I closed off 2011 with the last film festival viewing being that of the long running “Spike and Mike’s Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation.” Short animated works by a variety of filmmakers who set out to shock, gross out, and ensue hilarity through their creations.
While most of our Absurdist artists here are more the type to use a long screwdriver and slowly churn the screw to produce a form of twisted absurdism that fucks with the head in a subtle but strong way, the spike/mike animators will just use a power drill, driving in the screw direct to produce a quick and easy shot of twisted absurdity. The kind you don’t have to think much about. It’s shit/piss/and penis filled material and that’s how it should be for their form of not always easy, but at least quickly digestable, cinema. And it was a huge relief to see that the animation did actually deliver on the sick and twisted front in the latest Spike and Mike installment, which closed out 2011, opening up hope for a twisted cinematic 2012 and beyond.
The last time I went to a Spike and Mike festival was probably a decade or so ago. And it sucked. I remember one guy in the audience would actually stand up after several of the shorts finished and yell aloud: “THAT WAS NOT SICK, NOR WAS IT TWISTED!” And the rest of the audience agreed. Much of the work felt mainstream and you wondered what the hell these shorts were doing in the festival.
The selection process seemed to mirror the times and the attitude of alternative cinema everywhere. This was a time, a decade or so ago, when underground cinema seemed to be dying on all fronts. At the usual so called “alternative” film festivals it was “mumblecore” that was being touted as the new underground. A hipster/poser cinema movement where the message was basically the celebration of hipster/poser’ism. Online works by outsiders, weirdos, and up/coming cinematic deviants were being ignored. No one really knew how to handle the technology from Digital Video to eventually YouTube, so a wave of mediocrity swept through screening venues and festivals which were once home to more transgressive works. The early 2000’s laid the cement down for nearly a decades worth of venue fluff.
But the much needed cracks in the concrete have been forming over the last few years. And now, sprouting up from the cracks, is a new wave of twisted transgressiveness many artists, and audiences, have been yearning for.
Watching the latest Spike and Mike’s Festival of Animation reminded me of shows from the late 90’s, when underground works were still being produced and celebrated on screen. I actually took note at the end of each film to see the production date, as if having to blink twice making sure these indeed were new works, and then surprised that, yes, most I noted were.
As mentioned things have been picking up for the underground. And this latest Sick and Twisted fest convinces me further that the lamecore movement of the past decade has in fact died, and we are at the beginning of a new decade of true, new underground works both in the “long screw” artistic Absurdism celebrated on this site, as well as the straight up screw, shit-piss and penis underground.