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Blockbuster goes down, again.

Blockbuster goes down, again. (photo)

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The most surprising thing about the news that Blockbuster may have bankruptcy forced upon it is that it took so long. The longtime rental monolith has been having its once-unparalleled preeminence handed back to it on a platter by Netflix for a long time now; the last time I personally saw the inside of one (the only time in about a decade) was to scour the remainders of a store that was going out of business.

Who will lament the death of Blockbuster (and the slow, seemingly inevitable erosion of brick-and-mortar rental stores in general)? Since being inside most Blockbusters was like being trapped in an airport waiting area, only with brighter lights and stacks of direct-to-video garbage everywhere, I believe few will mourn.

The overwhelming sensation associated with a Blockbuster is of a place where the store’s perimeter — the “New Releases” wall — demarcates the boundaries. Of course, you could stroll down the various lumped-together genre aisles (“Drama,” “Comedy,” “Action,” “Horror” and “Foreign”) where the single copy of “Smilla’s Sense of Snow” or the like may be rented out. But why would you when you can walk over to the wall, where a blockbuster from six or nine months ago sits side by side with the latest direct-to-video Steven Seagal extravaganza, stocked with way more copies than you would expect? The turnover is pretty amazing, and most of what’s on tap is pretty awful. The employees are underpaid and act it. All in all, it can be a depressing place to be.

Culturally pervasive though it may have been, Blockbuster also got little love from pop culture. People rarely seemed to go there in the movies, preferring small, quirky outlets: “Clerks,” of course, or the shoddy likes of the deservedly-little-seen Cillian Murphy-Lucy Liu romance “Watching The Detectives,” or “Be Kind Rewind,” the ultimate in analog fetishization.

03192010_clerks.jpgYou can see a Blockbuster card in Donnie Darko’s wallet; Richard Kelly claims to show that “You were restricted only to the blockbuster films in a small town. If you don’t have access to ‘The Bicycle Thief,’ you’re never going to know that it exists or be enlightened to a piece of art like that.” Ouch. There’s the memorable narrative-stopping scene in “Ghost World,” where a customer at a Blockbuster-like store looking for “8 1/2” is directed to “9 1/2 Weeks.”

Blockbuster’s kindest eulogy can be found in Michael Almereyda’s slacker update of “Hamlet,” with brooding prince Ethan Hawke walking through the “Action” aisle as he recites “To be or not to be.” It’s probably the funniest version ever attempted, defusing, for a moment, Hawke’s moping:

[Photos: Blockbuster store in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada via Wikipedia Commons, the work of “Stu pendousmat,” 2008; “Clerks,” Miramax, 1994]


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.