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[Fantastic Fest ’21] ‘Mad God’ review: Twisted labor of love is a stop motion gem

Beautiful and grotesque.

Welcome to another installment of 31 Days of Halloween! This is our chance to set the mood for the spookiest and scariest month of the year as we focus our attention on horror and Halloween fun. For the month of October we’ll be sharing various pieces of underappreciated scary books, comics, movies, and television to help keep you terrified and entertained all the way up to Halloween.

Listen to the latest episode of the AIPT Movies Podcast!

Mad God is a true labor of love. Director Phil Tippett began the film while working in Robocop 2. While on Jurassic Park, he thought the days of stop motion were over. Twenty years later (!) he was convinced to finish the work he had started. Stop motion has always lent itself to horror. The figures may be cute and the characters may look great on a Hot Topic shirt, but the medium has always paired well with fear. Mad Dog certainty fits this mold as it is one person’s descent through a hellish landscape.

The world is violent and the deaths are gruesome. A number of creatures roam the land and each is terrifying. Between its many monsters and scenes of torture, the film is frightening. Conversely, the creature design looks great. It is clear Tippett and his team took great care in all of the twisted designs. The same can be said of the setting which is always unsettling.

Mad Dog tells a non verbal story. The tale is an almost exclusively visual one. The lack of dialogue does not make things feel any less scary, however. The world is a perverse one like something out of Tool video. Of anything, the lack of spoken words make things even worse. There is not even a hint of reason behind what is happening. This direction may end up turning some people off.

[Fantastic Fest '21] 'Mad God' review: Twisted labor of love is a stop motion gem

The term “passion project” gets thrown around a lot. Mad Dog is a three decade long work of love from Phil Tippett. This is seen in the visual mastery of the film. The story may not appeal to everyone, but there is no doubting it is unlike anything out today. It is creative, gross, and an overall entertaining story.

Mad God is available on FF@Home through October 5. Check out AIPT’s ongoing coverage.

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