Invocation (2013, Robert Morgan)
Robert Morgan is back, baby! Or rather I’m back at his vimeo, watching some recent-ish stuff. Incredible couple minutes here of meta-stop-motion. The animator bleeds into his camera, inadvertently causing the filmed frame images of his stuffed bear to become flesh, birthed from the camera, which then destroys the animator and stop-motion-animates the human body before the camera (and before the animator’s flesh-birthed in-camera avatar). Takes less time to watch than to explain. The actor-animator Robin King has made some intriguing-sounding shorts himself.
The Ossuary (1970, Jan Svankmajer)
Time to rewatch some ancient Jan Svanks which I’ve completely forgotten. He sets up the scene outdoors, then goes bananas when he gets inside this church made of bones. The photographer was alone, but the audio is a tour guide explaining it all to a group of unseen kids… one of whom is coughing incessantly in a confined space full of the bones of plague victims, argh. The tour is broken up the the sounds of a squeaky bicycle. Rating: 10 out of 10 bones.
The Fall of the House of Usher (1980, Jan Svankmajer)
A decade after the Ossuary but the same idea – Svank alone in an empty old place, no humans are seen as we hear dramatic stories on the audio. This time it’s a rushed narrator reading the wordy Poe story while Svank’s camera reels seasick around a house, and the objects inside are less ancient and precious, so the animators can destroy them in stop-motion (a hammer’s wood handle, and in the final seconds a stuffed raven) or cover the floor in mud and make fun patterns. Poor Usher apparently buries his sister alive then dies of shock in front of his narrator friend.
Belial’s Dream (2017, Robert Morgan)
“Belial, the deformed conjoined twin from the Basket Case series, has a strange dream.” More stop-mo monstrosities, this trounces the original movie.
Down to the Cellar (1983, Jan Svankmajer)
Girl goes to the cellar to get a basket of potatoes, but she’s haunted by a cat in the walls, self-propelled potatoes and shoes, and coal-obsessed basement-dwelling neighbors. She almost makes it back upstairs, too.
The Pendulum, the Pit, and Hope (1983, Jan Svankmajer)
Dual adaptation, stitching stories by different authors. First-person narrator is tied beneath the pendulum blade, frees himself by smearing delicious glop on the ropes for the rats to chew through, defeats the flaming clockwork demon walls from closing in and forcing him into the pit, flees down the halls and escapes through a hole to the outside, where he’s accosted by an evil monk.
Tomorrow I Will Be Dirt (2019, Robert Morgan)
An authorized, stop-motion sequel to Jörg Buttgereit’s 1993 film Schramm. That is by the guy who made Nekromantik, so I never planned to watch it. The feature must end with Schramm dead, because this short follows his hellish afterlife, smashing himself in the face and dick with a hammer before getting eaten by a vagina dentata. Verdict: cool.
The Flat (1968, Jan Svankmajer)
A more pranksterish version of Pit/Pendulum/Hope, a man in an apartment full of traps, nothing as solid as it seems, trying to have a meal and a rest. One of Svank’s best live-action/stop-motion blends. Threatens derailment when a man enters with a chicken and a hatchet, but the chicken survives.
A Quiet Week in the House (1969, Jan Svankmajer)
Man is hiding, surveilling house, then breaks in with his equipment to spend the week, each day drilling a hole in a different spot and observing stop-motion antics.
1. screws escape from their candy wrappings to sit atop typewriter keys
2. sentient tongue grinds itself into bullet casings
3. wind-up bird eating beans causes the cabinetry to shit in revolt
4. pigeons fly into offscreen shredder, feathering a chair
5. suit jacket siphons water from potted plant then pisses itself
6. spool of wire picks lock to cabinet of body parts and winds itself horribly around them
Then the man wires the six holes with dynamite, sets a timer and runs for the hills. Technically, his segments have amateur-looking editing and projector noise, like he’s being followed by a guerrilla crew. The six animation pieces have weirdly blended frames, like someone screwed up their pulldown settings in handbrake, and that someone may well have been me.