Shudder to release Phil Tippett’s stop-motion animated film

Mad God Phil Tippett

The Shudder streaming service has announced that they will be releasing the stop-motion animated feature Mad God, which Oscar-winning visual effects artist Phil Tippett worked on off-and-on for thirty years, on June 16th. The film will also be receiving a limited theatrical release on that date.

Here’s the background story that was provided when Mad God was about to make its premiere at the Locarno Film Festival last year:

Phil Tippett had the idea for Mad God during a lull in his schedule after Robocop 2. After sketching and designing a few creatures and sets, he and his stage and stop motion team at Tippett Studio shot the first few scenes of Mad God, including the shot of the Beast strapped to a table and a tracking shot of the Shit Men walking through a desiccated subterranean city.

When he received the call to supervise the dinosaurs for Jurassic Park, Phil suspended work on the project. Jurassic Park proved to be a watershed moment in the evolution of visual effects. With a shift from handmade visual effects, the likes of which Tippett was best known for, to computer generated graphics and imagery (CGI), Phil saw the writing on the wall and thought the kind of work he was doing with Mad God had gone extinct overnight.

Some 20 years later, while cleaning out the back storage areas of Tippett Studio’s Berkeley stages, several of his key artists and supervisors stumbled across original puppets and sets from those early shots. Revisiting the original footage and models, this new generation of artists, trained primarily on computers, longed to learn from Phil and assist as he revived his long-since abandoned film. Together with a volunteer crew, Phil taught a new generation of artists and craftspeople as they brought his labor of love to life.

In 2020, while the world sheltered through a global pandemic, Phil continued, alone, and completed the final scenes of what is now a complete, feature length experimental mostly-animated adult-oriented cinematic masterpiece. Mad God invites its viewers not so much as to watch a story unfold as to be transported from their world to another world entirely – one of monsters and war pigs – where traditional narrative structures are mere suggestions, and the world we live in can be viewed as if through the lens of Hieronymous Bosch crossed with Buster Keaton.

Tippett had this to say about the Shudder release:

It’s been over 30 years, but thanks to the team at Tippett Studio we finally made the dream a reality. I’m proud to partner with Shudder on the release of Mad God, and it’s an honor that my original vision can now be shared with audiences across the country.”

Shudder’s Craig Engler added:

In short, Phil Tippett is a genius, and there’s no better home for him and his visionary mind than Shudder. We’re proud to bring this sure-to-be timeless film to our members.”

In addition to RoboCop 2 and Jurassic Park, films Tippett has provided effects for over the decades include the original RoboCop, multiple entries in the Star Wars franchise, Starship Troopers, the Twilight Saga, Willow, Joe Dante’s Piranha, Indiana Jones the Temple of Doom, Howard the Duck, House II: The Second Story, Tremors II: Aftershocks, and several more Jurassic movies. He also directed Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation in 2004.

It’s awesome that he was persuaded to see Mad God through to completion, and I’m really glad Shudder is going to be releasing it into the world.

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