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Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Genndy Tartakovsky’s “Primal”: Why Horror Fans Should Be Watching This Animated Series

Dinosaurs are back on the big screen and chomping through loads of cash thanks to the closer to the Jurassic World Trilogy, Dominion.

If you’re like me and you think there is a severe lack of dinosaur-themed awesomeness in our entertainment landscape you owe it to yourself to check out acclaimed animator Genndy Tartakovsky’s (Samurai Jack, Star Wars: The Clone Wars) magnum opus, Primal.

Currently streaming on Prime, the series mixes brutal action, heart wrenching drama, and intense horror to tell a wordless saga of caveman Spear and his T-Rex friend Fang as they traverse an anachronistic prehistoric hellscape that is their home –and try to survive everything this hostile world throws at them.

With 10 episodes in the can at the moment and more coming this summer, Primal is some of the best television currently on the air. Despite it having near universal critical acclaim it hasn’t truly broken out yet. Not in my opinion at least. The horror fandom deserves to have this show on their watchlist because the genre elements are more than tertiary – they’re up front and center. Below are a handful of episodes sure to give horror fiends on the prowl for dinosaur-based carnage exactly what they want…

Primal spear and fang

Episode 1: Spear and Fang

While not the most overtly horror laden, you can’t skip the introductory episode as it sets up the emotional core of the entire series. We meet the first half of our prehistoric duo, Spear, as he fishes from a rock in the middle of a river. The setting is serene, he is enjoying himself – smiling as his patience bares fruit. The tranquility is suddenly and violently broken as a massive Deinosuchus (big ass crocodile) lungs from the water right at Spear, who narrowly avoids the beast by jumping in the water.

This opening scene encapsulates the entire idea of the show in a nutshell: There is beauty here. There is even peace – but it is always one moment away from being torn to pieces. It never lasts.

Traversing the path home we get a sense of the wider world Spear inhabits before he hears the frightened cries of his wife. Running with all his might, Spear arrives only in time to see a pack of vicious horned T-Rexes, one of which devours his wife and child.

Spear pursues the gang of Rexes through the wild and happens upon another T-Rex, Fang. Fang is suffering a loss of her own thanks to the evil Rexes, and they must forge a bond if they’re going to survive the day.

This first episode is a harsh and unforgiving introduction to the show. Tartakovsky tells the audience there is no playing around in this world. This may be a cartoon, but it’s not fun for the whole family. Tragedy hits and hits hard.

“Spear and Fang” is a great balance of character introduction, emotional stakes, and kick-ass action.

Episode 4: Terror Under the Blood Moon

So much of Primal is like the coolest, most wickedly metal monster movie Hollywood never made. If Ray Harryhausen listened to Cannibal Corpse and dabbled in 2D animation, I imagine he would make something like Primal.

“Under the Blood Moon” opens with our duo running for their lives across open desert from a pack of dromaeosaurs (think raptors). Suddenly fearful, the pursuing beasts break away from the hunt. Spear and Fang find themselves in an eerie landscape of fog – the only landmarks to be found are huge stone monoliths with ominous skulls carved into them. A red moon rises, draping the sky with a crimson shroud. Things hunt under this moon and they aren’t mere dinosaurs.

This is the episode that most evokes old school monster movies. The use of red throughout is very similar to opening battle scene in Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula. The creatures that inhabit this alien land are even associated with the famous bloodsucker.

“Under the Blood Moon” is old school monster mayhem in a setting we’re not used to seeing it in, which is just one of the many ways Primal manages to be exciting and unique from episode to episode.

Primal adult swim

Episode 7: Plague of Madness

The entry is absolutely relentless. This is the zombie episode. To provide more details than that would be to spoil just how intense and impactful “Plague of Madness” is. The efficiency of storytelling here is flawless. These 30 minutes of animation hold everything that makes Primal such a compelling show. It’s brutal, action packed, filled with incredible money shots, yet it still manages to resonate with heartbreaking emotion.

The emotional core of the series is never not completely sincere. On paper Primal sounds like a fun, style over substance foray into action and violence yet Tartakovsky and his crew have far greater ambition than to just toss eye candy at the viewer. He wants to use everything in his arsenal to create something powerful and moving, which leads to the next episode.

Episode 8: Coven of the Damned

As I was saying, on paper Primal sounds like the enthusiastic ramblings of a little kid rattling off every cool idea that comes into his head. What if a caveman and a T-Rex fought prehistoric witches!?

That is exactly what “Coven of the Damned” provides, but with the nuance you should expect from this show at this point. Almost every episode of the series contains elements of emotional power and tragedy – this one being a standout. Yes, it is indeed about Spear and Fang going up against prehistoric witches, but the path that idea takes is unexpected. Don’t be surprised to find yourself swiping tears off your cheeks by the time the episode is over.

Primal animated

Episode 9: The Night Feeder

Now we’re back to pure, adrenaline fueled horror. Something unseen and seemingly supernatural, fast, and powerful is hunting in the forest. Nothing can escape it. It’s so fast and strong it absolutely annihilates everything it touches in a burst of blood and viscera. It goes without saying Spear and Fang are on edge.

“The Night Feeder” is survival horror with a dose of dark comedy tossed in for good measure. The on-edge jitters and fear that Spear and Fang feel as the episode ticks on is filled with tension, but it’s also kind of funny. One shot in particular holds on Fang as she slowly feels relaxed enough to try and sleep only to jolt awake at the slightest sound in the darkness beyond their camp. Good stuff.

I’ve been gushing over this show for over one thousand words now, so let me say that the reveal of exactly what the “Night Feeder” is was a tad disappointing. The episode does such a good job of establishing this utterly unstoppable killing machine only to reveal it as something rather…ordinary. Even so, it’s not a big enough issue to hurt the episode in any significant way.

There you have it, five horror-themed episode of Primal. When I stated that this series in one of the best shows currently on TV, I meant it. Few series at the moment are as unique and daring as Primal, let alone animated shows. Season 2 premieres on July 21st!

The post Genndy Tartakovsky’s “Primal”: Why Horror Fans Should Be Watching This Animated Series appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.


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Got any friends who might like this scary horror stuff? GO AHEAD AND SHARE, SHARE!

Got any friends who might like this scary horror stuff? GO AHEAD AND SHARE, SHARE!