(director/writer: Phil Tippett; cinematographers: Chris Morley/Phil Tippett; editors: Michael Cavanaugh/Ken Rogerson; music: Dan Wool; cast: Alex Cox, Niketa Roman, Satish Ratakonda, Harper Taylor, Brynn Taylor; Runtime: 83; MPAA Rating: NR; producer; Phil Tippett: Tippett Studio; 2021)

“A stop-motion animation work of great art.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Special effects pioneer Phil Tippett in his feature directorial debut has created a stop-motion animation work of great art. An innovative technological marvel that brings about a nightmarish trip to hell, inspired by Dante’s The Divine Comedy. Tippett’s God is a vindictive OT one, an evil demigod, as filmed with gruesome images that’s as funky as those of Hieronymus Bosch and as menacing as the etchings used by William Black for his poems of Heaven and Hell, Milton and Jerusalem. Tippett’s work follows along the lines of the Quay Brothers and his set designs are inspired by the special effects genius Ray Harryhausen.

The legendary VFX artist has revolutionized the field of creature design, stop-motion, and CG-character animation, that have been used in films such as “Star Wars,” “RoboCop,” “Piranha” and “Jurassic Park.” In this amazing animation film it’s not words but visuals that tell the story.

This film has been in Tippett’s head for 30 years, as he creates a world of horror as we follow an unnamed figure clad in a steampunk-like outfit — with a gas mask and trench coat — as he descends in a modified diving bell from the heavens down a pit, past the skulls of titans and into a dystopian nightmare world. The workers that support this world are killed in special ways, such as being squashed by road rollers, eaten by giants, electrocuted in electric chairs and while masturbating a woman is gored by a Minotaur.

There’s no story to follow, as it brings on a non-verbal narrative structure that entertains us with a series of episodes that paint a dark picture of the world with a startling landscape of nuclear destruction that yields to a maze of metal and bones.

The idea here is to touch on what’s giving modern man nightmares and the fears he has of what has become of his world. This offbeat theological horror show will blow your mind and perhaps leave some of the more queasy gasping for a Disney flick.

REVIEWED ON 10/28/2021  GRADE: A