Friday, August 31, 2012

Short Film: Slow Bob in the Lower Dimensions (USA, 1991)

Anyone remember Liquid Television? Then you probably also remember when MTV was good – which almost makes you one old fart, to say the least. But for those of you who don't know what Liquid Television was, it was an "animation showcase" that appeared regularly on MTV (and BBC 2) in the 1990s that featured all sorts of fun original "alternative" cartoons and short films, some of which – Beavis and Butt-head and Æon Flux, for example – went on to spawn their own series and/or movies. Many others, however, never went beyond a single filmlet or a few odd episodes. Slow Bob in the Lower Dimensions was one such short film that, though conceived as a possible series of episodes, never went beyond the pilot short.
Slow Bob in the Lower Dimensions is an early product of the creative mind of Henry Selick, created during the days when he was doing MTV station IDs. Three years later, he directed The Nightmare before Christmas (1993 / trailer), "the first full-length, stop-motion feature from a major American studio," which contrary to popular misconception was only produced by Tim Burton. Less than truly commercially successful when released (despite its critical success), The Nightmare before Christmas has long surpassed simple cult popularity. Selick, robbed of reputation that the film should have brought him – Tim Burton harvested all the glory – went on to do James and the Giant Peach (1996 / trailer), an excellent film and critical success if only moderately successful, and Monkeybone (2001 / trailer), a cult-worthy flick that was a flop of such major proportions that it easily could have cost him his career (having a budget of $75 million, the movie brought in only $7.6 million worldwide). Luckily, Selick preserved and went on to do the fabulous hit Coraline (2009 / trailer) – which we here at A Wasted Life voted as one of the Ten Best Films in 2010 – proving again that he is a truly unique creative talent with vision.
Both this creative talent and vision is to be found in Slow Bob in the Lower Dimensions, if only in an embryonic and unquestionably weird form and with a decidedly late 80s/early 90s aesthetic feel. Set to music composed by the legendary weirdoes of music, The Residents, the roughly six-minute-long film narrates the tale of a lad (Mark Steger of The Pact [2012 / trailer]) locked in an attic with only lizards and spiders as friends who is teleported to the lower dimension where flat photograph people are being terrorized by flying scissors. He saves the day – and the Princess (Hannah Sim of She Creature [2001 / trailer]) – but upon returning his room his set upon and tormented by his freaky two-headed sister...
To quote a well-written online article that is no longer online: Slow Bob in the Lower Dimensions "seamlessly combines multiple animation techniques including stop motion for the two-headed girl, puppets for the lizards, and Monty Python like cut-outs in the second dimension." The film is indeed "both disturbing and charming," but it is also extremely interesting and frequently rather funny despite the often more-than-nightmarish visuals. We here at A Wasted Life are proud to present this sadly overlooked and forgotten short film to you as the Short Film of the Month of August 2012.
Enjoy.

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