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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Spike and Mike's Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation: Unprotected
Spike and Mike's Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation: Unprotected
Shout Factory // Unrated // September 2, 2003
List Price: $19.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Randy Miller III | posted September 18, 2003 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie

As a fan of cartoons, comics, and animation in general, I was somewhat eager to check out this release. I had heard about Spike & Mike's Sick and Twisted Animation Festivals before, and even read very positive quotes from some of the film industry's finest (George Lucas, Pixar's John Lassater, etc). I teach cartooning myself, and it's great to see independent talents try their hand at animation, especially when it's not under the strict control of editors and movie studios. Spike & Mike had already released two other DVD compilations, but this third compilation, Unprotected!, was my first experience.

Most of these cartoons were very direct (to put it nicely), so I may as well be direct myself. To put it bluntly, I wasn't overly impressed, but did find a few genuine laughs in this compilation of 19 shorts from a wide variety of creators. Below are some brief thoughts on each one, in order of the DVD presentation. Also included are the length of each short, and the creator(s) behind them:

1. No Neck Joe (4:33) Craig McCracken;
(Tennis Anyone?, The Hickey, Ultimate Death Match, Girlfriends)

A series of four very short cartoons (under a minute each, including credits) about a guy who has no neck, and the trouble he gets into becuase of it. Not particularly groundbreaking or funny, and these are way too short to develop in any way.

2. Sickcom (5:21) Robert Steven Rhine
This mildy funny short involves a family with a not-so-hidden dark underbelly. Each of their "hidden secrets" occasionally produce funny results (especially the interplay between family members), but I can't see how this could ever continue for more than another episode or two.

3. Coco the Junkie Pimp: Revenge of the Junkie (6:05) Pete Metzger and Michael Comas
Very dated for only being five years old. While the puppetry involved is pretty unique, this one unfortunately takes the easy way out, pretty much resorting to mostly gay jokes and the like.

4. Maakies: A Hungry Sailor (1:22) Tony Millionaire
5. Maakies: A Battle at Sea (1:02) Tony Millionaire
These two feature some pretty neat art and effects, but the character animation itself leaves a little to be desired. Not particularly funny either, and also too short to really get much out of them.

6. Fast Driver (4:00) Nick Gibbons
Mildly funny Speed Racer parody with a cute opening song too. If you've seen one anime parody, though, you've practically seen 'em all.

7. Home Honey, I'm Higher: What You Should Know About Drugs (5:00) Dan Dudley
This is a mock 50's commercial with the typical clean-cut TV family of the era, but it's unfortunately not really that amusing. Ren & Stimpy used this style to much greater effect.

8. Swing Sluts (6:35) Brett Johnson
Adventures of two "valley-type" teenage girls who get involved with the wrond crowd. The voices were pretty funny, and the writing was sharp.

9. Tongue Twister (2:20) Sean Scott
This was a pretty cool short about a guy who gets his toungue stuck to a frozen pole, and gnaws it off to avoid danger. I thought the artwork itself was very well done

10. Gack Gack (6:13) Hochschule fur Film und Fernsehen "Konrad Wolf"
I'm probably not alone, but I really was confused by this one. It seemed to involve a slave-labor type work environment with animals, and the art looked fantastic...a very washed out, aged, dull look. Unfortunately, the story itself didn't make much sense.

11. Five F***ing Fables (7:00) Signe Baumane
By themselves, they might be easier to take, but each one seemed to end up resorting to a strange version of oral sex...involving animals, flowers, gnomes, etc. Together, they got very repetitive.

12. Teach Me (:55) Karl Wills
Another strange short, this involed two frogs, sex, and the death of one of them. No sound was present, and with the activity onscreen, I'm actually glad about that.

13. Stickgirl (3:15) Bruce Simpson
This was the first one that I really enjoyed straight through. It's basically Stick Girl's guide to safe sex, and uses some great symbolism. Awesome, simple art too!

14. Ninjews (5:21) Josh Bass
This one was also pretty funny...it involved a strange origin story of how two Jews obtained Ninja powers, and was very original! Practicing Jews might be offended, though. Bonus points for Claymation, although it's not exactly Wallace and Gromit quality here.

15. Beyond Grandpa II (4:00) Breehn John Burns and Jason Johnson
Slightly funny take on the elderly, with some really professional-looking artwork and animation. The voices could have been better, though.

16. Peepshow (1:17) Debbie Bruce and Natalie Repp
By now, I was pretty worried at how far this would go. However, this was another winner...a stop-motion short featuring Marshmallow Peeps as reproducing rabbits, with great accompanying music.

17. Hangnail (1:50) Shane Acker
This one made me wince. It's about a poor guy who pulls a hangnail, and pulls off more than he wanted to. This was dedicated to the guy's parents...their family reunions must be a blast!

18. Lupo the Butcher (3:11) Marv Newland
Nice artwork, but short on concept. It's about a butcher who acts much like Seinfeld's "Soup Nazi", and has an unfortunate accident while cutting spare ribs.

19. Heavy (5:10) Kellie McGregor
This was about a (prehistoric?) man's struggle with a boulder that he's trying to push up a mountain. For the end result, it sort of dragged on.

Again, like most compilations, this was very much a mixed bag. For the most part, these were a little too "sick and twisted" for my tastes...while the gross-out factor was there, Unprotected! lacked the smart satire of "South Park" and the over-the-top fun of "Ren & Stimpy."

With that aside, though, let's see what the DVD has to offer...

The DVD

Video:
The video was, for the most part, excellent! A majority of these shorts featured razor-sharp images with bold colors. Others just looked like bad transfers, but they were mostly low-budget and the original source materials were probably in bad shape. For example, "Peep Show" (while one of the better shorts) looked like a third-generation VHS dub. Still, the video was suprisingly very good overall, and should please fans of the series.

Audio:
The sound was also a mixed bag, but overall was a step down from the video. This is usually to blame on the source elements, as more than one short had a muffled or shallow sound to it. This didn't get in the way of the experience, though, and is more than adequate.

Extras:
No extras have been included, except for two short introductions (that were most likely played before the festivals began. Both feature Spike himself, and didn't really do much for me. They both were similar in that they involved alcohol, guns, and blowing away stuffed animals, Teletubbies, and even Billy Bass (the singing fish). When watched before the main feature itself, these introductions actually detract for it somewhat (see Final Thoughts for more on this).

Menu design and presentation:
The menus were bright and colorful, but surprisingly tame compared to the subject matter of the cartoon. I was expecting something a little more wild, but they do the job and are simple to navigate.

Should anything else have been included?
It would have been great to hear commentaries from the animators. I'm interested in hearing how some of these ideas came about, even for some of the less successful shorts. An additional art gallery would have been nice, or even bios on the creators.

Final Thoughts

Again, I wasn't overly impressed with this release, and I'm not exactly chomping at the bit for future releases either. Most of these shorts really took the easy way out, and focused more on the shock value than actual comedy. If there were any real concepts behind most of these, most of their credibility went out the window after seeing the lame, juvenille festival introductions. Fans of the overly sick and twisted may see something I haven't, but casual amination lovers probably want to steer clear. Overall, I'd advise you to Rent It and decide for yourselves.

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