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From vikings to ninjas, here are five wild alien-invasion films that don’t involve cowboys

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In “Cowboys & Aliens,” director Jon Favreau pits a posse of gunslingers against an extraterrestrial invasion force straight out of a sci-fi nightmare. In many ways, it’s a new twist on an old classic, as those pesky creatures from outer space have been wreaking Hollywood havoc for years now, and gtheir efforts definitely haven’t been confined to the Old West.

From the age of vikings to the far-flung future, alien invasions have been thwarted by a long list of unlikely defenders from Earth — many of them even more ill-equipped than the “Cowboys & Aliens” cast. Don’t believe me? Here are five examples of films that feature entirely unexpected saviors of the planet we call home.


“Outlander” (2008)

Pre-dating all of the gunslinging and dynamite of “Cowboys & Aliens,” this 2008 film features a battle between Norsemen circa 709 A.D. and a monstrous alien that crashed near their village. While the movie didn’t receive much attention, it boasts an impressive cast that includes James Caviezel (“The Passion of the Christ”), Ron Perlman, and veteran actor John Hurt. It also features a massive, CG-fueled beast that puts up a heck of a fight against the viking warriors.


“Alien vs. Ninja” (2010)

File this one under “so bad it’s good,” folks. Featuring a group of ninja who encounter a vicious alien that looks suspiciously like a knockoff of the creatures in the “Alien” franchise, “Alien Vs. Ninja” is equal parts slapstick comedy, martial arts action, sci-fi horror, and ridiculous parody. Crazy wire-work, bad CG effects, and a guy running around in a rubber alien suit — this film has it all. It’s like “Power Rangers” on acid, and if you still need some convincing to check it out, go ahead and watch this scene from the film:


“Zone Troopers” (1985)

The tagline for this 1985 film was “Zone Troopers: It takes war to a whole new dimension,” and that tell you everything you need to know about this entry in the alien-invasion genre.

As if Nazis weren’t bad enough, “Zone Troopers” features a unit of World War II soldiers who encounter a crashed alien spacecraft. After rescuing the inhabitants, they’re pursued by Axis forces who want to capture both the soldiers and their new, extraterrestrial recruits. It’s WWII action mixed with sci-fi silliness, but the end result is a fun-but-dated little film that has earned itself a cult following over the years.

Here’s the extremely weird trailer for the film:


“Monsters vs. Aliens” (2009)

This 2009 animated film from Dreamworks was one of the best films of the year when it was released, and is right up there among the best CG-animated films of recent years. Just as the title implies, “Monsters vs Aliens” follows a group of government-sanctioned monsters (including a giant woman, a fish-ape hybrid, and a sentient blob, among others) as they try to take down an alien named Gallaxhar who wants to conquer Earth. Brilliant dialogue, a fun story, and superb animation make this one an instant classic in the “fighting off aliens” genre.


“Attack the Block” (2011)

From vikings and ninjas to rowdy street gangs, “Attack the Block” brings the battle against alien invaders to the blocks of South London. The film by first-time director Joe Cornish is currently earning rave reviews from every direction these days, and it only recently hit U.S. theaters. (It’s in limited release, so you might need to do some hunting to find it.) The film follows a group of teenage thugs who try to protect their turf from the vicious aliens crash-landing all over town. With many calling it one of the best films of the year, “Attack the Block” offers a distinctly different — and exceptionally awesome — take on the alien invasion story.

What are your favorite alien-invasion movies? Chime in below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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SO EXCITED!!!

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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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.”

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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. 

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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.

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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.