Highlights from Michael Madsen’s magical 2009.

Highlights from Michael Madsen’s magical 2009. (photo)

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There’s a hilarious account in the Guardian of everything went wrong during the shooting of “The Big I Am,” an upcoming British gangster drama.

The best parts involve one of its big name stars, Michael Madsen, who arrived “insisting all costume department mannequins be turned to the wall lest he be spooked by the wigs,” then refused to do his big death scene properly. Instead, he “made up a poem… about the nature of true love,” sang “Green, Green Grass of Home” on the next take, and on the final take screamed into the camera “Am I fucking dead enough for you now?”

Ever wonder what happened to Madsen since his critically acclaimed comeback turn in the “Kill Bill”? Well, a man can’t collect too many paychecks, especially if he’s not picky about where the funds are coming from — IMDb lists a staggering 18 credits from this year alone. Here are seven of my favorites from Madsen’s 2009.

12092009_lostinthewoods4.jpg“Lost In The Woods”
Michael Madsen is… Stuart Bunka
Tagline: “Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Go Back In The Forest!”
Plot: Seemingly inspired by Barry Levinson’s 1992 flop “Toys,” this family film stars Madsen as the self-proclaimed “greatest toymaker in the world.” His key invention: “The Facilitator,” which apparently includes miniature grenade launchers and little UFOs that place exploding cigars in the mouths of your opponents. When his daughter is kidnapped and the criminals demand two million dollars for her release, some kids wage war against the “Home Alone”-dumb criminals, presumably using Bunka toys. Also, laxatives lead a kidnapper looking for relief to get bit in the ass by a snake. And they put fireworks in the bad guy’s pants.
Key Madsen Line: “No matter who your enemies are or what the odds against you, with the Facilitator you’re gonna win or I’m not Stuart Bunka. Bunka Toys.”

12092009_mightaswelllive4.jpg“You Might As Well Live”
Michael Madsen is… Clinton Manitoba
Tagline: “Robert Mutt is not a douche bag.”
Plot: Robert Mutt (Joshua Peace) has tried to kill himself multiple times and leaves the mental asylum after beating his doctor at air hockey. The community thinks he’s a pedophile and loser, so he sets out to prove himself with help from his hallucinated friend, Clinton Manitoba, former farm-league baseball great. A Canadian comedy that was well-reviewed in Canada, this one seems to drink heavily from the “Napoleon Dynamite” well.
Key Madsen Line: “Fuck the internet.” Response: “Right in the face.”

12092009_thekillingjar4.jpg“The Killing Jar”
Michael Madsen is… Doe
Tagline: N/A
Plot: Sheriff, ominously: “There’s been some murders over in Union County.” Waitress: “What kind of person kills a child?” Enter Madsen, who takes the diner’s occupants hostage and begins getting some seriously violent action going, shooting folks point blank with deer-killing-caliber bullets. His hostages, incidentally, include some serious direct-to-video bait: Danny Trejo (who deserves better) and Jake “son of Gary” Busey (who doesn’t). This is one of like 30 movies starring Madsen as a raspy-voiced psychopath, and certainly not the last on this list; it’s what he does best.
Key Madsen Line: “You’ve got to separate the wheat from the chaff.”

12092009_theportal4.jpg“The Portal”
Michael Madsen is… Dr. Azirra
Tagline: “Dare to face your inner child…”
Plot: A super-evil painting isn’t just bad abstract art but the portal to another world, where couples make out against floaty blue-screened cosmoses and from which emerge spooky, flaxen-haired children who giggle innocently before turning into cheap-looking, gray-skinned demons. This generic horror trailer could pass for just another J-horror rip-off until the minute mark, at which point screaming zombie types emerge, blood flows down toilet-stall walls and amputations ensue. It’s kind of unbelievable how much blood is just casually flowing around; this is worth a NSFW look. Madsen seems to be playing the skeptical doctor investigating.
Key Madsen Line: “A portal. You really expect me to believe that?”

Michael Madsen is… Farragute
Tagline: N/A
Plot: A Christian woman and her puddle-jumper plane either crash or are taken down (unclear) by a group of redneck hillbillies (including one deliberately Ted Kaczynski-looking dude) who proceed to get all “The Most Dangerous Game” on them, chasing them through the woods. Madsen isn’t the centerpiece here — that would be the part of the trailer where a dude’s struck by lightening, then there’s a shot of his soul exiting his body. Also, everyone runs around on glorified sit-down lawnmowers, someone gets chopped up by a plane propeller and someone else loses a foot to a bear-trap. Co-starring Natasha Lyonne.
Key Madsen Line: “In this life, you’re either the hunter or the hunted.”

12092009_brazelbull4.jpg“The Brazen Bull”
Michael Madsen is… “The Man”
Tagline: N/A
Plot: You know you’re in good hands from the trailer’s second shot, of Madsen walking up to the camera, cigarette in hand, with someone strapped-down to a rather-unpleasant-looking surgical table in the background. In this slasher-type movie (which Madsen saw fit to produce), folks checking out a property for development quickly realize there’s something wrong (“This wasn’t locked when we came in!”). Yeah it is — for whatever reason, Madsen wants to capture everyone and torture them while lighting his smokes with a blowtorch. Fair enough.
Key Madsen Line: “Pain. Is truth.”

12092009_thebleeding4.jpg“The Bleeding”
Michael Madsen is… Father Roy
Tagline: N/A
Plot: Somehing about evil vampires who want to destroy the world; Shawn Black (Matthew Matthias) isn’t going to let that happen. Getting his spiritual/tactical back is Madsen as the kind of priest who seems a bit more fixated on firearms and booze than your average clergymen. Co-stars: Vinnie Jones, Armand Assante, DMX, Kat von D.
Key Madsen Line: “What I do think [takes a sip of beer] is that you’re the kind of guy who only shows up when the shit’s about to hit the fan.”

[Top photo: Madsen in “Kill Bill: Vol. 2,” Miramax, 2004]

Freddy 1920

Freddy Facts

10 Facts You May Not Know About the Nightmare on Elm Street Movies

Catch a Nightmare on Elm Street marathon Friday, November 27th as part of IFC's Sweatsgiving Weekend.

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Defining a film genre with a career that spanned five decades, horror auteur Wes Craven sadly passed away two months shy of his 76th Halloween. The spookmaster helmed some of the grittiest, slash-iest films ever to grace video rental shelves — The Hills Have Eyes, The Last House on the Left and of course, A Nightmare on Elm Street.

Released in the genre-packed year of 1984, the first Nightmare on Elm Street flick spawned a very successful franchise and an iconic character that, even 30 years later, is still a costume staple. And while Freddy Krueger and his dreamscape shenanigans have been watched countless times, there are a few facts about the cat nap killer you might not have known.

Before you catch IFC’s Nightmare on Elm Street Sweatsgiving movie marathon, check out 10 facts about the Freddy movies every horror fan ought to be privy to.

1. There’s a true story behind the original film.

1. Freddy Krueger
New Line Cinema

It’s a far-fetched premise: Young and otherwise healthy individuals have a nightmare and die from unknown causes shortly thereafter. But it actually happened to a group of Southeast Asian refugees who fled to America from the despotic rule of Pol Pot. Three men, in three separate cases, had terrifying nightmares and tried to keep themselves awake for as long as possible. After finally succumbing to exhaustion and dozing off, each man woke up screaming and died with no discernible medical cause. Wes Craven took notice of the cases and decided to work the mystery into a compellingly gruesome storyline.

2. The “Blood Geyser” used 500 gallons of blood and malfunctioned spectacularly.

2. Blood Bed
New Line Cinema

Actor Johnny Depp has a pretty dynamic on-screen death for his feature film debut. As high schooler Glen, Depp is sucked into his bedroom mattress and erupts in a huge blood geyser, which was achieved with a rotating set, a mounted camera and 500 gallons of fake bloodpumped through the bed. However, during an early take, the room was rotated the wrong way and caused a wave of fake blood to splash onto the film equipment and electrical sockets. No one was hurt, but the power went out and Craven referred to the malfunction as a “Ferris wheel from hell” in the DVD commentary.

3. Freddy’s famous sweater instills fear through science.

3. Sweater
New Line Cinema

There’s a reason why Christmas decorations trigger fear in the hearts of men and women — and it’s not just from the prospect of spending time with family. While penning the original script, Craven read in Scientific American that red and green were the two most clashing colors to the human eye. (He shared a visual example last year on Twitter.) Therefore, if the scarred flesh and finger blades weren’t upsetting enough, viewers are subliminally unsettled simply by looking at Freddy’s choice in autumn wear.

4. Freddy’s glove was also designed to tap into our deepest fears.

4. Glove
New Line Cinema

Speaking of finger blades, Freddy’s signature weapon was also based on our primal fears. The glove was a product of Craven’s wishes to give his lead a unique weapon that was both cheap and easy to transport. But the director had a eureka moment when he read about early man’s fear of bear claws. The ingredients came together to produce a glove adorned with fishing knives, later changed to steak knives for the shooting script.

5. Freddy was inspired by a bully, a superhero, a homeless person and a pop song.

5. Bully
New Line Cinema

You’d have to make quite the impression on a writer to be immortalized as a serial killer who preys on sleeping children. But apparently, that’s the case for at least two people in Craven’s past. Craven has said he based Freddy on a bully named Fred Kreuger who menaced Craven in his youth who also inspired the character “Krug” in Last House on the Left. Freddy’s famous hat and sweater is said to be influenced by a homeless man whom Craven remembers staring at him through his bedroom window when he was 10. (The colored sweater was also a nod to the DC Comics superhero Plastic Man.) Finally, Gary Wright’s 1976 hit “Dream Weaver” inspired Craven to create a character who “weaved” through people’s dreams.

6. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge is about a teen coming to terms with his homosexuality.

6. Freddy 2
New Line Cinema

Since its release, viewers have noticed A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 has homosexual themes and subtext running throughout the story. (Lead character Jesse is noticeably attracted to his best friend Ron; a sign on his bedroom door forbids the entry of “chicks”; Freddy has no female victims; Jesse and his gym teacher engage in a shower room towel-snapping scene that could only be described as “intimate.”) Turns out, it’s no accident. Screenwriter David Chaskin explained in the documentary Never Sleep Again that he conceived the premise of Freddy entering Jesse’s body as a metaphor for the character’s closeted sexuality.

7. Freddy was originally written as a silent killer.

7. Phone Tongue
New Line Cinema

It’s hard to believe anyone would want to tear out the dialogue for the ol’ gloved wiseacre, but when he was conceived, Freddy Krueger wasn’t going to have any lines. As viewers might notice in the original film, Freddy is more subdued (for Freddy) and closer in tone to his mute cohorts Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers. But as the franchise continued, the killer eventually became the throat-slashing one-liner factory we know him as today.

8. The lack of Freddy in the first film was on purpose.

8. Freddy Appearance
New Line Cinema

Wes Craven didn’t need Spielberg’s deft use of a shark to know the unseen is far scarier than the visible, which is why Freddy Krueger only has 7 minutes of screen time in the original film. Obviously, the character quickly became a huge draw for audiences and was given ample time to shine in the sequels.

9. Dick Cavett really wanted Freddy to kill Zsa Zsa Gabor.

9. Dick Cavett
New Line Cinema

In a dream sequence in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, talk show host Dick Cavett interviews the glamour punchline Zsa Zsa Gabor on TV, morphs into Freddy and goes in for the boa-bedecked kill. As it so happened, Cavett was given the choice of who to have on this fantasy show and he chose Gabor because, according to him, he’d never have her on and if there was any guest he’d like to kill off, it would be her.

10. Wes Craven doesn’t like the ending to the first film.

10. Ending
New Line Cinema

If there’s one thing about horror movies, the genre ain’t short of sequels. And while the Nightmare on Elm Street series went back to the Freddy well more than a few times, Craven never wanted to tease a sequel at the end of the first film. Surprisingly, the first movie was to end on a happy, positive note with the plucky teens driving off. But according to the director’s DVD commentary, studio head Bob Shaye insisted that Craven hint at future installments with Freddy appearing as the driver. Craven compromised with the sweater-striped convertible top and Mom being yanked through the front door window.

That 70s Show Kelso 1920

Kelso's #1 Fan?

How Well Do You Know Kelso? Take Our Quiz!

Catch That '70s Show Mondays and Tuesdays from 6-11P on IFC.

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Kelso’s loveable cluelessness is one of the bedrocks of That ’70s Show. But how much do you really know when it comes to him? Take our quiz below, and be sure to catch That ’70s Show on IFC.



David Cross Gets Busted

David Cross Fights For Your Rights in With Bob and David Sketch

Todd Margaret returns January 7th, 2016 at 10P.

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If you’re a fan of Todd Margaret star David Cross, then you know he isn’t afraid to stand up for the every day American’s rights. And in the latest sneak peek of  W/Bob and David, the Netflix series that reunites him with Bob Odenkirk, Cross plays a Constitutional rights enthusiast who does his part to document police abuse for his YouTube followers.

Key and Peele‘s Keegan-Michael Key plays a cop in the sketch based on the very real internut subculture of “Know Your Rights” videos.

For more David, be sure to catch the return of Todd Margaret on January 7th, 2016 at 10P. Todd is back and very, very different.

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Read Carrie's Book

Carrie Brownstein’s Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl Is Out Now

Carrie's moving memoir is out now.

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Portlandia star Carrie Brownstein’s memoir, Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl, is out now at fine local book shops and at online retailers like iBooks, Barnes & Noble, or Amazon.

The book, a “deeply personal and revealing narrative of Brownstein’s life in music,” is getting rave reviews. The Washington Post writes that, “It’s impossible not to like Brownstein” in their review of her “engaging and witty” memoir. The AV Club called the book “engrossing,” adding that “for fans of Sleater-Kinney, it’s immensely compelling, particularly because Brownstein writes crisply, insightfully, and without vanity.” She even dedicated the book to her Sleater-Kinney bandmates (and Portlandiaregulars) Janet Weiss and Corin Tucker.

Pick up a copy of Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl in stores today, and be sure to catch Carrie on her nationwide book tour at one of the dates below where she will be joined by specials guests like Questlove, Amy Poehler and more.


WORD Bookstore at Saint Vitus Bar

In conversation with Questlove


Barnes & Noble Union Square

In conversation with Gaby Hoffman


Philadelphia Free Library at The Merriam Theater

In conversation with Aidy Bryant


Pitchfork at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

In conversation with Jessica Hopper


BookPeople at Central Presbyterian Church

In conversation with Liz Lambert


Vroman’s Bookstore at Pasadena Presbyterian

In conversation with Amy Poehler


Jewish Community Center of San Francisco

In conversation with Dave Eggers


Powell’s Books at The Newmark Theatre

In conversation with a Special Guest TBA


Elliott Bay Book Company at The Neptune Theater

In conversation with Maria Semple


Drawn & Quarterly at The Rialto Theatre

In conversation with Jessica Hopper


Toronto Public Library’s Appel Salon

In conversation with Johanna Schneller

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