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Six Murderous Movie Minors

Six Murderous Movie Minors (photo)

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When “Kick-Ass” premieres this evening as the opening night feature of this year’s SXSW Film Festival, it’ll be under the scrutiny of comic book fans who’ve been lusting after the film since director Matthew Vaughn showed clips at Comic-Con. But paying almost as much attention will be moviegoers who might take issue with the character of Hit Girl, the purple-haired heroine with a world-weary rasp, a predilection towards switchblades and an age of 12, as played by the prepubescent Chloë Grace Moretz.

Although she’ll be appearing soon in the more age-appropriate “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” Moretz is no stranger to doing things well beyond her years, having already poured a glass of vodka for Joseph Gordon-Levitt in “(500) Days of Summer.” As Hit Girl, she becomes part of a long movie tradition of killer kids (not to be confused with the creepy kids of horror films) that have been on the big screen since the 1950s, usually with controversy not far behind.

Since there’s no end in sight for these deadly youngsters — “The Lovely Bones”‘ Saoirse Ronan will star as a teen assassin in “The Soloist” director Joe Wright’s next film “Hanna” — we offer up a brief history of the children you wouldn’t want to run into in a dark alley.

03112010_thebadseed.jpgRhoda Penmark of “The Bad Seed” (1956)

“The Bad Seed” became a big hit in 1956, but it wasn’t an easy road getting there. When Billy Wilder attempted to bring Maxwell Anderson’s play (based on the William March novel) about a murderous young girl as tightly wound as her blonde pigtails, the still-standing Production Code Administration rejected his adaptation that kept the original ending of little Rhoda Penmark (Patty McCormack) tickling the ivories to “Clair de lune” after she’s set the help on fire and her mother doesn’t succeed in drugging her. They instead gave the go-ahead to a Warner Bros. version that would have the teeny terror get her comeuppance for drowning classmates and tossing out innocent queries like “is it true when blood is washed off anything, a policeman can still find that it’s there?” (Warner Bros. went the extra step and even added a postscript where movie mom Nancy Kelly gives McCormack a right spanking.) Mervyn LeRoy’s thriller has since gone on to become a cult classic and inadvertently launched the creepy kid genre, though Anderson’s original text was intended to shed light on the then-unpopular notion of hereditary mental illness.

03122010_LittleGirlWhoLives.jpgRynn of “The Little Girl Who Lived Down the Lane” (1976)

Coming off her turn as a teen prostitute in “Taxi Driver,” Jodie Foster had already received her share of controversy before appearing in the Samuel Z. Arkoff-produced thriller “The Little Girl Who Lived Down the Lane.” But as it happened, most of the criticism of the psychological thriller came from Foster herself, who, according to IMDb, once said of the film, “When people are there to simply do a job they don’t have any passion for, those are nearly always bad films.” And “Little Girl” is definitely a strange one, based on Laird Koenig’s novel about a 13-year-old who lives an idyllic life in a lovely home by the sea, if it weren’t for all the damn nosy neighbors who are curious why they never see her parents. Her father? “He’s in the study working.” Mom? Well, she passed away.

But Rynn’s birthday isn’t on Halloween for nothing, and when she’s not reading Emily Dickinson on the way to school, Rynn is usually arranging the corpses in her basement. Yet she doesn’t have the sensibilities of the hardened killers you see on the rest of this list — in fact, everyone around her seems far more psychotic, from a cape-wearing magician love interest (Scott Jacoby) and a skeevy Martin Sheen who attempts to coerce her by putting out a cigarette on her poor pet hamster. Instead, Rynn is the silent type with a fondness for the potassium cyanide that her father gave her to protect herself if her abusive mother ever returns after their divorce, though she has additional plans for it. The film would win a pair of Saturn Awards for best horror film (though it’s PG) and best actress for Foster in 1977. Here’s a trailer:

03112010_thegoodson.jpgHenry Evans of “The Good Son” (1993)

“I was intrigued by the idea of America’s Shirley Temple playing this really evil kid,” director Joseph Ruben told Premiere back in 1993. The “Stepfather” director wasn’t the first choice to direct a post-“Home Alone 2” Macaulay Culkin in one of his rare dramatic leading roles, but one can only dream of what might’ve happened if the first choice, “Heathers” director Michael Lehmann, hadn’t been bullied off the project by Culkin’s dad, as Hollywood lore has it. Rather than the dark comedy Lehmann might’ve made, Ruben played it straight with a script from Ian McEwan, who would fare far better with the creation of another little cretin in “Atonement,” with Culkin trading in the toy cars and pet tarantulas of his famed franchise for a homemade crossbow and a bag of nails as ammunition. (Come to think of it, all those elaborate Rube Goldberg-esque traps in “Home Alone” were great training for a psychotic kid killer.)

Culkin terrorizes his neighbor’s pets, drops dummies over highway overpasses and steers his sister towards thin ice while ice skating, all in the name of being the center of attention, especially when his cousin (Elijah Wood) moves in after the death of his mother. Although the film didn’t stir much up much outrage on its own, Roger Ebert opined in his review that “The movie is a creepy, unpleasant experience, made all the worse because it stars children too young to understand the horrible things we see them doing.” Even so, the film took in a relatively successful $44 million. Here, watch as Culkin discusses how it was “a lot of fun playing a bad boy”:

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…


IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.


IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).


IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.


IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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GIFs via Giphy

Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.


IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.



IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on and the IFC app.

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G.I. Jeez

Stomach Bugs and Prom Dates

E.Coli High is in your gut and on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Brothers-in-law Kevin Barker and Ben Miller have just made the mother of all Comedy Crib series, in the sense that their Comedy Crib series is a big deal and features a hot mom. Animated, funny, and full of horrible bacteria, the series juxtaposes timeless teen dilemmas and gut-busting GI infections to create a bite-sized narrative that’s both sketchy and captivating. The two sat down, possibly in the same house, to answer some questions for us about the series. Let’s dig in….


IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

BEN: Hi ummm uhh hi ok well its like umm (gets really nervous and blows it)…

KB: It’s like the Super Bowl meets the Oscars.

IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

BEN: Oh wow, she’s really cute isn’t she? I’d definitely blow that too.

KB: It’s a cartoon that is happening inside your stomach RIGHT NOW, that’s why you feel like you need to throw up.

IFC: What was the genesis of E.Coli High?

KB: I had the idea for years, and when Ben (my brother-in-law, who is a special needs teacher in Philly) began drawing hilarious comics, I recruited him to design characters, animate the series, and do some writing. I’m glad I did, because Ben rules!

BEN: Kevin told me about it in a park and I was like yeah that’s a pretty good idea, but I was just being nice. I thought it was dumb at the time.


IFC: What makes going to proms and dating moms such timeless and oddly-relatable subject matter?

BEN: Since the dawn of time everyone has had at least one friend with a hot mom. It is physically impossible to not at least make a comment about that hot mom.

KB: Who among us hasn’t dated their friend’s mom and levitated tables at a prom?

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

BEN: There’s a lot of content now. I don’t think anyone will even notice, but it’d be cool if they did.

KB: A show about talking food poisoning bacteria is basically the same as just watching the news these days TBH.

Watch E.Coli High below and discover more NYTVF selections from years past on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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