DID YOU READ

Horrific.

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"Actually, I'm committing suicide on the installment plan."
Every year at this time, film journalists thoughts turn to talk of the state of the horror film. We’ve run out of things to say on the subject. Last weekend, "Saw III" opened to $34.3 million at the box office — we know nothing about the film, but prefer to think of it as a series of sketches in which people jump into industrial-sized blenders, over and over again, for 80 minutes. We’re just weary of what Rebecca Winters Keegan proclaimed "The Splat Pack" in Time last week, though it’s also possible they’re getting tired of themselves. On the wires today, Leigh Whannell and James Wan, the 29-year-old filmmakers behind the "Saw" franchise, expressed reluctance to commit to the inevitable "Saw IV":

"I don’t know personally if I would want to do it or not," Leigh Whannell said of the potential fourth film.

"As a creator, I’m starting to feel like I’m painting with the same brush."

A brush…DIPPED IN GORE! Eh, whatever. Don’t get us wrong, we like horror, and we’re absolute suckers for all things supernatural, which inevitably seep into our subconscious and give us nightmares, no matter how obvious or cheesy or "intended to be funny" (we’ve got our eye on you, "Ghostbusters II"). It’s just that franchises like "Saw," "The Grudge" and "Final Destination" all seem to be composed of the lopped-off ends of film. Whither suspense and build-up?

Over at the Onion AV Club, Noel Murray and Scott Tobias have a nice discussion of the meaning of the current hits of horror. Murray:

I think you’re right that the most relevant-to-American-youth horror films today are torture-fests like Saw and Hostel, and I agree that the relevance is tied to 9/11, but I think it goes beyond the fear of unexpected tragedy. If you look closely at Hostel—and Wolf Creek, for that matter—what they’re really about is what happens after everything goes to hell. When that kid in Hostel is strapped to a chair with a chainsaw-wielding sicko heading toward him, we in the audience have to ask what we’re hoping to see. Do we just want him to escape and get the hell out of there? Or do we want to him to get hold of that chainsaw and exact revenge?

Over at the Film Experience Blog, Nathaniel R. has links and an entry in a blog-a-thon centered on that most metaphor-friendly of horror denizens, the vampire. We’re not seeing it anywhere after a cursory glance, but we wanted to make sure there’s some love shown for Larry Fessenden‘s "Habit," our favorite revisionist vampire film out there.

At MSNBC, self-proclaimed "gorehound" Dave White shares his list of the ten "coolest horror movie killings ever."

And we’ve seen nothing so frightening this year as Susan Wloszczyna piece in USA Today on John Travolta‘s turn as Edna Turnblad in the upcoming "Hairspray" semi-remake.

Travolta wanted to make Edna sexier and real, not a campy drag act. That required four hours of prep time before putting in eight hours of performing in padding and silicone prosthetics.

+ The Splat Pack (Time)

+ Saw IV’s a sore point
(Sydney Morning Herald)

+ Crosstalk: The state of horror cinema (Onion AV Club)
+ The Vampire Blog-a-Thon (Film Experience Blog)
+ The coolest horror movie killings ever (MSNBC)
+ Pssst! Pssst! John Travolta is Edna Turnblad (USA Today)

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.