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Spike and Mike have the 
    other toons running scared
Spike and Mike have the other toons running scared

Spike Strikes Again

"There's a couple films in the show -- like "For the Birds"; "Ghost of Stephen Foster"; and "Rejected," which was nominated for an Academy Award -- that generally might not be in Sick and Twisted because they're not very edgy. But they're very high-quality productions. So it sort of rounds the show off with the highbrow and the lowbrow stuff."

So says Craig "Spike" Decker, guiding light behind Spike and Mike's Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation. Can it be that the festival that first showed Beavis and Butt-head and South Park to the world has sold out? Traded the quick laughs of violence and bodily functions for high-quality artsy stuff?

Not quite. "There's a film called "Sloaches Fun House" that's pretty disgusting. I mean, it's really vile," Decker says gleefully, countering any hesitation people may have about this year's content. "It's a lot of bodily fluids, to put it mildly."


Spike and Mike's Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation

Gateway Cinema 4, 1820 E. Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale

Friday, July 6, at 1 p.m. Check "Showtimes" for a complete schedule. Tickets cost $7 ($5 for students and matinees). Call 954-763-7994.

Bodily fluids are some of the many ingredients that have made Sick and Twisted a success for the past ten years. The festival of animated shorts got its start in 1990 when Decker and his partner in crime, Mike Gribble, realized that a lot of cartoons they were considering for their more sedate Classic Festival of Animation were too raunchy for that medium, but could definitely be entertaining to the right audience. Though Gribble passed away in 1994, Decker has carried on. But while content may be thematically crude, the animation impresario insists that the quality is not.

"We've acquired the good taste in knowing what people want and getting there first, though we rarely get money or credit for it. It's like Beavis and Butt-head and South Park. We were the first to show that, and the first to show Eric [Fogel, creator of Celebrity Deathmatch]'s stuff and Rugrats, and we did the first Powerpuff Girls and Wallace & Gromit. Just a huge wealth of animation that has gone on to become huge icons."

In fact, this year marks a return appearance to the festival by Wallace & Gromit and Chicken Run creator Aardman Animation, which offers "Angry Kid" in this year's lineup. Such distinguished entries as "Radioactive Crotch Man," "Pussy da Rednosed Reindeer," and "Rick and Steve: The Happiest Gay Couple in All the World" are also featured. All told, this year's Sick and Twisted features 17 cartoons, from the 45-second flash of "Beat the Brat" to the nine-and-a-half-minute odyssey of "Rejected."

And if some of the clips make you nauseous, don't fret: Barf bags are among the souvenirs.

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