Before digitally rendered films like Toy story and The life of an insect revolutionized cinema, filmmakers and special effects artists often had to rely on the imperfect practice of stop motion animation to bring their wackiest ideas to life. Yet while classic children’s films like James and the giant peach and Santa Claus is coming to town remain revered among those who grew up with them, there is no denying the implicit goosebumps of abnormal and unnatural movements endemic to this style of animation.
While some filmmakers employ this approach to animation in order to intentionally terrify, others have had no choice but to use it, making their creations accidentally abominable.
ten The Adventures of Mark Twain (1985)
Loosely based on an incomplete work by American novelist Mark Twain, The Adventures of Mark Twain was a decidedly surreal stop-motion film from 1985 developed by Will Vinton, who was somewhat of a pioneer in the genre.
While the entire film is haunting, one scene is mostly remembered in which the protagonists meet Satan. Depicted as a bodyless armor wearing a shape-shifting Greek theatrical mask, Satan attempts to educate the character on the madness of mankind through an ominous dubbed voice that likely kept many young viewers from sleeping for weeks on end. .
9 The Secret Adventures of the Little Thumb (1993)
Designed as an adaptation of the British folk tale by Tom Thumb, 1993 The Secret Adventures of Petit Poucet bears almost no resemblance to centuries-old history. Almost incomprehensible, there isn’t much in terms of a cohesive plot, and the whole project feels more like a discarded Tool music video than a feature film aimed at kids.
Despite its disturbing appearance, The Secret Adventures of Petit Poucet is remarkable for presenting human actors posed frame by frame in the typical stop motion style. It’s certainly a unique approach, but it only adds to the horribly surreal nature of the film.
8 Vincent (1982)
An often-forgotten first work by stop-motion animation legend Tim Burton, Vincent was a 1982 adaptation of a poem written by Burton himself. While not extremely ghoulish, it showcases Burton’s distinct style and even includes a small appearance by Jack Skellington, a memorable Tim Burton character who would eventually be fleshed out in the 1993s. The nightmare before Christmas.
Voiced by horror legend Vincent Price and including references to works written by famous poet Edgar Allen Poe, Vincent is, in a way, a celebration of all that is horror, and is a must-see for all fans of Burton’s later release.
7 Live weird! Weird die! (2006)
years 2006 Live weird! Weird die! is a provocative and deeply distasteful film that serves as an enlarged, comedic version of the Tate-LaBianca murders of 1969. When a nomad in the distant future stumbles upon a book called “Helter Skelter”, he believes that Charles Manson – or “Hanson “as he is known in the film – is a messiah from a forgotten age.
Low priced and incredibly irreverent product, Live weird! Weird die! was designed for fans of marginal culture and aimed at those with exceptionally thick skin.
6 Emmett Freedy (1999)
Emmett Freedy is a short film included in a segment of the Nickelodeon comedy series, KaBlam. Designed as a comedy and featuring a storyline that wouldn’t be lacking in a more conventional children’s cartoon series, Emmett Freedy is grotesquely distorted by his outrageously off-putting art style.
The characters featured in the short are all hellish caricatures brought to unnatural life, and the late ’90s penchant for crass humor certainly doesn’t help. It’s amazing to think that this was produced with a young audience in mind.
5 Coraline (2009)
Based on a 2002 short story of the same name, 2009’s Coraline is often recognized as one of the best produced stop motion animation pieces of all time. Tell a twisted story of look-alikes turning a child’s idyllic dream into a nightmare, Coralin, with its compelling cast of characters, delivers a message about trust and family.
Earning an impressive string of awards and nominations as well as an overall rating of 90% from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, Coraline was one of the most popular children’s films of the 2000s. That said, first-time viewers are going to be scared, and those who are particularly sensitive to horror may want to stay away.
4 The Cameraman’s Revenge (1912)
Forgotten in the wake of more influential Hollywood films that used this technique in the following decades, Russian-born insect collector Wladyslaw Starewicz could be considered the father of stop-motion animation. Famous for laying dead insects in his early films, he was a visionary who helped popularize a film movement.
Yet, influential as it is, the 1912s The cameraman’s revenge is, over 100 years later, undeniably strange. Stop-motion anthropomorphized bugs are off-putting on the best days, but the fact that they’re real dead bugs makes the movie all the more uncomfortable.
3 Bobby Yeah (2012)
A 2012 effort by British surrealist filmmaker Robert Morgan, nominated for the BAFTA Awards Bobby Yeah is nothing less than a 23 minute nightmare. Openly macabre, Bobby Yeah presents a hellish landscape of body horror filled with mutilated flesh monsters and nailworm babies.
Obviously intended to provoke and disturb, Bobby Yeah is often only appreciated by art lovers who appreciate the works of Lucifer Valentine. Not to be seen by the disgusted, it’s a perverse combination of elegant, almost cartoonish presentation and unimaginable horror.
2 Toe (2020)
In collaboration with the YouTube channel, ALTER, Neal O’Brien and Chad Thurman’s Toe looks like a Tim Burton movie if it were stripped of all of his life and fantasy. An austere and overtly serious horror short, Toe sees a hungry boy trip over a decaying toe, which he brings home to eat. Unfortunately, whatever the toe was attached to comes back later that night.
Produced with shock value in mind, there isn’t an incredible amount of depth to Toethe story of. However, the spooky visuals and black-and-white aesthetic of the short make it stand out as a sore thumb or toe, in this case.
1 Jack Stauber’s Opal (2020)
Jack Stauber is a singer-songwriter and animator best known for his lo-fi near-hit “Buttercup”. His music, while vibrant and engaging on the surface, has a dark and somewhat sinister side to it, making it an eerie listening experience.
The same can be said of his opus 2020 Opal, which premiered on Adult Swim on October 31, 2020. A terrifying and near-home exploration of family flaws and shortcomings, OpalThe layout of is off-putting, but the short’s unsettling suggestions make it hard to forget.
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