The Amazing Screw-On Head is the title of a one-shot comic book written and drawn by Mike Mignola and published by Dark Horse Comics in 2002, starring the character of the same name.
Mignola got the idea from action figures, particularly Batman ones, which seemed to be exactly the same figurines with different paint jobs. So he imagined a robot with a head that screwed onto different bodies to suit the occasion, hence “Screw-on Head”. An animated pilot, based on the plot of the comic, was made by the Sci-Fi Channel in 2006, with Bryan Fuller as writer and executive producer and Chris Prynoski as director. Similar in tone and theme to Mignola’s better known Hellboy, The Amazing Screw-On Head is a black comedy.
The 22-minute pilot differs from the comic mainly in that the characters are fleshed out with backstories. Rather than a master of languages, Emperor Zombie (David Hyde Pierce) is the first of Screw-On Head’s (Paul Giamatti) manservants, who has turned to evil despite Screw-On Head’s advice. Out of revenge for his first defeat, Zombie developed what he refers to as a “petty vengeance fetish”, killing the seven replacement servants after him, and before Mr. Groin (Patton Oswalt), in gruesome ways. Zombie’s vampire mistress, now named Patience (Molly Shannon), is much more talkative; a flashback reveals she was Screw-On Head’s former love, until snatched from him by a vampire servant of Zombie. Instead of Dr. Snap, Emperor Zombie’s other servants are a monkey named Ricky and two horrible old women named Aggie and Geraldine (both voiced by Mindy Sterling), one a werewolf and the other a cannibal who apparently takes over Dr. Snap’s role as scientist as well.
The pilot begins with the theft of the Kalakistan fragment and Professor Fruen (the only man who can translate it), by Zombie’s henchmen. Emperor Zombie smokes Fruen in a giant hookah to gain the knowledge to read the fragment pertaining to Gung’s temple. An interlude has Screw-On Head track down Patience in Marrakesh, then torture her to try to find Zombie’s whereabouts.
At the conclusion Zombie sinks to the bottom of the Mississippi River while his henchmen kidnap Mr. Dog by impaling him with an anchor from an air balloon. President Lincoln gives Screw-On Head permission to deal with whatever supernatural things lurk in the western frontier after signing the Homestead Act.
On July 12, 2006, The Amazing Screw-On Head TV pilot was aired online at scifi.com with a survey to decide whether or not the show goes to series. According to Mike Mignola on the November 29, 2006 Fanboy Radio podcast, the series was not picked up by the Sci-Fi Channel. The pilot was released on DVD on February 6, 2007.
Learn more about the concepts, principles and symbolism behind the subliminals found in this television series: