Combustible Celluloid
With: Alex Cox, Niketa Roman, Satish Ratakonda, Harper Taylor, Brynn Taylor, Hans Brekke, Brett Foxwell, Jake Freytag, Harper Gibbons, Tom Gibbons, Tucker Gibbons, Arne Hain, David Lauer, Chris Morley, Alexandre Poncet, Anthony Ruivivar, Talal Selhami (voices)
Written by: Phil Tippett
Directed by: Phil Tippett
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 83
Date: 06/17/2022

Mad God (2022)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Scorched Unearthly

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

You've never seen a film like Mad God. The closet comparable experience I could think of would be seeing Eraserhead or It's Such a Beautiful Day for the first time.

A stop-motion animated feature with no dialogue — only sounds — it is disgusting, disturbing, disquieting, and amazing, and I have very little clue as to what actually happened in it. But I can't remember the last time I saw a film filled with such a potent explosion of sheer imagination. The intricate details seem based on nothing from the real world, but at the same time, they feel unburdened, or perhaps expelled, from the deepest, most fearsome, most hideous corners of the filmmaker's psyche.

The filmmaker is Phil Tippett, who is a legend in the visual effects game. He did the chess game in the original Star Wars. He invented a technique called "go-motion" for the Tauntauns and the Imperial Walkers in The Empire Strikes Back. He did the dragons in Dragonslayer, and he did the ED-209 in Robocop. Famously, he's credited as "dinosaur supervisor" on Jurassic Park. He apparently started Mad God thirty years ago, and, at some point, had a "huge mental breakdown and had to go into a psych ward."

As for the story, a masked figure descends into some kind of hellish, horror world, tries to set off a bomb, is captured, a screaming, hairy baby is removed from his chest cavity, is ground up and turned into a kind of powder, and that powder is sent through a portal to create a new universe. I think. There's a lot more to decipher, of course. This is the kind of film that I may never have the courage to see again, but at the same time, I am dying to see it again.

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