Spike & Mike’s ‘Sick & Twisted’ at Sac State
Audiences will laugh and cringe through a variety of disturbing and repulsive topics at Spike & Mike’s Sick & Twisted Festival of Animation, coming to Sacramento State’s University Union Ballroom Thursday.
"Spike & Mike shows are different from other movies," said Zenia Diokno, program adviser for event-sponsor UNIQUE. "There is a ton of energy in the crowd. Everyone is yelling and having fun. I thought it would be great to host this on a college campus."
The film will include 28 short animated clips ranging from one to five minutes. Highlights from this year’s film include "Washington," the popular Internet cartoon by Brad Neely, and Jeff Chiba Stearns’ Post-It production of "Yellow Sticky Notes."
"It’s all gonna be good," Diokno said. "My favorite animation is ‘Rats on Cocaine’ [by Apocalypse Cartoons]. It’s kind of like the movie Blow, but with rats and way more disturbing."
Sick & Twisted is presented by Mellow Manor Productions, Inc., better known as "Spike & Mike."
Mellow Manor, started by Craig "Spike" Decker and Mike Gribble in the early ’70s, originally promoted underground bands with retro-style short animated films. This led to presentations of special shows, including all-night horror-thons, and movie classics like Slaughterhouse 5 that would open with animated shorts, such as "Betty Boop" and cult favorite "Bambi Meets Godzilla" by well-known animation filmmaker Marv Newland. The popularity of these films grew, and in 1977, Spike & Mike began promoting animated shorts full time.
In 1990, the Sick & Twisted Festival began as an outlet for animated pieces that were too revolting, adult in nature, or politically incorrect for the Classic show. This festival is the birthplace of Mike Judge’s "Beavis and Butthead" and Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s "Spirit of Christmas," the original, uncensored "South Park."
Justin Randle, UNIQUE volunteer, looks forward to a peek at the up-and-coming animations. "I’m excited to see what will succeed past the festival and come out on television," he said.
Spike & Mike shows have amassed a huge cultlike following and have been hosted at a multitude of notorious festivals including the Sundance Film Festival, Cannes International Film Festival, and the International Festival of Animation in Annecy, France.
Each year the Sick & Twisted show premieres at the San Diego Comic-Con convention and continues to play throughout the year at theaters, film festivals and college campuses in over 50 cities across the United States and Canada.
While the popularity of the festival has continuously grown, it has sparked controversy for exhibiting works perceived as violent, sexist, ageist, or insensitive in nature.
The Crest Theatre has hosted the Sick & Twisted show many times in the past. "It’s very popular, but it definitely appeals to a distinct audience," said Sid Heberger, theater manager. "I love, love, love ‘Lupo the Butcher’ [an animation by Danny Antonucci]. I’ll wear my Lupo T-shirt tomorrow to support the festival!"
Several well-known animators got their start with Spike & Mike, bringing bizarre works into mainstream culture.
Tim Burton and John Lasseter of Disney and Pixar have both premiered their works in the Classic Festival of Animation. Popular animators Bill Plympton, known for drawing every frame of an animation himself, and Don Hertzfeldt, famous for traditional pen-and-paper animation of hand-drawn stick figures, have been nominated for Academy Awards for their films ("Your Face" and "Rejected," respectively) featured in past festivals.
UNIQUE is a volunteer group, started in 1978 at Sacramento State, that works to bring innovative, quality entertainment to campus. Student volunteers plan, promote and produce all UNIQUE events with the goal to present a variety of highly attended, low-cost events.
"UNIQUE really brings a lot of people together," Randle said.
Entertainment and educational events organized by UNIQUE include concerts, lectures, cultural programs, films, comedy and performing arts. Past events include a screening of The Simpsons Movie and concerts featuring the Plain White T’s and Ozomatli.
The show will run from 7:30 to 9:05 p.m. and is free of charge. All ages will be admitted to the film; however, most content is not suitable for children.