Will Vinton's Claymation Comedy of Horrors

I was convinced that Will Vinton’s ”Claymation” animation effects had worn out their pop- culture welcome with those incessant California raisin commercials. But the imagination on display in Comedy of Horrors can’t be denied — Vinton’s original variations on moving clay figures through stop-action animation are an amazing technical accomplishment.

This special follows the adventures of Wilshire Pig and Sheldon Snail, a pair of slapstick hustlers who discover the lost diary of Victor Frankenswine and spend the half hour looking for the long-dormant Frankenswine’s monster. The problem with this show is that Vinton’s visual imagination far outstrips the script by Mark Gustafson, Ryan Holznagel, and director Barry Bruce. The story doesn’t have much momentum, the jokes are on the level of confusing the words laboratory and lavatory, and the actors supplying the voices tend to yell instead of providing characterization.

But if you turn down the sound, Vinton’s artistry can be appreciated. The process of Claymation makes his figures seem three-dimensional, yet they can do all the exaggerated things that cartoon characters do — eyes pop out of heads and roll across the floor, tongues are yanked out of mouths by the yard and stretched across a room. The foolish script and Vinton’s seriously surreal effects are at odds stylistically, canceling each other out. B-

Will Vinton's Claymation Comedy of Horrors
  • TV Show