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The new stop-motion horror Guillermo del Toro is calling "genius"


“Ready your eyes. Ready your souls.”

Even though the stop-motion animation sub-genre 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 Svankamjer’s Alice.

Having been in production for 30 years, however, Mad God, from the iconic visual effects artist Phill Tippet, looks to change all that with a terrifying vision of a hellish underworld inhabited by stop-motion ghouls. As detailed on the film’s official website, “Mad God is 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 the initial pieces for the film in the late 1980s, Tippett dropped the project until 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 is currently working its way around film festivals worldwide. With no dialogue aside from the odd grunt, Mad God looks to be a haunting, atmospheric nightmare navigating through a post-apocalyptic landscape of terror. 

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. Having worked on the likes of Jurassic Park, Robocop and even the original Star Wars trilogy, Tippett began on Mad God in 1990 and has been tinkering with the grand scale of the project ever since. 

Finally doing the rounds on the festival circuit, it looks as though Phil Tippett’s grand effort is almost ready to release into the wild, with fans and filmmakers around the world already bathing 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…”. 

With no screenings of Mad God currently being publicised in either the UK or the US, we hope to see Phil Tippetts film burn our retinas in the near future.