Big Time Shorts

    “”Spike and Mike’s Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation” is back in town. Playing at the Sherwood Auditorium through the end of November, this 90-minute film is a compilation of the rudest, crudest and occasionally cleverest animated shorts the world has to offer. Chosen from over 700 submissions, then run through the “Gauntlet” at San Diego’s Comic-Con International for audience approval, only the best survive for the exclusive show.

    “This is not a collection of artsy-fartsy animations,” producer Craig “Spike” Decker said. “We are catering to the college crowd.”

    Born as a time-killer while living in a place “straight out of ‘Animal House’” with his buddy Mike Gribble, the festival indeed provides adequately depraved, boobie-loving, gore-soaked, racially skewed and politically incorrect humor.

    “But it’s not all fart jokes,” he said. “Humor is the number-one thing, and that means accessible narratives and expert timing.”

    La Jolla’s Museum of Contemporary Art is a strangely prim venue for a showing of the world’s most perversely funny cartoons, where audience members are checked for 18-plus ID, handed a barf bag by an individual in a yellow chicken costume and shown to their seats by a giant whoopee cushion.

    The film opens with several sexually perverse animations designed with one goal: to make quick use of that barf bag. With imagery ranging from interspecies pornography to anally propelled flaming gerbils, it almost succeeds. (Rest assured, PETA members, the gerbil survives.)

    The first half of the show — before a much-needed intermission — is extremely crude and lackluster. Some of the shorts are barely a minute long, with amateur drawings and unexceptionally basic humor; for example, one such clip poorly depicts a grinning man standing above a naked and presumably dead blonde, slapping her oversized breasts and gleefully watching as they wobble with gelatin sound effects. Roll credits. A few exceptions include the horrific yet perfectly rendered “Fools’ Gold” and the choppy hysteric of “Cox and Combe’s Washington,” music video propaganda for America’s first action hero, George Washington.

    The second half is much more refined. Heavier dialogue, scores with crashing baselines and gripping, surreal images let the originality latent in these amateur animators shine. “Pirate Baby’s Cabana Battle Street Fight 2006,” a five-minute black-and-white side-scrolling action game reminiscent of “Double Dragon” and “Street Fighter,” will be a gory lull for those unfamiliar with this style of two-dimensional gaming but a work of the highest art to anyone who has played such a game. Among the pop culture allies summoned by the game’s Japanese-looking fighters are a beleaguered Christopher Walken and Walter from “The Big Lebowski,” who shouts “You’re entering a world of pain!” as he blasts apart thousands of baddies with his 9 mm pistol. Roll credits.

    Another memorable clip called “How to Cope with Death” features sublime animation of a serpentine Death creeping eerily close to an old woman in her rocking chair. When he pulls back to take a mighty swing at her with his scythe, Granny springs into action, and the battle rages around the room in a marvelous display that Decker called “one of the most beautifully rendered [hand-drawn] films ever made.” The old woman buries Death beneath her flaming television, the wild music fades as she slowly retrieves a fire extinguisher and puts out the flame, then adjusts her underwear before exiting. Roll credits.

    “Sick and Twisted” has been selling out since its debut 25 years ago, and Decker has high hopes for the future of his life’s pursuit — like seeing his chosen cartoons televised or distributed through new systems like podcasts and HDTV.

    “I’ve programmed all my life, and am still forced to watch immature stuff like MTV’s ‘Daria,’” he said. “The bar is set so low you can step over it.”

    He hopes that the extraordinary talent of these ambitious kids from across the globe can draw the audience they deserve.

    More to Discover
    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $210
    $500
    Contributed
    Our Goal

    Your donation will support the student journalists at University of California, San Diego. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, keep printing our papers, and cover our annual website hosting costs.

    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $210
    $500
    Contributed
    Our Goal