DID YOU READ

HCFF: Rick Baker on designing the “Men In Black 3” aliens

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You know who Rick Baker is even if you’ve never heard his name. The legendary make-up artist is responsible for the look of characters and creatures in movies like “An American Werewolf in London,” “Harry and the Hendersons” or “Men in Black” — or, you know, watched Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” music video — then you’ve seen some of Baker’s amazing creations.

He took the time to swing by the Hero Complex Film Festival on Saturday in a surprise appearance, bringing along one of his “Men in Black” alien masks to show off to the audience. With “Men in Black 3,” his latest endeavor, hitting theaters on Friday, it wasn’t much of a surprise that talk turned to that movie.

“The ‘Men in Black’ movies have a lot of things in them, and sometimes they don’t all make it to the screen. On ‘Men in Black 3,’ we made 127 aliens on last count, so that’s a lot of work. That’s a lot of fun,” he said. “What’s cool about ‘Men in Black’ is I get to do a little bit of everything that I do on all these other films. I mean, we have like likeness makeups, we have crazy aliens, we have puppets and animatronic things. They’re just a blast to work on.”

Baker has plenty of good stories to share from the sets of his many projects, but our favorite was his tale about the making of “Thriller.” He’s the man who’s responsibly for the “werecat” creature that Jackson turns into at the end of the video — an image that has gone on to be almost as iconic as the “Thriller” dance. Baker said that it wasn’t until he was watching the music video film in front of him that he realized how huge it was going to be.

“One of the main memories I have is actually standing in the middle of the night in Vernon, which is downtown Los Angeles,” he said. “I was standing there and it was Michael Jackson and all the zombies that we had just made up doing the ‘Thriller’ dance for the first time, and all of the sudden — up until that point it was craziness in trying to get all this stuff made up and I had all these people to get made up and it was this crazy beat-the-clock thing — and all of the sudden I just sort of saw this and I was like, ‘Oh my god, look at what I’m witnessing here.'”

One audience member asked Baker what his favorite creation he’s ever made was, and his answer shouldn’t surprise fans of Baker’s work.

“I usually say Harry from ‘Harry and the Hendersons’ is one of my favorite creatures that I’ve done. I quite like Harry and feel that he holds up really well,” Baker said. “I mean, that was made in the ’80s and I feel you can show that movie today and people would still accept it. That’s the one I usually say.”

In terms of effects that other people have done, Baker said that the work his protégée Rob Bottin did on “The Thing” is some of his favorite make-up design around.

“We used to sit and talk about, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to do this and wouldn’t it be cool to do that,’ and then Rob ended up doing ‘The Thing’ and did everything that we ever talked about times a hundred,” he said. “I think the stuff in John Carpenter’s ‘Thing’ that Rob did is outstanding. That’s still the quintessential make-up effects movie.”

Are you intrigued by Baker’s take on the movie-making process? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.