Nuggets of Wisdom

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Nightly Frights: The Mysterious Stranger


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Ever heard of Will Vinton? If you haven’t, you’ve probably heard of the California Raisins. Those singing raisins were one of his many creations, along with many other animated shorts and features that he filmed with his signature stop-motion technique “Claymation.”

By far, his magnum opus was the 1985 film “The Adventures of Mark Twain,” which was the first full-length feature film created with the Claymation technique.

The film is about the titular author Mark Twain embarking on a fantastical voyage with his characters Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, and Becky Thatcher as they chase Haley’s Comet in a steamboat-esque airship.

The movie is a profile of Mark Twain’s life and work, with vignettes of his short stories including “The Frog of Calaveras County,” “The Diaries of Adam and Eve,” and “The Mysterious Stranger.”

Never heard of the last one? That’s probably because it was one of Twain’s post humorous works. Not much is known about this unpublished short story, other than Twain has been working on it for a good decade until his inevitable passing.

Oh, and the protagonist is Satan—which explains why the animated segment based off of it is rather, well, creepy.

Yeah, this infamous segment of the film was rumored to have been censored on television and in other countries. That’s not true, of course, but watching the segment, you can almost understand why it could have been true.

Words cannot do justice to this scene. You have to watch it for yourself. (Just don’t do it before bed if you plan on sleeping for the evening—or the decade!):