New ground was broken, bulldozed, nuked, dragged to hell and then launched into space when we experienced the first Animation Night on The Last Drive-In.
Not that we don’t see anything new or learn something EVERY TIME the lights outside the trailer turn on, Joe Bob settles in the lawn chair or recliner and we get rolling with the flicks, but last week was something special.
Our eyes were the recipient of many visuals that we hadn’t ever seen before except maybe, kind of sort of if you happened across a video by the rock band Tool in the 1990s.
For that, we have to thank Phil Tippett for his three-decade labor (we won’t call it “of love” for obvious reasons), Mad God.
It was a flick so astonishing to Joe Bob hissownself that he declared it “caliginous as F.” That it was.
Why effects genius and legend Phil Tippett would spend so much time with his army of volunteers on such a dark critique of industrialism chock full of reflections of inhumanity and malignancy is a question only he could answer. You could speculate that he has something to say about the cyclical nature of global destruction or the universal cycle of decomposition and rebirth. It could have been the frequent visits to the Mexican restaurant or the nightly vision that haunted him.
When interviewed, Tippett himself really couldn’t answer definitively and he doesn’t really need to. He had the compulsion to do something more with his creativity, even with the level of accomplishment he’d attained with his works on Star Wars movies, Jurassic Park and others. Mad God was the monument that he had chosen to devote his time to.
It’s a well-told cliché that the interpretation of all art is in the eye of the beholder.
Mad God, by any stretch of the imagination, isn’t fun, heartwarming or even relenting in its mood. Even the “happy” creature couple in the color-saturated garden scene have their idyllic five or six seconds of calm and serenity disrupted by a spider creature that violently attacks one of them and carries it off likely to be eaten.
(And did anyone else get the Mr. Bill, riff? “Oh, no,” indeed.)
Tippett accomplished his goal of finishing his work. It doesn’t really have to mean anything. But the finished product and the reaction it elicits is proof that it means something.
That being said, here are what are, to my knowledge, the longest Drive-In Totals in history:
The second feature was equally compelling — Perfect Blue, which can be best described as a Japanese cross between a giallo and a Selena biopic.
While not as weighty as the planetary destruction of the first feature, there was an interesting similarity between Satoshi Kon’s anime treatment of a pop idol coming dangerously close to the edge of destruction in an attempt to recreate herself.
Challenging in its own way and able to elicit discomfort just as well as Mad God (that scene on the soap opera set), Mima’s story shows that the arduous task of existing on you own terms, whatever those may be, can be met by resistance from people who like things just the way they are. But how much work is needed to get past those obstacles and then, what’s next in the evolution?
Tonight has been declared “Long, Hairy and Aroused” Night on the Last Drive-In. And there have been a number of guesses out there thinking that we might have a Bigfoot-Gone-Amok flick going on — something we dive into with gusto in November.
That’s not too far off for one of the flicks, and we’ve already seen some correct guesses for both features. Suffice to say that if you are a fan of character actors and sideburns, you are not gonna be disappointed.