This year marks the 20th anniversary of Sick & Twisted, a lower-key spinoff of Spike & Mike’s Festival of Animation, which just celebrated its 30th anniversary. Both fests have charmed audiences over the years, delivering animated shorts from around the globe.
“It started out as films we couldn’t program into the original show — films that were edgier,” said Craig “Spike” Decker, who created both film festivals.
Decker said Sick & Twisted started out as a test. One night he decided to show some of the more vile animated material to a younger crowd.
“They went nuts,” he said, over classic film shorts like “Bambi Meets Godzilla,” along with films from a core of animators from Vancouver, Canada, whose humor was over the top.
“I came up with a brand, then we started curating this show,” Decker said, adding the availability of edgy comic shorts at that time was limited, admitting, “We had to produce a lot of the films ourselves.”
Sick & Twisted has become the showcase for cutting-edge animated comedy like “Beavis and Butthead,” which debuted at Sick & Twisted. “Ren & Stimpy” is another animated comedy classic that caught on in a larger market after getting exposure at Sick & Twisted.
Decker promises Sick & Twisted’s 20th anniversary this year will be extra special, starting with a rare guest appearance by “Ren & Stimpy” creator John K at the Aug. 24 opening night.
“This Sick & Twisted show we have — the caliber and collection of films — is absolutely the best that I could compile,” Decker said, adding it’s also the most modern, having transitioned from film to digital mediums.
“The collection is just amazing, impeccable, international,” he said.
The show will feature mostly new material with a few old favorites.
“We’re very careful not to put too many films in there that people have seen before,” he said. “We don’t want people to say we’re just rehashing the same films. So we’re very painstaking to make sure the films we put in are new and high quality or classics that the audience can participate in, like ‘No Neck Joe.’ ”
One animated short in this year’s Sick & Twisted even includes a local landmark — the hut at La Jolla’s Windansea Beach.
Decker said, as usual, Sick & Twisted crowds are interactive, reacting to the films. He said the traditional giant balloons will be in play and barf bags will be handed out again. This year’s festival has a new attraction: glow-in-the-dark hand clappers.
Sick & Twisted has become so popular over the years that, just like its progenitor, the Festival of Animation, it has become a family event shared by generations, Decker said.
“I have people coming in now bringing their kids,” he said. “If you want a place to have a good time and laugh, we have it.”
For more information, visit www.animation-festivals.com/festivals/spike-and-mike-sick-and-twisted-festival