Mad God is a nightmare-made film. Quite literally so, as director Phil Tippett, one of the most renowned animators and special effects artists in American film history, confessed that his long-awaited movie was inspired by a nightmare he repeatedly made as a child. It is, therefore, a movie that goes down the depths of imagination, takes all its most grotesque productions, and joins them all into a magnificent, awe-inspiring whole.

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Mad God was a long-awaited movie that was 30 years in the making: initiated in 1987 by Phil Tippett and was abandoned in the ’90s when Tippett and his studio switched from stop-motion and animatronics to digital animation and special effects. It was reinitiated years later, as some of Tippett’s collaborators convinced him to get back to it. In the last decade, information and clips from the movie have slowly come out, with it finally being completed today thanks to a Kickstarter campaign. The film has no official release date yet. It is just circulating in festivals; it is such a strange and experimental object that it is hard to believe it will be widely distributed and circulated anyhow.

The best way to describe Mad God would be that it is a monster. By “monster,” here, I mean something indefinite, whose nature cannot be determined but is instead made up of the addition of elements that weren’t initially supposed to come together. This hybridity is first technical: the movie seamlessly combines traditional stop-motion, animatronics, digital effects and compositing, and live-action actors. In that sense, it is indeed the culmination of Tippett’s career as a visual effects artist; it also showcases his ability as a creator, a person capable of conjuring new forms and beings.

Indeed, the movie is incredibly intense and diverse. While there is a semblance of narrative continuity, it is essentially an excuse to present a series of views and universes in a Lovecraftian version of Alice in Wonderland that would have bred with Tetsuo. Rife with biblical, satanic and pagan imagery, as well as many references to movies Tippett worked on (or have inspired him), it is a procession of strange creatures and the exploration of an absurd world ruled by violence, death and excretions. It is the greatest strength of stop-motion movies such as this where the objects that are animated are often common, material objects that have been repurposed and animated: blocks of wood, various tools, discarded bits of metal or fabric, all put together and remodeled to conform to an artistic vision. This is, therefore, a movie about objects, about matter. Especially live matter as it lives, eats, vomits, defecates, kills, and is killed. For that very reason, it is not a movie for everyone, as it takes the viewer by the guts, eats them, and spits them out in a gloriously bizarre spectacle. It is an atmospheric movie, relying on the pure audiovisual experience and expecting them to be as intense as possible.

Upon viewing Mad God, it may be easy or tempting to try and decode its imagery and interpret it in detail to extract some deeper meaning. But doing such would probably be missing the point of a movie that wants to go as far as possible in the darkness of the psyche and the actions of the flesh, whose only goal is to provoke the rawest, primal, and powerful feelings of horror and beauty.

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