Bruce Bickford's collaborations with rock musician Frank Zappa (Baby Snakes, Dub Room Special, The Amazing Mr. Bickford) in the 1970s made him an international cult figure. Three decades later, the sixty-one-year-old animator works alone in a basement studio near Seattle, producing films for no apparent audience. Enchanted forests, torture chambers, hamburgers that morph into mythical monsters, and epic battles between giants, fairies, and anachronistic historical figures populate just a small corner of Bickford's animated universe.
Bruce is the sole caretaker of his father George, a retired aerospace engineer of the Cold War era who faces the onset of Alzheimer's disease. George's talents for maximizing the space inside missiles are mirrored by his son's animations, which often contain dozens of matchstick-sized figures fighting battles on a set the size of a grapefruit. George's wondrous musings on the mysteries of the universe reveal a deep admiration for the implicit architect of such splendor while atheism prevents him from admitting the possibility of a God. Painfully piercing the fog of his memories, George considers the suffering of a life spent disengaged from his family and centered on the imperfections in those around him.
While the Bickfords lived a normal suburban life by all outward appearances, the brutality of Bruce's childhood drawings and subsequent animation hints at a darker underbelly. Questions are raised for which there are no easy answers. Monster Road untangles myriad personal, artistic, and philosophical strands from the Bickford's lives to illuminate an intricate web of influences that fuel Bruce's cinematic visions.
Bruce at work
Garden of Nymphs