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Web Video / Mad God (Phil Tippett)
aka: Mad God

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Prayers are futile.

If after all this you will not listen to me, I will punish you for your sins seven times over. You will eat the flesh of your sons and the flesh of your daughters. I will destroy your high places, cut down your incense altars and pile your dead bodies on the lifeless forms of your idols, and I will abhor you. I will turn your cities into ruins and lay waste your sanctuaries, and I will take no delight in the pleasing aroma of your offerings. I myself will lay waste the land so that your enemies who live there will be appalled. I will scatter you among the nations and will draw out my sword and pursue you. Your land will be laid waste, and your cities will lie in ruins. Then the land will enjoy its sabbath years all the time that it lies desolate and you are in the country of your enemies; then the land will rest and enjoy its sabbaths.
Leviticus 26:18 and 26:29-34

Mad God is a horror film that began life as an ongoing series of online videos, hence being categorized as a "Web Video" here even though many of the tropes listed are exclusive to the theatrical version. It was created by Phil Tippett, a Stop Motion animator who has worked on Jurassic Park, the original Star Wars trilogy, and RoboCop, among many others. It tells the story(?) of a mysterious gas-masked, coated figure, called The Assassin in the paratext, traveling through a nightmarish underworld.

Tippett began design and concept work on Mad God back in 1990, but for budgetary reasons, it didn't get off the ground until 2010, with a successful Kickstarter campaign launched by Tippett Studio. The first episode went online in 2013, and since then, two more episodes have been made. Each episode could be downloaded from the website at a small fee.

It was eventually made into a feature length film using the first 3 episodes and 60% new footage, which was given a limited festival and theatrical release in 2021. In 2022, it was released to streaming on the platform Shudder. Later that same year, it had a BluRay release, featuring a commentary track from Tippett and Guillermo del Toro.


  • After the End: The world is post-apocalyptic, with the Assassin journeying through ruined cityscapes inhabited by tormented mutants and seeing the remnants of ancient wars and conflicts.
  • Alien Geometries: During a surgery of The Assassin, the doctor reaches his arms further into his exposed chest cavity than should be physically possible. Chalk it up to more of this movie's surreal-ness.
  • Ambiguously Human: The Assassin looks human at first glance, but when he is vivisected, he turns out to be anything but human; he has no organs in him, just objects like coins, pearl necklaces, books, and a worm-like larva, possibly indicating "he" is just a sort of Wetware Body or Meat Puppet piloted by the larva. We then find out that he is just one of many others of his kind sent down to this mad world by a man referred to as The Last Man. Notably, each Assassin completely towers over The Last Man, with a map almost the size of his body being easily held with one hand by an Assassin.
  • Ambiguous Situation: Literally everything is up to interpretation. Why is the Assassin tasked with carrying a bomb behind enemy lines? Why does the Last Man keep sending Assassins to do that? What happened to this world to make it like this?
  • Artistic License Palaeontology:
    • At the beginning, the Assassin descends past some inexplicably-huge fossils of a Triceratops and what seems to be an ammonite the size of a skyscraper.
    • Some Rhamphorynchus-like creatures appear later on, which avert the common mistakes in most portrayals of pterosaurs, although they are still very weird and stylized, with jagged, elongated beaks that almost resemble a mosquito's proboscis, and feet that look like tree roots.
  • As the Good Book Says...: The feature opens with a scrolling passage from Leviticus.
  • Behemoth Battle: The Alchemist and his assistant force two masked giants to beat each other with clubs.
  • Body Horror: All over the place. Practically every creature we meet is a bizarrely deformed, hideously mutated beast that you wouldn't want to even dream of existing. And then there's what's inside the Assassin's body.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: Goes on step further towards the end of the film when we see that the entire universe of the film has been meddled with at the start by a black hole in space is sending monoliths to come down and ruin worlds.
  • Crapsack World: Sometimes literally; see Electric Torture below. The setting of Mad God is an unholy, post-apocalyptic World Gone Mad that has no logic or reason to it. Transforms into a Crapsack Universe when we see in a montage on some strange, all consuming black hole sending 2001-esque monoliths to multiple planets and each one causing some sort of unholy destruction/chaos wherever they go.
  • Diesel Punk: A lot of the technology has the bulky look of the early 20th Century, especially the machinery of the two World Wars, and is caked with the rust and dirt of war.
  • Downer Ending: This universe is beyond saving, and when a new one is created towards the end, it shares a similar fate.
  • Electric Torture: A group of giants are strapped into enormous electric chairs which are always turned on, forcing them to convulse and constantly void their bowels. The excrement is processed by a nightmarish biomechanical complex below and used to form the Shit-Men.
  • Eternal Recurrence: Assassins keep being created by the Last Man and sent into the ruined world with bombs apparently intended to destroy it, but each one fails and gets vivisected, at which point the next Assassin is created and the cycle begins all over again.
  • Fan Disservice: There's exposed breasts with nipples in this movie... belonging to an obese, horrifying creature with a hideous face.
  • Fat Bastard: The inhabitants of one city are disgusting flabby monsters that do nothing but eat and shit all day. Supplementary material refers to them as "Butt Sergeants".
  • Forever War: The post-apocalyptic world the Assassin journeys through is one endless warfare on every level of "society" (if it can be called that) fought seemingly just for its own sake, with all the horror that comes with it.
  • Gas Mask, Longcoat: The Assassin dresses like this. All of the Assassins do.
  • Hell: A popular interpretation of where this movie is set, and backed up by Tippett crediting medieval artist Hieronymus Bosch as his biggest influence. If it's not the literal Hell, it's certainly a lot like Hell.
  • Here We Go Again!: The film ends with the Last Man sending yet another Assassin down in a diving bell.
  • The Hero Dies: The Assassin is captured, killed, and vivisected by the enemy right at the end of his journey. So the Last Man makes a new oneā€¦ just like he has countless times before.
  • The Igor: The Alchemist in the Black Cloak has a hunchbacked assistant.
  • I'm a Humanitarian / Monstrous Cannibalism: Early on, a sort of ogre-like creature that sounds like a bear kills another creature and eats it. Neither could really be called human, but both seem more or less sentient.
  • Industrialized Evil: The world is just one gigantic industrialized hellscape.
  • Mad God: Implied by the title. Tippett's explanation in this interview is that the Mad God is the ideas that drive the project, and that he is the "abbot" of the god.
  • Medical Horror: The larva inside the Assassin is taken through a nightmare version of a maternity ward, ending with it being offered to an Alchemist in a Black Cloak and an old plague doctor mask, who grinds it into dust for some inscrutable purpose.
  • Mind Screw: Phil made this series specifically because he wanted a break from conventional narrative cinema, and having to squeeze his ideas into a coherent narrative. Since this project is so much more freeform, he can really go wherever his ideas take him. That's the Mad God of the title.
  • Minimalism: There's no real structure to the plot, no dialogue, no explicit exposition. It's just a march through a nightmarish world. All Worldbuilding and characterization is purely visual. All interpretations of what is happening are your own.
  • The Movie: On the commentary track, Tippett says his goal was to create the Hieronymus Bosch movie.
  • No Antagonist: It's a world of horrific monsters, but few of them really pay the "protagonist" any mind and most are just trying to get by in a ruined world. Even the twisted scientists who capture the Assassin can be interpreted as a Necessarily Evil since they harvest his remains to create new universes.
  • No Name Given: Everybody, since there's no dialogue. Supplementary material refers to them only by titles, such as the protagonist being named the Assassin.
  • Off-the-Shelf FX: Some of the sets are made of miniature buildings that Phil buys at his local hardware store. Others are old leftover props from movies he's worked on, being re-purposed for use here. See Shout-Out below.
  • Our Monsters Are Weird: Most of the creatures in it are very hard to describe.
  • Pet the Dog: Very short-lived, The "Mad Nurse" handles the baby delicately enough to calm the crying worm-baby, and she protectively steps back when the Alchemist first approaches her to take it. It resumes crying as soon as it leaves the Nurse's arms.
  • Pinball Protagonist: The Assassin is on his mission to deliver the bomb behind enemy lines, that's it. He makes no effort to impact the strange, ruined world he passes through.
  • Plague Doctor: The Alchemist is a humanoid figure in a black plague doctor mask, robe, and hat.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: The "Mad Nurse" doesn't seem comfortable with her macabre work. She's clearly reluctant to hand over the crying baby worm to the Alchemist.
  • Roger Rabbit Effect: Although Stop Motion is the preferred medium of the series, there's a bit of live action here and there, such as a pair of tiny gnomes in Part 1 and the terrified nurse in Part 3. In the feature film version, we are introduced to The Last Man (played by Alex Cox!) and 2 long haired blonde anarchists.
  • Scenery Gorn: All throughout. Every piece of destroyed landscape, buildings, worlds, lands and such have been lovingly crafted and created in exquisite detail.
  • Servant Race: The "Shit-Men" are small golems created out of well...shit, whose only purpose is to toil endlessly at a monstrous factory with no regard for their own well-being.
  • Shout-Out:
    • A statue of the cyclops from The 7th Voyage of Sinbad appears in the first episode, along with what seems to be ED-209 from RoboCop (1987). The latter may be more of a Creator Thumbprint, since ED was very much Tippett's own creation, while the cyclops is more of a conventional homage to stop motion legend Ray Harryhausen. On the audio commentary, Tippett talks about seeing that cyclops as one of the defining moments of his life.
    • The black monoliths are straight out of 2001: A Space Odyssey.
  • Silence Is Golden: There is no dialogue in the entire film, except for one instance where a mushroom-like creature shouts "Oh No!"
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: This is what plays in the end credits. Sounds pretty cheery after something so horrific huh?
  • The Stinger: A series of explosions are seen and heard by the Assassin as he closes his eyes in peace.
  • Surreal Horror: Often characterized as such, although Tippett is insistent that it doesn't quite fit the definition of surrealism, since it does tell a contiguous story - albeit a very opaque one.
  • Talking Poo: Well, not talking, but one sequence features a city where all the labour is done by what appear to be golems made out of poop. Supplementary material refers to them as "Shit-Men".
  • Tower of Babel: The film opens with the tower being engulfed and destroyed by a divine storm.
  • Unseen Evil: The thing that runs the Shit-Men's factory. All we see are close-ups of it's scaly features on several screens, babbling orders in a nonsensical language that sounds like baby-talk.
  • Unspecified Apocalypse: The world is clearly post-apocalyptic, what could possibly render a world like this is as unexplained as everything else.
  • The Weird Sisters: The Last Man consults three crones who appear to share one eye, receiving the maps that guide the Assassins.
  • War Is Hell: A possible interpretation of what the hell is going on; it's all representative of the hellish, self-perpetuating, pointless, industrialized, and dehumanizing nature of war and all its myriad aspects. As described by one reviewer, "In its abstract madness it presents the nightmare of what war does. Nobody is human. Only monsters exist".

Alternative Title(s): Mad God