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The Sandbox: Shake Your Money Maker

The Sandbox: Shake Your Money Maker (photo)

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Console gaming changed forever in 1996, when Nintendo’s N64 was released with a controller featuring an analog thumbstick. It was a design not seen since the days of the Atari 5200, and one that would not only be copied by each successive console, but that would also help usher in an age of 3D gaming that took full advantage of the new apparatus. And the N64’s interactive legacy wouldn’t end there — an empty slot on the back of the controller would soon present Nintendo with the means to further revolutionize the medium. At first used only for memory cards, that vacant port realized its full potential on July 1, 1997, when the highly anticipated scrolling shooter “Star Fox 64” hit store shelves with an included Rumble Pack that, when plugged into the controller during gameplay, would shake in harmony with the on-screen action. The era of physical feedback from your entertainment had begun, and continues to this day, with rumble — as evidenced by Sony’s 2007 decision to replace the PS3’s original Sixaxis controller (rumble-free, reportedly because of a lawsuit) with a new, rumbly version known as the Dual Shock 3 — now an integral component of video gaming.

Rather than be used in ways that would seriously expand your gaming experience, rumble effects are generally just employed to enhance a sense of immersion. And they’ve proven unquestionably successful at that, to the point where you felt an appreciable loss when, after years of handling the PS2’s rumble-equipped Dual Shock, Sony forced gamers to make do with a next-gen console sans vibration. That deprivation is most acutely felt in first-person shooters, where the controller acts as a surrogate for the on-screen character’s firearms. Not feeling your hands rumble when pulling the trigger of a machine gun or rocket launcher is significant, diminishing the impression that you’re directly involved in the proceedings. In a small but important way, rumbling controllers break down the wall between the virtual and real worlds, creating the sense that we have some tangible connection to the digitized action.

If this simple bit of technology has proven itself to be such an essential part of gaming, then why haven’t the movies taken a similar tack? The answer, of course, is that they have — 50 years ago, when William Castle debuted his 1959 horror film “The Tingler.” Having once served as second-unit director on Orson Welles’ “The Lady From Shanghai,” Castle had by this point in his career established a reputation in Hollywood as a B-movie maven fond of gimmicks, and it was with “The Tingler” that he made his most indelible mark. Starring Vincent Price, the film concerned a centipede-ish creature that attached to the base of people’s spines and could only be destroyed by screaming. Publicity hound that he was, Castle sought to literally make his audience both tingle and scream by retrofitting certain theaters showing the film with joy buzzers under the seats, a trick that — along with his decision to hire actors to pose as moviegoers and faint during key moments — aimed to heighten the terror.

04242009_thetingler.jpgLike most of Castle’s stunts, it didn’t. And though plenty of other gimmicks meant to enhance the theatrical experience have come and gone in since — from 3-D (back again, like a virus, in 2009) to 1960’s Smell-O-Vision, revived as Odorama by John Waters for 1981’s “Polyester” — none have proven to be more than a passing fancy. This failure surely has something to do with the fact that, while video games create clear cause-and-effect relationships with their consumers, the same isn’t true of films, and so creating sensory links between entertainment that’s passively watched and those doing the watching inevitably comes off as a corny prank. But don’t go making such bold proclamations within earshot of D-Box Technologies, a Quebec firm that designs and produces home theater chairs and couches customized with a patented rumble feature (known as “D-Box Motion Code”) that offers a sophisticated version of the feedback traditionally conveyed through game controllers.


Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.


Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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GIFs via Giphy

Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:


The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.


They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!


Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.


Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.



Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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GIFs via Giphy

Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”


IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?

Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!

Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.

Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 


IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.