Stop-Motion Explosion! - Thur. Apr. 10th - 8PM

Oddball Films and curator Kat Shuchter bring you Stop-Motion Explosion!, a program of mind-blowing stop-motion animation from the 1910s to the 1980’s. In a world saturated with CGI, Oddball Films opens the vaults to celebrate when historical, fantastical and anthropomorphic creatures were hand-sculpted and manipulated into “life.”  This program features stop-motion heavy-hitters Ray Harryhausen, George Pal, Art Clokey, Ladislas Starévich and Will Vinton including several rare works we've just uncovered for their big Oddball debut.  Ray Harryhausen and George Pal became two of the biggest names in special effects wizardry in Fantasy film creature making, but they both got their start making charming and stunning stop-motion shorts.  Ray Harryhausen's Mother Goose Tales (1946) was his first solo project and features intricately rendered puppets and gorgeous color thanks to the magic of Kodachrome film stock.  George Pal's Puppetoons showcase art deco artistry, hand-carved wooden puppets and an exuberance unmatched to this day and we've got two of them; The Big Broadcast of 1938 (1937) and the newly uncovered Sky Pirates (1938).  Gumby and Pokey run away from home and blast off into space in The Small Planets (1957).  Will "California Raisins" Vinton turns clay into pre-hysteria in the much loved claymation marvel Dinosaur! (1987).  Chuck Menville and Len Janson revived the art of pixilation (stop-motion animating people) to hilarious effect when a biker gang tears around the roads without their motorcycles in Vicious Cycles (1967). Ladislas Starévich's Cameraman's Revenge (1912) is now over 100 years old, but it's buggy tale of infidelity remains delightful. A little girl befriends a carousel lion in the adorable Soviet short The Imagination Film (1977).  Rutabagas and radishes dance up a storm in The Rutabaga Rag from Di$ney's Symposium on Popular Songs (1962).  Arthur Lobel's beloved amphibians come to life and enjoy their domestic partnership, the spring and a series of quirky adventures in Frog and Toad are Friends (1985). Watch mice dance in The Rolling Rice Ball (1965) from Japanese stop-motion company Gakken Films.  Plus, Art Pierson's Whazzat? (1975) and more stop-motion surprises, it's a night one million minute movements in the making!

Date: Thursday, April 10th, 2014 at 8:00pm
Venue: Oddball Films, 275 Capp Street San Francisco
Admission: $10.00 Limited Seating RSVP to or (415) 558-8117


Mother Goose Stories (Color, 1946, Ray Harryhausen)
Before his career as one of the leading special effects wizards of Fantasy film (including animating the infamous skeleton army from Jason and the Argonauts), Ray Harryhausen animated a series of gorgeous Kodachrome fairy tales.  His first of these includes the tales of Little Miss Muffett, Old Mother Hubbard, Queen of Hearts and Humpty Dumpty with expertly crafted puppets in glorious (and beautifully preserved) color. An Oddball premiere!

Gumby in The Small Planets (B+W, 1957, Art Clokey)
Everyone's favorite shapeshifting clay buddy, Gumby and his pony pal Pokey run away and blast off in a rocket to find a planet to call their own.  After landing on a series of planets they find a parade of cranky kids that have also runaway, claiming the planets for themselves.  Maybe Gumby and Pokey will learn there's no place like Earth.

Whazzat? (Color, 1975, Art Pierson) 
This semi-abstract claymation directed by Art Pierson illustrates the Indian folktale in which several blind men come across an elephant and each tries to describe a separate part. Only when the men work together can they see the whole elephant. In this version, colored balls of shape-shifting clay are the main characters and their minimalist, surreal landscape forces them to work as a team. Nothing like a little Eastern wisdom to teach us about the value of cooperation!

A Puppetoon Twosome from George Pal!

Big Broadcast of 1938 (B+W, 1937, George Pal)
George Pal, master of the “Puppetoon” and special effects innovator created this jazzy, snazzy animated, (with racist caricatures) gem. Philips was one of the first companies to commission Pal's films for advertising. Radio was the "TV" of the time, and Philips wanted to communicate the world-opening wonders of radio to people at theaters. Different kinds of music from around the world provided a perfect backdrop for Pal's animation, which works wonderfully when set to music. As with other animated musical cartoons, the animation in this high-energy puppetoon was "scored" to perfectly match the music, beat for beat. 

Sky Pirates (B+W, 1938, George Pal)
This super rare gem is also making its Oddball debut. The Puppetoons take to the skies when a marauding band of air pirates begin dropping bombs.  An air battle ensues and the military must make the skies safe again.  Quirky and visually stunning, this short features Pal's hand-carved wooden puppets and some great aerial imagery and sight gags.  Made for Horlicks malted milk in Britain.

Vicious Cycles (Color, 1967, Chuck Menville and Len Janson)
In the 1960s two friends, Charles David “Chuck” Menville and Len Janson revived the then-dead art of stop motion pixilation animation. Pixilation, the animation of living beings, and object animation, was nothing new to film, but Menville and Janson took the process to a whole new level both technically and creatively.  Vicious Cyclesfeatures a gang of hard-core bikers intimidating a prissy motor scooter club. The wildly inventive use of stop motion techniques-- use of human body as vehicles(!) make this eye-popping short a sensation.

Dinosaur! (Color, 1987, Will Vinton)
Another Oddball Premiere! A classroom goes claymation crazy when Will "California Raisins" takes on the terrible lizards to hilarious and imaginative effect.  Dinosaurs don tuxedos, munch on tasty treats and their heads morph into cats in this off the wall (and rails) take on prehistory.  Creator of the California Raisins and innovator of the term and process of claymation and an Academy Award winning animator, Vinton's boundless creativity and humor make for some of the most entertaining shorts in animation history.  

Revenge of the Kinetograph Cameraman (The Cameraman’s Revenge) (1912, B+W, hand tinted, Ladislas Starévich) 
Wildly inventive landmark of early cinema and stop motion animation, insects star in this Kafkaesque love triangle.  Polish director Ladislas Starévich, working in Russia, started out as an entomologist when he tried to replicate a bug battle he had witnessed. His experiment was so successful and satisfying that he continued with animation.  

The Rutabaga Rag from Symposium on Popular Songs (Color, 1962, Les Clark, excerpt) 
Special cartoon featurette made by D*sney features songs written by the Sherman Brothers with music arrangements by Tutti Camarata. Ludwig Von Drake invites the audience into his mansion where he tells all about popular music through the years, introducing several songs illustrated with great stop-motion animation. Nominated for an Academy Award as Best Cartoon Short Subject.
Imagination Film  (1977, Color)
Soviet Cute-ness!  An impossibly darling little girl and her carousel-lion playfriend join forces to chase the winter blahs. Rendered in the sweetest stop-motion you'll ever see, this atmospheric exploration of childhood daydreaming will haunt your Christmas!
The Rolling Rice Ball (1965, Color, Gakken Films)
Singing and dancing mice! Itty-bitty treasures! Mochi pounding! What more could you want from a stop-motion folktale? When a gentle woodcutter shares his humble lunch with a mouse colony, their magical world opens to him. Boy, do those mice know how to party! Will the good times be undone by a greedy hunter? A classic from Japan.

Curator’s Biography
Kat Shuchter is a graduate of UC Berkeley in Film Studies. She is a filmmaker, artist and esoteric film hoarder.  She has helped program shows at the PFA, The Nuart and Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theater and was crowned “Found Footage Queen” of Los Angeles, 2009.

About Oddball Films
Oddball films is the film component of Oddball Film+Video, a stock footage company providing offbeat and unusual film footage for feature films like Milk, documentaries like The Summer of Love, television programs like Mythbusters, clips for Boing Boing and web projects around the world.
Our films are almost exclusively drawn from our collection of over 50,000 16mm prints of animation, commercials, educational films, feature films, movie trailers, medical, industrial military, news out-takes and every genre in between. We’re actively working to present rarely screened genres of cinema as well as avant-garde and ethno-cultural documentaries, which expand the boundaries of cinema. Oddball Films is the largest film archive in Northern California and one of the most unusual private collections in the US. We invite you to join us in our weekly offerings of offbeat cinema.