What noise does a bunny rabbit make as it flies through a running jet engine? What about a beaver wearing construction boots stomping out the flaming carcass of formerly cute she-skunk?
Now you can know without angering PETA. “Happy Tree Friends: First Blood” is a DVD compilation of the Flash animation shorts that have delighted audiences with their mix of cuddly cartoon animals and bone-crunching, blood-spurting, eye-gouging, skin-searing uberviolence. The series, which was featured in Spike and Mike’s Twisted Animation Festival in 2002, premiered online in December of 2000 at www.happytreefriends.com and has been killing cuties like Handy the handless beaver, Nutty the sugar-addled chipmunk and Flakey the dandruff-plagued porcupine in increasingly inventive ways ever since.
To get an idea of how these roughly minute-long carnivals of gore unfold, the vignette “Crazy Antics” involves Sniffles the anteater attempting to snake his tongue through an anthill. The tongue bursts in on a family of ants praying before their meal. Not wanting to become dinner themselves, the ants nail Sniffles’ elongated tongue to the floor, drag a cheese grater across it, poor lemon juice on it, douse it with gasoline and light it on fire. Like a fuse leading to dynamite, the tongue burns until Sniffles’ little body explodes, sending bloody Sniffles chunks everywhere.
And then you laugh.
Each episode is bookended by the “Happy Tree Friends” theme song, a psychotically chirpy tune that will stick in your head like a spike fired from a nail gun. The color scheme, consistently Easter egg pastels and meaty dark reds, also blends the cheerful with the heinous in a way that proposes a meeting between Itchy, Scratchy, Ren, Stimpy, Rocky, Bullwinkle, the family from “Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” and the characters from Nintendo’s “Animal Crossing.”
The DVD itself only contains 14 episodes. If watching them successively turns your stomach, a host of extra features – including commentary from creators Rhode Montijo and Kenn Navarro, storyboards, conceptual art and plentiful time-wasters -all of which make you realize that someone put a lot of work into these messed-up little cartoons.
“Happy Tree Friends: First Blood” goes on sale nationally on Feb. 11, making it the perfect Valentine’s gift for the sadistic sweetheart in your life. It’s also a great gift for kids, if your intention is to shatter the innocence of childhood and create severely disturbed adults.
And in case you were wondering, a bunny in a jet engine sounds kind of like snik-snik-snik-KABLORT!