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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “Spike and Mike’s newest: All of the punch, none of the raunch”

    A lot can happen in four minutes. A chicken can whisper violent murder in a child’s ear. The Grim Reaper can tempt a hardboiled pie-addict with one last juicy slice. Santa can convert his workshop into a war machine and loose his devastating “”Blitzenkrieg”” upon the free world. You can also watch an animated short.

    “”Spike and Mike’s New Generation Animation”” showcase brings such bizarre fantasies to The Loft Cinema, and without all the gore, obscenities and oblong genitalia of their iconic “”Sick and Twisted”” anthology. For some, that may be a turnoff. For others, the promise of philosophical crabs, murderous poultry and a Nazi-fied Saint Nick more than make up for the scarcity of sickness.

    It’s unclear what the theme of the show is, given the offbeat array of shorts — the longest of which being an 8-minute dialogue between two male castaways enacting a domestic drama on a desert island. The official Spike and Mike website offers the word “”brain-spinning”” to describe the collection, and the shoe certainly fits.

    Though each of the 19 obscure shorts offers something worth enjoying — be it an oddball plot, eye for parody or the quirky quality of the animation — there are obvious highlights.

    “”Crab Revolution,”” a French black-and-white short narrated by a particularly philosophical crab, is the most memorable. Due to a genetic abnormality, the species is forced to make only back-and-forth, lateral movements, doomed to forever walk the same path from birth to death. In addition to an existential narrative a la Camus, “”Revolution”” creates surprisingly powerful images with a barebones palette. Black crabs gaze upward through stark white oceans at schools of circling fish, birds-eye angles capture parents jettisoning eggs out in neat rows as they follow their linear path, and the hefty shadows of ocean liners loom over helpless crab communities. Expertly conceived and crafted, “”Revolution”” is the gem of the festival.

    “”Key Lime Pie,”” which has appeared in the “”Sick and Twisted”” collection, is a pleasure to see again. A nameless hardboiled hero narrates the story of his twisted passion, but his femme fatale is not a woman: it is sweet, savory key lime pie. When the Grim Reaper shows up to present one last fatal offer to the addled addict, in traditional noir fashion, the hero must choose between temptation and survival. Gloomy noir conventions and a lighthearted love of pastries conflate in this darkly comic take on desire.

    One more short worth a shout-out is “”Santa: The Fascist Years.”” Veteran animator Bill Plympton, whose hard-luck “”Guide Dog”” series is not unfamiliar to Loft crowds, presents an unpublicized facet of WWII. In an effort to “”turn the calendar into one long Christmas season,”” Santa masses an army of assassin elves and dive-bombing reindeer to spread his holly-jolly holocaust. Holiday icons clash in Plympton’s energetic chicken-scratch style to make for a hilarious history lesson that America’s youth has long been deprived of.

    All the punchy with none of the raunchy, “”Spike and Mike’s New Generation Animation”” is a buffet of talented artists that you can actually bring the kids to. Just don’t be surprised if the kids start asking a lot of prying questions about elven genocide.

     

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