Spike And Mike's
Sick And Twisted Festival Of Animation
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It’s not exactly Twilight, but when Ferndale’s Magic Bag opens for a preview screening of Spike and Mike’s Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation on Thursday night, you can expect die-hard fans to be lined up outside the door.
Among this surprisingly even mix of men and women, one will likely be wearing a No Neck Joe T-shirt, based on a popular Sick and Twisted character. Most know the set list for the night’s show. And though they may have already illegally downloaded the latest Happy Tree Friends cartoon, they are here to see it with a crowd. This is the 17th year that the Magic Bag has shown the latest edition of the Spike and Mike show on the week between Christmas and New Year’s. Thursday’s preview screening will be part of the club’s usual $2 Brew and View night (following shows will be $8), a chance for reviewers and the general public to get a first look at a show that mixes zombies and Santa Claus for one of its most hilarious and varied lineups ever.
The show opens with David Ochs’ Who’s Hungry, a Hansel and Gretel update about kids who are kidnapped by an ice cream man who takes them back to his home to do a Lovely Bones number on them. The kids escape in the bloodiest way possible.
Glub Glub, from Clay Fessier, lives up to the twisted title as it features phallic fish in a mating dance with vagina-shaped sea creatures. Free Will Press Start, by Eric Fevela, finds Jesus and the Devil engaged in a video game that controls the good and evil sides of human nature.
The show has an infamous history. It was responsible for unleashing Beavis & Butt-Head in the early-'90s. Frosty and The Spirit of Christmas, the first cartoons by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, creators of South Park, were also introduced here. Many of the animators featured here have gone on to careers on television, with Sick and Twisted contributors currently warping kids’ minds on the Cartoon Network.
Spike Decker began producing cartoon shows in the late-'70s with friend Mike Gribble. Gribble died over a decade ago, but Spike still retains the Spike and Mike name. Now juried primarily by Spike out of offices in La Jolla, California, the shorts come from longtime friends. Some are even produced by Spike and Mike.
Some entries come from film schools. Others come unsolicited, among them the large number of zombie-themed shorts that highlight the 2009 show. In Pierre Mosquest’s Touchdawn of the Dead, another French entry, a rabid football fan won’t let an invasion of the walking dead stop a bet from going through.
Of the 20 cartoons this year, some are literally winners, with many receiving awards at various international festivals, including the Oscars. This was the case with the computer-animated Oktopadi, a French-made chase movie about a pair of octopus lovers that are accidentally split up.
Arthur Metcalf’s Fantasie in Bubblewrap combines animation and live action to show what those clear plastic bubbles are really feeling when they are popped by fingers or sadistically stabbed with pencils. The most artistic of the bunch is Eleven Roses, from Canadian Pedram Goshtabspour. Shot mostly in black and white, and influenced by film noir, gangster films and the illustrations of Al Hirschfeld, it charts a frustrating love triangle that inevitably turns to bloodshed.
Animation fans have likely been following the career of Bill Plympton even before his shorts became staples of the Sick and Twisted shows. This time he tackles old St. Nick in Santa; the Fascist Years, in which the jolly fat man in the red suit is seen with Hitler, amassing elf storm troopers, and dallying with female elves. Nothing is sacred in the show. And for first time viewers or Sick and Twisted veterans, that is a big part of the fun. | RDW
Spike and Mike's Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation • 12/17, 12/27-30, 1/1-2 • Magic Bag
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