originally posted at https://canmom.tumblr.com/post/732552...

Thrice the brinded Cat hath mewed,
Thrice and once the hedge-pig whin’d,
Harpier cries, ‘tis time! 'tis time!
- Macbeth

For the fourth time, Animation Night encounters Halloween. What horrors yet await us? Oh, there are……. many…

Gif source: @christzke

I’m going to keep this writeup pretty short bc (as is probably evident from the Posting lately) I’m not in the best of sorts.

The traditional Animation Night halloween goes something like this: a vampire-related anime, some Yamishibai, and something weird and different. Sometimes that leads to discovering some truly great and unexpected films, like Birdboy: The Forgotten Children (Psiconautas) by Alberto Vasquez. I had been thinking of doing Vasquez’s Unicorn Wars tonight, but I decided to hold off to rewatch Birdboy alongside it in a week or two.

Other gems we’ve encountered have been the Chilean stop-motion film obliquely about a Nazi cult The Wolf House, the 'gekimation’ works of Ujicha, the gorgeous one-man adaptation of Suehiro Maruo’s ero-guro manga Shoujo Tsubaki, and of course Phil Tippett’s 30-year magnum opus Mad God. There’s a reason I look forward to Halloween each year.

Animation is a tricky fit for horror stories, particularly traditional animation. The stylised and clearly artificial presentation intrinsic to animation can be distancing and make it hard to make things genuinely scary - so if anything, a lot of horror creators benefit from a deliberately low-fi style, which avoids being too obvious with displays of technique. But animation of all kinds loves horror images and themes, from gory OVAs of the 80s full of rapacious demons, to what you could call 'spoopy’ works like The Nightmare Before Christmas, Hotel Transylvania and Paranorman which play around with all the Halloween/Hammer Horror imagery - the Draculas and Frankensteins and so on.

Gif source: @soulspark

So what’s the recipe tonight?

Well, for our vampire anime, we have now worked through the obvious ones, so it’s on to… the Darkstalkers OVA from 1997-8, adapting Capcom’s series of fighting games. Though in Japan it’s called ヴァンパイアハンター THE ANIMATED SERIES (Vampire Hunter: The Animated Series).

Fittingly for a late-90s OVA, this is full of crazy sick animation, notably including a number of cuts by Yoshinori Kanada. The story is basically: two vampire clans are having a war, but then aliens show up. Somehow that leads to battling atop exploding zeppelins. I’m curious.

For our Western Animation slot we have something by Genndy Tartakovsky (Animation Night 35). While Tartakovsky is best known for his 2D animation and hyper-simplified graphical style, he’s also directed Hotel Transylvania in 3D. I was rather dismissive of this one at a glance apparently, but I’ve been told it’s good and I mean, it’s Tartakovsky right? I’m definitely curious to see how his style crosses dimensions.

Hotel Translyvania was created at Sony Pictures Animation, the studio that would later blow everyones’ minds with Spiderverse. Their history is this: Sony, the international media and tech giant, had a visual effects studio called Sony Pictures Imageworks. They were considering selling it, but then came the wave of CG films beginning with Shrek, and suddenly the smell of money was in the air. So Imageworks was retooled into a studio for making feature-length CG movies. Their early films were pretty formulaic, but they gradually began to get more ambitious.

Hotel Transylvania, which depicts a hotel for monsters run by Dracula, has had a rough history, with Tartakovsky actually the sixth director to take on the project. His goal was to try and take the vibe of 2D animation, with its squash and stretch and variable timing, and bring it to 3D - a concept that was perhaps ahead of its time! How did he manage? Let’s find out.

For our Yamishibai slot we have Yamishibai.

…ok, for those just joining us this I should probably explain. It’s kind of like creepypastas for weebs. Yamishibai is a series of limited-animation shorts in the style of kamishibai paper theatre, telling short horror stories. In the first half of the 20th century, kamishibai performers would go around telling stories with illustrated panels, and the form was influential on the early days of manga. They’re usually a blast so we’ll definitely see a few of these.

…and, given the late start that will probably be all we have time for, but if we’re in the mood, I can pull out a couple shorter animated horror works. Next week, we’ll follow it up with Alberto Vasquez, revisiting Birdboy and also checking out Unicorn Wars.

Sound fun? See you at twitch.tv/canmom; we will start the spooky playlist soooooooooooooooooooooooooooonnnnnnnnnn…

We never actually got around to watching Hotel Transylvania, since Darkstalkers ended up much longer than I thought. Probably for the best though. It's much more my speed and I think Hotel Transylvania was suggested as a joke which I took too seriously ^^'


Add a comment