The Adventures of Mark Twain

The Adventures of Mark Twain ★★★★

This fever dream of a film comes from the mind of classic stop motion animator Will Vinton - and it is the stuff that nightmares are made of. After receiving a limited theatrical release in 1985 - it spent nearly 20 years as a curio that would only pop up occasionally on video store shelves or on the premium cable channels through the 80s and 90s - leading it to be one of those films that people had sworn they had seen when they were a kid, but often questioned if it was real or not. Thanks to the wonders of YouTube and a 2006 DVD release - we saw it slowly begin to find a cult following and rightfully so... it's crazy.

The story revolves around classic Twain characters Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn and Becky Thatcher - who sneak onto a steampunk style airship built by Mark Twain himself. Once on board- Tom convinces Becky that he is friends with Twain and was invited on - and although it is a lie - once Twain discovers that they are on board- they are surprised that not only does he know who they are - but that he was expecting them. As he tours them around the airship - he regales stories of his past which play out as animated vignettes - including such classics as the Diaries of Adam and Eve, The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, Captain Stormfields Visits to Heaven - and the ever so frighting The Mysterious Stranger. The kids learn that Twain is planning to seal his fate by meeting Haileys Comet with the airship - as he was born on the day it flew past earth - therefore he will die upon its return. Will the kids figure out how to fly the ship so they can return home - or are they doomed to meet the same fate as Twain?

The film plays with contrasting moments of Whimsy and Terror- while the stories are adorable at first- especially the Diary of Adam and Eve - we get truly terrifying moments as a shadowy character lurks the kids through the ship - playing on Twain's idea of the duality of man. But he real bonkers comes during the tale of the Mysterious Stranger - where we are guided by a character known as Number 44 (who is actually Satan" as he guides us through the evolution and eventual downfall of the human species - told through terrifyingly crude clay figures. Vinton never made another motion picture - but eventually animated the California Raisins for TV and the animated sequence of Speed Demon for Michael Jacksons Moonwalker! It must be seen to be believed. Check it out!