The latest Sick & Twisted animation festival is more about revelry than shock
The latest Sick & Twisted animation extravaganza from Spike & Mike arrives here trailing the usual promises of gross-out humor and X-treme bad taste. The 2002 edition of the series has no shortage of the usual ingredients, but it also has some ferociously funny stuff in it, and some of its daring on the wild side pays off surprisingly well.
In Mike Gray’s The Three Pigs, for example, the three little porkers of legend have gone gaily gay, and when the wannabe bad wolf arrives, they drive him to distraction with campy come-ons. It’s a typical “sick & twisted” inversion of conventional cartoon material but done with a raunchy joy that seems more liberating than reactionary.
Or there’s Pickles Day Out, by Marc Wilson and Robert Darling. This quasi-Pop Art toon features a theological argument between a tomato and a pickle. In less than three minutes, Gray and company settle the dispute by either the Second Coming or the arrival of lunch, or both. A mad-cap sort of non-denominational blasphemy is one of the recurring strengths of the 2002 edition.
Everything in Sick & Twisted tries to go over the top in one way or another, but the exuberantly tacky Coco the Junkie Pimp 3: Revenge of the Junkie, may be the current entry that succeeds most in going over, under, sideways. A string-puppet clown having absurd sex with pop singer “Bethany Spears” (played by a not-quite-Barbie doll) is just one level of the fractured kitsch in this film’s six minutes of fitfully inspired bad taste.
The brevity and speed of the Spike & Mike selections provide key parts of the series’ antic energy, but anything longer than five minutes can wear out its welcome in a hurry. The Inbreds, eight-plus minutes of lovingly demented British spoof on the Gothic American South (in mock-Deliverance mode), collapses under its own gratuitous weight. But Eoin Clarke’s 1300cc, also from Britain and the longest of the 2002 selections (nine-plus minutes), artfully sustains multi-leveled interest in its crazily sustained battle between a hulking biker on an oversized “hog” and a myopic granny on a motor scooter.
A number of entries fail to break out of the willed grotesquerie and mere routine of standard “sick & twisted” fare, but there are several other highlights of low comedy here:
· SHH! from Australia—a scathing and deftly-sketched cartoon essay on the stages of life and their unlikely cures, complete with misspelled explanatory titles.
· Ah, L’Amour, by Don Hertzfelt, a graffito-style discourse on the search for love.
· Teach Me, from New Zealand’s Karl Willis, 77 seconds of simulated black-and-white stag reel with two frantically fornicating frogs.
· Roofsex, stop-motion animation in which two easy chairs have rough-and-tumble cushion-ripping sex and the live-action family cat gets the blame.
· F*@# Her Gently, an animated music video for the anarchic Tenacious D “love song” of the same name.
The Spike & Mike version of “sick & twisted” has always been too jocular to ever descend wholly into the pathological. The current edition is more about revelry than shock effects, and it’s revealing that the only shocking element in this selection has to do with Bill Plympton’s Six New Vignettes, in which the surreal inspirations of a gifted animator seem shockingly absent.