I mean, it’s not satire, is it?
There is however a little reference to my friend, cinematographer Simon Vickery. He’s very good, if you’re hiring. And it’s not true about the small robots, he’s fine.
Terry Gilliam’s MIRACLE OF FLIGHT is an early animation of his, pre-Python, in which his cut-out figures plunge to early deaths smothered in feathers or wielding cardboard wings. A little predictable at first, although the proportion of hand-drawn figures to art book cut-outs is slightly higher than usual. Then we get a gag recreated later in live action on Monty Python’s Flying Circus: a goggled aviator, majestically sailing through the air with his strap-on eagle wings, a rocky horizon scudding beneath him, until he’s abruptly flattened against a vast wall. Rotate 90° to reveal that the horizon was a sheer cliff face and the wall he’s hit is the ground.
Then a parable in which a king gathers together the finest scientists and philosophers in his land to solve the problem. His approach is to kick each of them off a mountain, on the assumption that one of them will be clever enough to invent flight on the way down.
Then Gilliam quickly shows us the invention of in-flight movies, stewardesses, airline tickets, and airport terminals. A representative passenger goes through baggage check-in and passport control, gradually approaching the gate, is instructed to board…
…and is kicked off the mountain.
Aloysius T. Cracklepuss.
From my puppet-making phase. Or, to be more accurate, my phase as the Frankenstein of charity shop stuffed toys. I would carve them up, collage them together, and insert orifices up their backs so I could manipulate them from within, just like Von Sternberg did to Dietrich.
Bratislav Thunderpouch III.
This guy is a patchwork of several of the Seven Dwarfs, with the thalydomidian arms of a much small puppet. Despite his apparently jubilant visage, he’s intensely bitter and twisted because he can’t wank.
Lobo Croissant, Seductress Third Class.
The body and legs are actually the head and antenna of an inverted and decapitated creature from some kids’ show. Hence the confused expression. Fiona just reminded me that the original impetus behind these guys was a kids’ show about a martial-arts monkey. The company involved spent eight grand making a state-of-the-art glove puppet (I know…) for a pilot, and then had no money to make him any opponents. So I started making them. We shot one three minute piece (postponed from summer due to executive indecision and corporate baloney, so that we ended up filming in a SEVEN SAMURAI downpour, me flat on my back in the mud operating a teddy bear in a pirate hat) and then the whole project fell apart. But somehow I was now on a puppet-making kick and, thus obsessed, didn’t stop for some months. Kind of like when Richard Stanley got fired from THE ISLAND OF DR MOREAU but came back to haunt the production, disguised as a dog (this really happened).
Wee Mosie MacMalbaff.
Note the strange, brown, suede-like hands. Brrrr.
Erik “Hambone” Buttinski.
He’s wearing a baby’s cardigan, also from a charity shop. His ears come from a toy dog. Joke shop teeth. Tends to spew foam whenever he’s moved, which can be distressing. If anyone ever wants to hire me to remake THE YOUNG LIONS, I have him in mind for the Brando part.
Mad Tam McSavage.
I keep telling him that his Michael Hutchence impersonation is in diabolical bad taste, but the little scunner won’t listen.
These are just a few of the dozen or so creatures I fashioned, Dr. Moreau-style, in my Puppet House of Pain. I had no particular plan for how to use them, but assumed a project would present itself in some hitherto vacant section of my mind.
One of them came in handy for entertaining a three-year-old one time, and apart from that, the whole sick crew languish beneath the bed in our spare room. Something for guests to think about when they bed down there.