Tuesday, April 4, 2023


Film: Mad God
Format: Streaming video from Amazon Prime at the office.

What follows might well be the shortest full-length review I have ever written or will ever write. That’s not because there are specific problems with Mad God, but because there isn’t a great deal to write about it. This is an experimental film in every way that word can be used to describe a film. It’s also one of the closest things I’ve ever seen to a pure hellscape. This is the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch come to life through a lens of terrible technology, an animated horror of Tetsuo: The Iron Man. This is the same sort of birth/death/rebirth series of images as in a film like mother! with the added psychedelia of the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey at the end (even including the obelisks).

For this blog, though, the problem is that there is no real narrative structure here. I’ve said that before about other films, usually meaning it to suggest that there isn’t a lot of plot—something like Train to Busan has a plot that fits on a matchbook with room to spare. But Mad God has literally no narrative structure. There is a series of events, of visions, and of places that the film visits, but they connect in the same way that skits in Monty Python shows did, one blending into the next, and us as the audience following something else for a time before we move on once again.

A Bosch painting really is the closest to a description that I can come. There are characters of a sort, although frequently we simply move on from one character to the next as we journey through hellish worlds of destruction, pain, and torture. It’s possible to see Mad God as gory, but it’s really more simply disgusting. The “gore” here is, for lack of a better way to put it, simply “icky” in the slimy bugs and snot sense. The film looks putrescent, as if the creatures and landscape are decaying before our eyes.

Probably the best way to interpret the film would be to look at the film’s opening. This includes a visual of the Tower of Babel and a passage of Leviticus (26: 27-33) about the wrath of God. Those who continue to be the enemy of God, says the passage, will be punished seven times over and will eat the flesh of their children. God will pile lifeless bodies on their altars and destroy their cities and lands. Mad God, more or less, is this vision brought to terrible life—the reality of an actual god who truly regrets its creation and takes out its fury upon it through horror and chaos.

Mad God was created by Phil Tippett, who has as much credibility in this kind of animation as possible. Tippett is a visual effects master and a stop-motion genius, with a solid list of films to his credit. Mad God is something like a labor of love for him, a film that he has worked on for 30 years, stopping for a time since he believed his work on Jurassic Park signaled the end of stop-motion.

There is no film experience that I can think of that is like Mad God. This is a horror movie in the sense that it is very much a waking nightmare of chaos and endless pain and destruction, but this is not a film for gorehounds. Mad God is a vision of Hell and of pointless despair, and it’s a work of mad genius.

Why to watch Mad God: It is entirely unique.
Why not to watch: There’s no narrative, just a series of horrifying images.


  1. I think I might want to see this. It looks interesting as fuck.

    1. It is--but it's also almost entirely undescribable except as a journey through something like hell.

  2. This sounds so strange. I'm not sure what to make of it.

    1. That's still my reaction after seeing it. It's sort of a kaleidescope of horrible images, but it's also something I found impossible to look away from.