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The Spine of Night       review by Bobby Blakey


Animated films are released all the time, but getting ones in the cool rotoscope format is not as common. I love this style of animation and the time it takes to bring it to life. The latest film using this cool technique is The Spine of Night featuring the voice talents of Richard E. Grant, Lucy Lawless, Patton Oswalt, Betty Gabriel and Joe Manganiello from directors Philip Gelatt and Morgan Galen King. Could this fantasy epic do the style justice or will it fail to find its growth?


The Spine of Night follows the history of a land that never was that begins when an ambitious young man steals forbidden knowledge from a sacred plant. He falls to its darker temptations and in so doing, unleashes ages of suffering onto mankind. As his power grows over the years, it falls to people of different ilk and culture to attempt to stop him. Among those who stand against him are a daring tomb-robber, star-crossed lovers, a maniacal necromancer, winged assassins, and an undying guardian.


If you aren’t familiar with rotoscoping it is a style that animator Max Fleicher developed in the 30s using live action film to animate over creating a more realist animation of the characters. Some of my favorites that have used this is Fire & Ice, Wizards and Fleicher’s Superman. The entire time watching this film all I could think about of was Fire & Ice in tone and ideals, but completely all its own. The story is complex and often times even confusing in the best way possible. It is straight forward but the complexities of its direction makes it out there.


Right out the gate you know this is not a family film featuring a nude female character that remains that way throughout the film. This is not gratuitous just for the sake of it, but instead intertwines with her position as queen in

this tribe. The sci-fi fantasy world screams Heavy Metal in the best way possible. They pull no punches with the blood soaked action complete with a wide variety of dismemberment, beheadings, impalings and everything in between.


This is a unique experience that won’t work for everyone, but screams passion and originality. You can see the influences and love this people put into the film that took them 7 years to complete. The making of featurette makes it all the better when you see the process and fun, clever ways they filmed all the live action elements. I had no doubt I would enjoy the film, but loved it more than I thought I would.


In addition to the film this release offers up bonus content including the making of featurette and two animated short films from the filmmakers. Grab your copy of The Spine of Night available now 4K, Blu-ray, Blu-ray Steelbook and DVD from Shudder and RLJE Films.  

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