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The stranger side of movie tie-in theme park rides.

The stranger side of movie tie-in theme park rides. (photo)

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The new “King Kong” ride at Universal Studios opened last week, and the LA Times took some heat for including a four-page wrap-around section (clearly labeled “Advertisement” in bright red ink) featuring faux-news stories about Kong stomping through the Studios and leaving mysterious damage.

Debates over journalistic ethics aside, rides remain expensive to construct, and because of that frequently survive past their natural lifespans. The one that’s most outlived the movie it was derived from is Disneyland’s Matterhorn, inspired by the 1959 Disney chestnut “Third Man on the Mountain,” a mountain-climbing movie starring people Michael Rennie (Klaatu from “The Day The Earth Stood Still”). That was back when Uncle Walt’s live-action films aimed to compete with standard studio product rather than shamelessly targeting kids alone.

The weirdest legacy is in the same park, belonging to Splash Mountain, based on the controversial, famously racist movie (1946’s “Song of the South”) that Disney, to this day, will not release on DVD in the US. Despite that, it seems perfectly fine to watch Bre’er Rabbit and pals do their thing in animatronic form.

07062010_sawtheride.jpgGiven the fact that theme parks are often tied to major studios, it’s the big blockbusters that get rides. A “Blissfully Yours” jungle ride isn’t coming any time soon, nor even a simulated plane-crash for “The English Patient.” There are, however, some relatively esoteric theme park tie-ins out there. The UK’s “Saw — The Ride” is the world’s first roller-coaster based on a horror movie; if you’re in the second car sent out, it’ll stop so a Billy doll can give you a speech, and later you’ll be sprayed with fake blood. (You can buy a DVD of your ride after if you want.)

There’s a “U-571” simulator at Movieland Studios in Italy, which is kind of inspired; “The Hunt For Red October” would be the more obvious choice, but either way, it has to be at least as much fun as a flight simulator.

And, if completed as originally conceived (budget cuts are kicking in), the forthcoming Universal Studios Dubai promises to be an surreal junkyard repository for movies no American cares about. There will be a “Waterworld” attraction, as well as “Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster.” We can only hope that at some point Universal will exploit its whole catalog and offer a “Car Wash” car wash, with employees dancing in synchronized lines.

07062010_twisterride.jpgThe attractions are frequently more intense than the movies from which they’re derived: a “Revenge of the Mummy” ride launches people from 0 to 45 mph in two seconds, which is more interesting than anything that happened in the sleepy last installment. Masochists who crave realistic tornado simulation keep Universal Studios Florida’s “Twister: Ride It Out” in business. Not only will the cow fly past you and the floor almost drop out at the end; before the tornado, you have to get creeped out with clips from “The Shining” first.

By far the most intense-sounding attraction of them all, though, is “Jurassic Park: The Ride”, which makes the mild scares of that enjoyable trilogy pale in comparison. A contemporary TV Guide review of the original film smartly noted that “These being the post-modern 90s, this is a theme-park ride about a theme park.”

The ride takes that logic to its limit, bringing “Jurassic Park” into its purest state: it includes a jeep nearly crushing riders, velociraptors lunge at you, and you plunge down an 85-foot almost vertical drop just as a T-Rex rears his ugly head. No fool he, Steven Spielberg always gets off before that. Which, as this video demonstrates, would certainly ruin the timing of the surprise drop:

[Photos: The Matterhorn via Wikimedia Commons, photo taken by Carterhawk Feb. 13 2010; Saw — The Ride, Merlin Entertainments Group, 2010; Twister: Ride It Out,” Universal Studios, 2010]



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.


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.