Fans of Oscar-winning visual effects artist Phil Tippett — whose many credits include RoboCop, Return of the Jedi, Jurassic Park, and Starship Troopers — will finally get a chance to see Mad God, his long-in-the-works stop-motion animated film. After its festival release, the film will hit Shudder (and a few theatres) this summer.
When we say long-in-the-works, we mean literal decades. “It’s been over 30 years, but thanks to the team at Tippett Studio we finally made the dream a reality,” Tippett said in a Shudder press release. “I’m proud to partner with Shudder on the release of Mad God, and it’s an honour that my original vision can now be shared with audiences across the country.”
Tippett is an animation pioneer whose work propelled the special effects seen in films like those listed above — as well as Willow, Dragonheart, Dragonslayer, Honey I Shrunk the Kids, the Twilight saga, and more. Most recently Tippett Studio, his animation and visual effects team, has done work on titles like the upcoming DC film Black Adam and Showtime’s The Man Who Fell to Earth. Previously it has worked on seasons of Disney+ shows like The Book of Boba Fett, The Mandalorian, and Marvel’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, as well as Netflix’s Locke & Key.
Mad God is based on an idea Tippett had (“during a lull in his schedule following RoboCop 2,” according to the press release; RoboCop 2 came out in 1990, to put that in perspective) about an assassin who journeys through a nightmarish landscape and faces a menagerie of strange beings — all created using stop-motion. A few scenes had been completed when Tippett and his team had to pause the idea to work on Jurassic Park. Twenty years after that, props from Mad God were unearthed and Tippett’s team encouraged him to get the whole idea made. From the press release: “Revisiting the original footage and models, this new generation of artists, trained primarily on computers, longed to learn from Tippett and assist as he revived his long-since abandoned film. Together with a volunteer crew, Tippett taught a new generation of artists and craftspeople as they brought his labour of love to life. In 2020, while the world sheltered through a global pandemic, Tippett completed the final scenes,” with partial funding coming from a Kickstarter campaign.
Shudder is known for its dedicated curation of horror and genre gems, so its acquisition of Tippett’s labour of love feels like a perfect match. Mad God will be released in theatres for a limited time alongside its Shudder debut on June 16.