DID YOU READ

“Horror Express” is old school spooky fun

“Horror Express” is old school spooky fun (photo)

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26 minutes and 30 seconds.

That’s the exact moment I fell in love with “Horror Express,” the 1972 horror film that’s new this week on Blu-ray. That’s when Peter Cushing finally confronts Christopher Lee about the possessed fossil he’s brought on the Trans-Siberian Express. This frozen prehistoric ape man, discovered by Lee in a Manchurian cave, should be long dead and locked inside an enormous trunk. Somehow it manages to thaw itself out, escape, and go on a killing spree. Confronted with the empty trunk and the evidence of a murder, Cushing delivers this whopper of a line: “Are you telling me that an ape that lived 2 million years ago got out of that crate, killed the baggage man and put him in there, then locked everything up neat and tidy and got away?” To which Lee replies, “YES I AM! It’s alive! It MUST be!”

Yes, it must be. There’s no other explanation than the fossil came to life and started killing people! It MUST be! C’mon: that’s got to be one of the most ridiculous exchanges of dialogue in movie history, and yet it’s delivered with such absolute conviction by Cushing and Lee. That is textbook great acting: the ability to deliver hilariously bad dialogue without cracking a smile.

“Horror Express” has a lot of great acting, and just the right mix of camp and creeps. It’s a silly movie, but it’s genuinely scary at times too. The design of that ape man is spooky as all get out, as is the way it leaves its victims bleeding from blank, pupil-less eyes. I also got a big kick — and a good amount of chills — from the big autopsy scene, where Cushing systematically cuts open a victim’s skull to find — gasp!! — their brain’s all smooth! I hate it when that happens.

The film is sort of the original “Snakes on a Plane,” only instead of a plane it’s a train and instead of snakes it’s one very pissed off prehistoric ape man (who’s also harboring a dark secret — because God knows if this movie was just about a prehistoric ape man, that would be boring!). You don’t get Samuel L. Jackson mothereffing it up, but you do get Hammer horror legends Lee and Cushing bickering like an old married couple. Admittedly, Lee tersely barking “I have had it with these motherfucking ape men on this motherfucking train!” would have been better. But that’s just me being greedy.

The plot is an obvious variation of “Who Goes There?” or “The Thing From Another World.” Eventually — SPOILER ALERT! — the ape man is revealed to be the host of the real killer, an alien consciousness that’s been trapped inside this fossil for several millennia. As the ape is killed, the alien jumps into the body of a police inspector, who continues the killing spree. Inexplicably, he also gains one hairy ape man hand; even more inexplicably, no one seems to notice or suspect the guy with the furry paw (he keeps his hand in his pocket most of the time to avoid arousing suspicion which works surprisingly well). That whole device is kind of stupid, but there are clever elements of the screenplay. The movie frames the mystery surrounding the ape man’s rampage as a debate between Lee, the man of science, and a monk, who believes the killings are a religious sign. Then the monk decides the ape man must be Satan himself, cast out from heaven lo those many years ago, and denounces his faith in order to worship his new, dark master.

Before it’s over, “Horror Express” even squeezes in a Telly Savalas cameo (playing a grumpy Cossack!) and a chase scene with zombies, since the alien discovers it can reanimate its victims and turns them into undead slaves. Given the slightly dickish way Lee rejects the curiosity of anyone who suspects trouble from his trunk full of fossilized evil, I’m surprised “Horror Express”‘ ending is as upbeat and happy as it is. But I guess by that point enough people had been slaughtered in the name of our entertainment; might as well send the people out on a little bit of a high note.

Yes, that must be it. It MUST be!

“Horror Express” is now available in a DVD/Blu-ray combo pack. If you see it, let us know what you think, tell us in the comments below or write to us 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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