668. Tales From the Far Side – Marv Newland

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SUMMARY: A series of bizarre, unexpected and surreal episodes based on the Gary Larson comic strip ‘The Far Side’.

WHY IT’S HERE: The animated Halloween TV special ‘Tales from the Far Side’ is a great half hour film I remember seeing back in 1994 and being amused, perplexed and slightly creeped out by. Knowing nothing about Gary Larson, this was my introduction to his work and I have since enjoyed many of his ‘Far Side’ comic strips. Cult director Marv Newland was the perfect choice to interpret Larson’s unique sense of humour into animation and he does a great job, maintaining Larson’s distinctive character designs. Although the emphasis is definitely on humour, much of it is black comedy with a distinctly macabre edge. The gag that stuck in my head from the first time I saw the film was a scene in the opening sequence in which we see the pale arm of a long-dead corpse hanging out of the window of a house, while a caged bird imitates the sound of a ringing phone. I knew it was funny but it also chilled me and I didn’t know why. When the film was released on DVD in 1999, Larson made several changes including altering what the caged bird was saying from a ringing phone to the somewhat more on-the-nose repeated phrase ‘Is it loaded?’ In either case, this gives you some idea of the humour to expect, although I defy anyone to guess the punchlines in this excellent animated sketch show of a film.

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