DID YOU READ

Adapt This: “The Expendable One” by Jason Burns and Bryan Baugh

the expendable one

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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 various comic creators and other industry experts about the books they’d like to see make the jump from page to screen.


This Week’s Book: The Expendable One by Jason Burns & Bryan Baugh (Viper Comics)

The Premise: Twigs Dupree is just another average guy with a below-average lifestyle, but all that changes when accidentally becomes a test subject for a chemical that makes him immortal. After discovering that he’s unable to die no matter how hard he tries, he decides to fight crime with the help of his amateur scientist pal and a police radio scanner. His new, weird life takes an even weirder turn when he gets caught up in the search for a killer who might actually be a werewolf.

The Pitch: A potent mix of gory horror and clever humor, The Expendable One is the sort of comic that echoes the feel of such films as the “Evil Dead” movies and the recent “Tucker & Dale vs. Evil,” which manage to be both scary and funny. The story also shares a lot of similarities with the tone of early Dylan Dog comics (and to a lesser extent, the disappointing “Dylan Dog” movie), in that it doesn’t shy away from presenting gory imagery one moment and sex appeal the next.

While the comic itself is a fairly under-the-radar project, Burns has created a nice little introduction for his hero that serves as both his first big adventure and origin story. The cast of characters in The Expendable One is relatively small, and the comic is short enough to give a screenwriter room to expand and tweak certain elements on its way from page to screen.

Any adaptation of the book also benefits from the fact that the characters of Twigs and his wannabe-scientist pal Jerry are so loosely defined in the original 2006 series that the net can be cast far and wide for potential actors. Twigs need only be a somewhat goofy everyman with a (relatively) noble heart, while Jerry is the stereotypical science nerd, complete with bad hygiene, a big brain, and a complete lack of social skills. The only other character necessary to cast would be the mysterious Agent Armstrong, a sexy investigator tasked with recruiting Twigs for a special mission.

While the casting shouldn’t be too difficult, the real trick in bringing The Expendable One to the screen is finding a filmmaker who can walk the line between slapstick, occasionally gross-out humor, and genuine, nightmare-inducing horror. Twigs’ secret power isn’t a pretty thing, and the right director will have to find a way to inject humor into horror, and horror into the story’s humor. Pairing up the right filmmaker with an actor who can be funny while his character’s brains are spilling out of his head certainly won’t be easy, but it will be worth it in the end, as a film based on The Expendable One has a lot of potential to give audiences something that should feel very, very different from anything that’s come out of Hollywood lately.

The Closing Argument: It’s rare to find a film that achieves the right balance of humor and horror. Certainly, movies like “Shaun of the Dead” and the aforementioned “Evil Dead” films have had success in that world, but for every good blend of funny and scary, there are hundreds of movies that miss the mark entirely. The Expendable One offers a great foundation for a quirky, unique spin on the horror-comedy genre, and ample opportunity for a director and his/her cast to have some fun while making the audience squeal.

A little bit gorier and darker than some of the more recent examples of that genre mash-up, The Expendable One still manages to have a sharp sense of humor that should serve it well on the screen. Here’s hoping this 2006 series can find itself resurrected for some live-action scares (and laughs), because if nothing else, Hollywood could use a few more heroes like Twigs Dupree.


Would “The Expendable One” make a good movie? Chime in below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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Hail to the Clark

10 Reasons Clark Griswold Would Make A Great President

Hit the holiday road with National Lampoon's Vacation during IFC's '80s Weekend.

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Photo Credit: Warner Bros./Everett Collection

It’s an important election year, with candidates deemed controversial and polarizing. Our country is at a crossroads, with global uncertainty and domestic difficulties aplenty. America needs a true leader. Someone with a strong moral compass and great values. Someone with the guts to make the difficult decisions yet sensitive enough to care for our citizens like they were members of his own family. Someone who knows that in our search for finding our way again maybe what we need most of all…is a quest for fun.

That’s right, none other than Clark W. Griswold would get our vote for President this year. The wild, wacky and well-traveled patriarch of the Griswold clan can make America great again. He’s got all the qualities we as a nation need desperately from our commander-in-chief. Don’t believe us? You can see for yourself in National Lampoon’s Vacation, airing during ’80s Weekend on IFC. In the meantime, we’ll give you a few reasons why we’re stumping for Griswold come November.

1. A Natural Leader

Clark Griswold Natural Leader
Warner Bros.

Look at any list of the signs that indicate natural leadership and you’ll feel like you’re reading the resume of Clark Griswold. People gravitate naturally to him. His children respect and admire him. (Most of the time.) His wife loves her man — her “Sparky,” if you will. And other women (particularly ones who look like Christie Brinkley) find him irresistible, too. Confident, likable, relatable and above all trustworthy, Griswold’s optimism towards life and his many adventures make him the perfect person to lead us on our next proverbial four year trek to the promised land/an amusement park. When things are at their darkest we need someone who can see the light and lead us to a brighter day.


2. Strong Family Values

Clark Griswold Natural Leader
Warner Bros.

Many critics believe that a return to core family values will help to right the ship for our country, that a strong home builds a strong America. Clark Griswold is a family man, plain and simple. Keeping his family unit tight with simple #squadgoals of spending quality bonding time together and having fun indicates he’s the kind of throwback dad with a sense of purpose…and adventure! No matter the circumstances, road blocks, dead pets, closed parks or jelly of the month club memberships, Clark is there for his family the way he’d be there for the American people. The kind of president everyone would want to have a good father/son chat with.


3. Financially Compassionate

Part of being President is understanding who needs financial aid, when to give it and how much to give…something Griswold has plenty of experience with. When his wife’s cousin Eddie needed a loan due to some uniquely unfortunate circumstances, who was the first to reach for his wallet? That’s right, the same man funding his family’s cross-country vacation after having just purchased a brand-new car. One would imagine no family member too big, or weird, would fail with Griswold in office.


4. A “Win at all costs” attitude

When the moose told Clark that Wally World was closed, did he just pack it up and turn around? When he took his family to Europe, did he let a little roundabout get in the way of seeing the sights? When everything goes wrong just before the holidays does Clark let the situation get the best of him, resulting in a profanity-laden outburst in front of his family? Well, maybe. But still Griswold makes the best of every situation possible. And he’s resourceful enough to turn a loss into a win. Or do what it takes to make the best situation for those closest to him.


5. He knows our land from sea to shining sea

Clark Griswold Natural Leader
Warner Bros.

Clark Griswold knows to lead effectively you need to know the land. He has that explorer’s spirit and understands the value of a road trip, “because getting there is half the fun.” Why fly to California from Chicago when you can take a great American road trip and see the country? A country with so much beauty, so much to offer. America is a land of opportunity, and the only way to know it is to travel down that great “Holiday Road” and see it for yourself. Sometimes you have to get lost to find your way again, right?


6. Negotiator Extraordinaire

Just because he looks the part of an average man doesn’t mean you can just pull a fast one on ol’ Clark Griswold. No sir, this guy won’t get bullied or hoodwinked — he knows the art of the deal and is a fair negotiator. He won’t get taken advantage of, and certainly isn’t the type to settle for less. With complicated foreign relations and increasing debt, a vote for Griswold is a vote for stability where it matters most. From rural America to the most challenging of urban environments, Clark has street smarts to spare.


7. Diplomacy Skills, Both Foreign and Domestic

Why build a wall when you can elect a president who’s an ace at mending fences? Clark Griswold is a uniter, not a divider. Because of his real life experience visiting famous European locales, he can relate to and deal with all kinds of people in our evolving, ever-changing world. He might not know that the snooty French waiter is insulting him, but he’ll still order from the menu with pride.


8. Experience Dealing with Refugees

Merry Christmas
Warner Bros.

When Clark’s hapless Aunt Edna is thrust upon him during his family’s cross-country trip does he refuse her a seat? Of course not. When Cousin Eddie and his family show up, unannounced, for a Christmas vacation with the Griswolds, Clark opens his family’s home and heart to them, no questions asked. Eddie even parks his RV in front of Clark’s home, obscuring his holiday decorations and emptying his “sh—er” on the front lawn for the neighbors to see. But no matter to Clark, who knows taking in those less fortunate, accepting your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to find a good sewer for their RV waste, is how America became so diverse.


9. He gives great quotes

Christmas Clark Griswold
Warner Bros.

Seriously, the man is a quote machine. Time and again he seems to have the right words for the right situation, giving the kinds of epic speeches that summarize any situation, no matter how outrageous or dire. The job of POTUS is extremely stressful, but voters can rest assured that Griswold will know what to say. You have to admit, under duress he does have a way with words.


10. He’s tech savvy

Clark just has a natural feel for machines. And as we become more attached to our devices we’ll need someone who’s gadget friendly and can continue to help our country evolve technologically. Plus, with a growing population there’ll be a greater strain on the energy supply. And while no one will confuse him with Elon Musk any time soon, someone like Clark Griswold who can work green with an eye toward reducing our energy consumption would be ideal.

Watch National Lampoon’s Vacation this weekend on IFC.

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Footloose Kevin Bacon Lori Singer

Shut Up and Dance

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Footloose

Get on the dance floor with Footloose during IFC's '80s Weekend.

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Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures/Everett Collection

The 1984 classic Footloose gave us a tale of disgruntled teenagers, a Kenny Loggins powerhouse hit and kicked off the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game. We all remember Bacon’s moves and the soundtrack, rife with karaoke power ballads, but as you tune in to Footloose during IFC’s ’80s Weekend, here’s a few fun things you might not have known.

1. It Was Based on a True Story.

Footloose cast
Paramount Pictures

Footloose‘s Bomont is loosely based on Elmore City, a town in Oklahoma known for the saying “If the South is the Bible belt, then we are the buckle.” Dancing really was outlawed, until the juniors at the local high school asked to allow dancing at their prom. Kevin Bacon’s character Ren McCormack was based on Leonard Coffee and Rex Kennedy, leaders in the pro-dance movement. Though they were probably less dreamy and “footloose.”


2. The Real Town Reverend Also Hated Dancing.

Footloose Dance Your Ass Off
Paramount Pictures

Though the high schoolers were very polite in their request, they were met with some stern disapproval. The town reverend F.R. Johnson said “No good has ever come from a dance,” and that it would cause a “surge in pregnancies at the school.” One citizen was fearful “because when boys and girls breathe in each other’s ears, that’s the next step.” Whatever dance that involves heavy breathing into your partner’s ears should stay outlawed.


3. Footloose and Fame have a connection.

Footloose Dance
Paramount Pictures

Dean Pitchford wrote the lyrics to Fame and won an Oscar for his efforts. When Pitchford heard the story of Elmore, he knew he had to do bring it to the big screen. The fact that he only wrote lyrics and had never written a screenplay was no impediment. He even traveled to Elmore to get the feel of the locals, which was easy once he found the town. It was so small, he actually drove through it without realizing he’d passed it until he got to a “You’re Now Leaving Elmore” sign.


4. The Tractor Chicken Scene Was Pure Fiction.

Footloose Tractor
Paramount Pictures

Generally, residents of Elmore found the movie to be fairly accurate, though with a little Hollywood exaggeration. When asked if they ever played chicken with tractors Mary Ann Temple-Lee, the inspiration for Ariel, said “You’ve got to be kidding. Our dads would’ve killed us. The tractors are like $100,000 and a major part of the family income!” The scene is less fun knowing that $200,000 of equipment and a poor farmers livelihood are being thrown away for an overblown penis measuring contest.


5. Tom Cruise Almost Played Ren.

Risky Business
Warner Bros.

Tom’s famouse underwear dance scene scored him consideration for the Footloose lead. But Kevin Bacon can thank All the Right Moves for helping him score the role of Ren, since Cruise had to pass on Footloose to film the football flick.


6. Kevin Bacon had four dance doubles.

Footloose Kevin Bacon
Paramount Pictures

Bacon told People that he was “furious” about having gymnastics and dance doubles perform the tricky flips and other moves during his famous dance sequence. While most of the moves are pure Bacon, the actor remembers, “I had a stunt double, a dance double and two gymnastics doubles. There were five of us in the f—ing outfit, and I felt horrible.”


7. It Spawned a Successful Broadway Musical.

Footloose Musical
Richard Rodgers Theater

Footloose opened on Broadway in 1998 and ran for two years, with many national tours and UK productions. Dean Pitchford wrote the book and lyrics of the show which featured all the pop hits of the soundtrack with a few originals. If you’re dying to see Footloose on stage, you don’t need to go to Broadway — it’s in the top 20 most produced high school musicals. So, run down to your local school to watch two teenagers awkwardly sing “Almost Paradise.”


8. Chris Penn Really Couldn’t Dance.

The montage where Ren teaches Willard Hewitt (Chris Penn) to dance was added because Chris Penn really, as the Genesis song goes, could not dance at all. Penn had such a hard time, the crew started to describe dance moves in wrestling terms. Being a former wrestler, he eventually caught on.


9. The Parents Were Barely Older than the Kids.

Footloose Dianne Wiest
Paramount Pictures

Dianne Wiest and John Lithgow play Ariel’s extremely strict, old-fashioned parents. In reality, Dianne Wiest was only nine years older than Ariel (Lori Singer) at the time and John Lithgow was 12 years older. Somehow it’s not hard to imagine a 12-year-old Lithgow as a pretty intimidating figure, so it all works out.


10. Daryl Hannah Almost Played Ariel.

Daryl Hannah Splash
Touchstone Pictures

Jennifer Jason Leigh, Melanie Griffith, Rosanna Arquette, Meg Ryan and pretty much every other actress in Hollywood during the ’80s were considered for the role of Ariel. Daryl Hannah was offered the part, but turned it down to star opposite Tom Hanks in Splash. In hindsight it’s pretty odd that she turned down the part that shares a name with a mermaid to play a mermaid.

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Friday the 13th Part VII The New Blood

Friday Night Frights

Every Friday the 13th Movie Ranked

Catch a Friday the 13th movie marathon to kick off IFC's '80s Weekend.

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Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures/Everett Collection

The Friday the 13th movies have been a part of pop culture for as long as many of us have been alive. And yet, how many can really distinguish the movies themselves from each other? More than any other franchise, the Jason flicks all seem to blur together into a bloody stew of decapitated heads and cavorting teens. Still, there are some gems among the carnage. To celebrate IFC’s Friday the 13th marathon kicking off ’80s Weekend, we thought we’d take a look back at the franchise as a whole, and rank which ones warrant a repeat viewing, and which should get the sharp end of a machete.

12. Friday the 13th Part III (1982)

Friday the 13th Part III
Paramount Pictures

First, let’s address the 3D elephant in the room. The powers that be behind Friday the 13th Part III knew they needed something big to lure audiences back to Crystal Lake, and so, as was seemingly required of threequels back in the ’80s, the filmmakers slapped some cheap looking 3D effects up on the screen and hoped for the best.

The thing is, while the 3D is hokey, it’s probably the best thing about this tired third outing. Director Steve Miner had brought a fresh take to the previous film in the franchise, the aptly named Friday the 13th Part II, but he seems to have hit a wall here, simply rehashing the same style and story from his last outing. The best moments, in fact, are the bananas 3D kills, like Jason squeezing a victim’s head until his eyeball pops out.

But most of the effects are cheap to the point of laughable. We’re talking visible strings, people. If there’s one word to describe this third entry in the franchise, it’s bland, and that isn’t going to fly in a series defined by over-the-top gore. If it weren’t for the fact that Jason’s iconic hockey mask made its debut here, this would be a completely forgettable outing from start to finish.


11. Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993)

Jason Goes to Hell
New Line Cinema

Friday flicks have the bad habit of billing themselves as the “final” chapter, only to return a year later with a cheaper budget, and a goofier premise. Still, this “Final Friday” stands out as the weakest of the lot, mainly because Jason barely appears in it. Instead, his spirit hops from body to body, like Sam Beckett from Quantum Leap, but with some serious bloodlust.

The rules never make sense, even by the loose standards of this franchise, so we’re left with a confusing journey full of magical daggers and family prophecies. Throw in a cheap Halloween nod (or yet another rip-off), when we learn that the final would-be victim also happens to be Jason’s long lost sister, and you’ve got a franchise running of fumes. When the best moment of the movie happens in the final seconds, as Freddy Krueger’s claw bursts from the ground and drag’s Jason’s mask to Hell (setting up a Freddy Vs. Jason crossover that took a decade to actually happen), you know you have a movie that’s just treading bloody water.


10. Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)

Jason Manhattan
Paramount Pictures

When you bill a movie as Jason in the Big Apple, only to spend the majority of the runtime cruising down a presumably much cheaper to shoot on river, the audience is going feel like it was taken for a ride, literally and figuratively. Still, while Jason Takes Manhattan is often thought of as the worst Friday movie, it has some goofy thrills that at least make it good for a laugh.

A rooftop fight scene, where a boxer tries to take the fight to our campground killer, is hilarious, thanks to a head spinning climax. And the laughably poor New York sets, that seem to compromise one city block and a few Canadian actors, make for a fun “Midnight Movie” vibe. This is an awful movie, from start to finish, but at least it isn’t boring.


9. Friday the 13th (2009)

Friday the 13th reboot
New Line Cinema

The early ’00s saw a rash of horror remakes from the good people at Platinum Dunes. Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, and, of course, Friday the 13th. None worked particularly well, but at least Nightmare and Halloween tried to establish their own voice. Friday was just a bland rehash, with a slightly higher production value than the bare bones effort of the ’80s and ’90s. There are some fun kills to be sure. Veronica Mars and Party Down star Ryan Hansen gets a particularly absurd death that almost warrants one more entry in the franchise. Almost.


8. Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985)

Friday the 13th New Beginning
Paramount Pictures

Yet another Friday the 13th movie that forgets to, you know, have Jason in it, the big twist here is that the grieving father of a murdered boy is the one doing the killing. If that sounds familiar, it’s because that was the plot of the first Friday the 13th. Not only does this movie skimp on the supernatural slaughter from that Voorhees fella, it also manages to rip off its own franchise in the process.

Yes, there are some fun kills, and loads of wacky sex comedy (hey, it was the mid-’80s), but the feeble attempt to set up a new killer — first with that deadly daddy, and then with Tommy Jarvis, an adult version of the Corey Feldman character introduced in the previous entry — falls flat twice.


7. Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)

Friday the 13th New Blood
Paramount Pictures

New Blood is notable for one very special (and very ridiculous) reason. Instead of the typical bevy of nubile teens that are usually served up for Jason’s machete, this movie introduces a telekinetic girl with a serious chip on her shoulder. The plot is confusing, the super-powered storyline self-serious, and the final showdown not as epic as it should have been. But still…telekinesis!

Unfortunately, this movie has some of the weakest kills in the series, thanks to a last minute decision to cut down the gore to secure a R-rating. In a series based on gratuitous violence, skipping over the bloody bits is like trying to slice and dice a couple having sex with one arm tied behind your back.


6. Jason X (2001)

Friday the 13th Jason X
New Line Cinema

After the confusing misfire that was Jason Goes to Hell, it was only natural that a franchise largely centered around the murderous shenanigans of a particular summer camp would jump hundreds of years in the future, and into outer space. Wait, what?

Trying desperately for a fresh spin on a tired formula, the filmmakers behind Jason X made a truly awful movie, which is incredibly entertaining in spite of itself. Essentially a riff on Alien by a group of filmmakers who have never seen Alien, the story centers around a rugged crew trapped on a spaceship with none other than Jason Voorhees.

There are some truly head scratching choices here, like an android whose nipple falls off and a futuristic update on Jason’s iconic hockey mask that makes him look like he’s auditioning for a Shaquille O’Neal movie. Still, this entry ends up being incredibly watchable thanks to its idiotic premise, and some laugh-out-loud nonsense, like a holodeck scene that sees our favorite camp killer beating the living hell out of two holographic topless campers. Gotta get the T&A in somehow.


5. Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)

Friday the 13th Jason Lives
Paramount Pictures

A surprisingly effective entry in the aging franchise, Jason Lives seems to know what it is, and how to just have fun with it. The jokes fly, and are often funny. The movie finds Jason punching through a man’s heart, hiding in a Winnebago bathroom, and bringing a machete to a paint ball fight in a scene that devolves into straight up slapstick.

True blue horror fans might shun this Friday entry for its comedy chops, but this is one of the few movies in the series to have a purposeful tone, and achieve it. If only the filmmakers hadn’t, for some inexplicable reason, ditched the nudity that is a cornerstone of the series, this movie might be much higher up on the list. Let’s be honest, a Friday the 13th movie without gratuitous boobage is not a Friday the 13th movie we can fully endorse.


4. Freddy vs. Jason (2003)

Freddy V Jason
New Line Cinema

After the fan freak-out inducing final image of Jason Goes To Hell, it took another 10 years of development hell before we finally got to see Freddy and Jason face off on the big screen. And while this movie tends to veer more towards the Nightmare side of things, Jason gets his licks in too.

While, yet again, you can’t call this a good movie per se, it is one of the most entertaining flicks Jason’s ever appeared in. Freddy gets to deliver the one liners, dream logic shakes up the tired Friday formula, and Jason gets to be Jason without having to carry an entire movie on his weary shoulders.


3. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)

Friday the 13th The Final Chapter
Paramount Pictures

Corey Feldman as a creepy kid! Crispin Glover in the weirdest dance number this side of Can’t Buy Me Love! This movie couldn’t be more ’80s if Debbie Gibson did the soundtrack.

Probably the best directed entry of the original movies, this is a solid Friday the 13th movie from start to finish. It has decent performances, fun kills and an actual story arc for young Tommy Jarvis (Corey Feldman), who’s slowly driven mad by his run-ins with the hockey mask wearing killer.

Sure, even this well made sequel can’t escape the schlocky charms of the franchise. There are flashbacks galore here, including an unprecedented flashback within a flashback, that seem more a result of lazy writing than an actual coherent vision. But all in all, this is a solid horror flick, even if it would lead to two inferior entries in the “Tommy Jarvis” trilogy that plagued the middle of the franchise.


2. Friday the 13th (1980)

Friday the 13th
Paramount Pictures

The first, and nearly the best, the original Friday the 13th somehow manages to be a classic without a single hockey mask in its runtime. While the movie centers on the usual slaughter of randy teens down at Crystal Lake, the twist here is that it’s Jason’s mother, a vengeful matriarch getting even for her son’s death, who’s doing all the killing. With some iconic deaths, none more so than a young, naked Kevin Bacon taking an arrow through the throat, this movie set the sturdy foundation that the franchise was built upon.


1. Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)

Friday the 13th Part 2
Paramount Pictures

The Friday the 13th movies were guilty pleasures for many of us growing up. They were the movies we weren’t allowed to watch. The ones that gave us nightmares long after we’d forgotten which one was which. Still, when you look at the franchise as a whole, there aren’t a lot of high points. Compared to the sarcastic lunacy of the Nightmare movies, or the stripped down terror of the Halloween franchise, the Friday the 13th movies feel like a mishmash of boobs and blood in search of a compelling story.

The second film in the franchise, which established Jason as a monstrous murderer behind a mask, is probably the most coherent film in the series. It has leads with actual points of view, and a spooky final act in which one of them is forced to play house with Jason, pretending to be his long dead mother. Sure, the filmmakers here knocked off the Halloween franchise pretty blatantly in an attempt to find a formula they could repeat after killing the main bad gal of the first film, but it somehow works, making for an entertaining bit of blood soaked fluff.

Kick off ’80s weekend with a Friday the 13th movie marathon on IFC.

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