The Surreal Nightmares Of Raoul Servais


Dark fantasies and metaphorical horrors from the master animator.

Belgian filmmaker Raoul Servais is perhaps best known for his darkly comic horror tale Harpya, about a man who rescues a woman who is being assaulted, only to find that she is a harpy with an insatiable appetite. Perhaps understandably, people have read rather more into this than is perhaps necessary over the years with the film being condemned by some as misogynistic. But you can simply enjoy it as a tale in the classic horror tradition of hubris – in this case, a man thinking he can control a monster for his own desires – leading to disaster. Animated using live-action images, the film has a sense of the weird and nightmarish that outdoes many a more conventional horror film.

Harpya is not typical of Servais’ style, but his other work also plays with ideas of mythology, fairy tale and the darker side of humanity, particularly in terms of the military and other institutional bodies. His films are both comical and unsettling, cartoonish and creepy. Here are a few more – and we recommend further exploration, though sadly the DVD collections of his work are long out of print.

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