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DID YOU READ

The Unbearable Rambo-ness of Being

The Unbearable Rambo-ness of Being (photo)

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     God didn’t make Rambo; I made him!

In the ’80s, Americans found a new brand of movie hero that corresponded precisely with Reagan-era conservative values. Ripped, vengeful and violent, action stars like Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mel Gibson and a beefed-up Bruce Willis helped reestablish myths of rugged individualism, militarism and machismo through an awesome display of fire power and pectoral muscles.

The bang-bang decade that saw the releases of “First Blood,” “Die Hard,” “Lethal Weapon,” “The Terminator,” “Robocop,” “Top Gun,” “Batman,” “Predator” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark” may seem like a distant memory in these leaner Obama days. But the superheroic display of tough guys wreaking havoc continues to have resonance — particularly for the legions of boys whose impressionable minds were shaped by the time, and who are now, some 25 years later, playing out those fantasies once again on screens (with a limited budget).

01072010_SonofRambow.jpgThe story of “Rambo” alone has spawned two recent indie film retellings. In 37-year-old UK director Garth Jennings’ 2007 “Son of Rambow,” two British lads attempt to remake “First Blood” in their neighborhood with a home video camera. And while “Son of Rambow” largely plays its action movie references for laughs, New York theater maven-turned-filmmaker Zachary Oberzan’s no-budget “Flooding with Love for the Kid” (playing at New York’s Anthology Film Archives this week) seems more emblematic of fan fiction. Made by himself in his 220 square foot New York apartment, the movie is a fascinating, self-serious, artisanal reclamation of its source material.

While many fan films are parodies, others pay homage to the original texts — as was the case with “Raiders: The Adaptation,” the shot-for-shot remake of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” made, over the course of several years, by two Mississippi kids in the ’80s. The video-clerk-homemade films in Michel Gondry’s 2008 “Be Kind Rewind” — “sweded” takes on such era hits as “Ghostbusters,” “RoboCop” and “Back to the Future” — draw laughter, but not because Gondry is making fun of them. The film’s protagonist, a movie-mad Jack Black, never takes his amateur filmmaking less than seriously. For him, and his community, remaking the movies is a deeply personal act of re-appropriation.

Most of the time, this process of video-made reverence goes hand in hand with reliving the filmmakers’ youthful obsessions. Jack Marshall, a director and executive producer on the fan-series “Star Trek: New Voyages,” explained during a 2005 podcast about their productions, “For people who grew up with that series, the overwhelming sense of childhood that washes over you when you walk onto that set, it’s amazing. It’s like going to the home that you grew up in,” he continued. “Everything is familiar; everything is in its place.”

01072010_FloodedWithLove4.jpgZachary Oberzan’s return to Rambo as a 35-year-old man also stems from childhood first impressions and a sense of nostalgia. “I was 9 or 10 years old,” recalls Oberzan, about the first time he saw “First Blood,” Ted Kotcheff’s 1982 adaptation of David Morrell’s novel about a mistreated Vietnam vet. “I remember staying up late at night to watch it, and I was very taken by the film, as many young boys were, for a variety of reasons: it’s about being falsely accused, rebelling against authority and the incredible resourcefulness and this superhuman ability to survive.”

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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.

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Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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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:

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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SO EXCITED!!!

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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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.”

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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. 

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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.