And You Thought It Was Safe(?)


The Last Unicorn (1982)
Rankin/Bass just had some weird obsession with flowing hair.

Weird obsession with flowing hair notwithstanding.

Here’s something else from the Things That Scarred Me in Childhood Department. Keep your Disney and your Dreamworks. Screw Pixar and, apart from the teams responsible for Animaniacs and Batman: The Animated Series, screw Warner Brothers animation too. In my eyes, none of them are fit to lick the boots of Rankin/Bass Productions.

Originally formed in the early 1960s, the studio achieved lasting fame with a little 1964 stop-motion Christmas special/gigantic commercial for General Electric called Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer. Over the next decade, Rankin/Bass churned out Christmas scholck like clockwork, and their most famous specials (Rudolph, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Frosty the Snowman) are still in syndication today. The secret to their success was outsourcing, making Rankin/Bass one of the earliest American companies to exploit the third world for their own gain.

Thankfully, at the time, “the third world” pretty much included Japan. So when Rankin/Bass began to branch out into more traditional cartoon fare it found a ready partner in future-House of Dragonball Toei Animation. This partnership produced a crop of feature-length cartoons still remembered by all the good little children of the 70s and 80s…because they scared the shit out of us. Continue reading

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Iron Man (2008)

In another unexpectedly pleasant surprise, Iron Man turned out to be perhaps the strongest of this passing summer’s superhero movies. I say “perhaps” because, while it lacks The Dark Knight‘s length and The Incredible Hulk‘s emotional sequel-baggage, Iron Man never rises to anything other than the low-tide line of my expectations. Movies are like that these days. I’m spoiled. We’ve all become spoiled by the expectation of eye-gouging special effects. I’ve believed a man could fly all my life; seeing it no longer impresses me. Much.

This movie impressed me…but not with its showy, summer-movie action scenes. No. Instead, Iron Man outflanked me, scaling the battlements of my cold, critic’s heart by reminding me why I used to drag my ass out of bed a six a.m. on a Sunday morning to watch the Iron Man cartoon that played on the Fox affiliate of my youth. Why, in other words, I liked Iron Man in the first place. {More}