Mad God (2021)

Grotesque creatures and imagery abound!
Grotesque monsters and imagery abound!
Pterosaur-like creatures
Pterosaur-like creatures

A helmeted, goggles-wearing humanoid is lowered, in a diving bell-like metal capsule, down into a nightmarish underworld, where he witnesses unexplainable events, sees strange creatures and travels through a series of harsh, terrible landscapes. He becomes the victim of a gory surgical procedure, where countless items and viscera are removed from his body, including a maggot-thing that cries like a baby… but this isn’t the end of the tale and the weird, cruel, grotesque narrative continues…

The capsule is lowered into the depths, passing many striking images, such as this giant skull
The capsule is lowered into the depths, passing many striking images, such as this giant skull
poster
Poster
The goggled dude needs a light to see where he's going
The goggled dude needs a light to see where he’s going
Travelling through a war zone
Travelling through a war zone
Passing by ruined tower blocks
Passing by ruined tower blocks

MAD GOD was written, produced, and directed by Phil Tippett and it is his malformed labour of love, which he began creating over thirty years ago, then shelved for twenty years, then recommenced work on, using Kickstarter donations and volunteers to help him complete this outlandish product of his fecund imagination.

A bipedal, beaked critter
A bipedal, beaked critter
A prolonged, gory operation
A prolonged, gory operation
Evisceration cubicles
Evisceration cubicles

The film relies less on conventional plotting, using instead a kind of dream logic (or, rather, a nightmare logic) to propel the story forward.

A deformed, lumpen stop-motion monster
A deformed, misshapen stop-motion monster
Lots of eyeballs in the movie!
Lots of eyeballs in the movie!

MAD GOD is a mix of stop-motion, miniatures, puppets, pixilation, props and live action, with an abundance of bleak, ruined vistas for the characters to roam through. Tippett doesn’t try to hide the fact that many of the landscapes are tabletop miniatures, he just steams straight ahead with the tale, drawing you into his fantastic, ghastly, intricate world.

landscape
landscape
landscape
Above: various vistas…
Two battling stop-motion monsters!
Two battling stop-motion monsters! I like this scene a lot!
A close-up of one of these creatures, which has metal mesh covering its face
A close-up of one of these creatures, which has metal mesh covering its face
Another close-up
Another close-up
These two monsters are electrocuted
The two monsters are electrocuted

Director Alex (REPO MAN) Cox plays ‘The Last Man’ and several other actors play a surgeon or nurse, etc, but the bulk of the characters are portrayed via stop-motion, puppets and models, and the majority of the locations are, as mentioned, detailed, cluttered miniatures.

Alex Cox is The Last Man
Alex Cox is The Last Man

Strangeness everywhere
Strangeness everywhere

The production is infernally surreal, with the various beings, such as the many fibrous, mummy-like humanoids, regularly killed in a multitude of offhand, cruel ways. Blood and other bodily fluids, plus ground-up flesh, are often extracted from characters and fed into tubes and receptacles. Torture is common here, suggesting this world is some form of layered, torment-filled hell.

Many of the denizens of this hellish place are faceless, fibrous humanoids
Many of the denizens of this hellish place are faceless, fibrous humanoids
One of the humanoids gets scorched to death by a fire pit
One of the humanoids gets scorched to death by a fire pit
Many characters and creatures are victims, such as this stop-motion monkey
Many characters and creatures are victims, such as this stop-motion monkey

For me, it’s as if a violent, twisted, dystopian Métal Hurlant sci-fi-horror comic strip was written by Italian poet-writer Dante and turned into a film, with the influences of Terry Gilliam, Jan Svankmajer, Ray Harryhausen, René Laloux and David Lynch’s ERASERHEAD added to the mix.

A briefly-seen Jan Svankmajer-esque doll
A briefly-seen Jan Svankmajer-esque doll
Death and decay are the order of the day
Death and decay are the order of the day

Though the film’s settings are mainly dark and forbidding, there is a brief sequence set in a brightly-coloured habitat, but even here death is always on hand, as we see a cute mushroom-person, who is happily eating maggots, devoured by an arachnid beast.

A pair of fungus folks enjoy a meal of maggots...
A pair of fungus folks enjoy a meal of maggots…
...but a multi-legged monster is allowed to enter this colourful world...
…but a multi-legged monster is allowed to enter this colourful world…
...and it eats one of the mushroom people!
…and it eats one of the mushroom people!

If there’s an overall point to this tale, then it’s not too clear – and if you require a straightforward narrative, then this film isn’t for you – but if you dive into this viewing experience to enjoy the disturbing cinematic ride, you’ll be rewarded with loads of lovingly-crafted, unsettling, eye-catching sequences that are chock-full of twisted wonder, gore and impressionistic madness, leading up to a cosmic finale, accompanied by an effective soundtrack by Dan Wool.

Look at the gnashers on this dude
Look at the gnashers on this dude
Yikes!
Yikes!
Deformity is common in the world of Mad God
Deformity is common in the world of Mad God
It all gets cosmic, man
It all gets cosmic, man

Some concept art for the movie…

Envisaging the scene where a floating monolith splats into some humanoids
Envisaging the scene where a floating monolith splats into some humanoids
Toothy strangeness
Toothy strangeness
The world of the movie begins with concepts such as this
The world of the movie begins with concepts such as this

Okay, one more look at that skirmish between the two mesh-faced monsters…

Fight!
Fight!

3 thoughts on “Mad God (2021)

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