Slow Bob and Monkeybone

In 1991, stop-motion animation whiz Henry Selick (Coraline, Nightmare Before Christmas) made a pilot TV short called "Slow Bob in the Lower Dimensions," combining animation and live action. It has now turned up on YouTube (for the moment).

Conjoined twin sisters wake up in the dead of night and tiptoe upstairs to observe a man who lives in their attic in a strange state of time suspension named Bob. He clings to the upper corner of a wall like a spider, sleeping, and then a lizard feeds him wake-up juice from a soft drink can. He jumps down from the wall and sees an actual spider webspinning the word "EMERGENCY!" He coils into the fetal position and lizards surround him in a magic circle and begin spraying him with electricity. He teleports to the lower (2D?) dimensions where people who live in hovering black and white photographs are being chased and sliced apart by flying pairs of scissors. Bob, who is now a flat, Terry Gilliam-like puppet, hatches a scheme to destroy the scissors. A regal photo-woman gives him the gift of a watch, in gratitude, and Bob returns to his attic in a cloud of electricity. Just then, the conjoined twin girls burst into the attic and begin painting Bob with yellow paint and laughing demonically. In his slowed-down state he suffers their humiliation; we don't know why they are hostile to him. In the final shot, he wipes yellow paint off his watch face and and sees the photo-queen giving him words of advice and counsel. End. Music by The Residents.

Selick's 2001 film Monkeybone, with a script by Sam Hamm, is similarly bizarre--and I would say brilliant--but widely considered a flop (20% on the tomato-meter and all that). It was based on a graphic novel Dark Town, which sounds intriguing from the Wikipedia description:

A man, Jacques De Bergerac, is in a coma after being in a car accident. He finds himself in Dark Town, where the land is dominated by strange living, breathing puppets and marionettes with button eyes.

The Lords of Dark Town are trying to kill Jacques, and use his body in the real world as a vessel for an agent of Dark Town. There's only one problem, Jacques' imagination. He carries it with him always, in a red suitcase. It protects him from the horrors of Dark Town.

Meanwhile, In the real world, Jacques' wife decides to take him off life support. Jacques now only has 12 hours to live. Back in dark town, Jacques encounters Death, Who informs him of his time limit, and tells him how to escape Dark Town. The book ends on a cliff-hanger, as Jacques is captured by a knight after wandering onto a chessboard.


Dark Town was originally intended to be a miniseries. However, only the first part of the story was ever published.

In the film version the suitcase is replaced by an oversexed cartoon monkey, who conspires against the comatose cartoonist for a shot at inhabiting the mortal body of Brendan Fraser. The role was originally intended for Jim Carrey and Fraser wasn't up to antics at that level; nevertheless he is a more sympathetic actor and his romance with the sublime Bridget Fonda, playing his sleep therapist, makes you really care about whether he escapes Dark Town.