Mellow Manor Productions, Inc. was founded by Craig ‘Spike’ Decker and Mike Gribble, popularly known as “Spike & Mike.” Mellow Manor is named after the famed Victorian house in Riverside where Spike, Mike and many others lived in a communal setting. Although Mike Gribble died from cancer in August 1994, Spike continues to produce touring theatrical festivals of animated short film collections.
Decker and Gribble began by founding Mellow Manor Productions, Inc. in Riverside, California in the 1970s as a means of promoting rock bands and special screenings of horror films as well as movie classics. After spending the summer of 1977 giving out flyers for the Fantastic Animation Festival, they decided to focus on presenting packages of animated films themselves, known as the Festival of Animation (now called "Classic Festival of Animation") in venues across the country. The International Tournée of Animation was another annual touring "festival" existing at this time that packaged the best of international animation. However whereas the Tournee mainly screened 16mm films in museums and colleges, Spike and Mike copied the successful plan of the the Fantastic Animation Festival by targeting regular 35mm movie theaters.
The Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation began in 1990 at Wheeler Auditorium at UC Berkeley. This is an unrated, adult version of the regular program mainly featuring gross-out cartoons. In the Festival's early days, Spike and Mike would take the stage and introduce the films. Sometimes Spike’s dog Scottie would take the stage and shred things thrown to him.
In the 90s, Spike and Mike produced two annual tours - both Classic and Sick and Twisted - but by the early 2000s, the Classic Festival of Animation was entirely phased out by Sick and Twisted Festival.
Before the Festival of Animation it was difficult to see independent or foreign animation. Spike and Mike found animation from the Canada National Film Board and Cal Arts that did not have a public venue. In the 80's they screened early films from such animators as Nick Park, Marv Newland, Tim Burton, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, and Will Vinton.
Spike and Mike would sometimes fund films to be shown in their festivals. After Mike Judge’s first Beavis and Butt-head became popular with the Sick and Twisted crowd, Spike and Mike funded his next shorts.
Two of Spike and Mike's most popular contributors, Bill Plympton and Don Hertzfeldt, were each nominated for Academy Awards for films featured in the Festival (Your Face and Rejected, respectively), helping bring their bizarre works into the mainstream.
Over the years, the Sick and Twisted festival has come under fire from critics for exhibiting works that may be perceived as violent, sexist, ageist or otherwise insensitive; its defenders have argued that the festival is meant, by definition, to be controversial and politically incorrect. As one of the MC's at Los Angeles showings of "Sick & Twisted" would announce before the show: "We have been getting complaints that the show is too gross, too disturbing... it's called Sick and Twisted, what the fuck did you expect!!!!"
The festival is presented annually in La Jolla and then tours to theatres, film festivals, and college campuses in about a dozen North American cities.