After 30 years, Phil Tippett’s stop-motion opus Mad God is finally complete

The animator’s long-awaited fusion of handmade sci-fi and horror will premiere at the Locarno Film Festival.


Charles Bramesco


There’s no labor of love quite like that of stop-motion animation, requiring a painstaking amount of time and effort to pose and photograph each individual frame. As such, these projects often take a long time to finish, but thirty years is still an extremely long time relative to the industry standard.

That’s how long it’s taken master animator (and one-time collaborator on Star Wars and dinosaur supervisor for Jurassic Park) Phil Tippett to complete his magnum opus Mad God, a three-decade struggle now ready for its premiere next month at the Locarno Film Festival. A trailer appeared online just last night to offer a dizzying tour through the creepy world Tippett has laboriously constructed by hand, as dazzling and detailed as could be expected from an artist of his stature.

The clip below eschews plot and dialogue for pure imagery, showing off a vortex of skulls, mutant beasts, and Boschian hellscapes. The most salient information comes from the film’s Locarno page, where it’s described as being “set in a world of monsters, mad scientists and war pigs.” The synopsis continues: “A corroded diving bell descends amidst a ruined city and the Assassin emerges from it to explore a labyrinth of bizarre landscapes inhabited by freakish denizens.”

Through dank caves and fiery wastelands, this menagerie of strange and frightening creatures crawl, slither, and perambulate unencumbered by dialogue. There’s a whiff of evil in the air, but also a sense of reverent wonder, as in the shot of a pterodactyl (perhaps a nod to his past in the Jurassic-verse) gliding overhead a ground-level perspective.

Between the creator’s pedigree, the astounding visuals on display, and the co-sign from connoisseur of the weird Guillermo del Toro, this will be on the radar for genre enthusiasts through the rest of the year; a slot in Toronto’s still-to-be-announced Midnight Madness section is all but assured.

Published 28 Jul 2021

Tags: Mad God Phil Tippett

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