As far as creative endeavours go, Mad God has been a long one. This stop-motion animation (itself already a time-consuming filmmaking process) has taken 30 years to reach the screen, started back when its multi-hyphenate creator, Phil Tippett, was working on Robocop 2 and eventually reached completion due to Kickstarter funding – and we’re glad it did.
Mad God is short on plot but very strong on imagery and mood. The general story concerns an assassin sent into a ruined hellscape with just a quickly disintegrating map and a bomb in a suitcase. From there, he travels through rotting, destroyed, and cursed places where suffering seems to be the only constant. There’s some wonderful creature design and creativity on display in this film, taking us through a world (possibly our own, long destroyed) filled with creatures of big gnashing teeth, bulbous protrusions, and fleshy bodies. Not all of it works, the sections with human actors feel out of place in such a well-realised stop-motion world, and its endless suffering won’t be to all tastes, but many will enjoy being swamped in this reality that sits somewhere amongst Clive Barker stories, Nine Inch Nails ‘90s music videos, and Jan Švankmajer’s adaptation of Alice in Wonderland.
Ultimately, what’s most enjoyable about Mad God is we get to see an uncompromised creative vision. It may have taken 30 years to appear, but the creative mind of Phil Tippet, no matter how dark it seems, is an interesting place to be.
Mad God is available on Shudder from June 16th.