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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.


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.