At 3:00 pm on Friday, I had the pleasure of viewing a panel/screening of Visual Effects legend Phil Tippett’s short film “Mad God, Part 1.” Begun in 1990, “Mad God” is ostensibly about an assassin sneaking through hostile territory in order to accomplish a mission, but is in fact a surreal descent into the darkest depths of the human Id. Rendered entirely through stop-motion animation, the film is a cascade of bizarre and terrifying sights, presenting a grotesque world of machines, monsters and madness.
Before the actual screening, writers Greg Beville and Paul M. Sammon talked at length about the project and Tippett himself. Sammon, who has known Tippett for over 40 years, talked about how they were both inspired by the works of stop-motion master Ray Harryhausen, who created the fantastic visions of films such as “Mighty Joe Young” and “The 7th Voyage of Sinbad.”After this, the film began. I found it to be breathtaking, full of images both nightmarish and strangely beautiful, and completely devoid of dialogue. References to many different works of science-fiction were scattered about (such as a broken down Robbie the Robot), and the look of the film clearly drew from films Tippett has worked on, such as Terminator and Robocop. When the lights came up, the theater was drowned in unanimous applause.
Funded through Kickstarter, “Mad God, Part 1” is an amazing and terrifying experience, a truly unique look into the face of horror. Tippett has described it as a kind of waking dream, with the viewer bringing the meaning of it with them. Sammon said that Tippett still has the same spark he had as a young man, and it shows: with “Mad God, Part 2” having been successfully funded, I eagerly await another chance to plunge into his vision of horror.
More information about Mad God is available here, including options for purchasing the film.