Mad God Written and directed by: Phil Tippett
PLOT: In lieu of a clear and consistent storyline, we are presented with a surrealist montage of hellish scenes which, ultimately, do reveal that this is all happening for a reason.
“The Assassin travels through a nightmare underworld of tortured souls, ruined cities and wretched monstrosities forged from the primordial horrors of the unconscious mind of Phil Tippett, the world’s preeminent stop-motion animator.”
WHY I ENJOYED IT: In this hellish world there is no dialogue necessary, only screams and cries to express the characters’ desires and agonies. I found this much more effective than any written dialogue could have been.
Most of all, I loved the film for its almost Artaud-esque philosophy: this world is dictated by a cosmic cruelty, without which the world would have no purpose. For most characters we see, this cruelty has bound them and, ultimately, destroys them. For some, though, like the assassin, this cruelty results in a spiritual liberation.(spoiler below)
For example: in an incredibly important series of scenes, we find the Assassin bound to a hospital bed. They are cut open, and emptied of not only their organs but their knowledge (represented by books) and their greed/monetary desires (represented by gold). Eventually a writhing, shrieking childlike creature is extracted. The Assassin is reborn. The child is then ground up and tossed into a furnace, where a montage of lights and colours impresses the notion of true transformation, true liberation: the Assassin has been relinquished from their cursed role, from this world of cruelty, and restored to a pure form.
WHO ELSE WILL ENJOY IT: If you are a fan of stop-motion you will find delight in the bizarre, haunting world. Furthermore, if you enjoy being intellectually stimulated as well as repulsed, this is the film for you.
WHO WON’T ENJOY IT: For those hoping for a clear and consistent story typical to horror films this will likely disappoint: this is not your typical horror film.
DO I RECOMMEND IT: Absolutely, I want to watch this over and over again. It is the type of film that rewards repeat viewings, and I think it is important to be exposed to art that pushes the boundaries and forces you to think about what you are engaging with.