Review: Mad God Is an Hour-and-a-Half-Long ’90s Tool Video
There’s a scene in Phil Tippet’s epic stop-motion movie Mad God where main character The Assassin is thrown into a world of abject horror. War machines attack him from all sides, bio-mechanical monsters bleat and vomit at him, and the few scuttling humans around him commit hideous acts of surgery and cackle through their cancerous outgrowths. It’s visually enthralling, if deeply disturbing…Oh wait, actually this is every single scene in Mad God. The truth is that while the film is a nonstop visual feast for metalheads, Mad God‘s story, characters, and prevailing message come second. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, depending on why you’re watching it.
The stop-motion animation style and art design behind Mad God are definitely awesome, reminiscent of the works of Czech filmmaker Jan Švankmajer and the animated videos for Tool songs like “Sober” and “Ænima.” The movements are twitchy, the background is full of distracting and disturbing vignettes, and when color finally does appear in this mixture of burnt-out brown, gunmetal grey, and oily black, the eye latches onto it in desperate hunger. Skulls, weapons, and unthinkable crimes against nature line every shelf and erupt from every oozing pipe. It’s a beautiful and moving sight to behold
As for the plot? I dunno, that the world is gripped in a state of constant warfare? That the last dregs of what was once civilization have retreated underground, and now live in a never-ending cycle of torture and misery? That if left to our own devices, we will boil life down to nothing but pain? There are recurring characters throughout the movie, and they do things, but it honestly doesn’t really matter. It’s the images flashing before your eyes, the sheer glut of creativity and hard work that obviously went into this film, which makes it worthwhile.
You should definitely watch Mad God. It’s a lot of fun, and gives your mind a healthy dose of awesome visual stimuli. But in that respect, it’s akin to watching a vast and epic music video, existing only to provide the mind with a nonstop parade of dark, exhilarating snapshots to dine on. Definitely a breathtaking achievement, and one that every metal bar should have on a TV at all times — you might just have a hard time explaining what it’s about.
Mad God is streaming exclusively on Shudder.