one" did not mean that a person who could stop him did not exist, but that two voices and two hearts singing as one was needed for the counter-spell. The audience believes the confrontation to have been part of the concert's theatrics and the band continues their song in triumph.




Rock & Rule was Nelvana's first animated feature film, and also the first Canadian animated feature to be produced in English. Le Village enchanté, a 1956 production from Quebec, was the country's first overall.[4] 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. Over 300 animators worked on the film.[5]

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.[6]


Prior to its completion, Rock & Rule was picked up by U.S. film studio MGM/UA in April 1982. However, they did not care about the animated feature and only gave it an extremely small limited release in theaters. Due to some scenes involving adult themes such as sexuality and profanity, the film was uniquely marketed.[7]

Alternative versions[edit]

U.S. version

The American distributor, MGM, disliked Greg Salata, who voiced Omar, and insisted that he be re-dubbed by an actor with name recognition, along with several edits being made to the film. Paul Le Mat was cast and Omar's obscenities were rewritten. Released under the title 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 home video and laserdisc albeit with its original title.[3]

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 original cut, which featured extra footage, a different, clearer audio mix, the original voice of Omar, original shots that were replaced by alternate footage, and the shot of Zip regaining consciousness at the conclusion.[8]

Home media[edit]

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 book conventions, but these copies erroneously listed the film as being done by 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, Unearthed Films released the film for the first time on DVD. The first disc includes the theatrical cut (sourced from a 'Ring of Power' print) and the second disc includes the original cut of the film (though the original print was destroyed in a fire; this was taken from a VHS source) and The Devil and Daniel Mouse, the TV special that was the inspiration for Rock & Rule. Other features would be the alternate 'Ring of Power' intro sequence, and a slightly different rough cut version of the ending. Also included is the trailer for Electric Dragon 80.000V, a 2001 Japanese film written and directed by Sogo Ishii.

On September 28, 2010, a Blu-ray Disc was released by Unearthed Films and has two versions of the film in one disc.[3]


Because of MGM's disinterest in the film, very little promotion was given. The film was mentioned in an episode of Night Flight, when Lou Reed was interviewed and incorrectly credited as the voice of Mok. Marvel Comics published a comic book adaptation with authentic pictures from the film and its production in Marvel Super Special #25.[9] According to letterer/assistant editor Michael Higgins, the comic sold well despite the film itself having only a very limited release.[10]


On Rotten Tomatoes, the film scored a 72% audience rating.[11] Felix Vasquez Jr. of called the film "an animated gem worth celebrating"[12]

Spin magazine called Rock and Rule "the greatest oddball scifi musical ever committed to animation cels".[13]

Randall Cyrenne of also described the movie as "a unique and interesting film that is at times entirely captivating."[14]

Critic Janet Maslin of The New York Times commented that "The animation ... has an unfortunate way of endowing the male characters with doggy-looking muzzles. In any case, the mood is dopey and loud".[15]

Keith Breese of Contact Music described Rock & Rule as "a masterpiece of outré animation and wildly ambitious vision and remains a triumph in animated feature film".[16]


Artists such as Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, Cheap Trick, Debbie Harry and Earth, Wind & Fire featured on the soundtrack.[17]

Critical reception[edit]

Felix Vasquez Jr. of noted that the soundtrack was "quite incredible"[12] LA Weekly called the soundtrack "a mixed bag of rock songs" with the "standout track" being "Earth, Wind & Fire's funky club jam Dance, Dance, Dance".[3] Randall Cyrenne of also called the soundtrack "a winner", with "an impressive roster of talent" which "sounds just as great as you would hope."[14] Keith Breese of Contact Music noted that the soundtrack "certainly feels contemporary", with "Debbie Harry's addictive Angel Song as the highlight".[16]


1."Angel's Song"Debbie Harry 
2."Send Love Through"Debbie Harry & Robin Zander 
3."Send Love Through-Finale"Debbie Harry & Robin Zander 
4."Pain & Suffering"Iggy Pop 
5."My Name Is Mok"Lou Reed 
6."Triumph"Lou Reed 
7."Born to Raise Hell"Cheap Trick 
8."I'm the Man"Cheap Trick 
9."Ohm Sweet Ohm"  
10."Dance Dance Dance"Earth Wind & Fire 
11."Hot Dogs and Sushi"Melleny Brown 
19.UntitledCheap Trick 


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Box Office Mojo
  2. ^ a b c "Rock & Rule".
  3. ^ a b c d Connell J., Sean (November 10, 2010). "Rock & Rule Blu-Ray Release: Debbie Harry and Cheap Trick vs. Cartoon Guitar Mutants (and Lou Reed!)". LA
  4. ^ Nordicity Group Ltd. (February 2007). "The Case for Kids Programming: Children's and Youth Audio-Visual Production in Canada" (PDF). Canadian Film and Television Production Association. p. 24. Retrieved 2010-05-07. 1956: Le Village enchanté, becomes Canada’s first animated feature film
  5. ^ Walmsley, Ann (May 27, 1985). "A bearish movie with bullish results". Maclean's. Maclean Hunter Limited: 54.
  6. ^ The Making of Rock and Rule-Internet Archive
  7. ^ Staff (April 12, 1982). "Briefly: Local animated film finds a distributor". The Globe and Mail. CTVglobemedia.
  8. ^ Rock and Rule Ending Comparison-YouTube
  9. ^ Marvel Super Special #25 at the Grand Comics Database
  10. ^ Salicrup, Jim; Higgins, Mike (October 1986). "J. Marc DeMatteis (part 2)". Comics Interview (#39). Fictioneer Books. p. 7.
  11. ^ "Rock and Rule". Rotten Tomatoes.
  12. ^ a b Vasquez Jr., Felix. "Rock and Rule (1983)".
  13. ^ Spotlight on the music of Rock & Rule. 24. Spin Magazine. March 2008. p. 110.
  14. ^ a b Cyrenne, Randall (August 24, 2005). "Rock & Rule: 2-Disc Collector's Edition". animated
  15. ^ Maslin, Janet (August 5, 1985). "ANIMATED DUO". The New York Times. Retrieved November 5, 2011.
  16. ^ a b Breese, Keith. "Rock & Rule".
  17. ^ a b "Various Artists: Rock & Rule".
  18. ^ "Playing Deep:The Ballad of Melleny Melody". FYI Music

External links[edit]