The leading visual effects designer, whose credits include Star Wars and Jurassic Park, has spent three decades directing his gruesome animated fable

You definitely know Phil Tippett’s work even if you don’t know his name. The 3D chess game in Star Wars, the AT-ATs and Tauntauns in Empire Strikes Back, ED-209 in Robocop, the bugs from Starship Troopers and the dinosaurs from Jurassic Park are just some of the creations Tippett has brought to life. One of Hollywood’s leading visual effects designers since the 1970s, Tippett has just spent three decades directing his first feature film: Mad God, a gruesome animated fable wherein a mysterious spy must infiltrate the lower depths on a dangerous mission. It starts with one of the shirtier quotes from Leviticus, the Bible’s angriest book, before plummeting to the depths of a gory, dripping underworld. Think Dante via Ren and Stimpy, or Pasolini with stop motion animation.

Mad God might be animation, but it’s not kids’ stuff. Tippett has just premiered it at the Locarno film festival, where he he sat next to a family. “Mum and dad and a couple of little kids, so I said to them: ‘I wouldn’t take my kids to this.’ They got up to leave a few minutes later. The mum said I was right. And I said, ‘It gets worse.’” Indeed, it does.

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