Rubber Johnny

Rubber Johnny coverA DVD landed on my doormat this morning. It’s the latest short film from the weirdo-director Chris Cunningham, who has directed music videos for Autechre, Björk and Madonna, but is probably most famous for his award-winning videos for Aphex Twin.

What the hell is Rubber Johnny though? The blurby synopsis thing on the websites probably explains it best:

Johnny is a hyperactive, shape-shifting mutant child. Kept locked away in a basement with only his feverish imagination and his terrified dog for company, he finds ways to amuse himself in the dark.

The film lasts just six minutes, but we are taken on a right old journey in Johnny’s basement. This is a short film that is so weird that its release apparently had to be delayed because the original printing firm refused to print the accompanying book because they thought it would cause too much distress to their workers. Because when Johnny shape-shifts he really shifts shape. Rubber Johnny is almost like a human version of Gantz Graf, the Autechre video directed by Alexander Rutterford that is perfectly synchronised to the music.

Rubber Johnny is an extension of a thirty-second promo for Aphex Twin’s excellent 2001 album, DrukQs. Cunningham extrapolated the idea and worked on it in his spare time until it got to the finished product you see on the DVD (read more in this interview). As such, and because it lasts such a short length of time, Rubber Johnny could almost be seen as an elaborate pop video. Except that it could never be a pop video. To the soundtrack of Aphex Twin’s track, Afx237 V.7, as well as other bits and pieces from DrukQs, Johnny does the strangest dance you’ll ever see.

Rubber Johnny is horrific and hilarious in equal measure. At the start it just seems horrific simply because of the nature of Johnny. But as the music gets faster, Johnny becomes so extreme — Chris Cunningham pushes things so far — that it becomes ridiculous. Now, watching it, it’s tough not to crack a smile. Just as it reaches its peak Johnny is suddenly interrupted by his father, and everything is dark once again.

The film is good, but presumably because of the difficulty of creating such an elaborate character in moving form, the accompanying 42 page book is, in some ways, better. You don’t get the strange dancing or the hilarious synchronisation. Looking at the photographs you get a much better idea of what Rubber Johnny is supposed to be.

All-in-all, I’m quite impressed with Rubber Johnny. It certainly merits repeated viewing. But for just six minutes of film, the price tag is possibly a bit steep.


  1. The film mostly scared me when you let me see it, ok, kinda forced me! Maybe if I get the chance to see it again I’ll understand the whole thing!

  2. Rubber Johnny

    [Source: doctorvee] quoted: Cunningham extrapolated the idea and worked on it in his spare time until it got to the finished product you see on the DVD (read more in this interview). As such, and because it lasts such a short length of time, Rubber Joh…

  3. I agree the price does seem steep for just 6 min. but since i stumble across the synopsis, picture, and trailer I can’t get it outta my head. I myself(and i am sure others would agree) would be willing to buy it just to quench my curiousity.

  4. I loved the movie, I will buy it sooner or later. I watched it over and over on various download sites. People call him creepy and strange, but I love the little guy. One question hits me though, where does a subhuman creature, trapped in a basement, get a line of coke/meth/whatever the hell he was snorting in the video?

  5. Well, i first came across the rubber johnny clip a few weeks ago, on or sumfin. it freaked me out a bit, so just 4 a joke i gave it too my friend. Apparently she saw things i didn’t see, and that there was more to the film, such as the freak dude snorting drugs, ect. i really want to know where i can find the rest of the movie, so i can finally find out the whole thing.
    anyone who knows, give me an email, and tell me.
    xox rosie

  6. The first half is the greatest horror sequence I’ve seen since Alien… until I realized it’s a music video. But I think the horror could have been increased if the psychologist lost control and screamed when Johnny attacked… followed by sounds of wet bone crunching and chewing, and a camera fallen to the floor splattered with shrink blood.

    But that’s just me.

    I sure hope to see a feature film made with this character. Are you listening, Hollywood?

  7. fuck the price, the length, the blah, the bloody dolby surround thats not included. Does no one feel for the poor existance of that thing. I try to contemplate it’s mind and it just hurts to, im so lucky.

    fuck, thats horrible dark and twisted. I know that’s the idea, and I’m no lightweight trust me. I’m just baffled by people’s shallow reviews to this kind of material. reply if you wish

  8. sorry, feel like a dick head now

    fuck it, can’t even delete the post. Gay

    but, i’d be right if it were!

    (fuck it)