Coming to theaters and on-demand this Halloween, The Spine Of Night looks like a heavy metal fantasy epic that requires an altered mind. The red band trailer says as much in the critical blurbs and shots of rotoscoped floating blue heads and medieval muscle men huffing fumes off mysterious flowers. This Ralph Bakshi-inspired animated anthology feature looks like it should come with a pack of gummies.
If you choose not to indulge, you’ll still be in good hands because the voice cast for the film is absolutely killer. Who isn’t curious about an animated throwback starring Richard E. Grant, Lucy Lawless, Patton Oswalt, Betty Gabriel, and Joe Manganiello?
The Spine Of Night is a labor of love in the truest sense. Co-writers and directors Philip Gerlatt and Morgan Galen King spent seven years animating the movie. Unfortunately, the process of rotoscoping, which requires the artist to animate over live-action footage frame by frame, fell out of fashion for a reason. It looks cool as hell but is very time-intensive. Nevertheless, the trailer promises a feast for the senses.
The film wears its influences on its sleeve, harkening back to other midnight cartoons/excuses to rip a bong, like Ralph Bakshi and Frank Frazetta’s Fire & Ice and Heavy Metal. Spine Of Night promises a trip to a cinematic wonderland we haven’t been to in some time. But, more importantly, the high-fantasy world appears to give up the goods.
Our senior writer Katie Rife gave the film a mostly positive assessment after SXSW. “The Spine Of Night takes paying tribute to formative influences to some pretty impressive heights.” However, Rife notes that “viewers will have to be forgiving of some crude action and sparsely animated background characters.”
The Spine Of Night hits in theaters and on-demand on October 29.