Fear(s) of the Dark (2007)

Lovely MollyFear(s) of the Dark (French title: Peur(s) du noir) is a 2007 animated anthology with one-shot stories, all made in black & white. The recurring theme in all episodes are primarily fear, whether it is for real or imagined things. Several prominent illustrators have contributed with their work for this release.

 

Charles Burns (known for his graphic novel Black Hole) provides the story of a shy man who ends up becoming prey for a very attractive woman, who proves to be something completely different than what she pretends to be. Jerry Kramsky and Lorenzo Mattotti’s episode is a mystery-fueled story about people going missing in the nearby swamps. Blutch has an episode that is split up in parts and shown throughout the movie, where a man walks his bloodthirsty dogs, which in every segment attack people who are unfortunate enough to be in their way. Marie Caillou and Romain Slocombe lets their episode play out in Japan, where you’re told the story of 11-year old Sumako who keeps waking up in a mental institution, gets a shot by some doctor and quickly falls asleep again, where she keeps dreaming about her past. Richard McGuire and Michel Pirus provides an episode about a man seeking shelter in an abandoned house, and ends up becoming increasingly paranoid by the building’s many sounds, and he also finds an old photo album from the previous owners which makes his imagination go wild. And at last, Pierre Di Sciullo has small contributions with abstract animations which deals with several human fears, phobias and prejudices.

 

As you can probably guess from the descriptions of the several segments, Fear(s) of the Dark is a very mixed experience, but in a good way. Each episode has a notably different style, but overall there’s always a very effective use of shadows and angles which intensify the imminent feeling of fear and paranoia. The impact each episode will have on you will likely depend on your own personal fears and phobias. The story from Charles Burns, for example, of a young man’s first experience with love and lust which ends up evolving into obsession and horror, is both creepy and weird with some rather bizarre elements. Personally I found the segment by Richard McGuire and Michel Pirus to be most impactful for me, where you follow the man who seeks shelter in the abandoned house and can almost feel the fear and paranoia he feels while wandering the house’s dark rooms, feeling that he’s not alone.

 

Overall, all the episodes are well made and makes for a very interesting watch, and a nice entry into animated horror.

 

 

Fear(s) of the Dark Fear(s) of the Dark Fear(s) of the Dark

 

Director: Blutch, Charles Burns, Marie Caillou, Pierre Di Sciullo, Lorenzo Mattotti, Richard McGuire
Writers: Blutch, Charles Burns, Pierre Di Sciullo, Jerry Kramski, Richard McGuire, Michel Pirus, Romain Slocombe
Original title: Peur(s) du noir
Country & year: France, 2007
Voice actors: Gil Alma, Aure Atika, François Creton, Guillaume Depardieu, Sarah-Laure Estragnat, Nicolas Feroumont, Nicole Garcia, Arthur H., Christian Hecq
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0792986/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unicorn Wars (2022)

Unicorn WarsOnce upon a time, the unicorns lived together with the bears in a magical forest. But one day, the bears found a sacred book in the ruins of a church, which gave them knowledge to form their own civilization. The bears, evolving into “teddy bears”, wanted to cultivate the forest but this caused the unicorns to retaliate. In the end, the bears lost and were exiled from the forest. This all lead to an ongoing war between the unicorns and the bears, where the bears have started to believe that drinking the blood of the last unicorn will make God return to the forest.

 

In present time, we follow a troop of recruits including the twin brothers Gordi and Azulin (“Tubby” and “Bluey”). While Gordi is a chubby and gentle person, Azulin is narcissistic and filled with jealousy and rage, often picking fights with the other troop members. One day, the camp’s leaders send the troop into the forest to look for a missing squad, which leads them all into a beautiful but deathly place. Here, they do not only meet with the threat of the unicorns, but also the nature which they no longer feel accustomed to, and threats are everywhere, including amongst themselves.

 

Unicorn Wars is a 2022 Spanish-French animated splatter war film (yes, you read that right) and the second animated feature film by Alberto Vazquez. It is also based on a short, called Unicorn Blood (Sangre de Unicornio). While his first feature film, Birdboy (co-directed by Pedro Rivero) is more gloomy and downbeat, this one takes everything to the max with full-on splatter scenes and deaths by the dozens, all combined with absolutely beautiful visuals. The opening scene, where a lost unicorn is searching for its mother and comes upon the ruins of the old church which contains a shape-shifting monster, is brilliantly animated and gave me a little bit of Princess Mononoke-vibes. At this point I’ll assume that parents who put this movie on by mistake already got a clear warning that this ain’t no kids movie. And like in Birdboy, the characters who might appear to be simple in style are very full of life with detailed expressions. The colours are vibrant and makes everything quite captivating for the eyes, and even the gory scenes are very pretty in their own way. Yes, you also read that right.

 

While some might read the description of this movie at places where the gore is in main focus, they might end up thinking this is some kind of full-length Happy Tree Friends or something, but it’s not just all about gore and it’s oftentimes both dark and gritty. Not unlike Birdboy, the movie does have a lot of dark themes which includes not only the dark sides of war and propaganda, but also family issues, narcissism, and sibling jealousy. While Unicorn Wars is having more dark comedy elements and at times feels a little more lighthearted through some of its scenes, it becomes quickly obvious through all the graphic violence and the excessive extent to which the film actually takes it, that this is a dark and twisted anti-war tale where barely anyone is truly innocent, and the little innocence that exists is quickly corrupted or swiped away. Both Catholicism and war is loudly criticised here, and while Vazquez’s inspirations likely came from many things, he does seem to have an apparent affection for “war is hell” movies.

 

Unicorn Wars, with its enchanting visuals, gore and philosophical themes, is both gruesome in its violence but at the same time quite mesmerizing to watch. And it certainly does not hold back on the gore. There’s something rather fascinating about watching adorable anthropomorphized characters in such dark and edgy situations…like watching the Care Bears go into a bloody war with My Little Pony…

 

Unicorn Wars Unicorn Wars Unicorn Wars

 

 

Writer and director: Alberto Vázquez
Country & year:
Spain, France, 2022
Voice actors:
Jon Goiri, Jaione Insausti, Ramón Barea, Txema Regalado, Manu Heras, Gaizka Soria, Iker Diaz, Estívaliz Lizárraga, Pedro Arrieta, Alberto Vázquez, Rosa María Romay
IMDb:
www.imdb.com/title/tt10483152/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Birdboy: The Forgotten Children (2015)

Birdboy: The Forgotten ChildrenOn an island inhabited by different talking animals, the building of a factory and its explosion caused the once thriving fishing community to become a devastated and barren place. Birdman, who once used to tend the island’s lighthouse and now appears to be struggling providing for himself and his son Birdboy, becomes suspected of trafficking drugs, and is eventually shot dead. Instead of drugs, however, they find a satchel on him which contains golden acorns.

 

Birdboy, growing up without his father and living alone, desperately tries to fight his inner demons by taking drugs which he buys from a piglet who owns a fishing boat. Meanwhile, Dinky, a young mouse who is having some kind of romantic relationship with Birdboy finds herself struggling after her father’s death, where her stepfather, a Christian fundamentalist, keeps controlling their family and constantly excoriate her for her so-called “misbehaviour”. Together with Sandra the rabbit and Little Fox, they plan to get away from the island, but need money for their escape. They’ve heard stories about the older brother of someone who is said to have left the island and now lives a happy life, and they are determined to get away themselves. Dinky also wants to persuade Birdboy to come with them.

 

Birdboy: The Forgotten Children (Psiconautas, los niños olvidados) aka Psychonauts, The Forgotten Children is an adult animated horror-drama film from 2015, written and directed by Alberto Vázquez and Pedro Rivero. In 2016 it won the Best Animated Feature price at the Goya Awards. It is based on a comic called Psiconautas by Vázquez, and works as a follow-up to their short film called Birdboy. And despite this movie starring talking animals, don’t expect for a second to find any kind of Looney Tunes vibes here, it’s a nihilistic coming-of-age story which is gloomy as hell but at the same time gorgeous to watch. The characters, despite appearing a bit simple, are brought to life with detailed expressions. The dark and macabre elements including drugs, addiction, violence, depression, the darkness within us and a rotten corrupted society in complete denial are all embraced in a way that turns it into something dark and decayed yet not bereft of beauty. While we follow Birdboy’s and Dinky’s adventures somewhat separately, we soon realize that despite all of Birdboy’s struggles, he’s actually maintaining a little isolated spot in a grotto, where he plants golden acorns which makes the little place grow and thrive like in the old days.

 

There are also some partly surrealistic scenes with a weird (and annoying) talking robot-clock, a bleeding Jesus doll and the demons constantly attacking Birdboy which are obvious metaphors for his anxiety/depression/troubles, aka “inner demons” which he tries to suppress with drugs (and we all know that such a strategy never works in the long run). Birdboy and Dinky, while both struggling with their own problems, each come off different in their ways of handling things. Dinky sees escape as the only option, while Birdboy, despite all his troubles, manages to create a small place in his life for growth and solace. While the world the film represents appears to be without hope, there is a message both within (and at the end) which clearly states that running away from problems isn’t the answer, and in order to attain happiness you can create and seek beauty from your current state. But, of course, Birdboy is pretty much the only character who manages this to some extent, as pretty much all the other characters are struggling with their own inner demons, fears and ailments (like the piglet, who has a bedridden mother struggling from addiction, which manifests itself as a talking spider, and Sandra the rabbit who keeps hearing voices inside her head, trying to force her to do terrible things). Vãzquez himself stated in an interview that the story itself is very much a metaphor about life, portraying the end of childhood as these kids have to face a new world. “The characters have to face a new world and they don’t like the world. They have to rebuild it again — that’s why the characters think about running away,” Vázquez explains. “In life you can’t run away that easily. And we have to come back to our island and fix it up a little bit.” Rivero also commented on the film’s dark themes, stating “I see life as just a mix — sometimes we have dark; sometimes we have light. Just because you work with darkness doesn’t mean your life is dark. It’s because these are themes that are interesting. It touches everybody. But it is not good to take it into your personal life.

 

Birdboy: The Forgotten Children is a passionately made and intellectually challenging “animation for grown-ups”, with its beautifully animated nihilism giving an impactful visual and emotional experience.

 

Birdboy: The Forgotten Children Birdboy: The Forgotten Children Birdboy: The Forgotten Children

 

Writers and directors: Pedro Rivero, Alberto Vázquez
Original title:
Psiconautas, los niños olvidados
Country & year:
Spain, Japan, 2015
Voice actors:
Andrea Alzuri, Eba Ojanguren, Josu Cubero, Félix Arcarazo, Jorge Carrero, Nuria Marín, Josu Varela, Jon Goiri, Maribel Legarreta, Iker Diez, Juan Carlos Loriz, Kepa Cueto
IMDb:
www.imdb.com/title/tt5004766/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mad God (2021)

Mad GodA character wearing a gas mask, The Assasin, descends into a hellish world filled with devastation and mayhem. With him on his dark journey into a dystopian nightmarish world, he’s got a map and a suitcase, and while traveling deeper and deeper he encounters several monstrous creatures. Filth, death, war, despair and, well, hellish surroundings are all over the place.

 

Mad God is a stop motion horror film which was written, directed and produced by Phil Tippet. The film was in production over a period of thirty years. Tippet started filming it while working on Robocop 2, but when he became involved in Jurassic Park this set the film on hiatus. Originally, Jurassic Park was supposed to have stop motion dinosaurs, but after Spielberg saw some CGI work of a T.rex, he told Tippett: “You’re out of a job”. To which Tippett replied, “Don’t you mean extinct?”. This was even referenced in Jurassic Park, where Dr. Grant says “Looks like you’re out of a job” to Dr. Malcolm”, and he replies “Don’t you mean extinct?”. Anyhow, Tippett was still kept as supervisor for the CGI animation of the dinosaurs, so at least he wasn’t really out of a job… but due to the change during his involvement in this film he believed that stop motion was now a thing from the past, and because of this he shelved the Mad God project. Which is a sad thought, really, as many stop-motion effects from some older films can look really good, and often better than many of the early CGI effects used. Even now, I think there are some movies whose practical effects look greater than some of the modern CGI of today…

 

In spite of all that, Mad God got pulled out of hiatus-status twenty years later, when members of his studio encouraged him to start working on it again. And with a successful Kickstarter campaign, and a crew of volunteers to assist him, Mad God came into fruition at last.

 

And what kind of movie is Mad God, exactly? Well…I dare say you’ve never seen anything quite like it before. We start off with a scene depicting the destruction of The Tower of Babel, and then we see a citation from Leviticus 26, which reads as follows:

“If you disobey Me and remain hostile to Me, I will act against you in wrathful hostility. I, for My part, will discipline you sevenfold for your sins. You shall eat the flesh of your sons and the flesh of your daughters. I will destroy your cult places and cut down your incense stands, and I will heap your carcasses upon your lifeless idols. I will spurn you. I will lay your cities in ruin and make your sanctuaries desolate and I will not savor your pleasing odors. I will make the land desolate so that your enemies who settle it shall be appalled by it. And you I will scatter among the nations and I will unsheath the sword against you. Your land shall become a desolation and your cities a ruin”.

Yeah…that’s the words of a Mad God indeed, one that is truly pissed off. Or just completely deranged. And we get to see a world that is actively punished by this mad god.

 

Aside from that, there isn’t much of a story to cling to here, although one can clearly see the statement about our world and its condition. There are several segments which are obvious metaphors for certain human behaviour, and you can probably dissect and analyze so many parts that are shown here. Mostly, though, it’s a film that is mainly enjoyed due to its visuals and dark content. There’s so many weird and absurd things happening on screen, everything from things that are disgusting and gross, to the weird and uncanny, to pure nightmare-fuel. There’s also a bit of blood and gore, and other stomach-churning stuff. There’s even a scene (although somewhat obscured) where Putin is taking Trump from behind while Hitler is watching. Jeez. Creatures are chopped into pieces, eaten, tortured, and everything is just filled with decay, debauchery and general ghastliness.

 

Mad God is definitely not a film for everyone’s tastes. Some will find it a nonsensical and gross mess, while others will enjoy the dark, surreal, nihilistic atmosphere and awesome special effects (Horror Ghouls belonging to the latter group of people).

 

Mad God is available on Shudder (for those who live in a country where this is accessible. We live in Norway, where Shudder is not available, though we were lucky enough to get one of the few copies of the film on DVD).

 

Mad God Mad God Mad God

 

 

Writer and director: Phil Tippett
Country & year: USA, 2021
Actors: 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
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt15090124/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Memories (1995)

Memories (aka Otomo Katsuhiro’s Memories) is an animated science fiction anthology film from 1995, and it is based on three of Katsuhiro Otomo’s short manga stories: Magnetic Rose, Stink Bomb, and Cannon Fodder. While Katsuhiro is best known for his work on Akira (both the manga and the movie), he does have other works that are worthy of recognition, and Memories is one of them. Since there are three segments, I’ll write about each of them separately:

 

MAGNETIC ROSE:

The crew at The Corona, a deep space salvage freighter, encounters a distress signal while out on a mission. They decide to respond to it, and come upon a spaceship graveyard orbiting a giant space station. Intrigued, they want to take a closer look, and once inside, they are met with a splendor of European interior and furnished rooms showing various states of decay…almost like a haunted house in space. The ship belonged to a opera diva named Eva Friedel, who disappeared after her fiancé was murdered. They split up in order to find the source of the distress signal, and start experiencing what could be perceived as paranormal encounters, like strange noises and visions…

 

Magnetic Rose is the longest of the three segments, and I guess the best description would be that it’s a little bit of Event Horizon mixed with a haunted house tale, and it’s my favorite of the three. The artwork of the ship’s interior, together with the atmospheric setting and eerie vibe throughout makes this a solid science fiction ghost story. It’s chilling, beautiful and filled with all the right ingredients for a spooky story.

 

 

STINK BOMB:

Nobuo Tanaka is working at a lab, but feels really down as he’s battling a bad case of the flu. He mistakes some experimental pills for being cold pills (which are, in fact, part of a biological weapon program). He takes one, and soon develops a deadly body odor which kills everyone in the laboratory (except himself, of course). Not realizing what’s going on, he reports the incident to the headquarters, who instructs him to deliver the experimental drug to Tokyo. Upon traveling there, his body odor grows stronger and kills everything in his path…

 

Stink Bomb, with its pretty absurd premise, goes in a very different route from the more serious and chilling segment Magnetic Rose. This is absurd comedy hour all over, and strangely upbeat as you see both humans and animals drop dead as the confused and horrified Nobuo keeps going in order to complete his mission. It’s funny and weird, utilizing its dark humour pretty well.

 

 

CANNON FODDER:

In a walled in city which considers itself to be constantly at war, everyone’s livelihood depends on maintaining the enormous cannons which are placed all over the place. We follow the story of a young boy and his father, who works as a cannon loader. And while the city constantly fills their news regarding “successful bombings” of the “enemy”, there actually exists no evidence of any of this…or any evidence of there actually being an enemy at all.

 

Cannon Fodder is the segment which differs most in art style, with the characters being drawn with what is a little reminiscent of the “Animal Crossing”-style red triangle noses. But it’s also the segment which, although not providing any overt horror, gives most food for thought. It’s a story about a city and its people, constantly riled up with fear over that horrible and dangerous “enemy” that they constantly need to battle…except there is no evidence for this enemy’s existence whatsoever, other than what their local media is telling their citizens. It’s a grim depiction of how people can be misled by their leaders into a war against something that doesn’t even provide a threat…

 

 

Overall, Memories is holding up really well despite its age. The animation is fluid and visually mesmerizing, as well as hauntingly beautiful, and each segment provides a different yet captivating experience.

 

 

Directors: Kôji Morimoto, Tensai Okamura, Katsuhiro Ôtomo
Writers: Satoshi Kon, Katsuhiro Ôtomo
Original Title: Memorîzu
Country & year: Japan, 1995
Voice actors: Shigeru Chiba, Hisao Egawa, Kayoko Fujii, Nobuaki Fukuda, Ami Hasegawa, Isamu Hayashi, Yu Hayashi, Michio Hazama, Masato Hirano, Hideyuki Hori, Hiroaki Ishikawa, Takkô Ishimori, Tomoko Ishimura, Tsutomu Isobe
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0113799/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Perfect Blue (1997)

perfect blueMimarin Kirigoe is a J-Pop star who decides to leave her group (“Cham”) in order to pursue a life as an actress. But her life takes on a quick turn for the worse after this decision, and Mimarin starts losing her grip on reality. An online fansite of her appears, describing things from her life in such detail, and in such a personal way, that the only person who could know about these things is herself…and she is constantly confronted with sightings of her alter-ego: the Mimarin who wanted to remain a pop-star. While struggling with differentiating between fantasy and reality in her now paranoid existence, people around her gets murdered.

 

Perfect Blue is more or less what you would get if you decided to mix anime, David Lynch, Hitchcock, and a dose Dario Argento. The result is an animated psychological thriller that works incredibly well. You get your eyes as well as your brain cells stimulated, and you never know exactly which of Mimarin’s experiences are rooted in reality, and what happens only inside of her fragmented head.

 

Satoshi Kon (R.I.P.) knows how to build a story of this type, something he’s proven time and time again (like in Paprika, Paranoia Agent, Millennium Actress, etc.) Building a story where you’ll witness a character’s gradually broken psyche can easily be a difficult task, where you’re supposed to make it a bit confusing and mystical, while also making sure the viewer doesn’t get thrown off completely. The reason Satoshi Kon for the most part does this very well, is probably because he doesn’t seem to give a damn whether the viewer pays attention to everything or not. He’s got a story to tell, and he tells it the way he thinks best. If the viewer loses track, it’s due to not paying proper attention. When the director gives himself a free reign like that, he also avoids any tedious “spoon-feeding”. The result is a movie that is rare in many ways, and can be perceived as both exciting and surprising along the ride.

 

The violence is executed in a very effective way, and the animation (although it could be perceived by some as a little bit outdated today) is holding up to a good standard. Facial expressions, body language and movements look natural, and fits the situations the characters find themselves in. The music also fits very well, where you make transitions from the cheesy and lively J-Pop music from Cham, to the more action-filled and sometimes ominous music score in the other scenes. This makes the atmosphere successfully creepy.

 

When it comes to the movie’s conclusion, you may sit back with a feeling of thinking that this choice was a tad bit too easy. Not that the ending is predictable – far from it – but there’s something about the otherwise complexity of the rest of the movie that kind of warranted a bit more complex ending as well. Still, it’s at least good that the movie decided to let the viewer have a proper explanation without a lot of loose threads.

 

Simply put, Perfect Blue is a well done anime psycho-thriller that is likely to hold on to being a classic for a good time to come.

 

Perfect Blue Perfect Blue

 

Director: Satoshi Kon
Original title: Pâfekuto burû
Country & year: Japan, 1994
Voice actors: Junko Iwao, Rica Matsumoto, Shinpachi Tsuji, Masaaki Ôkura, Yôsuke Akimoto, Yoku Shioya, Hideyuki Hori, Emi Shinohara, Masashi Ebara, Kiyoyuki Yanada, Tôru Furusawa, Shiho Niiyama, Emiko Furukawa, Aya Hara, Shin’ichirô Miki
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0156887/

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Resurrection Corporation (2021)

Resurrection CorporationDottor Caligari is an undertaker who finds himself in an existential crisis since no burials are taking place in the city anymore. Why? Because “Resurrection Corporation”, a company run by a man named Potriantow, has found a way to bring the dead back to life. Caligari and his companion Bruta, a loyal young woman whose heart is a clockwork-mechanism which Caligari himself has inserted into her, decide to find out more about Potriantow and his death-defying business who has turned Caligari’s life and ambitions upside down. They visit the castle of Potriantow’s supposed mentor, but soon find themselves facing unexpected dangers.

 

Resurrection Corporation is an indie black and white animated movie from Italy, which pays an inspiring homage to films like The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari, Nosferatu, Der Golem and Vampyr. The movie was completed in 2020, which fits perfectly with the 100th anniversary of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. It mixes Gothic expressionism with comedy, and oh boy, does it get crazy at times! The director, Alberto Genovese, is also behind a Troma-distributed film called Sick Sock Monsters From Outer Space, which from the trailer looks so mind-blowingly hilarious that we decided we just have to check it out sometime.

 

The animation is reminiscent of the South Park-style, which probably sounds a bit weird considering this is actually a pretty dark and atmospheric movie despite the comedic parts in it… but together with the more detailed and surreal backgrounds it actually fits pretty well. The voice acting is overall engaging and solid (we watched the Italian version). The protagonist, Dottor Caligari, is pretty much a very self-centered man who, to be honest, comes off as a bit of an asshole… in contrast to his companion Bruta, who comes off as the most sympathetic character in the whole movie. This does make for some interesting character interactions, and the viewing experience was anything but predictable.

 

Overall, Resurrection Corporation is a fun and unique ride, with amusing characters, a crazy plot, and a music score that together with the atmospheric graphics manages to set the tone in all the scenes. It is an inspired indie animated feature that pays homage to several black and white classics, while adding its own bizarre comedic elements.

 

Resurrection Corporation is currently available on streaming on Amazon (US and UK).

 

Resurrection Corporation Resurrection Corporation

 

Director: Alberto Genovese
Country & year: Italy, 2021
Voice actors: Antonio Amoruso, Alessandro Bianchi, Eliana Farinon Lazzarino, Erik Martini, Paola Masciadri, Marco Soldá
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt9890120/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Felidae (1994)

FelidaeFrancis, a tomcat, moves to a new neighborhood with his owner, and quickly gets involved in a series of cat murders that’s been going on for some time. He meets a local cat named Bluebeard, who shows Francis one of the recent victims. Bluebeard is convinced that “can-openers” (cat slang for “humans”) are behind these murders, but Francis disagrees and takes it upon himself to investigate this further. As he delves further into the mystery, Francis comes upon more mutilated cat corpses, a cat suicide club, a blind feline, and old VHS tapes featuring brutal experimentation performed on cats by crazy scientists. Francis tries to put all the pieces together in order to solve the mystery and find the culprit, while also suffering from terrifying nightmares.

 

Horror/thriller movies come in all forms, and animation is absolutely no exception. While some animated thrillers have become more and more known over the years (especially some anime classics like for example Perfect Blue) there are others that have been kept more obscured. So when opening the Animated Horror section here on Horror Ghouls, we thought it would be fun to start with a feature we expect few of you have heard of before: the German neo-noir cat thriller Felidae!

 

Now, don’t let Felidae’s cover fool you, this is absolutely no film for kids. While animated movies have never really been something that was supposed to only be aimed for kids, and have often targeted an adult audience, it’s a very common belief among a lot of people to believe that “cartoons are for children” (although those people are very, very wrong…but there are people out there who believe “Disney” is a synonym for “animation“, so what can you do). If a parent unwittingly brought this one home for their children to watch under the presumption it would be a kid flick, I hope the majority of them were smart enough to switch it off as soon as the first murder appears on the screen (which is pretty early in the movie). If not…well, then those kids ended up watching an animated film with nightmarish dream sequences featuring mutilated dead cats on puppet strings, mutilated cat corpses, horrible experiments done on cats, and scenes with Kama Sutra pictures on the walls. Oh, and a somewhat cheesy sex scene, of course. Much of the film’s murder plot would probably not be easily comprehended by children anyway…I doubt many 7-year olds would understand the film’s references to acts committed by the Nazis during the Holocaust, for example. Felidae is purely intended for adults.

 

Felidae

 

Felidae was directed by Michael Schaack, and based on a novel by the same name written by Akif Pirinçci. This animated feature from 1994 has pretty decent animation, and especially the “puppetmaster” nightmare scene is quite awesome with its stylish animation (which appears a bit different from the rest of the film, and thus makes it stand out). There are a lot of scenes that are beautiful to watch, with atmospheric painted backgrounds. The character design is…interesting, in some places. While you have the protagonist Francis, a more natural-looking cat with realistic movements, you have some characters that are very stylized. Like one of the “bad guys”, Kong, and his two neutered henchmen. Still, the stylization of the characters doesn’t actually distract from the rather dark and realistic tone of the film.

 

The movie follows a typical noir detective formula, and the mystery behind the murders is a bit more complex than what you might be led to believe from the start, with references to eugenics and racial purity. At the time Felidae was made, it was the most expensive animated feature produced in Germany, costing 10 million marks (approx. 5 million dollars). It was mainly animated by TFC Trickcompany in Hamburg, but they also outsourced some of the animation to 10 different studios, from London to Seoul. While it did get an English version, it never got any wide release in neither the US or UK, but the English version was included on the German and French DVD releases.

 

Now, if you want to check this one out it’s almost impossible to get on DVD anywhere (except maybe a used one on eBay, which is how we got it actually) and it doesn’t appear to be on any streaming sites. So your best chance here is probably YouTube. The official trailer for this movie doesn’t include any of the violent scenes, so it has actually been classified as “YouTube Kids”. Probably just because it’s animated. So regarding that incorrect “all cartoons are for kids” belief many people seem to have, I simply rest my case…

 

Felidae

 

Director: Michael Schaack
Country & year: Germany | Denmark, 1994
Voice actors: Ulrich Tukur, Mario Adorf, Helge Schneider, Wolfgang Hess, Gerhard Garbers, Ulrich Wildgruber, Mona Seefried, Manfred Steffen, Uwe Ochsenknecht, Michaela Amler, Christian Schneller, Tobias Lelle, Frank Röth, Alexandra Mink
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0109791/

 

Vanja Ghoul