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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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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…

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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. 

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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-Craft

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?”

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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).

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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.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.