The guys from Laika studios — maniacs for naturalism and detail in their stop-motion animation pursuits — dropped references at their Friday Comic-Con appearance to nearly every seminal ’80s comedy and horror movie in describing the soul of “Paranorman,” the second feature from the Portland, Oregon-based studio that made “Coraline.”
“The Goonies.” “Stand By Me.” “The Breakfast Club.” “Gremlins.” Even “Poltergeist” — which raises an interesting point about the “zombie movie for kids,” as Laika CEO Travis Knight and directors Chris Butler and Sam Fell did their best to explain that the intense, eerily supernatural sequences they’d just shown at Comic-Con wouldn’t be too much for little ones.
“But then I was watching ‘The Exorcist’ when I was five, so,” Knight said dryly. “Everybody’s different.”
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Fell stressed that the tone was a fun, misfit adventure along the lines of a John Hughes film.
The panel, which included voice talent Anna Kendrick, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Australian thesp Kodi Smit-McPhee, spent much of its time talking about the exhaustive and meticulous process of rendering the sets and characters, then animating them by hand.
“It’s like Ray Harryhausen on bath salts,” Knight quipped, referring to the pioneer of stop-motion special effects whose work was featured in the original “Clash of the Titans.”
Smit-McPhee, who voices the high-pitched protag, showed off a new, deeper tone that he unfortunately had developed during the shoot — something that’ll be tricky if Laika were to do a sequel.
“If I were to tell someone that I’m the voice of (Norman), I literally have no way of proving it to them,” Smit-McPhee said.