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Witness the future of magic at a special 35mm screening of WIZARDS

Ralph Bakshi's animated epic turns 35 this year. Celebrate the film's anniversary with a 35mm sreening of WIZARDS at West Oaks on Saturday, February 11. Advanced tickets now on sale.

Witness the future of magic at a special 35mm screening of WIZARDS

Ralph Bakshi has been in retirement for all intents and purposes since 1997’s Spicy City, an animated series for HBO that beat South Park by several weeks to become the first weekly cartoon aimed entirely at adult audiences. Since 2002, Bakshi has settled into a peaceful routine painting in the mountains of New Mexico.

35 years ago, though, Bakshi was considered a dangerous animator. Fresh from the success of his X-rated animated film Fritz the Cat and still smarting from the public backlash that followed the release of Coonskin, a raw and angry animated film exploring race through the Song of the South-esque adventures of a boozing, murderous gang of anthropomorphic animals.

Bakshi’s follow-up film Hey Good Lookin’ was stuck in limbo due to creative disputes with Warner Brothers (the film would sit on a shelf for seven years and undergo a complete metamorphosis from a live-action/animated hybrid into an almost completely animated film that remains unavailable on DVD to this day). He needed to stretch his creative legs and he needed to tackle something that would show audiences he wasn’t just capable of street films and “pornography,” a word his harshest critics loved to oh-so-inaccurately throw around.

Deciding to tackle a genre that had long fascinated him, Ralph Bakshi made Wizards, a sprawling fantasy epic that was set on a future Earth ravished by nuclear war and overrun by magic. A pair of wizard brothers are set against one another in war (the original title for the film was War Wizards before George Lucas asked him to change the name due to the fact Star Wars was scheduled for release a couple of months later).

Wizards is high-fantasy — with legions of goblins, dragons and fairies — but is also firmly rooted in the politics of its day. The film’s bad guy — a skeletal sorcerer named Blackwolf -- digs up ancient Nazi propaganda to help whip his army of mutants into frenzy and attack the peace-loving followers of Avatar, a curmudgeonly wizard voiced by Bob Holt. The movie was light and fluffy, sexy and startlingly bleak — exactly the type of family friendly film you’d expect from Ralph Bakshi.

On February 11, the Alamo Drafthouse — West Oaks in Houston, Texas will screen Wizards from a 35mm print. In preparation of the screening, I chatted with Ralph Bakshi over the phone to discuss the film, its legacy and why he turned to rotoscoping. You can read the full interview over at Badass Digest.

Saturday, February 11 @ 7:30 PM — West Oaks

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