A Jim Henson Style Horror Film?

In an earlier post I was thinking if an animated horror movie can actually work.

I think that it can, but you’ve got to be very careful with the method you use. While stop motion style 2D animations like South Park work for comedy or comedic horror, they would not fit for something you really want to scare people with, like The Wendigo Effect.

So I was thinking about puppets.

Not like the ones seen in Team America…

puppet animation team america

…but more like The Dark Crystal by Jim Henson.

Dark Crystal is a fantasy story with elves, monsters and a lot of fairy tale elements. I did not like it as a kid, because I thought that the heroe was somehow ugly. I felt the girl was very nice, though. But I was fascinated that these puppets looked like they were really alive.



Dark Crystal puppet animation Jim Henson



Maybe I could tell a story with puppets like these. But they would need to be animated via little stepper motors and remote controls, as I can’t efford to remove puppeters in green screen suits in postproduction.

Everything would have to be done in camera.

So I met Ben, one of my indie filmmaking friends who is a tech wizard and asked him to show me how those remote controlled and pre-programmed mini-motors can be used.
There is, in fact, a lot of programming involved, but this does not scare me that much, as I’ve learned Borland C++ and have played around with PHP, AS2 and others ages ago.

I’ll surely play around with things like these to see, if I can create a fast puppet creation workflow with it:

mini motors for puppet animation



18 responses to “A Jim Henson Style Horror Film?

  1. This is fantastic! Perhaps you and your readers would be interested in our new indie film networking site mutinee?
    It is for any and all filmmakers and is totally free 🙂


  2. Dark Crystal is great. I loved it as a kid, but my kids didn’t like it (they’re jaded or something). But puppets can definitely lend themselves to some good horror. With Jim Henson in mind, Uncle Deadly on the Muppet Show creeped the heck out of me as a kid.

    Although not strictly puppets, the “Puppet Master” movies showed a nice integration of puppets and live action – although that may not be economically feasible in this case.


    • I saw the Puppet Master movies as a kid and found them quite enjoyable. But I hink you’re right that it is more expensive doing a combination of life action and puppet compared to doing a puppets only movie like Dark Crystal.


  3. The idea of using the puppets for something like this would be really cool. I have been watching some great stop motion animation that falls into this category as well. The possibilities with the technology we have now are giving artists quite a bit more to work with now.


  4. Thanks for checking my 1st blog out! Thsi is a really cool idea, the dark crystal and labrynth style would work for a younger audience but i think the fear factor would be lost on an adult audience! You could certainly mak a creep and disturbing film with puppets. perhaps korean/japanese style storytelling! It is something i’d like to see. Peter Jackson’s Meet the Feebles uses puppets to great adult effect http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PMGuABm-zKk and is worth a look!


    • You’re right, I think that making a puppet animation film scary for adults is most challenging part. I haven’t seen Meet the Feebles yet, but it is already on my shelf waiting to be watched 🙂 Do you know of any other horror puppet animation film worth watching?


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