[Retro Bunker] The Railway Dragon (1989)

Might it be safe now for dragons?

Once upon a time, there was a little Canadian animation studio known as Lacewood Productions. They are probably best known, if they are known at all, for some work they did on Ren and Stimpy. They began, however, with a half-hour long animated film called The Railway Dragon. As claims to fame go, it may not be much, but sometime when I was younger, my mom taped it when it came on TV, and it has become one of those little pieces of visual comfort food that I can still turn to when I need a break from adult stress.

This sweet little film keeps popping into my consciousness, as Scotland is positively lousy with magpies, and as local superstition dictates, they are pointed out and greeted with a salute or a wave to help ward off the bad luck they indicate when they appear alone. I didn’t grow up with this superstition, or with magpies for that matter, but I did grow up with The Railway Dragon. In it, the eponymous wyrm is old and cranky, with the voice of a salty old sailor. Every time I see a magpie, all I can think of are his words as he chases away the one who always tries to steal bits of treasure from his horde. “Thieving mag-pirate!” he shouts, shaking a fist after the retreating bird.

My search to obtain a new copy of the cartoon has been virtually fruitless, and even more futile is the search for its sequel – The Birthday Dragon. However, some kind soul has put The Railway Dragon in its entirety in a series of three YouTube videos. Since Lacewood Productions was acquired or shut down or otherwise driven into obscurity sometime in the 1990′s, I doubt anyone will shut these videos down, unless hell freezes over and Leslie Nielsen, who narrates the cartoon, wants to make a fuss about his residuals.

For now, anyway, thanks to the Internet, you too can join Emily, the little red-haired girl on her first adventure with the dragon, though none of the grown-ups will believe either of you. They just don’t make ‘em like this anymore.

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