The late Roy Scheider guns for an Oscar.

The late Roy Scheider guns for an Oscar. (photo)

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Like many notable actors fallen on tougher times, the last decades of the late Roy Scheider’s career — pretty much everything after 1991’s “Naked Lunch” — went from the respectable paycheck (time on “SeaQuest DSV”) to the rock-bottom video remainder pile (“Dark Honeymoon,” starring Tia Carrere). Which is entirely too bad.

Presumably, though, neither the director of, say, “Dracula II: Ascension” nor Scheider, who appeared in that film (and its sequel!) as Cardinal Siqueros, had delusions about the quality of their end product.

Joshua Newton — writer/director/editor of Scheider’s swan song “Iron Cross” — definitely does. Until yesterday, I’d never heard of his film. If I was a Variety subscriber, however, it would’ve been unavoidable.

Newton got his private British investors to agree to about $400,000 worth of daily “For Your Consideration” advertising in the trade paper from mid-November to the end of January (when ballots are due), including four mega-expensive cover ads and a DVD copy of… the trailer (which anyone with basic YouTube comprehension can find).

The goal is to get a posthumous Academy Award nomination for Scheider: “His performance is magnificent, but obviously it’s up to other people to decide that. We are honoring Roy Scheider by putting this up for the academy.”

To that end, Newton also worked around the clock to complete the film for a one-week qualifying run at Encino’s Laemmle Town Center — a move even Laemmle staffer Gregory Gardner says generally only works for documentaries, but whatever.

“Iron Cross” is the story of a man who lost his family during the Holocaust, comes to visit his son in present-day Nuremberg and decides one of the neighbors is actually the officer who killed mom, dad, sis and bro. So he does what any reasonable man would do: he kidnaps him to exact justice.

12222009_ironcross4.jpgThe only review I could find is, ironically, from Variety‘s Robert Koehler, not at all grateful for the ad buy. “A film of serious intent undone by hackneyed plotting and intrusive editing,” he writes, “reasonably sound in its general outline until it delves into specifics. […] Tech package aspires to the heyday of Europudding thrillers but doesn’t hit the mark.”

A friend of mine who caught an L.A. screening was less kind, telling me “It has the look of a Syfy original movie. He gets to Nuremberg, ‘Death Wish’ is on the TV, and for the next 30 minutes, the sight of a German (and there are many in the city) triggers a murderous hallucination — Scheider taking a chainsaw to a random German’s throat, etc.” And the ending? [SPOILER ALERT] “They abduct the guy, take him back to Poland, and just as Scheider realizes this is the wrong man, his son shoots the guy in the head. THE END. One of the worst movies I’ve ever seen in theaters.”

Sadly, it sounds like Scheider’s posthumous Oscar is probably not forthcoming; whenever “Death Wish” is your starting point, that’s not a good sign. Trailer’s below.

[Photos: “Iron Cross,” Calibra Pictures, 2010]


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…


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. 


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 ’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?”


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).



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.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.


Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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GIFs via Giffy

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.


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.


Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!



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.


Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.


If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.