Spike & Mike's Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation 2001
Let's start with the news every Sick and Twisted fan will want to hear: "No Neck Joe" is reduced to a mere three segments in this cavalcade of crass, and the sound is turned down from Lollapalooza Loud to Just Very Annoying. And once that little runt is done with, you can settle back and enjoy a pretty decent set of indecent short subjects, most new, and a few returning favorites. In no particular order, let's review some of the offerings. The Squirrel Nut Zippers' "Ghost of Stephen Foster" (Raymond Persi and Matthew Nastuk) gets a very nicely done '40s-style B&W cell animated treatment, reminiscent of early Betty Boop or Popeye 'toons. A cute young couple checks into a haunted hotel not too far removed from the last Best Western I visited, with a bellhop from hell and a desk clerk to die for. Another family oriented 'toon that snuck in from Pixar (Ralph Eggelston) has a flock of feisty starlings settling in on a telegraph wire, only to have Big Bird join them and push them to the breaking point. The result? Birdie nakedness.
"Rick and Steve, the Happiest Gay Couple in the World" (Q. Allan Brocka) live in a colorful alternative Lego world, and invite the lesbians over for quiche. The men hate the women, the women hate the men, and if someone didn't need a little genetic material for alternative baby, they'd all still be playing gay Pictionary. High marks go to "Wheel Chair Rebecca" (Roy T Wood), the newest differently-abled fun toy for girls. How did she end up in her present state of discomfiture? Mommy has a few suggestions: it might have been rough sex with a Ben doll, or one of these all expense paid alien probing cruises gone bad, or may be it was just O.J. on a golf weekend. But don't worry, she's fun no matter how she found her way into her shiny little appliance. One of the best in show was "Rejected" (Don Hertzfeldt), a series of promo shorts that weren't bought by the Family Learning Channel, for no good reason except the focus on dismemberment, abuse, and excessive anal bleeding. It's actually up for an Oscar.
Of course, just being sick and twisted doesn't make a film good. The out of focus, poorly recorded, and not very funny "Coco, the Junkie Pimp 2" (Michael Comas and Pete Metzger) should have stayed in rehab. Its urban puppeteer attempt to parody Star Wars fell flat, and at six minutes you might consider grabbing a new bucket o'popcorn. "Pussy da Red Nosed Reindeer" (Walter Santucci) takes a Mafia view of Santa's Christmas delivery problem and works over not only our favorite mythical ungulate, but the audience as well. Another loser, "Stinky Monkey" (David Lipson) involves a little girl heaping abuse on a small animated ape, with no particular end in mind. Lastly, I'll mention "Sloaches Fun House" (Clayboy Enterprises), a sort of anti-Will Vinton look at life featuring scatological hair pieces and cockroach pizza. It's the sort of thing you look at and say, "Wow. I NEVER would have thought to animate THAT slice of life." All in all, "Sloaches" epitomizes the Sick and Twisted experience.
This is one of the best S&T fests to date, and not a bad introduction for the virgin. With a few good oldies tossed in, this set of animation proves you can be clever AND tasteless, with no need to justify anything to anyone. When you step out into the humid night air, one thought sticks with you: " I AM a consumer whore." Now that's the spirit.
More information is available at http://www.ifilm.com.
Carl F. Gauze