DID YOU READ

The Wizard of Ozploitation

The Wizard of Ozploitation (photo)

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We had someone else in mind for the role, and she elected not to do it because her mother thought BMX riding was a working-class fad, and she didn’t want her nice middle-class daughter in such a film. So we were auditioning others, and then Nicole came in, did a magnificent reading, and one of the producers said to me, “But you can’t cast her, she’s taller than the two guys.” Who cares? Just look at her, she’s luminous! You see the size of that hair in the picture on the blog! Now that hair, which looks like some sort of enormous Afro, that’s the size it is because there’s a backdraft blowing. Her hair wasn’t really that large and poofy. The two improv comics I cast as the crooks — John Ley and David Argue — would refer to her as “The Mop” or “The Beanpole.” [laughs] We all loved her.

Which of your movies would you say are the most undervalued?

I’d certainly say “The Siege of Firebase Gloria” is the most neglected. It’s highly valued by those who have seen it. It’s Quentin’s favorite film of mine. It’s even appreciated by Vietnam veterans who say it really captured a lot of their experience in the ’68 Tet Offensive. “Dead End Drive-In” was totally dismissed critically in Australia at the time of its release, and given a premiere at a theater that was still under construction. It got critical acclaim in America, but then, naturally, like a lot of New World [Pictures] pickups, it vanished. Luckily, it’s been rediscovered with a new DVD transfer from Anchor Bay. So those are two.

I’ve made 38 crimes against cinema, and I’m about to do 39. It really depends on your viewpoint. People either get the wry underbelly of my genre work, which is not necessarily just self-referential, [or they don’t]. For those who do, there’s maybe a few more nuggets of gold [among] the formulaic movies that others might be able to see. I also have an affection for “Tyrannosaurus Azteca,” which is a camp dinosaur picture that the SciFi Channel repeated 20 times since its premiere last year.

You’ve directed sequels based on films you had no involvement in, such as the upcoming “Porky’s: The College Years.” Is it challenging or liberating to work with previously established properties?

I always put my own spin on things. When I was asked to make “Night of the Demons 2,” I wanted to make it more outrageously funny than number one. I’m a little peeved that no one asked me to make the recent remake of “Night of the Demons.” Maybe I could’ve brought a certain something to that with $5 million dollars instead of, like, $1.4 million, which is what I had to make “Night of the Demons 2.” It had, amongst its stars, Christine Taylor, who was unknown at the time, but then developed a nice career and is now married to Ben Stiller. She’s a great comedienne.

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The “Leprechaun” pictures, that’s an interesting story. Basically, the producers] had a disappointment with number two. It hadn’t done the numbers that they wanted, so they were just going to make a three-part franchise, and that would be it. They said, “Look, set it in Vegas, shoot it at the Ambassador Hotel in L.A.,” and we ended up [shooting part of the film] without permits in Vegas to pepper it with the leprechaun in real Vegas backgrounds. We tried to do 14 days, plus our one guerrilla day, with seven people, avoiding the cops in Vegas. It turned out to be the bestselling direct-to-video of 1995. So they said, “You gotta make another one,” so we made “Leprechaun in Space,” which is an even broader, wilder pastiche than number three. I don’t know which of the two you prefer — opinion divides.

“Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation!” opens in New York and Los Angeles on July 31st.

[Additional photos: “BMX Bandits,” Nilsen Premiere, 1983; “Leprechaun 3,” Trimark Pictures, 1995]

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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

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

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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