A 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).
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