All we want as entertainment addicts is the occasional original idea to go along with all the retreads and sequels out there. And may the robot overlords strike me down if I’m wrong, but a short involving robot cows and Ronald McDonald is about as far from stereotypical as you can get. Sure, the clip is more horror than science fiction, but it doesn’t get more dystopian to me than a ‘bot-filled world where hamburgers and possibly bacon are made out of metal.
Happy Meal Horror was created by visual effects artist Rocky Curby, who has worked on such films as Transformers, Super 8, and most recently The Watch. Last year he released the epic murderous robot short Dark Vessel, and while he hasn’t quite outdone himself here, Curby has created quite a delicious treat, with a handful of film references to help wash it all down.
(Puts on best V.O. voice) In a world where fast food is mass produced at the post-McDonald’s Hooper’s Meat factory, robo-cows are locked up and somehow bred for their meat within the very factory where they eventually become hamburgers. We don’t know who runs the operation, but everything is enforced by a red-eyed, prong-handed robot, proving that even a robotic society can’t avoid arbitrary hierarchy. I never thought I’d be a vegetarian in any parallel universe, but maybe this is it.
Simply put, this video gets everything right. The animation is crisp and attractive, and even though some things aren’t meticulously detailed, you can’t tell because Curby is working the color palette and hitting you with the excellent, fluid direction. You might not think that a short focused on a cow with turnkeys for ears would be worthy of securing its director a feature gig, but this is the exception to that made-up rule.
I wish Curby would have put out a list of all the projects he pays homage to. Once you give a robot a chainsaw, there are obvious connections to Leatherface and similar slashers. The title font is taken from FX’s American Horror Story. The floor pattern is from The Shining. Even the setting could be recalling the toy factory in Child’s Play 2. The happy meal? Well, that’s from the horror of our reality.
Now check out Dark Vessel, the bloody cartoon that first let everyone know that Curby was a genius.