“It’s not 1985 anymore; it’s 1986,” explains one of the many characters voiced by British writer/director Michael (Mike) Mort in his first feature-length stop-motion animation work Chuck Steel: Night of the Trampires, the follow-up of sorts to his 2013 Chuck Steel short, Raging Balls of Steel Justice. Like the short, this film is a send-up of 1980s American action movies like Die Hard and Lethal Weapon. But with Trampires, Mort adds a bevy of tributes to horror films of the decade as well, including very funny and graphic shouts out to the Evil Dead trilogy and John Carpenter’s The Thing, among others.

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Chuck Steel Review

In the wake of digital animation, the art of stop-motion (or stop-frame) animation has been relegated to the furthest reaches of the animation spectrum, despite the fact that its handmade quality gives the entire production a warmth and tangible quality that is nearly impossible to capture in a computer-born creation. And while animation houses like Aardman and Laika Entertainment are still kicking and putting out a feature every few years (in addition to commercial work and the occasional short films), but even they use digital assistance to smooth out action and erase lines where they aren’t meant to be.

So imagine the sheer delight at seeing a film like Chuck Steel: Night of the Trampires (courtesy of the newly created British house Animortal Studio) on the big screen using old-school stop-motion techniques that combine the feel of the artist’s fingerprints on the creation with high production value that you’d expect to get from much more established studios. Read More »