Out of the many genres that make up today’s movie industry, horror again and again tops the popularity charts.
Horror, although in existence before the action film and changing shape every decade, continues to surprise and entertain. These past few years alone have brought some incredible titles like “Hellbender,” “The Innocents” and “Prey” that continue to show the versatility and power that the horror genre continues to have. However, out of the massive catalogue of horror films I’ve watched, Phil Tippett’s 2021 film “Mad God” is one of the most memorable, macabre pieces I have ever seen.
Phil Tippett, director of the film, is considered by most in the movie industry to be the greatest stop-motion animator of all time. Tippett’s work can be seen in a multitude of cult classic films like “Robocop,” “Jurassic Park,” “Star Wars” and “Starship Troopers,” among many others. “Mad God” has been 30 years in the making, and the dedication to the grotesque and disturbing permeates throughout the movie.
To put it bluntly; this movie is horrific in every way possible. It’s gross, absurd, super violent, torturous, vulgar and just about anything else you can mention. With that being said, this movie is incredible and an unfathomable technical masterpiece. “Mad God” follows what can only be described as an arcane storyline; the main message and ideas are cryptic and leave the viewer to create their own conclusions. The movie follows a gas-mask wearing protagonist and their journey through an incredible world of lost souls, old-world ruins and disgustingly detailed abominations in order to accomplish some unknown final goal.
Tippett’s skill and dedication to craft really shines in this film, as every set, creature and element is painstakingly hand-crafted and animated using traditional stop-motion. The movie has a heavy emphasis on the primordial, alluding to some higher power or greater significance in the world but never telling the audience what.
A lot of the scenery is based on visuals from World War I: abandoned bunkers, barbed-wire trenches, antique military equipment, etc. Each scene gives a different type of post-apocalyptic aesthetic that blends well in the overall environment but gives the viewer interesting visuals to look at every time.
And that’s where this movie really shines: even though the movie pushes the viewer and can easily leave them sick, the craft is so gorgeous it’s difficult to turn off. “Suffering of the highest magnitude on repeat. Like a car crash. It’s horrible, but you can’t look away,” writes one reviewer.
Overall, this movie is far from what would be considered a cult-classic film like one of Phil Tippett’s numerous other works. It’s too special for that treatment. “Mad God” is in an unholy class of its own in the horror genre, showing unprecedented amounts of sophistication yet displaying insurmount- able amounts of depravity. I can garner no real message from this movie, other than I should be very, very afraid of what Tippett’s mind looks like.
This movie is an incredibly complex masterpiece as much as it is a disgusting torture-fueled nightmare. I highly recommend the film — if you have the stomach for it.
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