Director Henry Selick Discusses His New Dark Stop Motion ‘Wendell & Wild’

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Get ready for Wendell & Wild, a dark stop motion film from the minds of Henry Selick (Coraline, The Nightmare Before Christmas) and Jordan Peele (Get Out, Nope).

While I only got to see the first 30 minutes of the film, Henry Selick’s wicked cinematography is all over the film. Add in a partnership with the new king of horror, Jordan Peele, and you have a recipe for a truly gnarly family film just in time for Halloween. Selick shared some inside information and an exclusive look at the making of Wendell & Wild film coming to Netflix on October 28.

“I have two grown sons, but they used to be little boys,” director Henry Selick said. “And they could be angels, but they could also be little demons. But once, when they were acting demon-like, I did a sketch of them as little demons, and from this sketch, I got this idea of a story about demon brothers. Not as little kids, though. As older demons.”

Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele voice the demon brothers Wendell and Wild and bring their silly antics to life as only they know how. Selick expressed his love for the Key and Peele show that aired on Comedy Central, claiming that “they’re the best comedy duo of my lifetime.” One of his favorite skits was Terries. He reached out to them and expressed his interest in working with them on an animated film featuring them as a caricature. After the meeting, he discovered Jordan Peele’s love for stop motion animation. Peele wanted to be involved creatively and produce the film alongside Selick. He also helped expand the story.

Kat from WENDELL & WILD
WENDELL & WILD – Kat (voiced by Lyric Ross). Cr: Netflix © 2022

The film has an Afropunk theme which Selick describes as cultural, fashion, and musical. Kat has a rough life, and this makes her hard and independent. Each of the characters stands out and uniquely showcases their personalities and culture.

The dark parts of the movie involve the different levels or areas of Hell, including a Scream Fair that draws inspiration from Asbury Park and Palace Amusements in New Jersey.

“Inside the Palace Amusements was a particular ride called the Twister, Selick said.” And it seemed the operator of the Twister had controls that could kinda take things into a very dangerous place. Now the guy who ran it, the ride operator’s name was Monk. He was a weird little guy. If you’re going with a friend who hadn’t been, you’d ask, ‘hey, put it on that special high speed, Monk. That’ll be good.’ But then, one time, Monk went crazy, and he turned it up to 11, and he refused to stop the ride. And our eyeballs were about to fly out of our heads, and everybody on the ride was screaming at him to stop, and he just was laughing his head off. So that became my idea. How about an amusement park where the rides never stop, and they run off the tracks.”

WENDELL & WILD – (L-R) Wendell (voiced by Keegan-Michael Key), Father Bests (voiced by James Hong) and Wild (voiced by Jordan Peele). Cr: Netflix © 2022

You’ll have to keep your eyes peeled for some studio favorite Easter eggs in the film. Like the magic hair cream, the hair cream that they use is called “Handsome’s Unholy Hair Resurrector Cream.” That’s a special one he shared with us.

“Some of them are intentional,” Selick says. “Some of them happened without my knowledge. People just hide things in the set [sometimes]. I don’t even know about it till later.”

“Darkness and scares leavened with fun and fantasy is kind of the formula on this.” – Henry Selick, director of Wendell & Wild

WENDELL & WILD – (L-R) Kat (voiced by Lyric Ross) and Sister Helley (voiced by Angela Bassett). Cr: Netflix © 2022

You won’t want to miss this dark new family film when it premieres this Halloween on Netflix. Check out the trailer below.

From the delightfully wicked minds of Henry Selick and producer Jordan Pele, comes Wendell & Wild, an animated tale about scheming demon brothers Wendell (Keegan-Michael Key) and Wild (Peele) – who enlist the aid of Kat Elliot – a tough teen with a load of guilt – to summon them to the Land of the Living. But what Kat demands in return leads to a brilliantly bizarre and comedic adventure like no other, an animated fantasy that defies the law of life and death, all told through the handmade artistry of stop motion.

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Meghan Cooper is a writer, content creator, movie critic, and geek living in Atlanta, Ga. She loves movies, traveling, and lots of coffee. Member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association, Georgia Film Critics Association, and Atlanta Film Critics Circle.

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