ANIMATION WORLD MAGAZINE - ISSUE 4.11 - FEBRUARY 2000
Like It Or Not, The Sick And Twisted School Of Animation Is Here To Stay
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Students at San Francisco State used to complain that the shows got boring quickly as there were too many cartoons that were similar. One wrote in a term paper that the 1993 show was, "essentially boring and redundant... the festival wore thin, (I was) dissatisfied with the show when it ended." The present program has enough variety and vitality to keep most fans entertained from start to finish.
The screening of Academy Award-winning Bunny and 1999 Cannes' Official Competition Selected Billy's Balloon proves that Spike & Mike isn't just shock. Courtesy of Mellow Manor Productions. © 1998 Blue Sky Studios and © Bitter Films Productions.
In past years much of the artwork was amateurish looking. It appears there was a conscious effort this year to select better looking films for the show. Spike and Mike commissioned four works in the current program and all have well designed titles and graphics. It appears somebody within the company, who likes the 1950s modern design look, has worked with the animators to improve their visual designs.
What Is The Appeal Of These Shows?
Since sick and twisted animation mainly appeals to a young audience, I have been asking students for their opinions of the show for many years. Several have commented on what motivated them to see it in their term papers. One said, "People are drawn to the obscene, the bizarre, the freak show. People like to test their tolerances... it promises the wild and raunchy. These are cheap thrills - cheap thrills are good thrills." Someone else said he was "curious to see rare, hard to see work." He had heard the program had a large cult following just as the Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) did a few years ago.
The desire to be shocked was important to many people. One person explained that he wanted a change from his daily life and he wanted to see something that he couldn't see on TV or at regular movie houses. He expected to be shocked and offended. He said, "Being shocked can be fun... the show is meant to be shocking, not cute or sentimental."
Super Genius'Bowlin' Fer Souls is a featured animation in Spike & Mike's Sick & Twisted Festival of Animation. © Mellow Manor Productions.
Many students commented on how seeing a Spike and Mike program was a unique experience. At theaters with high ceilings giant beach balls, balloons and sometimes inflatable love dolls are tossed into the crowd before the film begins. One student wrote, "As I entered the theater I was greeted by nearly 700 laughing and screaming people bouncing and bumping giant beach balls to and fro as though they were taken back to their childhood. This was a fantastic sight."
There are several other factors that have contributed to the show's popularity. The program has always been advertised as "17 and over only!" so it has attracted many under age kids. Spike maintains security guards check IDs, but I have known many students who were proud to have seen the show before they turned 17.
The party atmosphere also allows students to come to the theater drunk (beer and wine is served in San Francisco at the Palace of Fine Arts) or stoned. The most pathetic term paper I have read was from a woman who saw a sick and twisted program. She wrote, "I really wish I could give you concrete examples, but I slightly altered my state of mind and now I can't remember some things."
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