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The Amazing Screw-On Head

Directed by Chris Prynoski

Written by Mike Mignola

Starring Paul Giamatti, David Hyde Pierce, Molly Shannon, Patton Oswalt

Produced by Susan Norkin

Not Rated

22 minutes

****

History gets badly fractured in “The Amazing Screw-On Head,” from the same guy who brought you “Hellboy,” Mike Mignola.

Somehow, President Abraham “Honest Abe” Lincoln has a special agent he can call on when the Forces of Evil rear their collectively ugly head, Special Agent Screw-On Head. Who is, not surprisingly, a robot. With a screw-on head. And in this case, Screw-On Head has been dispatched to stop the fiendish Emperor Zombie and his cohorts—werewolves, tommy-gun-toting monkeys, the elderly, and the queen of the vampires. They’re out to conquer the world through the occultic powers of a melon-sized jewel.

Now, if you’re somewhat like me, and God help you if you are, you might have caught this exact same episode running back when the Sci-Fi Channel was running its first disastrous season of “Who Wants to Be a Superhero?”; don’t even get me started on “Feedback.” But anyway, this little gem showed up a couple times, and I was starting to wonder—start of a new series? One shot deal? What?

Consulting the comic book that comes with the video reveals that this is in fact the pilot for a TV series, but if there will be future episodes of the Amazing Screw-On Head, that’s out of my bailiwick.

Though I really hope there are…this single pilot is roaringly comic and highly unique. Frankly, I’ve never seen anything like this, and I’m glad to have seen it again. In a world where the Homestead Act is merely cover so that a robot with a detachable head and threaded bolt-like neck can investigate alien technologies without drawing the notice of the Confederacy, it’s pretty much anyone’s guess as to what will happen here long-term. And that would make for regular surprises and a constant flow of innovation.

The special features include storyboard comparisons, a featurette on converting the comic book to a cartoon, and trailers for “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles volume 6,” “The Invincible Iron Man,” and “Happily N’Ever After.”

All in all, “The Amazing Screw-On Head” was a joy to behold, packing an alarming amount of surprises into a tiny twenty-two minute package.

Steve Anderson is a film critic who collects action figures so he can dress them up as his favorite horror villains. He lives somewhere in the United States.


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