...they wuz alla time goin thru rong doors or uthers wuz lockt wich thay cudn fyn the kee. She wud say to him I thot you haddit an he wud say No you haddit I din havvit then thay wud havta try a nuther door...

Note: When I first put together this page, I had only seen "Door" but not its companion piece "Deadsy." Since then I've had a chance to view "Deadsy" thanks to the ever-generous Tim Haillay, who kindly sent me a tape of it from the UK (along with a 1990 documentary on the making of the films, called "Deadtime Stories for Big Folk," which includes interviews with Mr. Hoban and David Anderson). When I have a chance I plan to include more information about "Deadsy" and the making of the films on this page. For now, I've added a brief description of "Deadsy," as well as the script and some additional info sent by the legendary Chris Bell.

Video Box Cover

"Deadsy" (1989) and
"Door" (1990)

Two surreal animated shorts
Written and Narrated by Russell Hoban
Directed by David Anderson

The following credits are for "Door", and may or may not be the same for "Deadsy":
A Redwing Film Company Production for Channel Four
Animation: David Anderson, Fred Reed
Music: Dirk Campbell
Producers: James Bradley, Barnaby Spurrier

Length: "Deadsy" is 5 minutes, "Door" is 6 minutes.


"Door" is available in the US on a video compilation called The British Animation Invasion (I first saw it as part of that program at a local art house theater, circa 1991). It costs about forty bucks (US) (please verify price before ordering!) and can be ordered from Expanded Entertainment in the at 1-800-996-TOON. (Their hours are Monday-Friday 9am-6pm PST.) It can also be ordered by mail:

Expanded Entertainment
P.O. Box 25547
Los Angeles, CA 90025, USA

Catalog number EX122. ISBN number 1-56299-023-3.

The collection is about 90 minutes and contains a lot of great stuff besides "Door," including Nick Park's academy award-winning "Creature Comforts," (which coincidentally features animals complaining about being trapped in a zoo, echoing Turtle Diary).

As far as I know, "Deadsy" is not currently available for sale in the US. (Please correct me if anyone out there knows differently!) Information on how to obtain the video for those in the UK, or anywhere else it's available, is welcome if anyone has it.


I've watched "Door" ten or fifteen times now, and am only just beginning to sort it out. It's such a sensory overload, between the striking, densely chaotic visuals and Mr. Hoban's own densely chaotic text, that it's easy to lose track of the narration while you're watching the images, or miss a stage of the animation as you're concentrating on the text.

The short opens with a title card: DEADTIME STORIES FOR BIG FOLK. Next we see a strange sphere floating in space, the entire surface of which is covered with doors. As the narration begins, the doors begin opening and closing seemingly at random. Various objects emerge quickly from the doors and then retreat: mechanical arms, puppets on springs. We catch glimpses of glowing masks and clockwork inside the doors as the sphere revolves. Inside one door, a figure in a wheelchair bangs its head against a brick wall.

The story seems to be about a man and a woman who have a lot of doors and a lot of keys: "...they wuz alla time goin thru rong doors or uthers wuz lockt wich thay cudn fyn the kee. She wud say to him I thot you haddit an he wud say No you haddit I din havvit then thay wud havta try a nuther door..." They come across a key with a note reading "THIS IS THE WUN," and argue about what it means. The woman suggests that it means "the wun we berr not mess with," and that they should "takit slow and eesy;" echoing Riddley Walker's themes of forbidden knowledge, the man can't resist looking for the door the key fits when she's not looking.

Meanwhile the camera's eye has entered one of the doors; we move down a hallway through several white rooms filled with strange objects. A door at the end opens and we find ourselves in a realm of black-and-white photo collage in stop-motion animation; disturbing, classically surrealist scenes that evoke Magritte and Max Ernst. A swarm of sinister iron keys bore through a door and crawl down it. Pyramids, boxes and spheres dance under a strange sky. A 2-dimensional image of a man slithers down a staircase. In a courtyard, leaves swarm across a photograph of a shutting eye, while a man and a woman slap and shove each other in a photograph revolving on a stone pedestal. Before you know it, you hear the narrator saying something about the "end of snivvelyzashuns," and with a final stark image or two the film is suddenly over.

None of this really describes it of course; it's a genuine visual treat that simply has to be witnessed, and Mr. Hoban's evocative, disorienting text has to be heard in his own voice.


A longer description of "Deadsy" (full title: "Deadsy and the Sexo-Chanjo") will appear on this page eventually, but for the meantime I'll say that the narrative style is similar to "Door," but "Deadsy" is done in a two-dimensional style of animation as opposed to the 3-D style of "Door." Individual frames of film were xeroxed and altered to create a kind of distorted, moving photograph effect. It's every bit as engaging and powerful as "Door," and tells the story of how the title character, Deadsy, starts out killing "lil ooky pooky deadsy bye-byes" like a "cockrutch or a fly" then moves up to mice and cats. He keeps growing "alla time," "growin his BIG LONG skellington," and "the girls all luvvit" him but he knows that not everybody loves him. He wants more love in his life so he decides to grow "GRATE BIG SEXO-THINGYS" and be "MIZZ YOUNIVERSS" and then everybody will love him. This forces everybody else to grow "grate big sexo-thingys" if they want to do it with Deadsy. (It's all a lot easier to follow with the visuals, of course).



Read the complete script to "Deadsy".


Wel wun tym thay foun a key it hadda noat tyd to it the noat sed THIS IS THE WUN.
So she sed to him Wut do you think it meens THIS IS THE WUN?
He sed Wel this is sum kyna speshil thing you wun unnerstan it.
She sed I can unnerstan enny thing you can unnerstan.
He sed O yes youre the wun knows it all.
She sed may be you are may be youre the wun knows it all.
He sed may be I am. She sed Wel then tel me wuzzit meen THIS IS THE WUN? She sed THE WUN wut?
He sed Wel it meens wut it says THIS IS THE WUN.
She sed THE WUN wut?
He sed Wel its THE WUN wut is wut it is and she sed wut is it then?
Nevva myn he sed I am lookin inno it.

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