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DID YOU READ

Uwe Boll’s “The Final Storm” better (and worse) than the director’s standard.

Uwe Boll’s “The Final Storm” better (and worse) than the director’s standard. (photo)

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Uwe Boll may not make interesting movies, but he’s a pretty interesting guy. For years, he’s sustained a career as the Max Bialystock of B-grade video game movies, exploiting a German tax loophole that required movie investors only pay taxes on films that made profits, and gave Boll a legitimate reason to make films like “House of the Dead” and “Alone in the Dark” as bad as they could possibly be. And ho boy did he succeed.

But successfully making unsuccessful movies revealed one of Dr. Boll’s strange quirks: though he made schlock, he craved respectability. When his exploitative films got poor reviews, he fought back. Desperate to prove his films were better than their reputation — and by association, that he was better filmmaker than his reputation — Boll angrily confronted people who panned his films and even boxed bloggers who had dared to make fun of him. (He won too.) I’m not entirely sure how kicking the shit out of a nerd proves the quality of a film, but whatever.

Since Germany closed that tax loophole, the quality of Boll’s films have improved, but his attitude remains unchanged. Now, instead of challenging his critics in public, he’s taken to expressing his rage in his movies. His recent “Rampage” — hailed as “a good Uwe Boll” movie” when it played last fall at Fantastic Fest — is a technically well-made and and utterly hateful cinematic attack on humanity. Boll seems to argue in favor of wholesale slaughter by portraying the subject of his film, a kid who goes on a murderous, vengeful killing spree, in a sympathetic light.

The rationale provided is that society has essentially destroyed the world with its greed and waste. We don’t deserve to survive and hey, at the rate we’re going, we probably won’t survive. So what’s wrong with speeding the process along with some assault rifles? Whether Boll is genuinely concerned about the environment or just using it as very convenient excuse and outlet for his revenge fantasies, I leave to you to decide.

05202010_uweboll3.png“Rampage” comes out on DVD on July 1st, but the prolific Boll has already completed two more films, one of which is already available on DVD and Netflix Watch Instantly. Entitled “The Final Storm,” it also mines Boll’s newfound eco-panic, and opens with a montage of actual news reports of horrifying events from around the globe: hurricanes, floods, protests, etc.

Clearly, someone watched the teaser trailer for “The Road”, and based on the first half of “The Final Storm,” I would guess someone was a fan of the rest of “The Road” as well; Boll’s film has a very similar story of an average American family forced to deal with the harsh reality of the end of the world in a cold, dank, and woodsy setting following a vague and unexplained cataclysm.

While Boll’s films have improved, he’s still no John Hillcoat. For such a dark and depressing subject, there sure are a lot of inappropriately timed sex scenes. And it wouldn’t be an Uwe Boll movie without a few glaring continuity gaffes; my favorite is the fact that the morning following the film’s opening torrential rainstorm — one that characters claim has been going on for a week, mind you — Tom (Steve Bacic) goes to his neighbor’s farm, where the ground is completely dry.

Best of all, though, the movie takes an inexplicable turn into “Cape Fear” territory in its second half, as a mysterious stranger (played by Luke Perry) is revealed to be a homicidal killer. Or, rather, Tom suspects he is a homicidal killer, even though Perry’s character is extremely well-dressed and polite and offers very little indication that he’s worthy of any suspicion.

Despite the fact that the world is ending and Tom really should have his mind on other things, he devotes all of his energy to proving Perry is a bad dude. One might argue this is Boll’s attempt to portray the toll that an apocalypse has on the fragile psyches of its survivors, except Perry is — SPOILER ALERT!! — actually a killer, which makes Tom right instead of paranoid. And if you’re wondering whether the whole end-of-the-world thing gets any clarification or resolution, it does. After ignoring the apocalypse for the entire second half of “The Final Storm,” Boll spends the film’s final 40 seconds –yes, 40 seconds, I timed it — settling it with a single line of dialogue and a hilariously bombastic final image.

05202010_uweboll1.pngSuch a ludicrously abrupt ending reminded me of slapdash quality I loved about Boll’s earlier movies, but mostly this is, like “Rampage,” a sad, dour film with unhappy people living out miserable lives at the end of the world. Despite a few snafus, the film is far better shot and acted than Boll’s earlier work, but in some ways, he’s become a better filmmaker and a worse entertainer all at the same time.

Movies like his epically atrocious “Alone in the Dark” had a real gusto, a WTF energy that, when coupled with their endless continuity gaffes, bad acting, nonsensical plots, and convoluted text crawls, made them incredibly fun to watch. In a world that has embraced movies like “The Room” and “Birdemic,” Uwe Boll could have been the Edward D. Wood Jr. of his generation, if only he wanted to be. Clearly, he has much higher ambitions. Watching to see if he ever achieves them will be interesting as well.

[Photos: “The Final Storm,” Brightlight Pictures, 2010]

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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.