Tagged: weird

Go To Hell! – Solo Feature Animation by Ray Nowland

‘Go To Hell!’ begins with the reaganesque character GD persuading his new secretary Angel to enter a ‘suspended animation booth’ which effectively brainwashes her so she wants to bone GD. While essentially raping his secretary; GD’s wife enters the room with their son and proceeds to burn his cock with a cigar. Yes, this is the kind of fare you can expect from Ray Nowland’s ‘Go To Hell!’, but there’s more.

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‘Go To Hell!’ is a crudely animated 1997 feature spanning roughly 73 minutes. At first it seems like it’s only going to be a comedy that’s aim is to shock us with vulgar nudity and violence, but it is much more. The narrative of ‘Go To Hell!’ is essentially a fresh and raw take on the Bible, creation of man, eugenics, fascism and environmentalism. It takes a gutsy approach to these themes and issues and displays and uncommon and rare social consciousness you won’t find in any Hollywood animation.

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GD is actually God and his son Little Red is Lucifer. The planet they live on becomes polluted so they set off to find another habitable planet in a spaceship filled with people or ‘genetic specimens’ who are to repopulate the new planet. GD and Little Red stay in stasis for the majority of the journey while the crew and people on the ship reproduce and pass through generations, gradually inbreeding and mutating. They arrive at earth while dinosaurs still roam the planet and ‘Little Red’ and a few of his followers head down to the planet to smoke weed and play in the jungle. GD is not happy about the dinosaurs and indigenous life and wants to exterminate them with a passing asteroid, then repopulate the planet with his genetically modified creations. Little Red disagrees with this because GD is pretty much the biggest asshole in existence.

    I guess dinosaur bud is pretty good…

GD enacts his first extermination while ‘Little Red’ hides in a cave with his snake friend. When he comes to the surface, the earth is populated by ape-like creatures who are enslaved by GD their creator. Mad at his father’s dickery, Little Red decides to copulate with one of these creatures and spawn forth a new race, teaching them to think for themselves and have self determination. Essentially every step ‘Little Red’ takes to better mankind through education, reason and kindness, GD destroys through plots and scheming from his spaceship orbiting Mars. GD goes on to kill his grandson Jesus, create the Catholic Church to subjugate humans, create numerous conflicts and genocides including WWI and helping out Hitler in WWII.

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Even though I think the myths in the Bible outdated, irrelevant and extremely boring; I found ‘Go To Hell!’ was an interesting and particularly ballsy take on it all. It’s all the more impressive that Ray Nowland drew every frame of the film himself with only some help in post production from Leaf Nowland.

As a child who grew up in Australia, I watched ‘Blinky Bill’, a cartoon about an extremely obnoxious koala and his friends that Ray Nowland worked on as an animator. While having some of the most annoying characters imaginable it had a strong environmental theme that is carried over into ‘Go To Hell’. The flat and crude animation style in ‘Go To Hell!’ is particularly reminiscent of ‘Blinky Bill’ and budget Australian televised animation

I don’t think Blinky made it…

It’s pretty uncanny to see this style of animation I was familiar with in my childhood carried over with adult themes, and to make it even weirder most characters in ‘Go To Hell!’ are voiced by Keith Scott who voice ‘Splodge’ and many other characters from ‘Blinky Bill’. This is coupled with a 16-bit soundtrack reminiscent of early video games such as ‘Duke Nukem 3D’.

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I recommend ‘Go To Hell!’ for anyone that’s into weird fucked up animation, adult fans of ‘Blinky Bill’ or anyone interested in the history of underground, solo or Australian animation. ‘Go To Hell!’ is a rarity and at the time of writing this there’s only one torrent available of a VHS rip. It’s not in print or for sale anywhere.

‘Go To Hell!’ is Ray Nowland’s only feature and last of his work that is recorded. After trying to track down details of him to get an interview, I can only guess that after creating ‘Go To Hell!’ he either retired or died. I like to think he’s still making fucked up cartoons in a bedroom somewhere.

-Hamish .S



Solo Feature Animation – Heart String Marionette by M Dot Strange

M Dot Strange is a solo feature film animator and ‘Uberector’ from San Jose, California. What is a solo feature film animator, or Uberector I hear you ask? Well it’s someone who through wielding a gigantic amount of willpower and determination, has completed a feature length animation, mostly if not completely by themselves. An Uberector is pretty much the embodiment of Auteur theory and D.I.Y or Die mentality. M Dot is such a man and he does it well.

Heart String Marionette is the second feature animation from M Dot Strange, his first being We Are The Strange. Heart String Marionette or HSM is a tale about a samurai, a child and a prostitute who quest to defeat an evil warlord and his minions who are devastating the world. On the surface the narrative of HSM is a relatively simple tale of revenge and Good fighting against evil, but on closer inspection the story is thick with subtext about rampant capitalism and commercialisation, sexual abuse, resisting corrupt governments and corporations, and navigating the current world as a creative, artist and individual.

The art in HSM is mindblowing. M Dot Strange creates a world that is as tangible as it is surreal. The characters and monsters have a childlike simplicity to them, as they all represent puppets and marionettes. The atmosphere of HSM is thick, dark and foreboding.  The score to HSM by composer Endika was heartfelt and amazing, however i feel it was a little overused as it covers the majority of screen time without break. This has the effect of making HSM seem more like an opera than a film. I’m not sure if this is something I liked or detested. I feel that the lack of diegetic and atmospheric sound in HSM took me out of the space that was created and I felt like the world was less of a place I could inhabit and explore, which is something I value in animation. It also made HSM into a sort of weird Noe theatre puppet show which I enjoyed.

The only other criticism I have of HSM is the way females were portrayed, which could be construed as misogynistic. From reading and watching M Dots work(especially the strong anti-misogynist message throughout We Are The Strange) I know this is not the case, however it troubled me non-the-less.

Heart String Marionette is an odd and highly personal work from one of the best and most innovative artists and filmmakers today. I definitely recommend getting a copy and supporting M Dot Strange, just don’t watch it with your mum.

You can buy the digital version of Heart String Marionette HERE for $5 which is totally worth it.

You can read about more M Dot Strange madness on his blog HERE where he talks about being a rad filmmaker.

Weekly Inspiration #4 – Robert Morgan

This weeks inspiration is a filmmaker I had never heard of until 2 days ago. My friend/bandmate and purveyor of weirdness Becky, sent me one of Robert Morgan’s short films to look at. As you could probably tell I’m mostly into the darker and weirder animation and films because they tend to stimulate me and make me think a hell of a lot more that ‘dawww happy :D’ works. So Morgan’s work really affected me straight away.

Robert Morgan’s work seems heavily influenced by the Brothers Quay’s use of fantastic lifeforms, gothic moods and a sense of retelling old stories, which you can also see throughout Robert Morgan’s work. Yet his work is less abstract in narrative and therefore feels more accessible without repeated viewings.

Robert Morgan’s ‘The Cat With Hands’ is a great live action/animation hybrid. It follows two men as they go to a well to get water, while the older character tells a story about a cat who has an appetite for human body parts. The narrative is told in a timeless, almost dreamlike setting very reminiscent of Jiri Barta’s ‘Last Theft‘ and Jim Henson’s ‘The Storyteller‘ series. The atmosphere Morgan creates is so eerie and thick you could cut it with a knife.

Another of Robert Morgan’s films i watched was ‘The Man in the Lower-Left Hand Corner of the Phonograph’. This short animation is a tale of loneliness, voyeurism and longing. A man sits in his room and spies on a woman through a hole is the wall. The animations in this short are so spot on that even without dialogue, the characters are extremely strong. I loved all the little unnecessary motions and pauses that made the characters so relate-able.  The sound design was also some of the best I’ve heard in a long time. It really adds depth and atmosphere to the space in which the story takes place. If you’re a weirdo like me you’ll love the end!

As far as I can tell Robert Morgan is still alive and kicking in london! You can buy his DVDs and check out more of his work here.