It’s brutally safe to say that getting sidetracked from the ideal functions of modern information technology has its perks. One of them is the ability to come across things that are not made fully aware to us by major media outlets. The film chosen as the subject of this entry is not something I found out about online, but something over one million others have, and is a prime example of just how incredible some underground material can be.
Takena Nagao is a Japanese claymation filmmaker with a huge following for someone of his market. Since his high school days he’s been creating works that would make even Art Clokey request a stay in solitary confinement. The work shared here today is not his “most” popular, but quite possibly his most frightening by far.
“Bloody Date” is the short story of a couple on their first date. All is going well and as expected. Quiet, slow and uneventful, but in a peaceful way. You know, until a seemingly inbred teenager comes from behind them and bashes the girl’s could-have-been boyfriend over the head with a mallet. The girl then flees into the woods to seek refuge and finds such in the form of a single story house. As things quickly lead to another she comes to the gruesome realization that she is seeking protection within the same walls that the murderous teen himself calls his home, along with his equally sick and… cultured(?) family. As what can be called the greatest animated tribute to classic “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” tropes of all time and having some of the cleanest stop motion to ever grace a computer monitor, “Bloody Date” is everything you ever wanted to see, that you never knew you wanted to see, until you saw it.
As for why this is worth watching, the various degrees of artistic design that add up to a near perfect short horror experience can’t be missed. In the creator’s signature style “Bloody Date” is a mostly silent film. All you hear is the very unnerving soundtrack that attempts to remind you, “Cartoons are meant for kids, right?”, in its opening beat. As the film gets more tense the music seems to become self aware and goes as far as to help build up to its seldom heard but satisfying sound effects. The film does not hold back when it comes to gore and one cannot help but give praise to how much work it must’ve taken to create such a smooth and free flowing stream of blood in a stop motion film. Lastly, the psychological and visual elements that make up the terror factor are without boundaries. Nagao knows how much more you can get away with in a cartoon as opposed to live action entertainment, and he takes every chance to make you feel as uncomfortable as possible. You feel the tension as a young girl stares at her almost ex-boyfriend’s lifeless corpse as it gets dismembered. You feel scared for her as she tries to escape a house she thought she was safe in, even though no words come out of her mouth. Long story short, “Bloody Date” is bloody perfect and although I’m not British, fuck it, I’m sticking with that line.
This, as well as the majority of Takena Nagao’s library, gained most of its popularity through screenings at Spike and Mike’s Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation, an event that propelled the careers of legendary animators such as Mike Judge, John K, Danny Antonucci, Pixar’s entire staff and every single animator that made the 90’s something worth praising. Such films of Nagao’s can still be seen at select festival dates to this day. The full film can be viewed below via the animator’s personal Youtube channel.
– Sterling “The Spork Guy” Anno