Bust a gut 

Sick and twisted’ toons from Spike & Mike

There is much that is perverse in the 93 minutes of Spike & Mike’s Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation. It doesn’t clean up into a tidy thematic review, so here are some samples from a platter oozing with contempt for community standards and an occasional aspiration to art.

Cox & Combes’ Washington is a minimalist rap tribute to a hyperbolic George Washington, the one who “ate opponents’ brains and invented cocaine” among his many accomplishments, others of which include standing “6-foot-20” and riding a crystal horse. Evocative of a starched educational video and armed with deadly comic timing, the short is the best of a very funny bunch of clips.

Similarly accomplished is Don’t Fuck With Love, a melancholy costume rock cautionary tale in which “Cupid, that bitch, puts a cap in your ass.” The scenes are animated like pieces of a pop-up book, with each page serving as the backdrop. It’s hard to watch these self-consciously cheeky and devastatingly witty films and not think that there’s genius on screen. But that’s just my sense of humor.

Others might prefer Teddy Bears’ Picnic—in which a tea party for four teddy bear puppets turns into a cannibalistic vivisection over nursery rhyme music—or A to Zoo, featuring the mauling and maiming of a school bus full of toddleresque fuzzy creatures by captive wild animals. The general rule seems to be the more innocent a film first seems to be, the more feverishly it must pitch itself into blood-spattered bizarreness.

For those who prefer contextual humor, consider the Dr. Tran series, five shorts interspersed throughout the festival’s 28 total pieces, in which an Asian preschooler gets frightened by a talking chicken; taken on a car ride with an insane, vehicular-homicide-prone granny (the ride turns out to be a toy store commercial); and then dropped into a demonically zealous advertisement for a Mexican restaurant called Roybertito’s. It includes a running gag or three.

Not to be left out of any roundup is Pirate Baby’s Cabana Battle Street Fight 2006, a black blood-soaked romp through a Double Dragon-style series of dungeons featuring demented babies who claw their way out of the swollen wombs of zombie mothers and tropes of video game standbys that invoke pop-culture icons, such as the “You are about to enter a world of pain” power-up featuring Walter from The Big Lebowski—all set to a scorching prog rock soundtrack.

Sound too heady for you? Fear not, troglodyte. Spike & Mike’s also includes the steadfastly low-brow like Chirpy, the tale of a small yellow chick’s psilocybin-fueled sex romp with a stallion, an anatomically improbable sequence resulting in possibly the best use ever of the phrase “tastes like chicken.”

Spike & Mike’s Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation shows Tuesday, March 27, through Sunday, April 1, at 7 PM at the Crystal Theatre. $4.
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