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Notes from Fantastic Fest’s Opening Night

Notes from Fantastic Fest’s Opening Night (photo)

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If there was a more rousing way to kick off Fantastic Fest than bringing in the Texas Boy Choir to set the ominous mood for the opening night film “Let Me In,” Tim League will figure it out for next year. The choir only came out after the P.T. Barnum-esque Fantastic Fest co-founder stripped down from a suit and tie to viking wear to celebrate the festival’s Norwegian sidebar, brought out “Agnosia” director Eugenio Mira to serenade with Happy Birthday (It’s his 33rd, just like Jesus, League noted, to which Mira got on his knee and said “I love you”) and got the audience to down a test tube of “green blood” while taking an oath from a schlocky 1970s trailer.

09232010_TexasBoysChoir.jpgStill, it was the choir that brought down the house, singing Michael Giacchino’s brilliant score before raising the curtain on “Let Me In,” which proved equally triumphant. (Matt Singer’s review is here.) And to think, it was a score Giacchino was leery of writing, as he told the audience during the post-premiere Q & A, simply because he’s afraid of blood. “It was terrifying because I’m not good with horror films,” said Giacchino, adding that he usually looked away when watching the gory bits of the film, but wanted to do it because of the challenge as well as his friendship with Reeves.

As it turns out, the “Lost” composer was an easier musical get for Reeves than the jingle for Now & Laters, the candy that plays a key role in “Let Me In,” serving as part of the bond between Kodi Smit-McPhee’s lonely latchkey kid Owen and Chloe Moretz’s vampire Abby. “It’s kind of a rogue candy,” said Reeves of the hardened sweets and their rights holders, which he tracked down only a day before shooting to use the catchy tune.

09232010_ReevesKoteasGiacchino.jpgReeves wouldn’t reveal how he filmed “Let Me In”‘s car crash scene, which in fact is far more harrowing than the original film’s, not using a single cut. But when asked by someone in the audience why you never see Owen’s mother, he made the intriguing reference to Wong Kar Wai’s “In the Mood for Love” (one that went over well with the discerning cinephiles in Austin as Reeves described the fleeting glances of the film’s two lovers) as showing the emotional distance between Owen and his divorced parents.

League, who moderated the Q & A as well as introducing the film, refused to let the audience go until someone asked a question of Elias Koteas, who plays the local cop investigating the recent murders around town. It turned out to be of little use — it was Koteas’ first time seeing the film and after acknowledging that he wanted to do the film after identifying with Owen’s childhood, with a lump in his throat, he admitted he was blown away by what he’d just seen. “I’m standing here just trying to keep it all together.”

[Additional photos: The Texas Boys Choir with S. Bryan Priddy; Matt Reeves, Elias Koteas and Michael Giacchino on the Paramount stage; Stephen Saito/]


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.