An Eisner-award winning one-shot comic book by Hellboy creator Mike Mignola about a Victorian robot who works as a secret agent for President Abraham Lincoln, who has the ability to place his head onto different robot bodies for whatever occasion suits him.
First published in 2002, it was later adapted into a 2006 pilot episode for the Sci-Fi Channel by Bryan Fuller, creator of Dead Like Me, Wonderfalls, and Pushing Daisies, with Paul Giamatti as the title character. The pilot was not picked for a series.
You can watch the pilot here.
The Amazing Screw-On Head provides examples of:
- Adaptation Expansion: The TV Pilot gives a much more detailed back story than the comic.
- Affably Evil: Emperor Zombie is nothing but unfailingly polite and friendly to his colleagues to the extent that he unintentionally makes things awkward when he thinks he accidentally insulted the age of his two elderly henchwomen. He's so upbeat most of the time, that the times he does something heinous come off as legitimately shocking.
- Alternate History: The premise is of Screw-On Head's secret exploits under, at least, Abraham Lincoln.
- Ambiguously Gay: Emperor Zombie:Zombie: I hear you're a demigod. That must be fantastic for you.
Demigod: I don't know about fantastic...
Zombie: I do!
- Animated Adaptation: Contrary to most animated adaptations of Mignola's work, this one retains Mignola's own art style, with a lot of blacks. It's also slightly Animesque due in part to its animation being handled by Korean studio DR Movie.
- Battle Butler:
- Emperor Zombie as well (or Mr. Zombie, as he is called when the demigod shows up). He was the Amazing Screw-on Head's original butler.
- Mr. Groin takes up the mantle in the present, being the one to incapacitate Ricky and later assisting Screw-on Head in the battle with the demigod.
- Black Comedy: It's a comedic tale with zombies and Eldritch Abominations. It's pretty much a given.
- Eagleland: Parodied and played for laughs.Head: America is counting on me Mr. President, and by America, I mean The World.
Head: All really intelligent people should be cremated, for the sake of national security!
- Boss Battle: Scharnhorst (the guy with the flamethrower) is an Immune to Bullets supersoldier who almost single-handedly takes out Zombie's Quirky Miniboss Squad. It takes some questionable physics to defeat him.Scharnhorst: MAKE WAY FOR SCHARNHORST!
- Censor Shadow: Used for when the werewolf and Patience turn back to human.
- Chiaroscuro: Mignola's trademark style, which is adapted surprisingly faithfully in the animated pilot.
- Everything's Better with Monkeys: Ricky, Emperor Zombie's gun-toting pet chimp.
- Everything's Deader with Zombies: Emperor Zombie. It's in his name, and he's literally a walking corpse. He doesn't have a hunger for brains and is very articulate unlike most examples though.
- Evil Is Not a Toy: Subverted. Gung the Magnificent tries to tell Zombie the Demigod is too dangerous to summon, when it shows up, it's really kind of shy, and gladly accepts Zombie as its second in command.
- Evil Is Petty: Emperor Zombie has a self-described "petty vengeance fetish" against Screw-on Head's butlers.
- Evil Laugh: Zombie unleashes one when he becomes able to read the Scroll Of Gung — but ends up giggling uncontrollably.Emperor Zombie: There... there's actually a little joke in here — Gung was funny!
- Evil Tastes Good:Emperor Zombie: You let me down. You went on and on about how sweet the candy was, then told me not to put it in my mouth and got mad at me when I did.
Screw-On Head: If by "candy" you mean "ancient forbidden evil" then, yes, I told you not to put it in your mouth.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The Museum of Dangerous Books and Papers.
- Fan Disservice: One of Zombie's elderly henchwomen is a werewolf, who fought off a group of soldiers in her wolf-woman form. Upon resuming her human form she was covered only by a Censor Shadow.
- High Turnover Rate: Head's Manservants. This is due to Emperor Zombie's petty vendetta against any butler that Mr. Head hires.
- Historical Domain Character: Head answers directly to Abraham Lincoln.
- Hurricane of Puns:Lincoln: Groin's just looking out for your behind, Head, you can't keep him at arm's length!
- Letting the Air Out of the Band: When Emperor Zombie discovers the legendary jewel he's been seeking is actually a moldy old turnip.
- Losing Your Head: The main character, true to his name, screws and unscrews his head from multiple mechanical bodies. When not in battle, he's mostly just a talking head.
- Mood Whiplash:Emperor Zombie: [Dramatically] Here it is! Bangang Pagro-Esh... the Left Eye of Nog... the jewel worshipped by the wizards of Mu and the black priests of Atlantis, finally passed down to Gung the Magnificent who was chosen by the GODS to conquer the world with it! And now, it's mi...
[suddenly notices what he's holding]
Emperor Zombie: Ew! It's not a jewel, it's a dirty old piece of crap!
- Nigh-Invulnerability: Mr. Dog is shot multiple times and doesn't even flinch.
- Ninja Zombie Pirate Robot: It's an Alternate History story starring a steampunk robot with interchangeable bodies fighting against his zombified former butler, whose cohorts include an elderly werewolf woman, a cannibal, and a gun-wielding ape. It lives and breathes this trope.
- Quirky Miniboss Squad: The werewolf old woman and her cannibal partner. And a monkey.
- Really 700 Years Old: Patience by virtue of being an immortal vampire. The same can apply to Screw-on Head who knew her back when she was still mortal and Emperor Zombie, who was the one who turned her into a vampire in the first place.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: The Demigod that Emperor Zombie seeks to summon.
- Shooting Superman:
- Imperial German soldiers do this to the werewolf woman. Happens later in the same scene where Ricky and the other woman try shooting Scharnhorst.
- Subverted with Mr. Dog. Zombie shoots him, realizes he's bulletproof, and promptly has the Demigod crush him.
- Skyward Scream:
- Head attempts one of these when Zombie abducts Patience.Screw-On Head: DAMN YOU, MR. MANIFO — excuse me. DAMN YOU, EMPEROR ZOMBIE!
- And once again when Patience abducts Mr. Dog by impaling him with an anchor:Screw-On Head: DAMN YOU, PATIENCE!
- Head attempts one of these when Zombie abducts Patience.
- Steampunk: Robots, flamethrowers, and airships abound.
- Wolf Man: One of Emperor Zombie's elderly henchwomen can turn into a giant wolf-like creature at will.