Like It Or Not, The Sick And Twisted School Of Animation Is Here To Stay
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The Sick & Twisted and Classic Festivals of Animation have helped change the impression that animation is just kid stuff. © Mellow Manor Productions.

I would write the show off as worthless junk if it were not for the fact that some of it is genuinely funny. While past shows contained relatively few works that I thought were memorable, the new collection seems to be a deliberate attempt to improve the quality of the program. There are several new types of subjects to laugh at and several films exhibit professional production standards.

While I was expecting the somewhat predictable gags about sex and violence this year, I was not ready for several truly outrageous moments. For example Tongue Twister by Sean Scott deals with the childhood fears of having your tongue stick to a frozen pipe in the winter. The work took me by surprise and I found what happens in the film hilarious (caution: this is a really sick work).

A shot from Sean Scott's Tongue Twister. Courtesy of Mellow Manor Productions. © Collideascope Digital Productions.

Several works this year are somewhat sophisticated and avoid the loud brash style of storytelling that has dominated past shows. In Chicken Coup a rooster discovers that his pet fish fathered what he thought was his off-spring. This isn't a great work, but it did make me chuckle. Billy's Balloon, about balloons getting their revenge, is another nice understated tale. It won the grand prize for Best Short Film at Slamdance this year and was selected to be shown in the official competition at the 1999 Cannes Film Festival.

A quick glance at the titles in the program tells us a wide variety of subject matter is covered. Among the titles are Die Hard in Under Two Minutes, Bowlin' for Souls, Swing Sluts, Radioactive Crotch Man, Forrest Dump, The Beckers: Cannibalism and Your Teen, and Home, Honey, I'm Higher: What You Should Know About Drugs. The film about a middle class son developing a craving for human flesh, including his own, was an unexpected treat and possibly the best work in the show. Unfortunately the "naughty" parody of Forrest Gump (1994) was a mindless pre-teen bathroom joke and the pro-drug movie was well made but boring. Swing Sluts is a tribute to really stupid valley girls. While I consider the film awful, I assume it will be a hit with the intended audience.

The Spike & Mike produced Swing Sluts lets director Brett Johnson take a biting crack at the stereotypical valley girl. © Mellow Manor Productions.

Previous Spike and Mike programs have had a somewhat juvenile heterosexual consciousness, so it came as a surprise to see an inoffensive homosexual gag in one film. Even more unusual is Legend of Raggot, an outrageous comedy about a bored gay couple that devises a ludicrous plan for finding sexual fulfillment. It was directed by Sean Scott who also animated Tongue Twister. I suspect he is an emerging talent who will go on to bigger and more outrageous projects.

Part of the program's success comes from the films being extremely short. Most are designed to deliver their punch lines as quickly as possible using an economical amount of artistic talent. A dozen works in the show are under three minutes in length and nothing is over six minutes long. This results in a fast paced program.

Another strength of the new show is the expanded variety of subject matter. This keeps the show moving forward. If one form of humor doesn't amuse you, just wait a minute as the next film might very well have you laughing.

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