Underrated animated epics.

First there was Disney, then Don Bluth, but in between were these lost gems.
September 24, 2008
As we all know animated films have been around for as long as alot of us could remember. They stretch from various disney films from different eras, to the many works of world class animator Don Bluth for his many 80's cult classics like, An American Tale, The Land Before Time, and All Dogs Go to Heaven just to name a few.

But today im gonna show you some of the not as popular animated films of the yester years. They were films that tried to be different, straying from the kid friendly factor and tried aiming at a much older audience. These were some great movies for the time but some people ether just didnt even notice them or didnt appreciate them enough. So today I bring you my list of Underrated animated films.

(Note that although there might be a few Ralph Bakshi films in this list im not gonna bring them all up. Because I've honestly havent seen most of them. So if I end up leaving out some of his other titles such as Heavy Traffic, Coonskin, Hey Good lookin', Fire and Ice, or Even Cool World. Its because I might not have seen those because Hes almost made as many animated films as Don Bluth in his carrier, and I havent seen em all. Also I wanted to save room for others aside from his works. As a side note, theres not gonna be any anime movies on this list. Because animes are already overrated as it is.)

Fritz the Cat:1972

As Ralph Bakshi's first animated film, Fritz the Cat was one of those films that did so many things that even Disney would never dare to do in a million years. Its basically the story of the life and struggles of a young adult anthro Cat in the 70s, and boy what a time that must have been. Why theres drugs, Sex, cursing, urinating, male and female body parts showing. Why this film did so many things it wasnt suppose to it got an X rating when it first came out. (Which is a first for an animated film.) While by todays standards an R rating its an animated epic thats one of a kind for being, well........ Uncensored. (It also has to be one of the first forms of yiff ever recorded, dont know what that is? dont ask then.)

Fantastic Planet:1973

A french animated feature. What is there to say about fantastic Planet? Its not called fantastic for nothing. What made the film so out of this world for the time was its art style, and its bizzare setting of a world where humans are tiny like bugs and the giant aliens that dominate this world keep em as pets and even squish them like bugs. The plot, setting, and outstanding art style. (that feel like a moving painting from time to time) Makes Fantastic Planet an outstanding film to watch. (A must see for the casual scifi goer, and anyone who appreciates films as a form of art.)


Now heres somthing very unique. Wizards which takes place in the future after a nuclear holocaust, and after magical creatures, plants, and animals have reinhabited the world, and create a new world without the dreadfulness that was technology and science. Also follows the story of the two mighty wizards, the good wizard Avatar who uses his powers for the helping of others, and his brother the evil wizard Blackwolf whos hellbent on conquering the world by resurrecting technology,science, the dead, demons from hell, and the ways of the Nazis and Adolf Hitler.

This film was a very formal piece of art, and carried a very formal message along with it. Which I beleave was if we dont learn from the mistakes of the past, history will end up repeating itself. Its definitely worth a look into, and it was made in an interesting time when people were thinking piece over war. (Even though that might sound like hippie nonsense to alot im sure.) But still a worthy view of course.

The Lord of the Rings:1978

Well im not sure how many people have heard of Ralph Bakshi's animated adaption of Lord of The Rings. Well this was indeed the first adaption of J.R.R. Tolkien's famous trilogy of books. (Whick followed the success of its prequel book the Hobbit.) While not the most favorable adaption (considering its been outshined by the live action adaptions by Peter Jackson.) It still can be remembered as some what a classic by some, and hated by others.

I think one of the reasons people dislike this version so much was because some of the dialogs and scenes can be a bit confussing. Also I beleave it was the odd choice of animation. Alot was filmed with Rotoscoping which somtimes looks good and other times looks terrible.

But I think the main reason it flopped was because It was only the first half of the trilogy. After the battle of Helm's Deep the film just ends leaving you to wonder what happens next, and will there be a sequel. Unfortunately a sequel was planned but never made. Ralph Bakshi did say It was suppose to be called Lord of the Rings Part 1, but the studio changed the name and people ended up going in expecting to see the whole trilogy.

So does the film hold up today? Well thats kinda a yes and no. Seeing that this is only the first half of the tale and the second half never was. It is ether liked or hated by people. If your an oldtime fan of this legendary trilogy you might wanna look into it. Just remember its filmed with rotoscoping, and it ends after the battle of Helm's Deep with no part 2.

Heavy Metal:1981

Heavy Metal is a Canadian animated film based upon Heavy Metal Magazine. I've never read the magazine myself but what made the film so amazing and spectacular was not only its use of various animation styles. But its soundtrack composed by famus bands such as Devo, Blue Oyster Cult, and cheap trick, just to name a few. But they had quite a few bands a musicians working on the music score for this film.

Basically the film was a collection of animated shorts set it the bizzare worlds of scifi and fantasy, and some sex thrown in just for the heck of it. All but one of these revolves around a green orb that happens to be the essence of all known evil in the universe. Leading up to The films dramatic climax.

Heavy metal today has grown to be quite a cult classic to this very day. Its an animated classic thats just to big for words. Its as one of the songs would say.


That basically sums it all up. But its earned a cult following for a good reason I can tell you that. So if your looking for a hard core animated epic to pass your friday night, then look no further.

American Pop:1981

Out of just about every animated film in history, no one has ever mentioned this one. Another masterpiece by Ralph Bakshi using the magic of rotoscoping. American Pop Tells the tale about 4 generations of a russian immigrated family who wanted to make it big in the music world. But only one would end up living up to this dream and making it happen.

What makes the film great was the way the music progressed as the decades progressed, each new genre of music with its different feel leading up to 1981. In truth it feels like a documentary which was what made it so great.

Im surprised this movie didnt go down in history, cause it has everything, music, story, good characters, good animation, and drama. American Pop is the greatest animated movie ever made. But sadly not alot of people know about it.

So if your just gonna check out one movie on this list, make it this one. Its such an underated masterpiece and more people need to know it exists.

The time Masters:1982

Yet another french animation. made by the same director of Fantastic Planet, and based on visual design and art by comic legend Jean Giraud (AKA Moebius).

Time Masters is a unique and trilling adventure across a galaxy of wonder and excitement. The story about a group of space travelers who must rescue a boy stranded on a planet far away, and the only way the can contact him is through a radio that stretch's lightyears across space. It has its moments of action as well as drama, and like the directors previous film feels like a moving painting from time to time, and also has a twist ending I wont spoil for you.

I'd say check it out if your a fan of outer space adventure films. But the problem is its not that easy to find. Unlike the others films on this list Time Masters is probably the hardest to get. Basically theres no english dub available (except one that was only shown on TV in the U.K.). There is a version in DVD with english subtitles you can get. But it was only distributed for a short time and copy's go for over $100.00 now a days. I'd say go buy it but you wont find somthing like this at your local wallmart. But if really want to see it expect to pay $100.00 or more. but its definitely worth looking into if you ever get a chance.

Rock & Rule:1983

Another Canadian animated film of course. Out of every animated film i've seen in my life. Rock & Rule is hands down my favorite. What makes it such a great film was not only its Don Bluth style animation (No he didnt work on this film but the style is very similar to his) but also a great soundtrack by Cheap Trick, Chris Stein, Debbie Harry Blondie, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, and Earth Wind and Fire.

The story centered after world war 3 in a high tech future where dogs cats and mice have evolved into humanoids and have rebuilt the world. Its mostly about a famous musician named Mok who's the best in the world. But he wants to for some reason summon a Rock & Role demon into our world to help him coquer the Rock & Role industry, and quite possibly the world. But to do this he must first find a very special voice. At the same time there's a small new rock group thats trying making it big by playing at local clubs. It also has kinda a love story between the two characters Angel and Omar, and angel happens to be that special voice Mok was searching for. Mok then makes her an offer to join his group. But when she refuses Mok kidnaps her and the rest of her group set out to rescue her.

It might not be the best story for any film, but it doesnt have to be. There are plenty of other things that make it stand out and worth looking into. The problem was not alot of people knew about it when it came out.

Mostly its because of the american distributer who decided to replace Omar's original voiceover (and I can tell you there was nothing wrong with it) edit it heavily, and change the name to Ring of Power. Also they only released it in select theaters for a short time and gave it next to no advertisement. So you can bet the film went under radar when it came out. Its clear alot of people never heard about this great animated film which is a shame because its just so awesome.

So if your a fan of 80's animation. You should give this film a go. Its not Heavy Metal, and its not American Pop, but it does well enough to be worth looking into. Its just another lost animated gem that more people need to know about.

Titan A.E.:2000

This is probably the first time anyones had the balls to bring up Titan A.E. on this web site. People might say that because it was released in 2000 its not retro. the movies 8 years old so id say its just retro enough. As some of you might know this was the last film made by Don Bluth (until his upcoming Dragon's Lair movie of course) But it was just one of those movies made to kick start a new millenium.

What made it so great was that it was a highbred of hand drawn animation and computer animation (which looked a heck of alot better then only computer animation) But sadly this kind of animation never caught on.

The story was Humans have already conquered and explored space, met different aliens, and collonised. But an alien race called the Drej come to blow up there home planet earth. So the planets evacuated but some dont get away or there ship is detroyed in the planet sized explosion. Years passed and humanity is scattered. Then theres the main hero Cale Tucker who must travel with a group of space rebels to find a ship his father made called Titan, Which they beleaved could reunite the human race and stop the Drej.

Titan A.E. is also another one of my favotire movies, I was so hyped when I first saw the teaser trailer that evening before Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, and about a year later I was not disappointed, definitely look into this one.

Closing Comments

Now before some of you start complaining that I didnt put enough Don Bluth films in this list. I didnt forget about Don Bluth its just his films have enough popularity as it is. I just wanted to mention a few that I dont think get enough attention.

I also know there are a few Ralph Bakshi films I left out but I couldnt possibly go into em all today. Mainly because there are to many and I havent seen em all. But ill probably go into those some other day.

Hope you enjoyed my article, and see ya later.
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