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Vampires, “Antichrist”…and It’s Not Even Halloween Yet

Vampires, “Antichrist”…and It’s Not Even Halloween Yet (photo)

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This week finds early awards season contenders lining up alongside a queer cinema double bill, a troupe of unorthodox vampires and a horror movie franchise that’s become torturous in more ways than one.

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Awards season takes flight with celebrated director Mira Nair’s biopic charting the early life and rise to prominence of pioneering aviatrix Amelia Earhart. Hilary Swank produced and stars as the elusive Kansas-born pilot as she perilously navigates the skies, the trappings of fame and her romances with publisher George Putnam (Richard Gere) and Gene Vidal (Ewan McGregor). Christopher Eccleston, Cherry Jones and Mia Wasikowska join the heavyweight cast in this pic whose Oscar-friendly subject matter may allow it to fly under the Academy’s expanded Best Picture tent.
Opens in limited release.

Controversial from the word go, Danish provocateur Lars von Trier’s psychological horror yarn, replete with talking woodland creatures and graphic genital mutilation, sparked heated debate amongst viewers beginning with its very first press conference following its unveiling at Cannes. Von Trier’s latest exercise stars Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg as a nameless couple who retreat to a possibly haunted cabin in a deserted forest so that he, a therapist, can treat his wife’s grief over the recent accidental death of their child.
Opens in limited release.

“Astro Boy”
David Bowers’ first crack at the directorial whip — the rodent adventure “Flushed Away” – might have prematurely ended the fledgling partnership between Aardman and DreamWorks, but that didn’t dampen his enthusiasm he returns to work here for Imagi Entertainment, the Hong Kong computer animation outfit who brought us the recent “TMNT.” Based on the Japanese manga series first published in the ’50s, “Astro Boy” tells of a future where androids exist amongst us, leading Dr. Tenma (Nicolas Cage) to construct a robot child (voiced by Freddie Highmore) in the image of his deceased son, except with super powers. Kristen Bell, Bill Nighy, Eugene Levy, Samuel L. Jackson and Donald Sutherland round out the supporting voice cast.
Opens wide.

“The Canyon”
Why must filmmakers torment young couples? Following in the footsteps of relatable and skillfully executed thrillers like “Open Water” and “Paranormal Activity,” director Richard Harrah strands naïve honeymooners Eion Bailey and “Chuck” star Yvonne Strahovski at the bottom of the Grand Canyon after their unlicensed tour guide (Will Patton) is incapacitated, leaving the couple at the mercy of the elements in this less-is-more vacation nightmare.
Opens in Los Angeles and Denver.

“Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant”
With 18-25-year-old males not exactly falling over themselves to embrace Stephenie Meyer’s looky-no-touchy “Twilight” saga, studios are clamoring for any vampire fiction they can find that might get the guys to hand over their money with similar vigor. While the film’s subtitle is a bid to cash in on the recent bloodsucker fever, this adaptation of the first three installment in Darren Shan’s 12-book series trades passionate embraces for cool superpowers in the story of a young teenager (Chris Massoglia) who’s inducted into a fellowship of the undead when he trades in his humanity to ringmaster John C. Reilly’s Cirque du Freak to save his best friend (Josh Hutcherson).
Opens wide.

“Eulogy for a Vampire”
Queer cinema director Patrick McGuinn offers up another kind of vampire story with this
erotically charged supernatural mystery in the tradition of surrealist horror. Working from a script by Andre Salas, the film centers on a monastery that was the site of a murder 25 years earlier that comes back to haunt its head priest (Wilson Hand) when a mysterious young drifter (Angelo Tursi) infiltrates the sanctuary and sets about seducing its members one by one, transforming them into the undead.
Opens in New York.

“Hannah Free”
Playwright Claudia Allen adapts her own play for the screen as director Wendy Jo Carlton comes onboard to reflect on the long and arduous struggle for gay rights through the story of a forbidden romance between two women now in the twilight of their lives. With her mind and heart still willing after the rest of her body has given up, a bedridden Hannah (the venerable Sharon Gless) recounts to an eager young college student (Jacqui Jackson) her lifelong love affair with Rachel (Maureen Gallagher), who now lies comatose down the hall.
Opens in Los Angeles.

“Killing Kasztner”
Between stock market hype and mail-order brides, documentarian Gaylen Ross has shown something of a fascination with people who make big decisions and then later come to regret them. Here, she tackles the controversial legacy of divisive Jewish-Hungarian lawyer Israel Kasztner. Murdered in Israel in 1957 by right-wing extremists, Kasztner was a man whose negotiations to save more than 1,600 Jews during the Holocaust was celebrated by some and vilified by others who believed his collaboration with the Nazis made him a traitor to his people. Ross attempts to clarify matters with a history compiled from interviews with survivors and descendants of those who were affected by his wheeling and dealing.
Opens in New York.


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.