Judge Adam Arseneau found a recent Unwrapped on the making of pretzels more twisted than Spike & Mike's latest animation festival on DVD.
"Spike and Mike are to animation what salad dressing is to sex."
Definitely not for children, Spike & Mike's Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation is the fourth DVD offering of edgy adult animated material from Spike & Mike, purveyors of counterculture animated entertainment for decades. Now in its 15th year, the Sick and Twisted festival compiles the most entertaining, disgusting, revolting, and edgy short animation from all over the world and releases it in the form of a traveling film festival, which plays in over 50 cities across North America each year.
Most of this material would never see the light of day, let alone a wide release, which makes Spike & Mike's animation festivals particularly attractive for young and ambitious animators like Mike Judge, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and Bill Plympton, all of whom have shown their works at a Spike & Mike festival.
The animated shorts contained on this DVD, most running a minute or two in length, are:
• "Spike and Mike Intro"—Mighty Fudge
To be honest, not a single short on this entire DVD jumped out at me as particularly noteworthy. Most feature violence, swearing, or sex, or combinations of the three, but none struck me as particularly "sick and twisted" by today's standards. As a DVD experience, this was quite mediocre, made even more so by discovering the vast majority of the shorts on this DVD are freely available on various Internet websites to download. The humor in most pieces is mediocre at best and hardly any are particularly shocking or risqué.
From a technical standpoint, the disc is pretty middle of the road. Audio is decent enough, as with the video quality; each varies based on the source material, of course, but the overall impression of the presentation is acceptable. A lot of the sound mixes for these animated shorts are pretty rough around the edges, but that is the nature of the material.
I have to admit that I like the idea of the festival a lot more than I like this particular DVD. As a forum for up-and-coming animators, I can see the attraction of such a collection of work. I know for a fact that companies like Pixar attend these festivals, keeping their eyes out for new talent. I can also see how a traveling festival of bizarre animation would be an entertaining way to spend a day if attending, as most of these animations would probably be a lot more entertaining watching them in a room full of people laughing hysterically. Alas, the experience just does not transfer to DVD.
With the popularization of the Internet to distribute these kind of short animations and the ever-growing edginess of mainstream animation like Family Guy, The Simpsons, and Adult Swim, Spike & Mike's animation festivals have lost much of their striking originality and relevancy bringing this material to the public. Yes, back in the day, Spike & Mike's animation festivals were the public's first taste of such material as Beavis and Butthead, South Park, and even the Powerpuff Girls, believe it or not. But this was when animation was strictly reserved for wholesome family values. These days, some of the filthiest humor available on television comes in the form of hand-drawn shaded cells.
So why bother with such a collection on DVD? To be honest, I'm not entirely sure.
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