Mutant Aliens (2001)

This is a strange, strange, strange little film.  It is as far from the Disney model of animation as it is possible to get, and it makes Ralph Bakshi’s edgy underground films look remarkably…conventional by comparison.

At least as far as his animation style goes.

It also borders on being pornographic – let’s call it frequently obscene but still trying. It should tell you something when a film comes with a credit for “Pornographic Sound Adviser”

Bill Plympton is one of those true oddities of the film world, a genuinely independent producer of unique, handmade animated films.  He rejects the whole modern computer assisted animation approaches, producing hand-drawn and hand-painted films on real animation cels, dumping whatever he can make on his last set of films into his newest venture.  He does all the animation himself, at an absolutely prodigious rate, with a small crew of assistants.

And what animation!  He uses crosshatching; subdued, almost watercolor color schemes for his backgrounds; extreme distortions; fish-eye lens views; and any other crazy trick that can only be done by hand.  And, unlike the bland, corporate styles typical of features cranked out by the studios, it all comes with a very distinctive – and personal – sense of style.

This one involves an astronaut abandoned in space, an evil government official, aliens, soldiers, a “squirrel” eating the President, ad men, secret projects, revenge, sex, and a planet of aliens who are giant body parts.

It’s rowdy, raunchy, and definitely not family friendly.

But it is still an impressive piece of work, with perhaps the best moments coming with the surreal battle between the evil eyes and heroic noses.

So watch at your own risk, but I’ll warn you, it is funny.


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