Brilliant animation draws on our fears

Posted: November 14, 2008

Frightened by dogs? Still haunted by the memories of childhood bullies? How about that girlfriend, the one who metamorphosed into a raging monster?

In Fear(s) of the Dark, a brilliantly creepy compendium of six animation pieces drawn and quartered by some of the leading lights in the world of comics and graphic novels, dread is everywhere. The film's release is too late for Halloween, but that shouldn't stop anyone who cares about spooky stories - and cutting-edge art and animation.

Unlike the usual slapped-together 'toon omnibuses, Fear(s) of the Dark, a French production, interweaves the shorts, linking the segments together thematically, and narratively.

Philadelphia's Charles Burns, he of the eminently disturbing noir graphic novel Black Hole, delivers the unsettling tale of a nerdy student whose fantasies are realized when a beautiful, beaming woman enters his life. Alas, the honeymoon is short-lived. The late Guillaume Depardieu voices the doomed young man.

Belgian artist Marie Caillou serves up a nightmare scenario of a Japanese schoolgirl tormented by fellow students, by a mad doctor, and by a samurai's ghost.

Blutch, also known as Christian Hincker, is responsible for the eerie 18th-century tableau across which a bandy-legged nobleman marches with his four snarling canines. Bad things come to those who cross the dogs' path.

Lorenzo Mattotti's shimmering charcoal drawings are applied to an old fable about a rampaging beast, and Richard McGuire's angled, shadowy illustrations bring an old and ominous house to life.


Artist Charles Burns will host a Q&A session following the 7:45 show tonight at the Ritz at the Bourse.

Contact movie critic Steven Rea at 215-854-5629 or srea@phillynews.com.

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