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The 10 best Earth in distress movies (with video)

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What chance does our poor planet have against nature and aliens? Here are ten films featuring the Earth taking a licking (and sometimes not continuing with the ticking).


“Armageddon” (1998)

“Bad Boys” was great, but Michael Bay really got to flaunt his genius in what would be the first of his many large-scale sci-fi action adventures. No giant robots in this one, though; here it’s a giant hunk of space rock that’s threatening to collide with the planet, leaving it up to Bruce Willis and his crack team of oil drillers (including Ben Affleck, Owen Wilson, Will Patton, Steve Buscemi and Michael Clarke Duncan) to hop on the next shuttle and blast the Texas-sized thing into a bunch of much less-threatening smaller chunks. It’s the kind of life-or-death situation and seemingly insurmountable task that calls for at least one Aerosmith song on the soundtrack and a few tears from the lead singer’s daughter as she prays for Affleck’s safe return; luckily, the Ground Control to Willis’ Major Tom is played by Billy Bob Thornton, a fella you’d definitely want to have your back if this kind of crazy shit actually happened. And to think, first contact with the asteroid was established by Eddie Griffin and his dog.


“The Core” (2003)

A bunch of disturbances in the Earth’s electromagnetic field are making birds drop dead and random lightning storms wreck havoc; a geology professor (Aaron Eckhart) concludes it’s because the planet’s core has stopped turning, which launches a top-secret mission to drill into the center of the Earth and blow it to kingdom come, which will (in theory) jump-start its rotation. Stop your own brain’s rotation for 135 minutes and “The Core” is actually a lot of fun, thanks mostly to an enthusiastic cast (including Hilary Swank, Delroy Lindo, Tcheky Karyo, Stanley Tucci and the skinny kid from “Road Trip”) that seems totally game for any kind of preposterous sci-fi nonsense. It’s really too bad about the birds — that little tourist kid is probably going to have nightmares about Trafalgar Square for the rest of his damn life.


“The Day After Tomorrow” (2004)

Al Gore finally gets to say “I told you so” before freezing to death in this environmental disaster flick. Some (okay, everyone) may have quibbled about the non-realism of the ultra-speedy climate apocalypse presented in “The Day After Tomorrow,” but scenes of Mother Nature laying waste to some of the world’s great cities are admittedly simply awesome to watch thanks to the film’s cutting-edge special effects (the initial flood that takes out NYC is especially awe-inspiring). “Day” is also commendable for its rather somber and downbeat tone, a far cry from the rah-rah patriotism of Roland Emmerich’s previous planet-in-jeopardy outing, “Independence Day”; after all, Jeff Goldblum’s laptop — or anything else, for that matter — probably isn’t going to be of much help in fighting extreme climate change. This is the middle — and definitely the darkest — installment in Emmerich’s unofficial “Destroy the Earth” trilogy, between “ID4″ and “2012.”


“The Day the Earth Stood Still” (2008)

It isn’t the threat of nuclear warfare but rather our own carelessness with the environment that prompts an alien race to threaten us with extermination in this tree-hugging update of the 1951 sci-fi film. Keanu Reeves is actually quite good as Klaatu, the extraterrestrial ambassador who comes to Earth with the imposing GORT, here a much more organic (and shape-shifting) menace than the clunky robot of the original; Jennifer Connelly works her two expressions (wide-eyed, vaguely erotic confusion and wide-eyed, vaguely erotic confusion) as the Princeton professor who tries to talk the handsome visitor out of pulling the trigger. Director Scott Derrickson’s big-budget remake never quite comes together, but it’s not without its apocalyptic pleasures, including a GORT (here an acronym for Genetically Organized Robotic Technology) who turns into a swarm of nanomachines that devours everything in its path — especially Giants Stadium.


“Deep Impact” (1998)

1998’s much more serious and somber disaster movie chronicles the attempts to destroy a seven-mile-wide comet (discovered by a teenage amateur astronomer played by Elijah Wood) that’s set to collide with the Earth and cause mass extinction; unfortunately, the nuclear bomb planted on the thing by the spacecraft “Messiah” (a join venture between the U.S. and Russia, notch) only succeeds in splitting it in two, which means there’s now a pair of 3.5-mile-wide comets en route to kill us all. “Deep Impact” was released in May and received praise for its (relative) scientific credibility; however, “Armageddon” had Bruce Willis, Aerosmith on the soundtrack and a Fourth of July weekend release date, so it ultimately made more money. Directed by Mimi Leder, a protege of Steven Spielberg’s; oddly enough, she’s barely been heard from since.

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Soap tv show

As the Spoof Turns

15 Hilarious Soap Opera Parodies

Catch the classic sitcom Soap Saturday mornings on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures Television

The soap opera is the indestructible core of television fandom. We celebrate modern series like The Wire and Breaking Bad with their ongoing storylines, but soap operas have been tangling more plot threads than a quilt for decades. Which is why pop culture enjoys parodying them so much.

Check out some of the funniest soap opera parodies below, and be sure to catch Soap Saturday mornings on IFC.

1. Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman

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Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman was a cult hit soap parody from the mind of Norman Lear that poked daily fun at the genre with epic twists and WTF moments. The first season culminated in a perfect satire of ratings stunts, with Mary being both confined to a psychiatric facility and chosen to be part of a Nielsen ratings family.


2. IKEA Heights

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IKEA Heights proves that the soap opera is alive and well, even if it has to be filmed undercover at a ready-to-assemble furniture store totally unaware of what’s happening. This unique webseries brought the classic formula to a new medium. Even IKEA saw the funny side — but has asked that future filmmakers apply through proper channels.


3. Fresno

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When you’re parodying ’80s nighttime soaps like Dallas and Dynasty , everything about your show has to equally sumptuous. The 1986 CBS miniseries Fresno delivered with a high-powered cast (Carol Burnett, Teri Garr and more in haute couture clothes!) locked in the struggle for the survival of a raisin cartel.


4. Soap

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Soap was the nighttime response to daytime soap operas: a primetime skewering of everything both silly and satisfying about the source material. Plots including demonic possession and alien abduction made it a cult favorite, and necessitated the first televised “viewer discretion” disclaimer. It also broke ground for featuring one of the first gay characters on television in the form of Billy Crystal’s Jodie Dallas. Revisit (or discover for the first time) this classic sitcom every Saturday morning on IFC.


5. Too Many Cooks

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Possibly the most perfect viral video ever made, Too Many Cooks distilled almost every style of television in a single intro sequence. The soap opera elements are maybe the most hilarious, with more characters and sudden shocking twists in an intro than most TV scribes manage in an entire season.


6. Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace

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Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace was more mockery than any one medium could handle. The endless complications of Darkplace Hospital are presented as an ongoing horror soap opera with behind-the-scenes anecdotes from writer, director, star, and self-described “dreamweaver visionary” Garth Marenghi and astoundingly incompetent actor/producer Dean Learner.


7. “Attitudes and Feelings, Both Desirable and Sometimes Secretive,” MadTV

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Soap opera connoisseurs know that the most melodramatic plots are found in Korea. MADtv‘s parody Tae Do  (translation: Attitudes and Feelings, Both Desirable and Sometimes Secretive) features the struggles of mild-mannered characters with far more feelings than their souls, or subtitles, could ever cope with.


8. Twin Peaks

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Twin Peaks, the twisted parody of small town soaps like Peyton Place whose own creator repeatedly insists is not a parody, has endured through pop culture since it changed television forever when it debuted in 1990. The show even had it’s own soap within in a soap called…


9. “Invitation to Love,” Twin Peaks

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Twin Peaks didn’t just parody soap operas — it parodied itself parodying soap operas with the in-universe show Invitation to Love. That’s more layers of deceit and drama than most televised love triangles.


10. “As The Stomach Turns,” The Carol Burnett Show

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The Carol Burnett Show poked fun at soaps with this enduring take on As The World Turns. In a case of life imitating art, one story involving demonic possession would go on to happen for “real” on Days of Our Lives.


11. Days of our Lives (Friends Edition)

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Still airing today, Days of Our Lives is one of the most famous soap operas of all time. They’re also excellent sports, as they allowed Friends star Joey Tribbiani to star as Dr Drake Ramoray, the only doctor to date his own stalker (while pretending to be his own evil twin). And then return after a brain-transplant.

And let’s not forget the greatest soap opera parody line ever written: “Come on Joey, you’re going up against a guy who survived his own cremation!”


12. Acorn Antiques

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First appearing on the BBC sketch comedy series Victoria Wood As Seen on TV, Acorn Antiques combines almost every low-budget soap opera trope into one amazing whole. The staff of a small town antique store suffer a disproportional number of amnesiac love-triangles, while entire storylines suddenly appear and disappear without warning or resolution. Acorn Antiques was so popular, it went on to become a hit West End musical.


13. “Point Place,” That 70s Show

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In a memorable That ’70s Show episode, an unemployed Red is reduced to watching soaps all day. He becomes obsessed despite the usual Red common-sense objections (like complaining that it’s impossible to fall in love with someone in a coma). His dreams render his own life as Point Place, a melodramatic nightmare where Kitty leaves him because he’s unemployed. (Click here to see all airings of That ’70s Show on IFC.)


14. The Spoils of Babylon

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Bursting from the minds of Will Ferrell and creators Andrew Steele and Matt Piedmont, The Spoils of Babylon was a spectacular parody of soap operas and epic mini-series like The Thorn Birds. Taking the parody even further, Ferrell himself played Eric Jonrosh, the author of the book on which the series was based. Jonrosh returned in The Spoils Before Dying, a jazzy murder mystery with its own share of soapy twists and turns.

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15. All My Children Finale, SNL

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SNL‘s final celebration of one of the biggest soaps of all time is interrupted by a relentless series of revelations from stage managers, lighting designers, make-up artists, and more. All of whom seem to have been married to or murdered by (or both) each other.

The top 10 most evil children in movies

Children of the Corn

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Evil is somehow even more evil when it’s personified and/or inflicted by a minor. Here are some of cinema history’s creepiest little shits, from the raving Rhoda in “The Bad Seed” to the scalpel-wielding Gage Creed in “Pet Sematary” to the she-demon orphan of “Case 39.”


“The Bad Seed” (1956)

Pray you never get on the bad side of Rhoda, a pigtailed terror in a Sunday dress who’s not afraid to use her tap shoes as murder weapons in order to get what she wants. The hapless janitor in this scene should’ve ceased with his taunts a good minute earlier (much like the janitor in John Carpenter’s “Village of the Damned,” but we’ll get to that later), otherwise Rhoda might not have SET HIM ON FIRE (you don’t get to see that part in the video; you’ll just have to catch the whole movie on Netflix Streaming) ’cause he knows too damn much about her evil Rhoda doings. Believe it or not, this preposterous After School Special gone stark raving bonkers was nominated for four Oscars (including a Best Supporting Actress nod for Paddy McCormack’s performance as the insufferable brat); the Academy must’ve seen it as some sort of bizarro cautionary tale, complete with a post-credits comeuppance for the film’s mini-villainess as she receives a hearty spanking at the hand of Nancy Kelly (who was also Oscar-nominated for her performance as Rhoda’s mother). Weird.


“The Exorcist” (1973)

“Your mother sucks cocks in hell, Karras!” William Friedkin’s gonzo free-for-all adaptation of William Peter Blatty’s weirdo novel (read it if you haven’t; it’s bonkers) ended up being what many consider to be the best horror movie ever made — and a project that doomed a young actress named Linda Blair to a life of typecasting and appearances at horror conventions. Whatever, though — better to have one great role in one great movie than a life of digging ditches, and “The Exorcist” is just dripping (or perhaps oozing — check out the video and you’ll see what we mean) with greatness. The adult actors are terrific and all (particularly Jason Miller as Father Karras, whose beautifully underplayed performance often gets overlooked in favor of the more histrionic work of Ellen Burstyn and Max von Sydow), but it’s Blair who owns the show and steals it from herself as the little girl possessed by an impossibly vulgar, mercilessly manipulative demon (voiced by Mercedes McCambridge).


“The Omen” (1976)

Director Richard Donner’s tale of a well-to-do couple who start to suspect that their young son might be the spawn of Satan or something is cheesy ’70s horror played completely stone-faced seriously (well, for the most part), resulting in a truly unsettling thriller that stands proudly behind the shoulder of “The Exorcist” as one of the few religious horror movies that actually works. “The Omen” is filled with elaborate set pieces designed to shock and amaze, from the (ex-) nanny ruining a perfectly good birthday party by hanging herself to a priest getting impaled by the spear-like crucifix atop his own church that becomes unhinged during a rather nasty storm (conjured by the Prince of Darkness himself!) to David Warner getting decapitated by a runaway sheet of glass. Great stuff, with little Harvey Stephens delivering a particularly creepy performance as young Damien; you’ll believe he’s the Devil’s kid without any real stretch of the imagination, whether there’s a nasty Rottweiler lurking around or not.


“Children of the Corn” (1984)

This movie is ridiculous, and so is the Stephen King short story it’s based on, but damn if it isn’t an entertaining bit of hayseed horror with an exquisitely stupid premise involving overalls-wearing teenage bumpkins who knock off their moms and dads (and everyone else over the age of 18, at that) as they worship something called He Who Walks Among the Rows. Pete Horton and Linda Hamilton play the young couple who run afoul of these little creeps, but the key conflict is the rivalry between Isaac (John Franklin) and his power-hungry right-hand, uh, man, Malachai (Courteney Gains); the former being sacrificed to He Who Walks Among the Rows is one of the film’s freakiest scenes, made all the more so by Franklin’s disturbingly high-pitched voice (there’s no post production tinkering there; he actually sounds like that, courtesy of the Growth Hormone Deficiency that also accounts for his short stature and underage looks). Franklin reprised his role 15 years later in “Children of the Corn 666: Isaac’s Return,” and it ruled.


“Pet Sematary” (1989)

It was the scariest movie in the world when you were, like, 15, but when you got a little older you probably realized that this B-movie adaptation of Stephen King’s C-level bestseller was actually kind of . . . dumb. However, what’s made at least some of “Pet Sematary” stand the test of time is its sheer tastelessness; there’s something truly brazen about how tacky this movie is, whether it be its reduction of poor Zelda to a moaning, convulsing guilt-demon (yes, Mr. King, we know you think disease = evil) or director Mary Lambert’s manipulative trickery in getting too-young-to-know-better Miko Hughes to be a snarling, grimacing, scalpel-wielding toddler from hell. “No fair!” cries little Gage when his father (Dale Midkiff) sticks him in the neck with a syringe for what seems like five minutes; we agree whole-heartedly, kid.

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The 10 most hilariously disgusting food moments in comedies

John Belushi in "Animal House"

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With “American Reunion” due in theaters Friday, only one thing is almost guaranteed in the movie: more pie. It’s been 13 years since “American Pie” first hit theaters, and in the time between we’ve never quite been able to unhear the phrase “it’s like warm apple pie.”

In honor of the iconic food scene from “American Pie,” we’ve decided to compile a list of our 10 favorite hilariously disgusting food moments in film. Be warned, they are not for the faint of heart or fickle stomach. But consider this our toast to “American Reunion,” adding a few more moments to this truly gross list.


“American Pie” — Warm Apple Pie

Ah, the one that started it all. Jason Biggs will likely never live down his one infamous encounter with a warm apple pie, but we’ll never forget the look on Eugene Levy‘s face when he catches his onscreen son in the act. And we’ve never been able to look at apple pie the same way since.


“Role Models” — Bagel Dog

“Role Models” changed a lot about how we looked at life, love and Jane Lynch, but we never expected that it would influence the way we looked at hot dogs. Unfortunately, Lynch’s infamous bagel-dog scene has now scarred us forever. There’s no coming back from that.


“Waiting” — Pissed Off Waiters

If there’s one thing we learned from “Waiting,” it’s don’t piss off your waiters and ask for your food order to be remedied. One unfortunately bitchy customer was in for the meal of her life after she pissed off the men in the kitchen. But she did sort of deserve it because she broke the cardinal rule of restaurants: Don’t fuck with people that handle your food.


“Spaceballs” — Pizza the Hutt

When it comes to gross-out humor, “Spaceballs” might not be the first movie you think of. But the more we watch the flick, the more Pizza the Hutt disgusts us. I mean, the Jabba the Hutt rip-off even makes Barf want to Barf. And before you try to argue that Pizza the Hutt is a character and not a food, let’s not forget that Pizza ate himself… to death. Up next, “Rocky 5000.”


“Van Wilder” — Special Cream Puffs

It doesn’t matter how douchy someone is, we aren’t quite sure anyone deserves the revenge Van Wilder got on Richard Bagg in this flick. Seriously, filling up cream puffs with dog semen? We can’t even think about it without our stomach’s getting upset. In the end, only Van’s dog came out of that scene happy.

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