Fantasia presents Mad God, coming soon to Shudder.
Thirty years in the making, it’s a rare honour nowadays to spend an hour and a half in the presence of a stop motion genius like Phil Tippett. After all, this is the man who helped bring us the luscious model effects of Star Wars, Jurassic Park, Willow and Indiana Jones, to name but a few. His award-winning career in visual effects, a veritable feast of blockbusters that continue to find praise as some of the best films ever made. But, anyone expecting his labour of love to be child friendly should immediately reconsider their options as Mad God is adult viewing, its raw, blood-soaked majesty a stop motion horror masterpiece.
Mad God’s visual and auditory complexity is coupled with a cutting dissection of humanity’s ability to create a hell on earth with a dialogue-free journey that joyously subverts pop culture imagery while creating a stunning dark, bold and haunting underworld. That said, Tippett’s work will not appeal to all viewers, as its darkness eats away at the viewer’s soul. But, for those willing to enter the hellish gates of Mad God’s world, the riches on display are nothing short of outstanding. Here Tippett mixes the nihilistic vision of Pier Paolo Passolini with the social horror of George Orwell in building his unique world.
READ MORE: THE SADNESS
Tippett’s film aptly opens with a fire and brimstone quote from Leviticus. At the same time, the tower of Babel crumbles in the background as a diving bell lowers from the sky into a never-ending underworld of human creation. As the bell finds solid ground, a pilot emerges from the capsule into what can only be described as hell. This is a world of violence, torture, hate and war, where industry steamrolls over its workers, slavery is the norm, and survival sits on a knife edge. But, as our gas-masked miner works his way through a maze of blood, death, slavery and greed, Tippett’s story twists, turns and contorts as the worst of humanity is exposed.
Split into four distinct chapters; Mad God charts a course through industrial and financial greed, religious and political corruption, power and war in a stop motion Dante’s Inferno that is both violent and brutal. However, unlike Dante Alighieri’s 14th Century poem, Tippett’s maze of hell is not rooted in religious concepts of sin. Instead, Tippett’s Mad God is human behaviour. Here the universe regulates human survival only for the pattern of greed, war and violence to repeat wherever life takes hold. But, just like a complex and darkly beautiful work of art hanging in a world-renowned gallery, Tippett’s masterpiece finds meaning in the eyes of each visitor.
READ MORE: SALO, OR THE 120 DAYS OF SODOM
As I close my coverage of this year’s outstanding Fantasia International Film Festival, I couldn’t ask for a better final film. Here Mad God feels like a representation of what makes Fantasia great, with creativity, bravery and passion oozing from every frame. A lifelong obsession and dream that has finally been brought to the screen in a blaze of artistic beauty. I can only hope Mad God finds the audience it deserves as this, my friends, is a dark and haunting cinematic masterpiece.