'Animated Nightmares' – Robert Morgan | Manipulate 2015
Anyone aware of Robert Morgan’s work will know his award winning style is macabre to say the least. ‘Animated Nightmares’ is a fitting title for the evening as the artist presents a choice of international animations that have impressed him, along with a selection of his own distinctively dark and captivating films. This is not, we are warned, an evening for the squeamish…
Having mentioned him as one of his influences, Morgan opens the night with Jan Švankmajer’s ‘Meat Love’ (1989) a classic stop-frame animation about two steaks and their untimely end following a brief and passionate love affair. ‘Nightmares #1_Unicorn’ by American animator Grace Nayoon Rhee is a beautifully surreal and unsettling short with a David Lynch quality.
Russian animator Igor Kovaleyov is next with ‘Hen, His Wife’ a bizarre and colourful visual feast in which a grotesque blue man discovers his wife is a hen. The sparse atmospheric soundtrack combined with the surreal imagery (Including a pet caterpillar with a human head) remind me of Morgan’s other animations and it comes as no surprise to hear that it is one of his favourite films of all time.
Finally completing Morgan's choice of nightmare fuel is ‘The Eel’ by English animator Dominic Hailstone. Writhing, muculent and confined in its tank we watch as an eel mutates and grows to become a nightmarish leviathan. The moody score of heavy metal along with the visceral quality of the film succeeded in impressing Morgan enough to collaborate with Hailstone for a small portion of ‘Bobby Yeah’, Morgan’s most recent, BAFTA nominated offering and the first of his films to be shown this evening.
It is a twisted masterpiece, which took three years to create and there is a small collective gasp at the fist sight of Bobby, our fleshy, rabbit-eared protagonist for whom everything goes wrong at the push of a button. Bobby’s gruesome adventure explores temptation, procreation and guilt and has you constantly asking yourself how much worse it can get, and believe me it always gets worse.
‘The Separation’ is a disturbing exploration of the price of loyalty for a set of separated conjoined twins with a desire to reconnect “It was my first comedy,” Morgan jokes at the end. ‘The Cat With Hands’ is based on a recurring nightmare Morgan’s sister experienced and uses a mixture of live action and animation to create a rich atmosphere, which is both eerie and charming in equal measures. ‘D for Deloused’ really does get under your skin and like most of Morgan’s films it is quite proudly disgusting. Finally we have ‘Invocation’ which explores how the animator becomes the animated in the most ghastly of ways.
Robert Morgan's astonishingly disturbing yet morbidly humorous 'Animated Nightmares' evening is both inspiring and repulsing, ultimately illustrating just how dark and uncanny a medium stop-frame animation can be.
Robert Morgan at the Manipulate Festival 2015