SPIKE & MIKE’S SICK AND TWISTED FESTIVAL OF ANIMATION: CONTAGIOUS (DVD) Image

I love animation and its surrounding history. The easygoing nature of Disney’s “The Jungle Book” has made it a closely-held favorite. Despite what appeared to be a lukewarm reception to “Anastasia” (1997), I respect it not only for the lifelike movements of the human characters and the impeccable voice performances—including Kelsey Grammer as Vladimir—but also in the talented and studied voice of Jim Cummings, who in the musical number, “In the Dark of the Night”, sounded as if Christopher Lloyd himself was singing. I’ve also warmed to a majority of Disney’s animated features, in past decades as well.

Man cannot live on Disney and Fox animated films alone, however. Besides the vision of Ralph Bakshi and all the other obvious historical pinpoints of animation, Spike and Mike has always been there for those seeking a different kind of entertainment. The only talking animals in these kinds of short films are drunken flies. A dog humps a teddy bear, before realizing that a bear without its head might be more pleasurable. This and so much more is packed into the new, the sick, the perverse and the ferociously funny Spike & Mike “Contagious” DVD. A new day and a new compilation has come!

Spike & Mike has not only prided themselves on giving audiences eye-opening and brain-buzzing animation that shocks, jolts, and wakes people from their sleepy stupor that usually sets in when they go to the movies. In a Spike & Mike experience, you’re also given something to consider. Movies aren’t there just to be seen. They don’t contain cinematography, lighting, actors, and dialogue just so there’s something for you to watch and hear in passing. It’s true that there are films that do just that, but there is thinking to be done in what you watch. What does this scene mean to you? How did you feel about that scene? What could the filmmaker be saying in that moment where the severed head went down on the girl? There’s one alternately funny and wreching piece called “Puke a Pound” which rightfully makes a complete buffoon out of Richard Simmons and also implores us to think about the slew of diet programs out there, asking us if we are truly doing what’s right for our body with what’s advertised. People all over the country want to look beautiful and/or strong. The woman who “successfully” went through the program claims that she looks more beautiful, but her face looks ready to turn gray and just crumble, while only her teeth remain intact. And if we must look good, who are we trying to impress that we spend portions of 24-hour days straining ourselves toward that goal? Life is first and foremost about living for ourselves. All of that is brought to mind in less time than it takes for you to thumb through the TV Guide while sitting on the toilet.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Spike & Mike festival without beloved poop jokes. What filmmakers today don’t understand is that the laughs don’t come simply by what’s gross on the screen. Build it up, you stupid buttercup! It’s why “Take a Load Off, Baby!” featuring the ‘Dumb, Big, Fat, Stupid Baby!’ should be seen many times to know what to do. The baby, grotesquely fat with at least three skin folds, struggles to make a mess in his diaper. It’s got to be a male with that kind of struggle. The big diaper balloons out as the kid strains, and only farts come out. Then, that magic moment. One huge push and an enormous brown pile whooshes out, heavier than the baby. It gets more disgusting from there, but you see? There’s a build up. It uses one of the basest methods of comedy, but at least there’s real concentration there. There’s a thought to how it should work.

No Spike & Mike disc could ever be considered one without animation from maestro Bill Plympton, whose detached animation style is constantly addictive. The big brain himself has a few on here, including a woman who brings a needle through her head twice in order to have dimples, a pubic hair transplant, and the experience of computerized toilets in Japan. His comment on airport security is especially apt. As if aren’t enough laughs in here, also see “Rick the Dick in Hospital Hell”, animation that knows people are watching. Whether you like Rick or not through his rounds in this cockeyed hospital, you’ll laugh harder at the bad luck brought down on him or be pleased at his comeuppance. Give some time also to the “Lloyd’s Lunchbox” cartoons. Lloyd is a dumb sack of blood, bones, and skin and doesn’t make a big show of mutilating himself. He does it out of curiosity or concern, such as when his nails contain a thick amount of dirt and he uses a knife to try to remove all of it, going down deeper than the nailbed.

There are some scenes that can’t be played out with actors and characters we wouldn’t want to see in human form and that’s why Spike & Mike are around. The twisted and perverse side of all of us is fully satisfied and as long as there are filmmakers with those same kind of sensibilities looking for an outlet, they will always be there giving us what we crave.

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