In a town that never changes, children must work and adults get to play. But something is really off about this place called “Lantern Town”…first of all, there are only five children in the whole town and their job is to go out every night to look for monsters. The grownups are pretty creepy with painted on smiles who agree with everything they are told by their sleazy mayor. They drink all day and hang out at the “Lantern House” where shady decadent shit goes down.
Things literally run like clockwork until a strange man comes into town and changes everything. Nightmares are unleashed and the children are forced to face their fears which includes M dot’s signature chaos battles with crazy monsters and epic bosses.
Ever since I came across a copy of We Are The Strange several years back, I’ve been a big fan of M dot Strange’s work. His animation is not only trippy and unique but he’s 100% independent, making 3 full-length feature animations by himself!
Typically, I’m a total pirate and torrent the shit out of movies, TV shows, and music, but when I see an independent artist making something I really enjoy that blows my tits off, I support them if/when I have the money. Thankfully, I had just gotten paid as soon as I am Nightmare Deluxe Edition was officially released so I was able to buy it and watch it immediately. I had been following M dot’s creative process through his twitter and was really looking forward to seeing the finished product. I am Nightmare did not disappoint. It was great to see how much M dot Strange’s animation has progressed since his first movie, focusing more on story and characters than his previous films, and further developing his computer animation skills with the hours upon hours of practice he’s had.
M dot was nice enough to answer some questions about being a totally independent animator, as well as his inspiration and his nightmares!
1) There is a reoccurring theme in all of your movies with dolls and the underdog having to battle this giant video game-like boss. Is this theme influenced by you being a completely independent filmmaker battling the big boss of the entertainment industry?
Doing what I do the way I do it, I guess I do feel like I’m this tiny speck competing with and going up against this giant scary machine, so that tends to show up in my stuff. Also observing the giant machine that is the status quo pulverizing people day after day can’t help but seem like the biggest most terrifying monster looming over us all everyday- it’s the ultimate bad guy-
2) What inspired I am Nightmare and your other films?
I am Nightmare was really inspired by me having grown up as a kid who thought he knew better with his life choices but was constantly told by people older/richer/more experienced than me that the world was a certain way and that’s how it would always be and that I was foolish to try and do something outside of its rules- to me “reality” is a nightmare here in the United States- what started out as the “American Dream” is now a nightmare that helps terrorize the whole world- meanwhile most people here just go about their lives like everything is great- to some people its a dream-to most its a nightmare- it was also inspired by the Nietzsche book “Antichrist“- what I got from that book was that in order to be a true artist or someone that causes change you have to become what the status quo would call the Antichrist- or a nightmare to their dream as I used it- my other films were inspired by small real life events that I spun into strange fantasy scenarios- We Are the Strange was inspired by a cat crying in a warehouse I walked by at night once- Heart String Marionette was inspired by a dream I had about inanimate objects coming to life as I walked by them.
3) Why did you decide to go gonzo and make your movies independently instead of selling your soul and becoming a slave to some big studio?
I do this because I love doing it- I’ve never done it because I wanted to be rich or famous- its just the most interesting thing I’ve found to do with my time and life- I’m trying to make the best stuff I can with integrity- I had my chances to “go Hollywood” but the people I was meeting with from that industry- I found them mostly to be classless, talentless buffoons who only got their positions of power because of who they knew or who they were related too- that’s bullshit- if I don’t like people, or I think they’re frauds, I can’t/don’t pretend, I just walk away. And the people in the power positions in Hollywood seem like a bunch of frauds to me who only care about making money.
4) How do you fund your films?
There’s not much to fund- since I do everything- funding my films involves keeping me alive, having a place to live + utilities, food to eat and computers to use- and I do that by any means necessary- sales of my various wares- freelance jobs- charity from my family/friends- living cheap- the only non life expense for I am Nightmare was the $1500 I spent paying voice actors and I raised that money through donations- so the budget on I am Nightmare was $1500- this past year and a half I put all the money in Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies I hope that continues to grow than I could use that to fund my stuff- this past week I’ve been selling computer parts on ebay for money.
5) You made a promise to yourself and your fans that you would make I am Nightmare in a year and would subsequently make a movie a year from now on. It takes a major studio company several years to complete an animated movie. Why did you decide to do that to yourself?
I realized that even though its a lot of work for me to make one or two or three films- in the big picture that’s nothing to a film fan- I realized I need to have 7-10 feature films out there to get peoples attention- to really get things going for my film career- With I am Nightmare I wanted to see if it was possible and I did it so one a year seemed like a good way to make sure I get a lot of my work out there- but I’m already going back on my word as I am Nightmare hasn’t sold as many copies as I thought so I can’t live off of it for very long at all and I can’t bank on my next film doing that either so in 2014 I’m focusing on starting my own online film school and making and selling video games- once I have that stuff going and making steady money than I can fuck around for another year on a movie- I’m hoping I’ll be able to do another movie in 2015 though- its technically possible for me to make a new movie every year + games + music + a lot of other things IF I have to funding so its my goal to secure that first.
6) You mentioned in your youtube video that you also want to work on video games as well. You also make music and are known to put out an entire album while working on making a movie. How do you manage to do all that? What projects are you working on right now?
Yeah before I was a failed filmmaker I was a failed musician now I hope to be a failed game designer haha- I love music and films and I’ve always loved a good game- I started with music the same time I started doing films and they just grew with each other as audio/music skills really help film production- now with the video game thing- I always thought the tools were too difficult because I’m not a programmer but in the past three weeks I’ve been teaching myself game design making two joke games already “Dicks will fall on your head‘ and “Robots are dicks” my mind kind of exploded as I got these basic game making skills- I’ve got about 12 different games ideas and I’m working on one now- so this year its all about video games for me but I’ll probably kick out one or two music albums as well as if I don’t make music for too lang I go kinda crazy but yeah I’d like to take the worlds/experiences/emotions I create in my films and make them playable experiences for people as games- I’m really excited by the possibilities now I just need to learn the tools-
7) What is your ultimate nightmare?
Since I’m a control freak..it probably have something to do with slavery- not having my own free will to do what I want- or being a little kid and having some stupid religious fanatic parent running my life…
You can watch the first 15 minutes of I am Nightmare here:
If you like what you see, I highly recommend purchasing the full movie and M dot’s other movies to help fund his future projects. He is the only person I know of who has managed to create 3 animated features on his own and has 0 interest in selling out to Hollywood! A typical animated feature takes hundreds of people and millions of dollars! M dot Strange is proof that complete artistic freedom and independence is not only possible and a better choice, but based on the shit that major entertainment corporations are shelling out, supporting independent artists is necessary if you want art that will wake you up and inspire you instead of enslave your mind.
This first Bizarro short is pretty much Batman with clowns. I love clowns.
A beautifully made, dark, creepy, stop-motion animation about birth and decay.
Avey Tare from Animal Collective created this music video to promote his album “Enter the Slasher House.” Little Fang, the cat vampire-looking puppet, is from the Jim Henson’s Creature Shop and there is a serious nod to The Forbidden Zone.
A short by Harmony Korine!
A Texas sheriff battles aliens who want to snatch everyone’s thumbs. A very Bizarro stop-motion animation!
If you’ve never heard of Meatball Machine, here’s the plot:
“Yōji is a young lonely factory worker who falls for an equally lonely girl co-worker, Sachiko, but is unable to tell her of his interest. After he is assaulted in a theater by a crossdresser, Yōji finds what looks like an alien insect and hides it in his room. The next night, he comes across Sachiko being sexually attacked by another fellow worker. He attempts to come to her aid but is beaten. Sachiko feels sorry for him and returns with him to his apartment. During this encounter, Sachiko is attacked by the alien object which penetrates her and turns her into a bio-mechanical monster, a NecroBorg. These parasites take over human bodies and use their flesh to create weapons which they use to fight each other. Yōji is also infected and the plot eventually leads to a showdown fight to the death between the two would-be lovers. A side plot concerns a father who is out to kill the NecroBorgs who have also infected his daughter.”
I had to cut and paste that from wikipedia because really there’s no way in hell I would have been able to explain it using my own words. There really aren’t any words. Anyway, this rock-video-like short is a prequel to the movie and will help explain the movie better…or at least I think it’s supposed to. If you like Troma-esque Japanese campy splatter randomness, you’ll love this:
Until next time Bizarros!
Nothing is more soothing and inspiring than a dose of weird animation. Just like with Bizarro fiction, there are things you can do in animation that can be impossible to recreate in real life. Not only are all these shorts bizarre and well-crafted, they also convey ideas without the use of dialogue. Hopefully these are new to you, or if not, they are fun to rewatch. I recommend viewing them in full screen for maximum effect.
Let’s start you off with this short about a voodoo doll who rescues his friends from the fate of all voodoo dolls. It might make you hesitate the next time you pick up that pin…
Why did the red Furby-looking critter cross the road? Another excellent stop-motion animation from Zealous Creative.
The latest tripped-out animation from cyriak involves hallucinogenic chimpanzees.
I love stop-motion animation, especially when it involves creepy white clay beings with black melted eyes that remind me of art by Olivier de Sagazan. Scott Walker‘s beautifully haunting crooning fits perfectly.
An antlered skull creature limp-runs through a glitchy CGI world of LSD-inspired chaos.
There is an Alice in Wonderland quality to this last short. Instead of a rabbit hole, the protagonist falls through a surreal 3D hospital in search of beauty.
Are there any short animated movies that you’ve enjoyed recently? Feel free to share them!
By Sam Reeve
Jim Tozzi of the band/art collective PFFR totally rules! You may not be familiar with his art, but maybe you’ve seen the ultra bizarro animated show Xavier: Renegade Angel? If you haven’t, check out the episode below. It’s quite a trip. PFFR created the show, whose main character (Xavier) was based on one of his paintings.
Jim grew up near Boston, Massachusetts but now resides in New York. He once directed a music video for the band Mercury Rev that featured Ron Jeremy as a sex god in space. You can view it here.
By Sam Reeve
My rating: 7/10
Today is the first post for World Horror Cinema. If you missed the announcement from last week, I’ll be sharing and reviewing a different country’s horror movie each and every day in October. That’s right – 31 different countries, with a whole lot of subtitles and plenty of scares.
To kick things off, I bring you this heavily atmospheric and unsettling collection of animated shorts. Six different artists worked on Peur(s) du noir, each one in their own style, creating an array of black and white tales fit for Hallow’s Eve. The film is light on the scares for sure, so you can watch this one with the lights out, but from the opening credits (with great music), it got me in the Halloween spirit.
A teenage boy with an affinity for collecting strange insects meets the wrong girl at college. A village where people go missing and a young boy is haunted. A little Japanese girl has terrible nightmares. A man seeks refuge in a dark house, but finds no rest. These tales are spliced with two others, the first being a monologue of a woman talking about her fears, and second showing a man with vicious dogs who sics them on passersby.
The trailer below will give you a good idea of what you’re getting into, showing clips from each of the segments. The full movie below is subtitled in both English and Chinese (and you can’t turn it off), so it’s slightly annoying but still worth watching. If you’ve seen Peur(s) du noir or end up watching it, let us know what you think in the comments below.
By Sam Reeve
Justin Aerni is an American artist who currently resides in Portland, Oregon. His multimedia art is dark, strange, and both silly and serious all at once. Besides painting, drawing and sculpting, Aerni has created short films featuring his own music and animations, and he has also published a book of poetry called Bitter Batter Brains.
Below are a couple of his videos and samples of his art, including a random one of him just eating a sandwich, which I somehow found totally amusing.
Time to visit the Bizarro part of youtube again, this time exploring the wonderful world of creepy animation. There are some talented, twisted animators out there. Enjoy!