Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews - By Fans For Fans



 Directed by Phil Tippett.
Starring Alex Cox, Niketa Roman, Satish Ratakonda.
Horror/ Animation/Fantasy, United States, 84 mins, cert 18.

Out now on Blu-ray from Acorn Media International. RRP £19.99.


Fans of grisly stop-motion nightmares rejoice (especially if you like lots of shots of bloodshot swivelling eyeballs) as celebrated visual effects maestro Phil Tippett’s long-gestating passion project, MAD GOD, is finally seeing its release on physical media courtesy of Acorn Media International.


The plot (I’m using “plot” in the loosest sense possible) follows a mysterious figure clad in a jacket and WWII style gas mask, consulting an old map that’s falling apart, who descends into a hellish world full of hideous monsters who are variously being tortured, carrying out monotonous tasks or being maimed and killed in all sort of unpleasant ways. There are little faceless things being constantly splatted by fast moving blocks, a creature that looks like an unholy cross between Leatherface and a Maris Piper potato brandishing a cleaver, insects playing cards whilst having tea and even, since it tis the season, two little tiny elf things that appear to be carrying a drunk, or dead, Santa. This all plays out, completely dialogue free (apart from some occasional baby gibberish) with only an unsettling otherworldly score. Still, all in all, it seems like a more preferable place to visit this time of year than Hyde Park Winter Wonderland.


Phil Tippett who throughout his storied career has contributed excellent visual effects work to some of your favourite films (Star Wars, Jurassic Park, Robocop amongst many others) has been working on MAD GOD on and off since the 1990s and the result is a very unique vision from a singular creative mind. I haven’t seen anything quite like this before and it’s undoubtedly an impressive feat on a technical and visual level.


However, this is definitely a work with very niche appeal and it didn’t entirely work for me. Since it eschews a conventional narrative, and characters, and is more of a mood piece and art film I did lose patience with it after about 40 minutes. Before that I was absorbed in the fully realised world that Tippett had created but, as time went on, I was yearning to have something that I could latch onto that was more than vague themes and striking images. If this was a short film, or an episode of an anthology series such as GUILLERMO DEL TORO’S CABINET OF CURIOSITIES, it would have been perfect but as a feature film it falls a little short.


MAD GOD is a Shudder Original and so is already available to subscribers of that service, however this Blu-ray release contains plenty of worthwhile special features that could tempt you into splashing out on a physical copy. The most enticing being the feature length commentary with Phil Tippett and the aforementioned Guillermo Del Toro as well as a commentary by the cast and crew. There are also a handful of short but informative documentaries about the making of the film and Phil Tippett’s career in general. It’s fascinating to see stop-motion being put together and so, honestly, I think I enjoyed the behind the scenes features a little more than the actual film.


Overall, this is unquestionably a unique and impressive achievement and I’m very happy that Tippett finally has gotten to put his magnum opus out into the world. It’s certainly not for everyone though. For those with the patience, and a strong stomach, it’s a gruesomely twisted treat but for those who want their horror with a bit more of a conventional structure it can often be a chore.


It's a hard one to give a star rating to. For some this will be five-star material, for others it’s easily one star. I fall somewhere in the middle, I appreciated the artistry and skill that had been put into it but I certainly didn’t enjoy it, and wouldn’t watch it again. However, it’s most definitely not a bad film, and it’s not even an average film, it’s a weird curiosity that’s hard to define. There is one thing that I’m certain of though, it’s not one to watch with the family over Christmas.


John Upton.


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Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews
By Fans For Fans