When creepy is compelling

The word puppetry used to make us recall childhood marionettes or cutie-pie, joke-telling Muppets. But that was before we became acquainted with the Quay Brothers, identical twins who have been making brilliantly dark and wholly unique animated short films since 1979. With stop-motion animation and macabre, handcrafted dolls, a Quay Brothers film is easy to recognize by its gorgeous but unsettling gothic look (the dolls are often missing eyes, and innards show up an awful lot), somewhat oblique narrative, perfectly chosen musical score, and visual wit.

The new DVD compilation Phantom Museums (available 4/24) includes short films from throughout their career (two standouts are the creepily compelling “Street of Crocodiles” and “Stille Nacht II [Are We Still Married?]”). And many of their films are accompanied by commentary from the enigmatic 59-year-old Stephen and Timothy Quay, who may not explain everything but are entirely fascinating — just like their films.

“>WATCH a Quay Brothers short

“>BUY Phantom Museums: The Short Films of the Quay Brothers

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When creepy is compelling