It’s the most wonderful time of the year! At least that’s what the carols that are piped into every store in America want us to believe. But, not all of us have fireplaces to roast chestnuts in, and chestnuts are really expensive anyway. Eggnog isn’t for the lactose intolerant and Christmas trees exclude non-Christians and Christmas lights can cause seizures (well, maybe just the Slayer Christmas lights do that). It may be a winter wonderland where you are, but snow means treacherous driving conditions. It’s truly safer to stay inside and watch television. It’s what Santa would want.
Here’s what to watch when you’re not watching the Yule Log:
A young Stephen Dorff open the portal to hell in his backyard and if you spend one more day with your family, you might start scouring your parents’ backyard for mysterious holes. No highways to hell in the back acreage? Head to the theater with our Holiday Movie Guide in hand. The Gate starts at 6:30 p.m. ET.
Happy Coen Brothers Day! In honor of the release of True Grit, we’re showing their first feature film Blood Simple at 8 p.m. ET.
From the Klingons to the Borg, the various Star Trek crews have encountered many alien races in the final frontier of space. Before you catch IFC’s Star Trek marathon, take our quiz on the various aliens from the movies and TV shows. We promise it’s easier than the Kobayashi Maru.
With a new Ghostbusters movie set to debut next year, it’s time to start getting ready for an all out blitz of slime-flavored nostalgia. It’s been 26 years since we’ve seen a Ghostbuster on the big screen, although it hasn’t been for a lack of trying. Ray Stantz himself, Dan Aykroyd, has fought to make another movie in the franchise for decades. Bill Murray famously stood in the way of his efforts, refusing to even read a script. But behind this Ghostbusters Cold War, there were always a plethora of rumors, many coming from Aykroyd himself. Before you catch the Ghostbusters movies this month on IFC, check out a few of the Ghostbusters projects that could’ve been.
1. Ghostbusters in the Future
In Making Ghostbusters by Don Shay, director Ivan Reitman recalled the stacks of pages Aykroyd had spent years putting together when he first joined the project. Originally conceived as a Blues Brothers-esque romp for Aykroyd and John Belushi, the early versions of the script saw a team of “Ghostsmashers” battling demons through a variety of “different planets or dimensional planes.” Reitman describes the first pages as one unending action sequence that was heavy on the ghost busting, light on anything else. He guessed those 50 pages would cost hundreds of millions of dollars (and these are ’80s dollars, remember) so the team went back to the drawing board.
2. Ghostbusters: The Next Generation
Many considered Ghostbusters II a disappointment. Murray supposedly described it as “a whole lot of slime, and not much of us.” Apparently Aykroyd wasn’t in that camp, almost immediately starting work on ideas for a third film. The concept he quickly hit on, and has seemingly continued to champion in one form or another for the last two decades, was the idea of introducing a new, young crop of Ghostbusters. Over the years the rumors of who these new ‘busters might be, often started by Aykroyd himself, have included everyone from comedy superstars to TV witches. Chris Farley, Will Smith, Chris Rock, and Ben Stiller all seem like obvious choices. As time went on Bill Hader, Seth Rogen and Anna Faris joined the list. But Alyssa Milano, Eliza Dushku and Criminal Minds actor Matthew Gray Gubler? Aykroyd may have been drinking a bit too much of his Crystal Skull vodka at that point.
3. Ghostbusters Vs. Greek Gods
In the late ’90s, rumors started to circulate that a script for a third Ghostbusters was ready to go. An early indication of how to sidestep Murray’s involvement, this outing would deal with Egon and Ray trying to keep the business afloat while battling Hades, Greek God of the Underworld. But it appears those rumors were just that. No script has ever seen the light of day.
4. Ghostbusters 3: Hellbent
Aykroyd, along with former SNL writer Tom Davis, penned the script for this iteration. The concept involved the Ghostbusters being sucked into an alternate version of Manhattan, called Manhellton, where the people and places of New York City were replaced by demonic versions. Of course, a new crew was involved. IGN reported at the time that the new team included a pierced New Jersey punk, a “pretty but uptight gymnast,” a “Latino beauty,” a “dread-locked dude” and a young genius whose giant brain made his head comically over-sized. The main villain was reportedly the Devil by way of Donald Trump, which shows Aykroyd may hate ghosts, but he might just be psychic. While the script was never produced (Murray dubbed it “too crazy to comprehend), the story was repurposed as a video game in 2009, with the original cast reprising their roles.
5. Ghostbusters: Cadets
In 2009, Aykroyd and Ramis were at it again, talking up the idea of a new generation of Ghostbusters. Though Murray still wasn’t on board, Aykroyd laid out his vision for the threequel, which would center on the team “learning how to use the psychotron, the accelerators…all these great tools that they’re going to have.” Um…okay? What’s wrong with good ol’ fashioned proton packs?
6. Ghostbusters 3: Grumpy Old ‘Busters
In 2011, Aykroyd dropped hints that the original Ghostbusters would return, even without Murray’s involvement. This time the script would play up their age, adding “My character, Ray, is now blind in one eye and can’t drive the Cadillac…He’s got a bad knee and can’t carry the packs…Egon is too large to get into the harness.” Thank Gozer we never had to see Ray huffing and puffing while carrying a proton pack.
7. Ghostbusters 3: The Return of Oscar?
With Aykroyd trying, and failing, over and over again to get something going, Harold Ramis decided to step in. He hired The Office scribes Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg, who also wrote Ramis’ big screen comedy Year One, to put together a script from scratch. Supposedly centered on Peter Venkman and Dana Barrett’s grown son Oscar joining the team, there was some momentum. Once again, Murray still refused to play ball, reportedly shredding a copy of the script and joking he would only appear in the film as a ghost. With the studio refusing to move ahead without Murray’s involvement, the project petered out. The final nail in the coffin appears to be Year One itself. Murray said in a interview at the time, “Well, I never went to see Year One, but people who did, including other Ghostbusters, said it was one of the worst things they had ever seen in their lives.”
There’s a movie for every holiday (well, maybe not Arbor Day), but Thanksgiving has more than its share. There’s something about a family coming together around an overloaded table that makes for gripping drama and hilarious comedy. Before you tuck into IFC’s Sweatsgiving marathon weekend, take a look at our picks for the best Turkey Day movies of all time. They’re far tastier than Aunt Bertha’s leftover three-bean casserole.
This ultra low-budget horror comedy about a killer Turkey is the perfect NSFW antidote to heartwarming holiday treacle. Fans of the film’s so-bad-its-good charms helped Kickstart a sequel, ThanksKilling 3. What happened to ThanksKilling 2? Guess the killer turkey ate the print.
9. The Ice Storm
Key parties, family secrets and Nixon masks all converge in one particularly eventful Thanksgiving weekend in Ang Lee’s searing look at dysfunctional families in the turbulent days of the early ’70s. And you thought your post-dinner family games of Trivial Pursuit were tense.
8. Pieces of April
Katie Holmes broke free from her teen drama roots with this indie flick about a young urban misfit who invites her straight-laced suburban family to a big city Thanksgiving dinner. An underrated comedy about the importance of families (be they urban or biological) that also answers the age-old holiday question: canned or fresh cranberry sauce?
What is it with Thanksgiving and quasi-incest comedies? 2002’s Tadpole tells the tale of Oscar Grubman, a hyper-intelligent high school boy who has a crippling crush on his stepmother. When he goes home for Thanksgiving, this Oedipal nightmare gets transferred onto a horny cougar chiropractor, and things rapidly spin out of control. A general rule of thumb for the holidays: keep it in your pants, particularly when family is involved.
6. Scent Of A Woman
Al Pacino comes dangerously close to the edge of self-parody in his iconic role as blind ex-Army Ranger Frank Slade, but also scored a Best Actor win in the process. Chris O’Donnell plays the college student who is hired to take care of Slade over Thanksgiving break and finds himself dragged along on an adventure that includes a stop by his brother’s house for a Turkey Day dinner that goes wildly out of control. Hoo-hah! Pass the gravy.
5. The House Of Yes
This psychologically twisted 1997 black comedy helped make Parker Posey a star. She plays “Jackie-O” Pascal, a mentally disturbed young woman who joins her family at their ritzy Virginia estate for Thanksgiving. As a hurricane bears down on the area, Jackie proceeds to go further and further off the rails, capped off by an incestuous encounter with her own brother while they role-play the JFK assassination. With a strong cast and a wickedly sharp script, The House of Yes goes down like a slice of pumpkin pie with a whiskey chaser.
4. The War At Home
This underrated 1996 drama tackled some pretty tough subjects. Jeremy Collier (played by Emilio Estevez, who also directed) is a Vietnam vet back home and dealing with PTSD. Martin Sheen plays his dad, who doesn’t understand that his son came back a little changed. It all comes to a head at the family’s Thanksgiving dinner, where Jeremy pulls a gun on his dad because he wouldn’t loan him the cash he needed to flee the draft. The fact that Estevez and Sheen are father and son in real life only adds to the film’s dramatic tension.
3. Home for the Holidays
Few films capture the mix of dysfunction and warmth that comes with Thanksgiving better than Jodie Foster’s 1995 comedy. Holly Hunter and Robert Downey, Jr. are perfectly cast as a brother and sister weathering uptight siblings, kooky aunts and other family drama with sharp humor and lump-in-your throat tearful moments. We’re not crying. Mom must be cooking her famous onion soup.
2. Hannah and Her Sisters
Widely considered one of the best films in Woody Allen’s vast filmography, Hannah and Her Sisters charts the lives of three very different sisters over the course of three separate Thanksgivings. The holiday serves as a backdrop that reminds us of the ties that bind and also tear us down.
1. Planes, Trains And Automobiles
No movie captures the ups and downs of Thanksgiving quite like this John Hughes classic. Steve Martin plays Neal Page, a high-strung marketing suit who gets paired with John Candy’s slobby salesman Del Griffith as they both try to get back to Chicago in time for the holiday. Hughes was a master of tapping into some very American emotions, and the movie’s climax — where (spoiler alert!) Neal realizes Del has nowhere to go and invites him to come to dinner with his family — is a touching moment that in lesser hands would come off as maudlin.
There are heartwarming sports movies, and then there are hockey movies. Unlike the glossy nostalgia of The Natural, or the goofy shenanigans of Space Jam, hockey movies tend to have a bit more edge. And by edge, we mean crazed dudes kicking the crap out of each other. Here are some big screen hockey teams who left it all out on the ice, along with a decent amount of blood.
9. Thunder Bay Bombers, Youngblood
If Roadhouse proved anything, it’s that you don’t mess with Swayze and walk away with your throat inside your neck. But that didn’t stop the bad guy Bombers, whose goon-in-chief Carl Racki hit the dirty dancer so hard they had to put a plate in his head.
8. Monroeville Zombies, Zack and Miri Make a Porno
They may not be pros, but the rec league Zombies sure knew how to bring the pain. Particularly their goalie, who had the helpful habit of skating out and attacking opposing players.
7. The Annapolis Angels, H-E Double Hockey Sticks
When one thinks of Disney hockey movies from the ’90s, the first thing that comes to mind is always…H-E Double Hockey Sticks? Well, maybe not the first thing, but this ragtag group of underdogs also deserves a place in our hearts. They might not be as famous as The Mighty Ducks, but they did use their skills on the ice to save Matthew Lawrence’s soul from Satan in the form of Rhea Perlman from Cheers. Seriously. This is a movie that happened.
6. Lansing Ice Wolves, Tooth Fairy
The only thing more intense than the hits Ice Wolves star Derek Thompson (Dwayne Johnson) laid on opposing players are the life lessons he learned after becoming a real life Tooth Fairy. Sure, the rest of his teammates weren’t the most fully fleshed out lot, but The Rock is like ten men in one, so that’s an unruly team right there.
5. The “Saturday Game” team from Mystery, Alaska
This team of rowdy townies aren’t afraid to bang the mayor’s wife or shoot a guy in the foot. What do you expect when your leader is Russell Crowe? Mediocre pub rock and a phone to the head. Okay, I guess he does that too.
4. The Nuggets, MVP:Most Valuable Primate
The Nuggets exploited a loophole in the junior hockey league bylaws which didn’t expressly state that chimps can’t play hockey. You’d think that would’ve been implied, though.
3. The Mighty Ducks from The Mighty Ducks franchise
The Ducks stole pucks and hearts over the course of three hit ’90s movies thanks to the mighty fists of Fulton Reed, the superior goalie skills of Goldberg and the, uh, getting a DUI and being forced to coach a pee-wee hockey team abilities of Emilio Estevez.
2. The Halifax Highlanders, Goon
The Highlanders recruit a Masshole bouncer to crack heads in a movie that’s basically Road House on ice. Who says Canadians are nice?
1. The Charlestown Chiefs, Slap Shot
Glasses-wearing goons The Hanson Brothers brought The Chiefs to the championship by spilling a lot of blood on the ice.