Mad God 💼

Finally watched Mad God after giving up hope of seeing it in a theater. It’s very good. I guess some people don’t like that it has no intelligible spoken lines but I’m glad it doesn’t. If not done just right or with a very light touch, talking can easily cheapen a work like this the way some of the jokes do Junk Head (in my opinion).

It’s also worth noting that there isn’t a straightforward narrative. It’s closer to something like The Mind’s Eye or an extra long Brothers Quay thing than a traditional movie. And I have no problem with that.

For anyone not familiar with the writer and director, Phil Tippett is responsible for visual effects in

  • the original Star Wars movies
  • Starship Troopers
  • Robocop
  • Jurassic Park
  • and so on

Mad God took Tippett 30 years to make, with some stops and starts.


There are parts that get a little disturbing or gross, but it’s actually tamer than I’d expected. Maybe I’m too desensitized.

You can watch this movie for free if you sign up for a seven-day trial for that “Shudder” streaming thing (through Amazon or separately). I noticed that the credits included those who worked on “DVD special features” so I guess that’s coming as well.


The reason I created a new topic for this is so we can maybe also discuss other stop-motion animation. For example, I like Bruce Bickford’s work. I first stumbled upon this video, which I found mesmerizing. I eventually ordered the Cas’l’ DVD. This movie took a mere 20 years to make, compared with Mad God’s 30.

The music used in the above video is not actually from the movie, incidentally. It’s this:

I found it more difficult to track down Prometheus’ Garden, which I have not watched yet.


And I mentioned Junk Head in the first post. If you haven’t seen it, don’t let my comment about the jokes dissuade you. It’s very much worth seeing.

I’ve only seen the short version from 2013. The 2017 full movie is finished but as far as I know there is no (legitimate) way to see it at the moment. It’s been years and I don’t actually remember how I saw the short version. It might have simply been on YouTube in its entirety.


I watched Mad God with some friends not too long ago, great stuff but realised it was like three parts from 2013, not the final release that came out in 2021 so I gotta watch that version soon.

Other stop-motion stuff I’ve watched in the past few months, from the great Jan Švankmajer, Jabberwocky, a free-flowing parade of imagination and craft (love the dancing switchblade):

and The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb which was really fun and gross with delightfully uncanny pixilated human actors (originally conceived (and rejected) as a christmas special (hence the few holiday references) for BBC2):


This was a favourite way back in the day via the Encarta-adjacent Microsoft Dinosaurs (1993). Had no idea it was the same guy who brought all those Star Wars critters to life (was probably just getting into those movies around the same time). Still rules.


I was a little surprised at how small the amount was that they requested for the Kickstarter (which I didn’t even know about at the time), but that’s because everyone involved was a volunteer and they just needed to pay for supplies.

It looks like they already produced three separate physical releases for backers, with special features. I can only assume that there will be a combined version with everything but I can’t find any details anywhere.

The only physical merchandise they have at the moment is a small collection of shirts and stickers and things.


Finally saw this dang film tonight. I was on the lookout for certain scenes, like the mountains of dead soldiers, because of how long they took.

I’m not sure if I should interpret some parts literally or figuratively. Or try to ascribe certain meanings behind a lot of the visuals and motifs. I think time is a running theme, there are clocks everywhere, and it seems to be something that haunted Tippet.

Some of the creature designs were very good, and by Very Good I mean very disgusting and disturbing. I haven’t felt disgusted by something like that in a while so I feel like I got what I came for out of it. (Also, I’m someone who liked the Very Terrible Film “Nothing But Trouble” for similar reasons, there’s just something about grotesque hellworlds that I like IDK)

Two of the characters are wearing Crocs which was just really funny to me.


A longer post on Mad God

One of the things I didnt realize I did to cope with trauma was to imagine even more fucked up worlds and scenarios in my head. I think to make the real world less harsh in comparison? But also a fantasy world that reflected parts of my reality of hopelessness, unfairness, cruelty, being trapped, etc. And also in these fantasy worlds, characters escaping and enduring. But also: suffering, a whole lot of suffering.

I don’t think Phil Tippet is using the film to exercise these demons or whatever but it’s certainly in line with some of the stuff I imagine. On an aesthetic level it’s much more different. I think the inherit, endless, and senseless cruelty is there. I think Wayne Barlowe’s Hades/Hell illustrations also come from a similar creative vein. The world is super fucked up, therefore, I will make a super fucked up world because it’s the only thing that makes sense. I think in imagining these worlds you sort of are also, technically, the god of them. Phil is the god of this world and decides what happens, ultimately. So I think this is where the title comes from.

There is a scene like this too in the later part of the film, with that one robed gnome character that has the terrarium. It’s the one pleasant place in the film. He releases a bunch of worms for the mushroom(?) people to eat, then flips a switch for a predator to come in and eat one of them, cackling the whole time.

My interpretation of the baby thing is that it’s a metaphor for one’s inner child. (It’s a child inside the Assassin, ergo…) and when the world finds your inner child it’s only a resource to be exploited, ground up into nothing and turned into literal dust. That is how my career in a creative industry feels like! At least! You use a lot of childhood creativity and imagination to draw from in order to produce something, the world sees this as something to exploit, because they seem to know you want to express yourself so bad you’ll endure whatever.

There is a scene where one of the Lint(?) worker figures is standing over a fire pit, burning up, and their body falls in. And there’s a line of them going in one after another, and I was like “yeah that’s me”. It’s such an apt metaphor for burnout.

I also think Tippet just wants to make gross things because there’s a little childhood fascination with gross things like crawling things and slime, and he didn’t let go of it. One thing that brought me to this was the (depiction of monster) Screaming monster with boobs for testicles that pooped a lot. Which at first made me gasp with how grotesque it was but then I was like “actually this is so gross it’s almost funny”. This is totally a monster someone would draw in a notebook in middle school but now painstakingly brought to full life and realized on screen.

Also the scene where the doctor is cutting up the assassin and splashing blood on the ceiling wraps around from being grotesque to cartoon funny? The medical people wearing crocs, again, is just funny to me. There’s little bits and pieces of the real world that show up in the film which I don’t mind.

One of the Letterboxd reviews said something like “God gives us a map that falls apart” and I was thinking “yeah, he sure does”


I just watched another stop-motion film that I’d been meaning to get around to, The Wolf House. This one blends 2D and 3D animation in a way that I haven’t really seen before on anywhere near this scale. It reminded me a little of some of the experimental animation I saw on Sesame Street as a kid.

Unsettling all the way through, I found myself a little nervous about where the story might go. It’s quiet and calm but relentless. And the animation is consistently mesmerizing.

I really didn’t know much about the real-life historical background going in. Maybe it’s even more a horror movie if you do.


Didn’t like mad god but cannot recommend the wolf house enough, very excited to see whatever they make next.


Physical version coming in December. I hope it has a lot of special features.


Looks like the physical release does indeed have a bunch of making-of content, as I’d hoped. Two days away.

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Big reveal from the commentary was del toro approached phil to adapt in the mountains of madness with stop motion


I got this in the mail yesterday. It might take me a while to get around to the commentary tracks, but I watched all the features. (They are all short.)

One of the interviews reminded me that I still need to get around to watching Karel Zeman’s stuff. Fortunately, most/all of them are on the one streaming platform I have a subscription to (Criterion).

I also thought it was interesting that it was Ray Bradbury who encouraged Phil Tippett to do stop-motion when everyone else asked him to consider how many Ray Harryhausens there are in the world and what the odds are that Tippett could realistically follow that path.

Tippett and others who worked on the film also talked about how it was difficult for them to make the inevitable transition to digital effects. Tippett said he never would have done it had he known he’d be using a computer all day instead of building things.

The only complaint I have about the physical release it that it’s in one of those “steelbook” cases that I always hesitate to throw away (but still ultimately do throw away).


Another thing Tippett talked about in one of the interviews regarding the move to digital effects is the push to always to make things more realistic and perfect, where sometimes practical effects turn out well specifically because of the imperfections and accidents.

One of the reasons I’ve long been annoyed by the recent big-budget movies with lots of effects is that I can’t help thinking about what could be done with serious digital effects if someone with imagination were allowed to do something really surreal or otherwise weird that would not appeal to large audiences. I guess that’s not something we’ll see until such things become cheaper and easier. Fortunately, that seems to be the trend.

Edit: I mean, there was a recent Marvel movie that had “Multiverse of Madness” in its title, which was particularly annoying because you just knew it was going to be safe and boring and by no means live up to that title. (Tell me if by some chance I’m wrong. Of course I didn’t see it.) Can you imagine a movie deserving of a title like that, that’s actually good and has the budget of a Marvel movie?


One of the things I like about Nobuhiko Obayashi is how his practical effects were all very experimental optical effects that didn’t look in any way realistic and were never really meant to, and when he moved to digital he just simply replicated the same visual effects, only now with a computer.



gonna watch these Wednesday with The Tale of the Fox and Junk Head : )

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seeing this on a plane the other day was a nice surprise

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Some behind-the-scenes information about The Wolf House. I guess they worked on it in different places, sometimes in front of an audience as an art installation.