(Regular DHD readers know I don’t do geek. But frequent LA Weekly film reviewer and comic book expert Luke Y Thompson does. He spends all year waiting for Comic-Con and this time he’s covering it for me. Here’s his latest report.)
Warning: If you’re not into gross stuff, even described in a discreet fashion, please skip this post. But every Comic-Con, “The King of Tasteless Toons,” solo-monikered Spike, shows close to two hours worth of animated shorts that all deal with explicit violence or sex (albeit in cartoon form). In a presentation called “The Gauntlet,” he solicits cheers and boos from the audience. Enough boos, and the film is immediately stopped and repalced onscreen; what’s left becomes that year’s official traveling “Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation.” It’s not quite scientific, and the process inherently discriminates against anything that has a slow build-up to a big finale. Not to mention that, if Spike personally likes something, he won’t yank it unless the audience is louder than a leaf-blower at 9AM.
This year, the audience seemed to be in an ornery mood, harder to predict than usual, as even cartoon erections displeased them, as did a short that presented Paris Hilton, who is apparently repugnant to this crowd even as an object of satire. Any cartoon that hinges on an annoying baby crying is always booed. Weird is fine — the big finale, was “Dr. Tran,” in which an old man gives kids advice on their lemonade-stand-style businesses, admonishing all except for one who sells old HUDSON HAWK videotapes for $100 merely by putting up a big sign that reads “TITS.” But too weirdly random is not: one mess of a movie involved a rooster and some classical Roman busts, anbd no-one could figure it out, so they yelled angrily as a substitute.
Obvious parodies fail: riffs on THE LION KING, TELETUBBIES, and SESAME STREET did not play well at all. But really blatant titles that spell out dirty deeds work well, as “Rats on Cocaine,” “The Furious Little Cinnamon Bun,” and “Babies Having Phone Sex”. Yet “The Last Trailer Park” got no love. White Trash papier-mache puppets just ain’t what they used to be.
“Cuddle Sticks” is billed as Spike’s most disgusting selection ever, probably because it involves menstrual blood, which scares men silly. For my money, however, “The Last Temptation of Crust,” in which a man starts eating a dirt-encrusted piece of pie, is far more unpleasant (the punchline is that after eating hair and band-aids, he’s grossed out by cherries. I can dig. I don’t like dried fruit yet I’ve eaten live wriggling shrimp.)
To end on a totally irrelevant note: How is it that one bar in a Comic-Con adjacent hotel has bargain prices on double-shot cocktails, while another has way overpriced beers? Do they not think people will compare the two?