Stop-motion animation has taken Wallace and Gromit to the moon and given us the eternal love of Jack and Sally. Its limitations are only the imagination, able to create something impossible by any other means. More than 30 years in the making, Phil Tippett’s Mad God is every nightmare come to life – unfortunately, that includes watching it.

Like a Bosch painting, Mad God is a chaotic landscape of hellish unpleasantries. Monsters devour each other, perform gruesome dissections, and consume the excrement of tortured giants. The whole thing is caked in filth, flitting between Dante’s Inferno and a decaying steampunk dystopia. Inspired by Ray Harryhausen, Tippett’s attention to detail does the master proud, while defining his own legacy as an expert of visual horror.

With barely a scene passing without something sadistic, the film is a relentless exercise in endurance. If it isn’t creatures sticking their heads up some monstrosity’s bum, it’s the prolonged crying of a malformed infant. It’s physically unsettling, and while Tippett set out to cause discomfort, almost an hour and a half of this pummelling is unlikely to be an experience many would recommend.

If there’s a message to be taken from this subterranean journey, it’s lost among the onslaught of violence. It leaves an impression, yes, it lingers in the mind the way a bad dream does upon waking, and it features some of the most impressive stop-motion animation anyone is likely to see. But other than a morbid curiosity to witness such disturbing scenes, there’s little to latch on to. Before long, its shtick makes its point, and from then it’s the same old song on a horrendous loop.

Tippett deserves acclaim and respect for his artistry, not to mention his commitment to the project. But Mad God certainly won’t be for everyone.



CAST: Niketa Roman, Satish Ratakonda, Alex Cox, Harper Taylor, Brynn Taylor

DIRECTOR: Phil Tippett

WRITER: Phil Tippett

SYNOPSIS: Journey through subterranean chambers in a world of tortured souls, decrepit bunkers and wretched monstrosities.