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Disc Covering: “Make-Out With Violence,” Or My Zombie Girlfriend

Disc Covering: “Make-Out With Violence,” Or My Zombie Girlfriend (photo)

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There’s always that moment in zombie movies where one of the protagonists gets infected and his loved ones have to deal with the fact that someone they loved dearly is suddenly wants to eat their brains. But that’s all it usually is, a moment. Then the heroes have to either man up and kill them or get eaten themselves. Festival circuit favorite “Make-Out With Violence,” is like a 100-minute exploration of that moment. This is a zombie film turned inside out. Instead of following the typical arc of illness, epidemic, survival it uses that idea of someone coming back to life to tell a powerful story about loss and denial. You’ve never seen a zombie movie quite like this.

Make-Out With Violence
Directed by The Deagol Brothers

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Tweetable Plot Synopsis: Twin brothers who’ve just graduated from high school find their friend who’d recently disappeared still alive…sort of.

Biggest Success: With conventions as deeply rooted as any horror subgenre, it’s hard to make a truly original zombie movie. But The Deagol Brothers (actually longtime friends and filmmaking partners Chris Doyle and Andy Duensing) managed to do just that by using the language of zombie movies as a means to tell an unconventional love story. The only way the movie works, though, is if their untraditional horror film has an untraditional zombie, and the credit in that department belongs to actress Shellie Marie Shartzer, who plays Wendy, the girl who goes missing and is then found in the woods by brothers Carol (Cody DeVos) and Beetle (Brett Miller). Wendy looks like your standard issue undead: glazed eyes, pasty, pale skin, crusty wounds, and unhealthy appetites. And she’s playing a zombie so, of course, Shartzer can’t speak. But the way the actress tells a story through movement and posture and pure physical performance makes Wendy a landmark movie zombie. Her head lolls on her neck as if her spine’s broken. She stands up torso first, without using her arms, so that it looks like some supernatural force is pulling her up from the ground. Horror nerds love to argue about whether zombies should shuffle or run, as if one is more “realistic” than the other. Generally, I think this distinction is stupid since zombies are not real and thus do not demand realism. But Shartzer’s work makes it easy to buy into “Make-Out With Violence”‘s fiction. That, you think to yourself, is exactly how a dead person would move.

11022010_makeout3.jpg Best Moment: “Make-Out With Violence” is extremely well-edited throughout by Brad Bartlett and the Deagol Brothers, but the opening sequence, which establishes the characters, the setting, the mystery of Wendy’s disappearance, and the greater mystery of reappearance, is the structural highlight. Zombie movies are about what happens when two diametrically opposed states of being, i.e. life and death, are forced to co-exist. The first fifteen minutes of “Make-Out With Violence” brilliantly does the exact same thing, as Beetle’s stream-of-consciousness narration blends past, where Wendy was alive, and the present, where Carol and his twin brother Patrick (Eric Lehning) are devastated by her disappearance. That jumbled chronology puts these characters somewhere between the lands of the living and the dead, in a place where a reanimated corpse suddenly feels a lot more natural.

I Question: the Deagol’s decision to cast the film’s co-writers, DeVos and Lehning, as their leads. I’m sure this film was a long-time passion project for all of four filmmakers, who helped fund the project by forming a band and performing the soundtrack they penned for the film. And I would not be surprised to learn that the use of DeVos and Lehning as Carol and Patrick was a decision borne as much out of frugality as anything else. But the fact remains that “Make-Out With Violence,” is a story about teenagers, and the men playing those teenagers look about ten years too old for their roles. At times that choice creates an interesting tension between innocence and experience, and between the story onscreen and the reality off it. But the rest of the time — most of the time — it’s just an unwanted distraction.

11022010_makeout4.jpgWorthy of a Theatrical Release? “Make-Out With Violence” did get an extremely limited theatrical release earlier this year but despite its flaws, it is definitely a film worthy of a wider audience, particularly amongst horror connoisseurs looking for movies that redefine what the genre can be instead of simply rehashing what it already is. Let’s hope it finds it on DVD.

For Further Viewing: watch an excerpt from another of my favorite reinventions of the zombie movie, “Night of the Day of the Dawn of the Son of the Bride of the Return of the Revenge of the Terror of the Attack of the Evil, Mutant, Alien, Flesh Eating, Hellbound, Zombified Living Dead Part 2: In Shocking 2-D,” the legendary cult film that “What’s Up Tiger Lily?”s “Night of the Living Dead.” And, yes, that is the real title.

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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

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

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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