|Happy Tree Friends: Overkill (2005)
Starring: voices of Rhode Montijio, Kenn Navarro, Aubrey Ankrum, Mark Giambruno and more
Director: Rhode Montijo and Kenn Navarro
Itchy and Scratchy never got the chance to have their own cartoon series, but the “Happy Tree Friends” make up for it with some of the most disturbing, and yet hilarious, animation in the history of the medium. Since it became an online phenomenon in 2001 with downloadable shorts available to anyone visiting their site, the “Happy Tree Friends” have taken the world by storm. And with Flash rapidly gaining recognition as a valid form of commercial animation, the guys behind the series have helped in bringing the genre into the mainstream. Oh, and they're also making a few bucks on the side with a ridiculous supply of merchandise.
They’re cute, they’re cuddly, and they can’t escape an accident without losing a limb and a few pints of blood. They’re the “Happy Tree Friends” and they represent the next echelon in a series of sick and twisted cartoons. Bearing names like Giggles, Cuddles and Sniffles, these furry forest animals may look like Care Bears, but they’re bound to die horrible deaths at the hands of their accident-prone friends. Most of the episodes don’t last for more than two minutes, but within that short time period, a simple day at the park is quickly turned into a horrific canvas of violence. Expect to see lots of blood throughout each gory episode, but also expect to see some pretty creative deaths as well. The creators of the series, Rhode Montijo and Kenn Navarro, obviously have a twisted sense of fantasy to come up with this sort of stuff, but they’re also smart enough to inject a sick humor that most will enjoy.
Previously transferred to DVD on three volumes (“First Blood,” “Second Serving” and “Third Strike”), the entire catalog of “Happy Tree Friends” has been re-released in a new three-disc box set entitled “Overkill.” Featuring all 45 original episodes, and including eleven never-before-seen shorts, “Overkill” is the ultimate collection for fans of the series. There are also tons of special features to dig through on all three discs, including the original pilot, production featurettes, bios for each character, a funny spin on the Pop-Up Video concept and several audio commentaries to choose from. Among one of my favorite extras stumbled upon while searching through the collection were the Smoochies, a series of interactive games that allow you to choose (and then watch) various ways of killing the Happy Tree Friends. And while this doesn’t sound too exciting while reading about it, you’ll have more than you’re share of fun participating.
The “Happy Tree Friends” are a very unique experience, so it’s recommended to check out the website first before rushing out to buy the set. Still, with the FCC always tightening the clamp on the definition of acceptable television, it shouldn’t be long before the Internet is handed its own rulebook of limitations. This is quality black comedy at its best, and while it may sound like overkill, this is one guilty pleasure worth enjoying while you still can.