Spike & Mike's Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation '98

1998, NR Directed by Various.

REVIEWED By Russell Smith, Fri., Jan. 30, 1998

You don't need the U.S. Supreme Court to find Spike & Mike's Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation '98 “…utterly without redeeming social value by contemporary community standards.” Not when the producers themselves are so proudly confident of their barnstorming animation show's emetic powers that they hand out free barf bags at the door. In a move apparently designed to bring this venerable and popular celebration of bad taste to its most natural clientele (i.e., people who are several beers to the good), this year's screenings have been moved from the longtime Dobie Theatre home base to the Alamo Drafthouse. The new feel is more vaudeville than film fest, right down to the Viking-helmeted emcee who's been added to stoke the crowd up with unison screaming contests and lewd party games. But rest easy, traditionalists, the film program itself has stuck to its tried-and-true formula of gorge- elevating raunch, carnage, and scatology. Some of the films, like Miles Thompson's crude paean to blonde bimbohood, Hut Sluts, and Don Hertzfeldt's scathing lover's lament Ah, L'Amour, are even reprised from previous shows. The biggest crowd draws this year may be The Spirit of Christmas and Frosty, two scabrously hilarious shorts by Trey Parker and Matt Stone that were the basis for Comedy Central's cult favorite cartoon series South Park. Japanese animation is lampooned not once but twice, in DNA Productions' brilliant The Booby Trap and Nick Gibbons' clever Speed Racer parody Fast Driver. There's even some solid educational content here. Adam Lane's Sea Slugs graphically illustrates why slugs have never made good sailors (all that salt water -- watch it, little fellas!), and the aforementioned The Booby Trap explains why anime characters are always doing that “h'ohhh!” thing (evidently just because it feels good). One of the most technically impressive films was Mike Johnson's Devil Went Down to Georgia, which was so lacking in offensive content one almost wonders how it made the cut. No such questions with Greg Ecklund's amiably grisly Lloyd's Lunchbox, which stars a pus-eating, rat-squashing skinhead. And certainly not with Steve Margolis' Sloaches Fun House, a phantasmagorical spew of body-loathing imagery that fully earns its billing by Spike & Mike as “The Sickest Film Ever Made.” In short, don't assume that the free barf bag is a joke. However, to again cite the highest court in the land, the concept of offensiveness relates directly to “prevailing community standards.” And when the community in question is the kind that enjoys deep-throating bananas from each other's laps and being repeatedly addressed as “perverts,” it's clear that the standard is plenty low to accommodate Sick and Twisted '98. Eat it up, you sickos.

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