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WIZARDS - 4 Slimes
Rated PG
Copyright 1977 Bakshi Productions
Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 13 December 2008 (updated)

The Characters:  

  • Avatar - The good old wizard. He is wise, powerful, and...not very tall. He looks like a pair of hairy feet wearing a magician's cap.
  • Elinore - A fairy princess. I cannot imagine that she can actually fly, because she is shaped like Jayne Mansfield (with wings). Probably a lot of fun on a waterbed, but not exactly aerodynamic.
  • Weehawk - You do not want this crazy elven warrior mad at you. He turns into a pair of tonsils swinging a sword. He turns into a very loud pair of tonsils, swinging a very sharp sword in a very lively manner.
  • Necron 99 - Robot assassin, and a minion of evil until Avatar zaps him. Then he becomes a loopy flower child named "Peace" (though "Piece" might have been just as appropriate).
  • Sean - He is the king of the mountain faeries. He wears a button on his belly. He has big ears and blonde hair. He looks (and sounds) just like Mark Hamill.
  • Blackwolf - The evil wizard. He is so thin that his bones show. Maybe if he had taken the time to eat something now and then, he wouldn't be so wicked. What that boy needs is some good Southern cooking. Fix him up with a basket of fried chicken and a gallon of sweet tea. I never seen nobody stay mad after that, especially not if they have a little peach cobbler afterwards. I say, somebody feed that boy and stop the war!
  • Larry - This is why you should never give steroids to a co-dependent iguana.
  • Fritz - Dead! For some reason, Fritz's death is what I always think about when I think of "Wizards." Poor Fritz. The whole affair of Max screaming that the elves had killed his friend, going berserk, and then accidentally shooting Fritz (who was only unconscious) is hilariously funny to me.
  • Blackwolf's Army - Reptilian mutants, Nazi ghosts, and brooding demons. What did you expect the damned legions of the black wizard would look like?

Buy It!

The Plot: 

The story begins when mankind finally commits to nuclear war. There is nothing new about that; quite a few movies begin with the end of the world. What is different about this film is that after the dust settles and the remaining mutant humans slink off into the radioactive swamps, the original sons and daughters of the Earth emerge from their seclusion. The elves, fairies, and dwarves all peek out and ask, "Are they finally gone?"

Yes, we are all gone. You can have your party now (and they do).

Avatar and Blackwolf are powerful wizards born to the queen of Montagar (Montagar is the center of all things elven, vice Silvanesti as some might have thought). The fraternal twins are polar opposites. As much as Avatar is a loveable old scamp, Blackwolf is a ruthless and plotting despot. That is why Avatar makes his home in Montagar, enjoying his scotch and ogling all the buxom fairy princesses. Blackwolf is consigned to a tormented existence amongst the mutants that inhabit the blasted lands; his throne sits in the corruption-filled fortress city of Scortch 1.

Living with sub-humans that are constantly suffering from cancer or diarrhea (or both) is hardly where Blackwolf wants to spend his golden years. However, every time Blackwolf's army tries to annex an area that receives less than 100 millirems/hour of radiation, they run into a bunch of sword-wielding elves. The pointy-eared sylvan folk do not take too well to being invaded. When the mutants boil out of Scortch 1, they get their pus-dribbling behinds kicked. Even excavating ancient military sites, building tanks and bombers, and summoning demons from Hell does not turn the tide. The mutants are simply no match for the elves.

What worries Avatar about the situation is that Blackwolf might finally discover an artifact that tips the balance of power. His concern is well-founded, because Blackwolf rediscovers Adolf Hitler. What the mutants lack is a passion for war. An ancient 35mm projector and a library of Nazi propaganda films quickly solves that problem; Blackwolf magically projects Nazi images on the clouds over the battlefields. Seeing the Germans chanting, marching, and saluting rallies the mutants, while it terrifies the elves. Blackwolf's legions become an unstoppable force with a funky soundtrack. If the elves print newspapers, then the headlines probably read "Disco demons torch town!"

Huh, a society living under almost unbearable conditions that believes it deserves better, is capable of better, and is willing to do anything to achieve better, but which needs a leader - a catalyst - to realize that dream. All it needs is that leader, and the world will change. Give them a great statesman, and a nation might be born. Give them a murderous dictator, and there will only be darkness and war.

There is a parable, and a parallel, here; I just know it...

Assassinations compound the menace faced by the good peoples of Earth; Blackwolf's deadly operatives cut the heart out of the elf and fairy society. Weehawk does his best to warn the president of Montagar, but Necron 99 gets there first. Avatar blasts the robot assassin with a bolt of magic, but not until after Necron 99 has turned the president into the world's first autocratic sieve. Elinore then tries to scratch the inert assassin to death.

What is it with women and scratching? You gals see a man spray your father with submachine gun slugs, and the best you can come up with is to use your fingernails on him? It is a horribly inefficient way to kill somebody.

Saving the world from Blackwolf's disco troops falls on the shoulders of Avatar, Elinore, and Weehawk. Peace is along for the ride as well, but the reformed assassin is so harebrained that putting his shoes on the right feet is probably a lot of effort. Why does Avatar insist on taking the dazed robot along? Well, Peace knows the way to Scortch 1. Without Peace, finding Blackwolf's castle might take years of searching, riding back and forth across the land on those funny-looking horse things. Wow, those are some bizarre animals. Imagine an ostrich crossed with a purple cow (as if there won't be purple cows after a nuclear war), and you have an idea of what they look like.

Anyhow...

The quest to stop Blackwolf and save the world leads the party through the domain of the mountain faeries, which turns into a debacle when some assassins attack and Elinore animates a hedgehog statue that runs amok. After surviving that, Avatar and his friends are captured by Abdul. The bearded old warrior is going to attack Scortch 1 with the last of the free elves. It goes without saying that the elven general scoffs at Avatar's plan to stop Blackwolf. The ridicule does not stop the old wizard, but Elinore suddenly switching sides, killing Peace, and fleeing in a Nazi tank does. Bereft of his fairy princess's plentiful er...charms, Avatar loses focus. He seems to become senile and befuddled.

Weehawk leads Avatar to Blackwolf's castle as the elven army clashes with the evil wizard's legions. The fate of the world is not going to be decided by the blood of a hundred thousand heroes, but by two men - Avatar and Blackwolf. One of them wants to be another Hitler, while the other just wants peace, a bottle of good scotch, and a comfortable chair in a warm house (to relax in as he drinks the scotch and enjoys the peace).

The quality of the artwork in "Wizards" varies from great to not-so-great (even after ten shots of whiskey). The animators had a problem with some of the characters when they were not facing directly at the screen. It is quite noticeable with Elinore. When she is posed like a pinup, she looks splendid. When the action shows her from the side she looks like an imitation Colorforms character. Avatar never seems to suffer from rendition degradation, but how hard is it to draw a magician's cap with a beard and feet? The movie also makes use of grayscale still images, and all of those are excellent. Something else that worked in the movie's favor, and this is a Bakshi trademark, is rotoscoping. Masses of Blackwolf's troops are often represented by images traced over regular film. Combined with the unreal backgrounds of Scortch 1, the rotoscoped demons (Zulu warriors with red eyes, German troops with horns added) are quite a visual.

The final climactic combat between the elves and mutants is first-rate. Heads are smashed into pulps of pale brain mush, bullets turn elves into hole-filled corpses, and bloodstained knives are brandished by one-eyed demons. It is an orgy of blood, and fairly gory. It is also my favorite (animated) fantasy battle sequence.

Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • Literacy can be fatal.
  • Music also soothes the scary purple rat monster.
  • Women who wear Viking outfits tend to be plump.
  • Unfortunately, the one thing that is likely to survive a nuclear apocalypse is Hitler's home movies collection.
  • The worst thing about religion, besides the spanking and Coca-Cola, is how long it takes.
  • Ticks come in three sizes: tiny, very small, and "Wooly Mammoth."
  • Bigfoot is actually a three-foot-tall cigar-smoking midget.
  • Bruce Lee was half elf.
  • Exposed brain matter is virtually indistinguishable from an undercooked omelet.

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • 4 mins - Well, so much for the post-apocalyptic version of "Bambi" having a happy ending.
  • 6 mins - Pixie hookers!
  • 17 mins - He noticed.
  • 33 mins - By the looks of it, you have already had enough scotch.
  • 41 mins - Time for those two faeries to make the switch to low fat pollen.
  • 45 mins - Weehawk is trapped in a cave with the ghost of the 1960s. That is scary.
  • 52 mins - Good idea. Her nipples already stick out enough; if she gets any colder, they might cut a hole in the fabric of reality.
  • 67 mins - Whatever happened to all of the sneaky elves?
  • 72 mins - The true horror of war: super psychedelic Nazi dive bombers.

Quotes: 

  • Max: "Fritz! Get up, for God's sake! Get up! They've killed Fritz! They've killed Fritz! Those lousy, stinking, yellow fairies! Those horrible, atrocity-filled vermin! Those despicable animal warmongers! They've killed Fritz! (shooting) Take that, and that, and that! You green slime! You black, hairy, short bowlegged..."
  • Avatar: "You think Avatar's too old to get married?"
    Elinore: "Weehawk, how many years do wizards live, ten thousand or more?"
    Avatar: "And I've got at least a thousand left. You know what I mean?"

 Audio clips in wav formatSOUNDSStarving actors speak out 

FileDialog
Green Music Note wizards1.wav Narrator: "For five thousand years Blackwolf studied black arts, increasing his wisdom ten thousand fold. He built a small following of froglike creatures, but needed more troops for his evil plans. He then formed an army whose generals were called up from the black shadows of Hell."
Green Music Note wizards2.wav Weehawk: "Wait a minute, Avatar. Peace is taking us toward the mountain faeries domain. We should go around."
Elinore: "Avatar, why is Peace stopping?"
Peace: "Faeries bad, not good, go around."
Avatar: "Hey, coming from Mr. Nice Guy here, those fairies must be something else. Go on, nut; we'd lose time."
Peace: "Bad faeries."
Green Music Note wizards3.wav Abdul: "It was Avatar who fought alongside my father against the first mutant attack. So now we have our messiah back again. He's going to destroy his brother for us. With what? A woman child, one elf, and a moron robot."
Green Music Note wizards4.wav Blackwolf: "The trouble with you my brother is that you've always been too good."
Avatar: "Well, that may be, but I still think I look more like Ma than you do. You know, lots of character. I'm aging better."
Blackwolf: "Brother, there is no need for me to destroy you. Surrender! Surrender your world!"
Avatar: (Clapping) "You always did need an audience, you sap."
Green Music NoteTheme Song Listen to a clip from the soundtrack.

 Click for a larger imageIMAGESScenes from the movie 

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 Watch a sceneVIDEOMPEG video files 

Video Clipwizards1.mpg - 7.3m
The elves killed Fritz! They've killed Fritz! Hahahaha!

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Comments:Write CommentPages: 1 ... 5 6 [7] 8 9
Re: Wizards
Reply #49. Posted on December 13, 2008, 03:09:25 PM by Andrew
Review updated on 13 December 2008.  I still love this weird animated film, and think that it is probably Bakshi's master work.
Re: Wizards
Reply #50. Posted on December 14, 2008, 03:37:16 AM by GoHawks
I love this film and own it on DVD.  Just a few thoughts...

I always thought that Groening based much of Bender on Peace.  According to the IMDB Bio page on Ralph Bakshi, he said "Sweetheart, I'm the biggest ripped-off cartoonist in the history of the world, and that's all I'm going to say."

I haven't watched the film in a few years, but I thought Blackwolf wasn't projecting the films onto the clouds, he was magically bringing them to life.  In other words, the troops and tanks and such in films physically appeared while the projector was running.  This gives me a good reason (as if any was necessary) to watch the film again.

In that picture of Blackwolf and the projector, he reminds me very much of Christopher Lee as Saruman (except with hair).

A few times, you wrote 'Blackhawk' instead of 'Blackwolf'.  I hope you were just confusing 'Blackwolf' with 'Weehawk', and not badmouthing my team!   TeddyR TongueOut

According to the IMDB Trivia page for Wizards, the whole "They killed Fritz" thing was a reference to Fritz the Cat.
Re: Wizards
Reply #51. Posted on December 14, 2008, 07:44:18 AM by Psycho Circus
I think everyone's pretty much covered everything I was going to say about this masterpiece of animation. So I'll just add again that, this is a great, great, great film.  Thumbup
Re: Wizards
Reply #52. Posted on December 14, 2008, 08:01:49 AM by Andrew
I haven't watched the film in a few years, but I thought Blackwolf wasn't projecting the films onto the clouds, he was magically bringing them to life.  In other words, the troops and tanks and such in films physically appeared while the projector was running.  This gives me a good reason (as if any was necessary) to watch the film again.


I definitely thought that the films were being used to inspire Blackwolf's troops.  It does appear that Blackwolf may have been using magic to cause the Nazi propaganda films to cover the clouds over the entire battlefield.  The troops,  including Nazi ghosts, were already there - summoned from Hell separately.

A few times, you wrote 'Blackhawk' instead of 'Blackwolf'.  I hope you were just confusing 'Blackwolf' with 'Weehawk', and not badmouthing my team!   


Twice in paragraph 4 for some reason.  That's just my brain misfiring.  Thank you for catching it.
Re: Wizards
Reply #53. Posted on December 17, 2008, 04:19:29 AM by J.D.
Just thought I'd point out. Germany was not alone in the origin of WWI. If anyone is to blame. Blame the Serbs. Also history is written by the victors. Keep in mind Lenin and Trotsky killed 20 million people in the Gulags long before WWII even started. Communism killed around 300 million people world wide and counting. North Korea anyone? If Germany had concerns about the Soviet Union. They were justified. There are Democractic Capitalist countries that still have slavery like India and most of Africa. It's all a matter of perspective. Germany may have invaded Poland. But Poland refused to give back territory that was historic German territory with German speaking populations. That Germans had familiy members in. For it was lost in WWI. Also those German communities were being attacked before Germany invaded. With homes robbed, Churches burnt to the ground and a whole host of other things that Allied Propaganda felt the American public didn't need to know. How about that lie that the Nazis thought the Slavs were subhuman? It's not true. Himmler was married to a Slavic woman. Their decendents are alive and well to this day.  Lookingup  Subhuman was a term used for fellow germans at first. Like heavy drinkers, low I.Q, rapists and crazy people. The Germans even raised an army of Russian soldiers. The Russian Army of Liberation. The ROA. But it was too little too late for them. Now why go on about this? I'm a stickler for facts. Not Propaganda. The Germans during the 1970s were easy to attack as evil. Even though the Communists killed more people before, during and long after the war. And continue to kill people to this day. The flaws of one person are magnified by those that follow him. Governments like people don't operate in a void. Now as far as this movie goes. It has it's moments. I don't think it went over Andrew's head at all. I think his review and perspective
of it is witty and insightful as all of his reviews are. It's not a movie to take seriously as most of the movies on here are not. That's their charm. Whether it's what the makers of them intended or not.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Origins_of_World_War_I
Re: Wizards
Reply #54. Posted on December 19, 2008, 06:56:12 PM by peter johnson
Uh, no . . .
Hitler invaded Poland on a made-up pretext that had SS members disguised as Poles attack a German radio station manned by inmates from Dachau concentration camp, who were killed to a man.  This is not US propaganda, but very carefully documented records from the SS's own archives.  There is plenty of truth in the reparations after WW1 driving the initial joy with which Germany embraced Hitler, but the whole concept of Liebensraum did, in fact, presuppose a sub-human Serbian and Ukranian popluace that was to be either extirpated or expatriated -- Himmler wasn't fussy about which.  I've read quite a bit of SS history, and it is quite true that there were Russians, Poles, French -- thousands of French! -- Danes, Belgians, etc., who joined up with the Waffen SS to ostensibly fight Bolshevism, but can we say with a straight face that their lives would have been better off had they won?
* * *
As to the film itself, it has its moments, but I don't like this one anywhere near as much as I like Bakshi's "Heavy Traffic", which, rather than a predictable sword & sorcery fantasy film, enters more of a Charles Bukowski-like world of gritty surrealism and up-close familial violence.  I know lots of folk who hate "Heavy Traffic", and it is apparently impossible to find an uncensored version of it these days, but I was utterly blown away by it in London in 1973 & it still has power.  "Wizards" has some cool monsters, but I find Bode's Cobalt 60 comic strips more satisfying.

peter johnson/denny crane
Re: Wizards
Reply #55. Posted on December 22, 2008, 08:04:54 PM by Eric Seiden
This is a great film. Nothing about it is bad. Sure it's a bit cheesy but it's a true classic. I cannot believe people dislike this film. And there's no reason it should be on a "bad" list.
Re: Wizards
Reply #56. Posted on December 22, 2008, 08:35:43 PM by Andrew
This is a great film. Nothing about it is bad. Sure it's a bit cheesy but it's a true classic. I cannot believe people dislike this film. And there's no reason it should be on a "bad" list.


Did you read the review?  I ask, because I have this strange feeling that you didn't.
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