“Ready your eyes. Ready your souls,” reads the tagline for Phill Tippet’s latest horror show Mad God, a manic stop-motion gore-fest that’s been 30 years in the making.
From the iconic visual effects artist who worked on such films as RoboCop, Jurassic Park and Return of the Jedi, Mad God looks to take viewers down into a terrifying vision of a hellish underworld inhabited by stop-motion ghouls.
Even though the stop-motion animation art form lends itself to the surreal, hand-sculpted horrors of one’s boundless imagination, it is rare to see the art form being used to influence the genre. This is likely because stop-motion is a long and expensive form of filmmaking, with some of the finest examples of its use in horror appearing in short-form like in the anthology film The ABCs of Death or used only partially like in the weird world of Jan Švankamajer’s Alice.
Mad God is the film due to change this perception with the official website for Tippet’s animation detailing, “a fully practical stop-motion film set in a Miltonesque world of monsters, mad scientists, and war pigs. In 1987, legendary visual effects and stop-motion craftsman Phil Tippett embarked upon an ambitious personal project, fabricating and animating a darkly surreal world in which the creatures and nightmares of his imagination could roam free”.
Having shot several initial sequences for the film in the late 1980s, Tippett dropped the project, only picking it up in the mid-2000s when he would launch a Kickstarter campaign to finish the film. This campaign resulted in three short films of the Mad God universe that make up only about half of the 82-minute film that was made with no dialogue aside from the odd grunt,
Navigating through a post-apocalyptic landscape of terror, Mad God looks to be a haunting, atmospheric nightmare. Though, whilst the film is made up mostly of visuals, there is a loose story that underlines the terror, with the plot following a steampunk ‘assassin’ donning a gas mask and large overalls who descends into the land searching for an unknown relic. Traversing several elaborate landscapes whilst evading hellspawn of various shapes, sizes and forms.
The Oscar-winning visual effects artist has enjoyed an illustrious career, with fans hoping that his latest project, and debut feature film, will be his pièce de résistance. Only recently finishing the rounds on the festival circuit, Phil Tippett’s grand effort is finally ready to be released into the wild, coming to the streaming service Shudder on June 16th after fans and filmmakers around the world have already bathed in the film’s mad glory.
Such filmmakers include the master of fantasy and lover of creature features, Guillermo del Toro, who has long championed visionary works of science fiction. As del Toro excitedly announced on Twitter after seeing Tippett’s film, “Phil is a genius! And one of the very best that ever graced the medium – watch this”.
Take a look at the trailer for Mad God, below and revel in its surreal glory.