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Five Kickstarter-funded comic book documentaries to look out for

Five Kickstarter-funded comic book documentaries to look out for (photo)

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If you need $100 million to make a CGI-heavy action film, the project-funding website Kickstarter should definitely not be the first place you look. However, Kickstarter is becoming a hot spot to hunt down dollars for more modest indie projects, and comics-related documentary pitches in particular are becoming more and more common.

Five such comics documentaries have met their funding needs, and the dollar amounts they’ve been able to raise are impressive. Their topics range from historical investigations into censorship to massive interview compilations looking at what current creators grew up reading and what goes on behind the industry’s closed doors.



“Stripped: The Comics Documentary”

Status: Funded!

Creators Dave Kellett and Fred Schroeder set out to make a feature-length documentary about where comics come from and where they are headed. With at least 60 interviews from around the industry, it looks like they’re already off to a great start.

They initially sought $58,000 for “Stripped,” but funding has since eclipsed the $100,000 mark. If their scope and Kickstarter success translate into a story that’s as fascinating as their trailer suggests, Kellett and Schroeder could set a new standard for future producers and directors to look at.



“Warren Ellis: Captured Ghosts”

Status: Funded!

If you spend any time at all on the Internet or reading comic books, you should already be at least casually familiar with writer Warren Ellis. The filmmakers, Patrick Meaney and Jordan Rennert already have one comic-creator doc under their belt with “Grant Morrison: Talking With Gods” (2010), and their ambitious follow-up aims to dissect one of the medium’s most beloved (and foul-mouthed) visionaries.

You may have to keep the little ones away from this film, but it’s sure to be an interesting watch.



“Untold Tales of the Comic Book Industry”

Status: Funded!

Spearheaded by comic book writer Brandon Jerwa, “Untold Tales” lays out a few of the same premises as “Stripped,” but seems to focus more on the rising and falling of the superhero market. The interviews in the trailer capture a behind-the-scenes feel from the periphery of the convention scene, and Jerwa is pooling the insights from publishers, as well as big-name creators such as Erik Larsen and Ben Templesmith.

It’s a documentary being made with love, and we look forward to seeing what emerges from Jerwa’s efforts, especially now that it has eclipsed the $19,000 mark on Kickstarter.



“Diagram for Delinquents”

Status: Funded!

If you thought that video games were the biggest over-blown threat ever to attract government attention, you may need to track down a copy of director Robert A. Emmons, Jr.’s film about the greatest real-life villain ever to attack comic books. “Diagram for Delinquents” looks at the life and work of psychiatrist and Seduction of the Innocent author Fredric Wertham.

Wertham’s efforts triggered book burnings and even congressional hearings that pushed comics publishers into a new era. The trailer has character, and the topics Emmons addresses will be of interest to comics readers from any decade.



“Cartoon College”

Status: Initial goal reached, but have since asked for $6000 more

Have you ever wanted to go to school to become a cartoonist? Filmmakers Tara Wray and Josh Melrod set out to see what goes on in the lives of students at Vermont’s Center for Cartoon Studies. They traveled around the U.S. and Canada interviewing professors and creators and seeing where students traveled to get their work out into the wild.

Judging from their description, “Cartoon College” may have the best diversity of sources of any of these documentaries. Moreover, they are also analyzing how the nature of the industry impacts the lives of aspiring artists.

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Which one of these comic book documentaries makes you want to check it out? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter.

Carol Cate Blanchett

Spirit Guide

Check Out the Spirit Awards Nominees for Best Male and Female Leads

Catch the 2016 Spirit Awards live Feb. 27th at 5P ET/2P PT on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Wilson Webb/©Weinstein Company/Courtesy Everett Collection

From Jason Segel’s somber character study of author David Foster Wallace, to Brie Larson’s devastating portrayal of a mother in captivity, the 2016 Spirit Awards nominees for Best Male and Female Leads represent the finest in the year of film acting. Take a look at the Best Male and Female Leads in action, presented by Jaguar.

Best Male Lead 

Christopher Abbott, James White
Abraham Attah, Beasts of No Nation
Ben Mendelsohn, Mississippi Grind
Jason Segel, The End of the Tour
Koudous Seihon, Mediterranea

Watch more Male Lead nominee videos here.

Best Female Lead 

Cate Blanchett, Carol
Brie Larson, Room
Rooney Mara, Carol
Bel Powley, The Diary of A Teenage Girl
Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, Tangerine

Watch more Female Lead nominee videos here.

Five new scariest moments in non-horror movies

Five new scariest moments in non-horror movies (photo)

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One of my favorite pieces we’ve ever done here on IFC.com was our Halloween 2009 list: “The 25 Scariest Moments in Non-Horror Movies.” It featured great writing from critics like Matt Zoller Seitz, Sam Adams and others, and it was just a great topic. Arguably, the scary scenes in supposedly non-scary movies are more terrifying than the ones in horror movies because they catch us off-guard. You pay for “The Exorcist,” you know what you’re in for. You pay for “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” you think you’re in for an old-fashioned adventure until Nazis’ faces start melting all over the place.

Our original list from 2009 holds up, but in the past two years there have been some new, unforgettably scary moments in non-horror movies. So in honor of Halloween 2011, here is an update. We typically like including YouTube videos in this sort of list, but these are recent movies so they’re not always readily available; we improvised as best we could.

The Furnace Scene
from “Toy Story 3″
Directed by Lee Unkrich

Years after year of mature entertainments have given Pixar the well-deserved reputation as a studio that makes family films for both children and adults, but “Toy Story 3″ was so dark it turned adults into children: screaming, crying, begging-for-Mommy-style babies. In one of the most disquieting representations of the inevitable end maybe ever, destiny leads the toys into a giant trash furnace where, with no escape possible, they accept their fate, lock hands, and wait for death. It looks like it’s all over but the melting. Luckily for the toys, things worked out okay thanks to a last minute deus ex machina; unluckily for plenty of people in the audience — myself included — they remained just a wee bit scarred for life. Scariest of all? After all that time at the trash dump, kids start playing with these toys again. Just think of all the germs! Pixar’s going to have to call the next movie in the franchise “Toy Story 4: Contagion 2.” Blech.


Three Serial Killers Walk Into a Car…
from “I Saw the Devil”
Directed by Kim Ji-woon

Technically “I Saw the Devil” is a thriller or a cat-and-mouse chase movie, but it has more scares than a lot of “real” horror movies. It opens like a horror movie too, with a young woman savagely murdered on a deserted road in her broken-down car. But then the woman’s fiancé, a super-badass secret agent, decides to get even with the monster who killed his lover by turning himself into a monster; for the rest of the film, the two battle it out an increasingly gruesome series of encounters. Escaping from one of their fights, Kyung-chul (Choi Min-sik) manages to hitch a ride which, by sheer coincidence, is being driven by a couple more deranged killers. After a brief stand-off, that leads to this terrifying and dizzying scene, as Kyung-chul wildly stabs at the other two guys while the car careens off the road. The real horror here is the blood; not so much the amount of it but the way it seems to be spraying unpredictably in every direction, even on the camera lens, which suggests that the messy frenzy was too much even for the cinematographer to handle. If “I Saw the Devil” isn’t technically a horror movie, scenes like this one prove it is definitively a movie about horror.


“Is This Gonna Be Our Time?”
from “Winter’s Bone”
Directed by Debra Granik

A cop pulls over a man and a young woman in a pickup trick. The man never gets out of the truck, never even turns his head to look at the police officer; he just tightens his grip on the shotgun between his legs and speaks to the cop through the side view mirror. After a few terse, tense words, Teardrop (John Hawkes, in a performance that earned him an Oscar nomination) brings his weapon into view and evenly says “Is this gonna be our time?” The cop backs off. As this scene shows, facing down a man who isn’t afraid of death can be just as scary as facing down death itself.

To watch this scene on YouTube, click here. Below is embedded another scene from “Winter’s Bone” featuring more super-intense acting from John Hawkes.



Home Invasion
From “Martha Marcy May Marlene”
Directed by Sean Durkin

Another amazingly tense scene featuring actor John Hawkes. In this one from the still-in-theaters “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” Hawkes and his cult have invaded a random home when the robbery is interrupted by the homeowner. Hawkes’ Patrick doesn’t want to hurt anyone (or so he says), but he also can’t let anyone know about his group or their crime spree, which creates a dilemma. Hawkes is not a traditionally scary screen presence. He’s not a big, physically imposing dude; as you can see in the scene below, he’s actually shorter than the guy he’s scaring the shit out of. So why does he make this list twice? Because he’s so good at playing characters who never lose their cool, even when they should. There’s something really unsettling about the way Patrick and Teardrop never raise their voice and never gets upset. In other words, it’s not that John Hawkes looks all that intimidating. It’s that John Hawkes never looks intimidated.



The Motel Double Cross
from “Drive”
Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn

Like “I Saw the Devil,” “Drive” is a hybrid, and I swear I’m not saying that to make a cheap car joke (at least not on purpose). It begins as a straight heist movie, becomes a character study, then turns to the crime genre again before exploding — literally exploding — with so much gore that it begins to look like a slasher movie. Again, it’s the unexpectedness of that sudden shift into violence that makes it particularly effective. The most disturbing sequence comes just after Ryan Gosling’s Driver has been double crossed by the guy who hired him to participate in a pawn shop robbery. Just as he realizes the scope of the conspiracy, shotgun wielding goons arrive to finish the job. In the interest of preserving said surprise I’ll leave things there, except to say after watching “Drive” you’ll never look at Christina Hendricks in “Mad Men” the same way again.

You can see brief glimpses of the motel sequence in the red band trailer for the film, embedded below:


What’s your favorite scary moment in a non-horror movie? Tell us in the comments below or write to us on Facebook and Twitter.

The top 10 ways villains kill you in horror movies

The top 10 ways villains kill you in horror movies (photo)

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It’s Halloween time again, which means it’s time to dust off your collection of horror movies and get ready for a deluge of grubby-handed, greedy trick-or-treaters headed to your door. To help prep you for the holiday of fear, we’ve compiled a list of the most popular ways horror movie villains have killed off their poor, unsuspecting victims on screen. Sure, some are a bit more creative than others, but they all have the same terrifying end results. Let’s just say that seeing someone walk around with a machete or chainsaw typically means they’re a friend and not a foe in these types of situations. And, in some horror movies, you aren’t even safe from your television set or unborn baby!


10. Knife
The knife might not be the most original way for villains to off their victims in horror movies, but it certainly is a classic. Whether it’s Norman Bates or Ghost Face, there’s something definitive and terrifying about the knife’s appearances in films. “Psycho” brought the term “slasher genre” to a whole new level back in 1960, and 1978’s “Halloween” kicked off a whole new line of imitators when the knife became Michael Myers’ weapon of choice. Those films also became the inspiration for 1996’s “Scream,” which explains why the Ghost Face Killer has done some terrible things with the bladed weaponry.


9. Axe
It might not be as subtle as the knife, has certainly seen its fair share of screen time. There are few things more terrifying that someone trying to chop down the bathroom door with an axe while screaming, “Here’s Johnny!” Who exactly was “Johnny”? Maybe it was the name Jack Torrance gave to his axe after they became so close when they tried to kill Jack’s wife and son. It can be agreed that the 1980 film “The Shining” wouldn’t be quite the classic it is without that iconic scene. Unfortunately the recreation of that scene in 2006’s “Hatchet” didn’t work out as well for baddie Victor Crowley. Let’s just say there’s a good reason the deformed Louisiana native made an axe his murdering tool of choice in that flick.


8. Machete
There’s something about the machete that is intricately connected to the horror film franchise. Fans can largely thank Jason Voorhees for making the machete the staple of Halloween costumes depicting villains every year. The machete became the weapon of choice for the undead villain of the “Friday the 13th” franchise, though his hockey mask ended up becoming his iconic accessory. The machete also popped up in 2007’s “Hostel: Part II,” although its moment of glory got overshadowed by a scalp-tearing saw and some Italians with cannibalistic tendencies.


7. Chain Saw
Appropriately, the killers who have become best associated with the chain saw as a weapon are the cannibalistic family in 1974’s “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.” The chain saw isn’t a particularly subtle or sneaky weapon, but Leatherface certainly made good use of it when he came upon a group of teenagers who want to visit their old family homestead. I guess there’s a lesson there in not getting too in touch with your family’s heritage when that heritage is in the middle of nowhere in middle America. And while Patrick Bateman might be holding a butcher’s knife on the poster for 2000’s “American Psycho,” it’s really his violent murder of unsuspecting blonde model Jean with a chain saw that is his most iconic — and traumatizing — kill. But that could be as much because he is naked and covered in blood in the scene as it is because he manages to drop a chain saw on her from the top of a set of stairs and kill her with it.


6. Infection
There are few more effective means of mass destruction and chaos in horror movies than by spreading death through infection. Whether it be a flesh-eating virus like in 2002’s “Cabin Fever” or the zombie apocalypse in 1968’s “Night of the Living Dead” and 2002’s “28 Days Later” (or just about any other zombie movie ever made), infection is a pretty effective way of getting the job done. Of course, it’s rarely a calculated decision to infect the population and cause mass murders, but in some movies like 2006’s “V for Vendetta” the spread of infection actually is pre-planned. Take Joss Whedon’s 2005 flick “Serenity,” which revealed that a whole race of terrifying, murdering monsters were originally humans who were infected by a calming agent put into their air source by their own government. The possibilities are terrifying.


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