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Are these the 25 best horror films of the Aughts?

Are these the 25 best horror films of the Aughts? (photo)

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It’s the last week of October which means one thing: Halloween-related movie features! The fine folks at Slant Magazine posted a big’un yesterday, “The 25 Best Horror Films of the Aughts.” You’ve got to go to to their site to see the whole list, obviously, but here’s their Top 5.

1. “Pulse” (2001, Kiyoshi Kurosawa)

2. “Inland Empire” (2006, David Lynch)

3. “Inside” (2007, Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury)

4. “Audition” (2001, Takashi Miike)

5. “Martyrs” (2008, Pascal Laugier)

It’s a very interesting list with some very strong writing, a welcome and all-too-rare sight in this sort of article. I haven’t seen every movie that made the cut, including two in the top five (numbers five and three, if you’re curious), so I can’t knock all of Slant’s choices. And even if I had and therefore I could, this sort of thing is totally subjective. And, really, that’s what you want from this sort of list. You want to see what a site like Slant thinks are the best horror films of the aughts. Another site might (and probably would) have a very different list. Which is great. But you know there’s a but coming, right?

(Hold on, it’s coming.)

BUT!!! As a film nerd, I can’t resist the urge to gripe and nitpick. And why would you want me to? If all I had to say was “Boy, this is a perfect list, I can’t complain with anything, kudos to you and yours Slant!” this wouldn’t be much of a blog post, now would it?

Though I’m all for an expansive definition of horror — and I’m very glad Slant’s list has plenty of international representation — they may have cast too wide a net with their picks. Is “A History of Violence” (#20) a horror film? More like a mystery/thrillery to me. Is “Inland Empire” (#2) a horror film? Yeah, I guess, sort of. But despite “Inland Empire”‘s awesomeness as a film, is it really the second best pure, make-the-hairs-on-the-back-of-your-neck-stand-straight-up horror film of the last eleven years? Mrm, not so much. If you’re going to open up the genre that far, there’s other, better, scarier movies that also qualify. What about “Dogtooth?” Or “Snow Angels?” Or “I Saw the Devil?” Or, for that matter, a whole mess of amazing (and amazingly disturbing) Korean revenge movies?

There are some other quibbles I have that boil down to matters of taste. “28 Weeks Later” (#15) makes the cut but “28 Days Later” doesn’t? “Halloween II” (#6) makes the top ten ahead of Zombie’s own (and in my mind vastly superior film) “The Devil’s Rejects” (#9)? And there are plenty of deserving movies that didn’t make the cut. As a sort of counter-list, here’s what I consider five worst omissions:

5. “Slither” (2006, James Gunn)
One of the ooiest-gooiest horror movies of the Aughts, with an appropriately jaundiced view of small-town America and an amazingly emotive monster, played by the great character actor Michael Rooker. You will feel for him, you will be revolted by him.

4. “Paranormal Activity” (2007, Oren Peli)
Popular? Sure, but rightfully so. It’s found footage horror — a subgenre that’s glutted the horror market this decade — done perfectly. “Paranormal Activity” is a very scary movie and I suspect it’s one of the handful of movies from the Aughts that people are still going to be watching in the 2050s.

3. “Shaun of the Dead” (2004, Edgar Wright)
If Slant has room for horror comedies — and they obviously do, since they included Sam Raimi’s wonderful 2009 film “Drag Me to Hell” at #24 — then they should have found room for the single most iconic horror comedy of the last decade, Edgar Wright’s “Shaun of the Dead.” Legitimately funny, but even more legitimately scary in the late scenes where the gang is holed up in the pub surrounded by zombies.

2. “The Host” (2006, Bong Joon-ho)
Can’t figure out how this one slipped through this list. Slant’s (and occasionally our own) Nick Schager gave the film three and a half out of four stars when the movie opened back in 2006. I haven’t seen it in five years, so it’s not the freshest film in my mind but what’s stuck with me is the intensity of the connection Bong creates between the characters and the audience, and the way he milks that bond for white-knuckle suspense and scream-loosening scares. Maybe the guys in charge thought it was too sci-fi.

1. “Pan’s Labyrinth” (2006, Guillermo del Toro)
Weird that Slant went out of its way to credit del Toro for the success of their #25 film, “The Orphanage” — which is, don’t get me wrong, a reasonably spooky haunted house movie — and didn’t find a spot for del Toro’s millennial masterpiece of fantasy horror, “Pan’s Labyrinth.” It’s a far more beautiful and far more unsettling representation of del Toro’s favorite themes.

What’s the best horror movie of the aughts? What great movie got left off Slant’s list? Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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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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