Spike & Mike’s Sick & Twisted Festival of Animation
By Lucas Del Pico
Daily Texan Staff
For those who have never attended Spike and Mike’s Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation, please be warned. Do not come if you are offended by explicit language, nudity, sex, drugs, violence, gore, masturbation, urination or defecation.
The show is called “Sick and Twisted” for a reason.
Beginning this weekend, the Alamo Drafthouse will host the annual cartoon extravaganza at the downtown theatre, located at 409 Colorado Street.
Alamo has been hosting the Sick and Twisted festival since opening in 1998. By then, the traveling festival had already been around for eight years.
“It’s become something of an institution for us,” said Tim League, founder of Alamo Drafthouse. “We’ve made it a tradition to kick off the beginning of the spring semester with Spike and Mike.”
Craig “Spike” Decker and Mike Gribble, who died of pancreatic cancer in 1994, started the Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation after achieving success with their Classic Festival of Animation, which they began to highlight an art form that is often ignored or overlooked. The Classic Festival helped launch the careers of Nick Park, creator of Wallace and Gromit, and Pixar Animation’s John Lasseter, Pete Docter and Andrew Stanton.
Once the Classic Festival had gained steam, Spike and Mike created the Sick and Twisted Festival in order to show works that were too offensive or revolting for the Classic Festival. Once again, they helped a number of people make their name. Mike Judge premiered “Beavis and Butthead” at Sick and Twisted. Matt Stone and Trey Parker also got their first audience when the original “South Park” short, “The Spirit of Christmas,” played at the festival. Spike and Mike also showed the early works of Eric Fogel, creator of “Celebrity Deathmatch,” and Craig McCracken, creator of “The Powerpuff Girls.”
This year’s festival features more than 20 new short films, but there are also plenty of Sick and Twisted regulars. These include an episode of “No Neck Joe,” McCracken’s pre-Powerpuff series, and “Peep Show,” which gives the phrase “breeding like rabbits” a whole new meaning. Of course, no Sick and Twisted Festival would be complete without “Happy Tree Friends,” because nothing beats watching adorable cartoon animals die horribly gruesome deaths. Even better, most of this year’s new shows are rather impressive as well.
“We’re real happy with this show. Some years, it’s not amazing, but this year, I think, has some really strong cartoons,” League said.
Of the new shows, the standouts do a great job of capturing the overall feeling of the Sick and Twisted Festival. There is plenty to offend and disgust in shorts like “On-Rop,” in which the protagonist watches pornography backwards, and the beautiful but bloody “Magic.”
However, the fact that they are offensive and more than a little gross does not mean they are not clever. “Learn Self Defense” offers some not-so-veiled political commentary when the hero, conveniently named George, does what the title suggests, giving the narrator opportunity for comments like, “George has never been in a fight but he has seen a lot of cowboy movies.” Meanwhile, the surreal stop-motion short “KaBoom” uses toys, Christmas decorations and other household items to show a scene of war.
The Sick and Twisted Festival is also known for presenting the latest computer animation technology.
This year’s three-dimensional standouts include the decidedly gross “The Zit” and “Pińata,” which feature amazingly vivid colors and are, by far, the most visually pleasing shorts of the festival.
Be sure to arrive early because, in true Alamo Drafthouse fashion, there will be a 45-minute pre-show featuring some of the most offensive and disturbing video clips that the Drafthouse staff could find.
“Any really offensive material that we find throughout the year that we can’t really use at the time, we slap into the pre-show for Spike and Mike,” League said. “Just a little added benefit that you get from seeing it at the Alamo … We’ve got some things that Henri [Mazza] has gotten from “Open Screen Night” submissions … And we’ve got a lot of really weird, offensive clips from Japanese late-night television.”
There will also be prizes, including t-shirts, DVDs and Alamo gift packs, for audience members who participate in what League refers to as a “sick and twisted decathlon.”
“I don’t want to say too much about it, because we’re going to pull people out of the audience, unsuspecting,” he said.
It goes without saying that the Sick and Twisted Festival is full of cartoons not suitable for your 10-year-old brother. However, if you have a strong stomach and an open mind, Spike and Mike’s depraved collection is a great way to see animated films that would never make it to television.
Sign up at The Daily Texan, located in the
CMA basement, for your chance to win one of five free passes to the Spike and Mike Sick and Twisted Animation Festival.