Phil Tippett’s Mad God: A Sensory Feast for Hands-On Movie Lovers

An advance for Mad god.

By now, anyone who accepts the label of “movie fanatic” knows the legendary Phil Tippett. Perhaps the greatest visual effects artist of the last 50 years (if not forever), Tippett gave life to the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park and the creatures of Star Wars while enriching many, Many stellar visual feasts like RoboCop, Willow, and Starship troopers. Rear, Starship troopers Producer Jon Davison has said he made that movie for a reason: “I wanted to make a movie with Phil Tippett. I wanted to make a movie about giant insects with Phil Tippett.”

Despite his long and award-strewn career, Tippett had eluded a cinematographic feat until this year: being the writer / director of a feature film. Tippett has finally crossed that goal off the list, too, with the arrival of Mad god on the festival scene (including its North American premiere at Fantasia Fest last month).

  • Say hello to the anonymous central figure of Mad god.

  • Our little adventurer in a gas mask and leather gloves encounters some wonderful worlds (even if they aren’t exactly bright and sunny).

    Tippett Study

  • The adventurer seems to be on a quest to help these nameless mummy-like drones that are seemingly forced to do endless jobs by some monsters …

    Tippett Study

  • … but even nameless drones exist in the face of stunning landscapes.

    Tippett Study

  • Lake? (The movie is also based on * all * practical effects.)

    Tippett Study

  • About him Mad god site, you can find some of the inspirational drawings behind certain scenes and characters.

  • This is a Phil Tippett articulation, so of course there will be creatures.

    Tippett Study

  • There are creepy babies too …

    Tippett Study

  • … and devilish doctors.

  • Truly my favorite part of Mad god it had to be environments. It’s like being taken through a gallery of kinetic art while on your couch.

    Tippett Study

  • I want those clouds for my home office.

    Tippett Study

  • What’s happening (action-wise) in this scene is gross, but it sure is beautiful.

    Tippett Study

  • Tippett working on the movement of one of the many, many monsters in Mad god.

    Tippett Study

Tippett apparently had the visions and ideas behind Mad god for three decades. But this passion project remained perennially on the back burner when he took on all those highly successful commercial projects. This creative struggle has been narrated in some way in two documentaries, the career-retrospective Phil Tippet – Crazy Dreams and Monsters and the Mad god behind the scenes project Worse than the devil (which his daughter Maya directed for her undergraduate thesis). Recently, the VFX legend he told the observer started working on Mad god nach RoboCop 2, which means this dates back to 1990. (Approximately three minutes of work on 35mm from then until 2021).


It just took years to find the time and some crowdfunding initiatives to help pay the bills, given how painstaking Tippett’s preferred filming styles can be in time and effort. Just consider what he said Letterboxd it took to bring a scene to life:

I gave a lot of talks on the San Francisco Bay. On Saturdays, he invited people from the schools to come. They didn’t have any skills, per se, so he was just gaining experience. I would advise them, and I would spend a certain amount of the week figuring out processes for what they could do, and then they would accomplish those tasks, but very icily.

There is a scene with mountains of dead soldiers, and I used thousands of little army men, and they would melt them over these wire structures. And that took three years to complete, with six people working on Saturdays.

Apparently, Mad god has a plot. What according to the official description:

Under a barrage of enemy fire, an intrepid special agent in a suspended container is constantly lowered onto a sinister shaft. Down, down, inexorably down, through the multiple layers of ruin and residue that bear enigmatic testimony to the passage of time. At last, the capsule lands on dry land, and its occupant emerges, map in hand and mission in mind. The surrounding landscape is a broken place of corruption and decay, of chance horror and degradation. Our hero will not be deterred, though the road ahead only holds more horrors, many to behold …

Yes, that provides an accurate idea of ​​how clear, easy to follow and traditionally the plot of Mad god prove to be. The dialogue is equally minimal.

Ars at Fantasia Fest

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Instead, you watch this movie to revel in the grotesque exquisiteness Tippett dreams of and executes through a barrage of old-school cinematographic techniques: mixed media, stop-motion animation, modeling, silhouettes, and puppets, you name it. The sound design includes soft noises when a sinister surgeon burrows into the intestines and the cries of a genuine baby give voice to an alien baby in distress. Every subtle stream from our adventurer’s leather gloves and every breath measured through his gas mask stays with you – the sound design equivalent to a worm, I suppose. And sitting down to watch this movie on your couch (or your movie seat for some lucky few) is like being guided through a gallery of lavish kinetic art. Cramped environments in and of themselves are worth wallpapering, whether Tippet created a war-torn landscape in the middle of a storm, a fast-paced universe, or a room full of giants strapped to electric chairs getting beaten to the point of dirt. unceasingly. That last sequence is really gross if you stop and think about it, but the sound design and visuals are impressive at the moment.


Our hero has set out to save mummy-like drones, and being a project by Phil Tippett, they come across all kinds of wacky underground creatures. At first, the adventurer comes across something he could best describe as a whale crossed with a dinosaur covered in sores and sores. Later, there are trippy spotted arachnids that you may find in a Guillermo del Toro version of Alice in Wonderland. Some kind of octopus-like spirit creature has a touch of Raiden from Mortal Kombat to her, as she demands that they deliver an alien child to her. “It’s a reflection of the world I live in and its insanity,” Tippett said of her visions in the documentary. Crazy dreams and monsters. “But I have to find some kind of expression to make sense of things that don’t make sense to me.”

Mad god It won’t be a story you remember as fondly as Luke and Vader, but his sensory gifts will stick with any Tippett fan for as long. There’s a reason this movie was brought home two public awards from the Fantasia Fest, one for Best Animation and another for Most Innovative Film. Just remember that Fantasia Fest is a heavy and heavy genre festival with an audience that knows it – adjust your expectations accordingly and steer kids towards something from Aardman Animations (Farmegeddon, Wallace and Gromit) instead, if they are eager for a stop-motion adventure.

Mad god continues to perform on the festival circuit, including holding its next US premiere at the Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas. The most up-to-date detection information can be found at the movie website, which also offers VOD options.



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