DID YOU READ

ADAPT THIS: “The Suicide Forest” by El Torres & Gabriel Hernandez

the suicide forest

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With Hollywood turning more of its attention to the world of graphic novels for inspiration, I’ll cast the spotlight on a new comic book each week that has the potential to pack a theater or keep you glued to your television screens. At the end of some “Adapt This” columns, you’ll also find thoughts from the industry’s top comic creators about the books they’d like to see make the jump from page to screen.


This Week’s Book: The Suicide Forest by El Torres (w) and Gabriel Hernandez (a)

The Premise: The real-life forest of Aokigahara, which lies just outside Tokyo at the base of Mt. Fuji, is one of the most popular places in the world for people to commit suicide. Some say the spirits of people who killed themselves in the forest are cursed to haunt its confines — but what if those spirits get out? When the Japanese ex-girlfriend of an American living abroad ends her life in “Suicide Forest,” he finds himself dealing with a vengeful ghost who will stop at nothing to ruin his life.

The Pitch: Given the success of horror franchises like “The Ring” and “The Grudge,” which were based on Japanese legends and were later imported and remade here in the U.S., it’s actually a bit surprising that the legend of Aokigahara Forest hasn’t been tapped yet. The national landmark’s history is steeped in both morbid facts and eerie phenomena, which is something Torres masterfully mines for The Suicide Forest.

While many of the Japanese horror franchises that were brought to the U.S. in recent years had their settings and other elements changed for American audiences, a movie based on The Suicide Forest would obviously need to stay in Japan. Fortunately, the source material already offers a great entrance point that softens the culture shock. The primary narrative follows an American living abroad who has a difficult time adjusting to Japanese society, and we see many of the terrifying events that occur throughout The Suicide Forest through his perspective.

Like the vengeful “onryo” ghosts that haunted “The Grudge” and “The Ring” (and many of the other Japanese horror films imported to the U.S. in recent years), the antagonist of The Suicide Forest is another creepy blend of pale skin, jet-black hair, and blood-spattered features, deliberate in its deadly mission and always popping up where you least expect her. It’s a formula that works, certainly, but it’s given a new spin in the comic that would make a film stand out from its predecessors.

In The Suicide Forest, there’s a significant amount of time spent n the narrative of the person before she became a vengeful spirit. It’s a refreshing twist on the well-traveled “angry ghost” stories that allows you to actually feel some amount of sympathy for the cursed creature terrorizing Alan and his friends — and could offer a nice chance for an actress to show some range as both lonely soul and supernatural killer.

Along with Alan and his girlfriend-turned-ghost Masami, there’s another great role to be found in “The Suicide Forest” movie for an actress playing Ryoko, the park ranger who’s made it her job to police Aokigahara and bring some peace to the unsettled souls she finds there. While the notion of a spirit-hunting ranger patrolling the forest might seem far-fetched at first, a search for suicide victims’ bodies that occurs each year in the real Aokigahara forest often involves local monks who live near the forest and pray for the souls they believe are trapped there. So there’s not only some precedent for the character, but there’s also some great real-world research material for the right actor.

The Closing Argument: The flood of Japanese horror movies remade for American audiences has died down in recent years, so the timing could be right to remind everyone why these stories were so popular in the first place. A film based on The Suicide Forest would tread enough new ground to be distinctly different from franchises like “The Ring” or “The Grudge,” while also including some of the best elements from those films — specifically, the moody atmosphere and visual style. It would also take the familiar onryo legends to a new setting, breaking from the traditional urban environment and translating all that fear of ghostly creatures in bathroom mirrors and television sets to the wide-open woods.


Would “the Suicide Forest” make a good movie? Chime in below or on Facebook or 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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