DID YOU READ

Satan’s Churches

Satan’s Churches (photo)

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Those who say that “Antichrist” is without redeeming value don’t know what the hell they’re talking about. Because despite Lars von Trier’s images of child death, bodily torture and forest animals in various states of evisceration, not to mention dialogue that could cause temporary damage to the brain, “Antichrist” does have genuine healing power. A short time before the grieving parents known only as He (Willem Dafoe) and She (Charlotte Gainsbourg) are (spoiler alert!) genitally mutilated, He teaches She the “five, five, and five” method of breathing — that’s five seconds each for the inhaling, holding, and exhaling of breath. Stress relief in just 15 seconds! Try it now — it’s free and it really works! Thanks, Lars!

Another Halloween-season cure for what ails — albeit longer to take, at 93 minutes — is “The House of the Devil.” This is a horror film without pretentious chapter breaks, psychotherapy spews, intimations of Ingmar Bergman and bullshit shout-outs to Andrei Tarkovsky. In other words, where “Antichrist” is torture porn feebly masquerading as high art, “The House of the Devil” is pure fun in the form of an early ’80s babysitter-in-danger flick, a subgenre idealized enough by director Ti West to allow very long takes, entire sequences without dialogue and a “Footloose”-style dancin’-with-myself scene set to the Fixx’s eternally catchy “One Thing Leads to Another.” (Or do you prefer grand-operatic arias with your scares?)

“Antichrist” taunts, mocks and ultimately tortures the viewer; “The House of the Devil” invites us to luxuriate in its proudly grainy, lo-fi, déclassé aesthetic — it’s a movie wherein a pizza delivery carries heavy weight, none of it symbolic. Our heroine is Samantha (Jocelin Donahue), a good-girl college kid with yanked-up jeans and feathered hair who answers an ad for a “BABY $ITTER” in order to fund a much-needed move off-campus. (Her dorm-mate is a 24/7 fornicator, the kind who’d never survive a slasher film.)

10212009_HouseoftheDevil.jpgWe sense from the movie’s title — as well as a printed prologue about Satanism — that there could be something unholy in this particular job offer. Such fears are not at all dispelled by the appearance of Mr. Ulman (Tom Noonan), a freakishly tall, unnervingly soft-spoken weirdo who admits to Samantha that he doesn’t need someone to look after a baby, but, in fact, to watch his wife’s sick old mother for a night. In exchange for this, the man offers $400, which in early ’80s money amounts to a month’s rent, a pepperoni pizza and quite a few kick-ass Fixx tapes for your Walkman.

While there’s little to no rooting interest in “Antichrist,” “The House of the Devil” has it in spades. Following Donahue’s resourceful Sam up and down stairs and through every room in the Ulmans’ old, dark house, this minimalist B-movie gets us to love and respect the babysitter — no minor achievement, come to think of it. Even more impressive, West seems to turn back the clock on American horror by two or three decades, ratcheting up tension by minuscule increments (“One thing leads to another…”) while devoting his camera’s rapt attention to everything — including the kitchen sink. When, at long last, the horror finally comes, it’s…Boom, right in the face. And still we’re smiling.

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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.