One day after a game of street football, my high school buds and I sat around talking shit, as two neighborhood mutts of the male variety — Blackie and Chester — wandered over sniffing out what they could sniff. Before you knew it, Blackie was schtupping Chester right there in front of us. Well, that, as the song says, was entertainment — we totally cracked up. Blackie belonged to one of the guys and he never heard the end of it.
Well, for those who’ve never gotten over watching dogs fuck in the street or praying mantises do the deadly nasty, who’re still fascinated by turds floating in bowls and can’t get enough of “jackass” and Tom Green, the 10th annual edition of Spike & Mike’s Sick & Twisted Animation Festival is like a visit to Sundance or Cannes. The nonstop excess — excrement, fucking, sucking and bloodletting, not to mention such gleeful specialties as decapitation, amputation, sodomy, bestiality, queer-baiting and misogyny — comes back for another schtupp this month at the Magic Bag in Ferndale.
Though the hour-and-a-half show isn’t at all recommended for art-house purists, this year’s collection of 25 shorts does come up with a few gems now and then. Chief among these — hands-down, in fact — are four toons that perform brilliant autopsies on the human condition.
From Germany comes Gack Gack, Olaf Encke’s bureaucratic nightmare about an office run by a violently overbearing hippo boss who oversees chickens pecking away at typewriters, a cow secretary who squirts her big udders into his mouth, etc. It’s George Orwell’s Animal Farm taking aim at the corporate workplace, and it would be just plain hilarious if it weren’t so creeped-out and true.
The Inbreds, from Cosgrove Hall Films in the United Kingdom, is a way-over-the-top satire on American redneck stereotypes. The opening credits warn of an impossible list of cruelties and debaucheries to come — it’s got to be a joke, right? — but dang if it doesn’t all happen: murder, projectile vomiting, vegetable penetration, you name it. This cartoon, that looks as if it was drawn by Ralph Steadman, takes excess to dizzying heights and deliriously disgusting lows, in a grand guignol where nothing is spared, certainly not polite or tender sensibilities.
Also from the UK is Eoin Clarke’s 1300CC (pictured), the only short this year at S&M that qualifies as a classic parable. A postmodern fairy tale of missed connections, it sets a quietly doddering old lady and her brawny biker-neighbor on a collision course of psychedelic-slapstick adventures that all point to a very philosophical conclusion. What, wisdom at Spike & Mike? Yow!
Back in the states, from Jason Baskin, comes Cubism, a much quieter take on the old office blues, but with its own breath of hilariously rancid air. The animation here is slick and antiseptic, as befits the American dream gone perfectly wrong.
Other highlights include Nougat, Parts 1 and 2 (a school-assembly show starring chocolate and caramel, pictured), Shh (quieting baby with tricks and mind games) and A Bitter Film (which is exactly what it is). But you’ll have to sit through some pretty fucked-up, stupid stuff to get them all in. Lowest on the totem pole (way down, down in the bowl) are the fornicating frogs of Teach Me, the fornicating armchairs of Roofsex, the fornicating seraphim of F*@# Her Gently and the masturbating Dad and junior of A Father and Son Chat (does a pattern seem to emerge here?). But nothing comes quite as close to slime on celluloid as Coco the Junkie Pimp 3: Revenge of the Junki. I think I’d rather watch Blackie and Chester.
Spike & Mike’s Sick & Twisted Animation Festival is at the Magic Bag (22920 Woodward Ave., Ferndale), Dec. 13-Jan. 2. The premiere party on Friday includes two shows (7:30 and 10 p.m.), with $7 tickets available at the door. All shows are 18 and over only. Call 248-544-3030 for more information.George Tysh is the arts editor of Metro Times. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org