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Hollywood’s most unlikely alien-invasion heroes


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Alien invaders have had their way with Earth throughout cinema history, but in most cases, our planet’s inhabitants have eventually found a way to fight them off — sometimes in unexpected ways and with very unlikely heroes.

This weekend, “The Watch” pits a ragtag group of Neighborhood Watch volunteers against the first wave of an alien invasion, and the new comedy starring Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, and Richard Ayoade adds yet another line to the ever-growing list of Earth’s most unexpected defenders.

In honor of the latest group of heroes to stand between planetary freedom and destruction at the claws — or perhaps tentacles — of outer-space creatures, here are some of our favorite unlikely alien-fighters to appear on the big screen:

Slim Whitman (“Mars Attacks”)

In this 1996 film directed by Tim Burton, the world was on the brink of surrender to a race of big-brained, evil aliens who had destroyed the world’s greatest landmarks, killed the U.S. President, and exterminated Congress. The planet was theirs for the taking, until a teenager in Kansas discovered their one weakness: country singer Slim Whitman’s yodel-fueled classic, “Indian Love Call.”

A bunch of British street kids (“Attack the Block”)

Joe Cornish impressed audiences and critics alike with this 2011 film about a bunch of street kids in South London who are forced to defend their turf from terrifying alien creatures that fall to Earth on Bonfire Night. There’s no shortage of films featuring musclebound heroes shooting up aliens with machine guns, but there’s nothing quite like seeing this film’s reluctant heroes take down these vicious interlopers with fireworks, baseball bats, and even a gasoline-filled squirtgun. (Best line ever: “That ain’t no is — it’s a was!”)

Randy Quaid (“Independence Day”)

When everything seemed lost and the Earth was on the verge of destruction in Roland Emmerich’s 1983 alien-invasion classic, the planet was saved by an alcoholic, semi-sane crop-duster played by Randy Quaid. Not only did he get revenge for all those times aliens abducted and probed him in uncomfortable places (which may or may not have actually happened), but he became the world’s greatest hero when he sacrificed himself in a kamikaze run at the alien mothership. If you don’t cheer when Quaid screams, “Hello boys, I’m baaaack!” there’s a good chance you’re dead inside.

A sketchy high-school drug dealer (“The Faculty”)

When creepy, tentacled, body-snatching aliens invaded Herrington High School in this 1998 film written by Kevin Williamson and directed by Robert Rodriguez, it wasn’t the football team or the class president who led the fight against them, it was the creepy drug-dealing kid who’s been in his senior year for at least two years now. It might not send a great message to kids, but the film suggests that a homemade, cocaine-like drug being sold by Josh Hartnett’s character in the film is the key to defeating the parasitic creatures taking over the town — making the best defense against aliens a good stash of illegal amphetamines.

A gigantic woman, a blob, a cockroach, an ape-man, and a giant grub (“Monsters vs. Aliens”)

This underrated 2009 animated film features a team of reluctant “monsters” who agree to defend the world against an alien invader in exchange for their freedom from the government agency hiding them from the world. It could be one of the weirdest team-ups in movie history, but it’s also one of the most entertaining examples of planetary defense to hit the big screen in the last few years. What’s not to love about Seth Rogen, Hugh Laurie, Will Arnett, and Reese Witherspoon hamming it up as the main characters’ voices, with Rainn Wilson providing the voice of the alien Gallaxhar?

Sorority girls (“Night of the Creeps”)

Combining the fear of slimy slug creatures from space with shambling zombie terror, this cult-classic horror from 1986 was directed by “Monster Squad” filmmaker Fred Dekker, and featured a house full of sorority girls fighting off a host of squishy creatures that turn normal people into flesh-hungry, walking corpses. Sure, they have help from tough-as-nails cop Ray Cameron (Tom Atkins) and an aspiring fraternity pledge who’s smitten with one of the girls, but it’s the sorority girls who really save the world. Of course, first they have to actually realize that their fraternity beaus are literally brain-dead.

A girl with a weird water quirk and a failed baseball player (“Signs”)

Sure, director M. Night Shyamalan will tell you that the real hero of his 2002 alien-invasion film was the faith of a retired preacher played by Mel Gibson, but let’s face it: it took a little girl’s weird habit of leaving half-empty glasses of water around the house and a guy with a baseball bat to save the world — or at least, one farmhouse and a family — in this creepy blockbuster. Swing away, indeed.

A homeless Rowdy Roddy Piper wearing late-’80s sunglasses (“They Live”)

Okay, sure… he’s not exactly an unlikely alien fighter given his size and status as one of the most famous professional wrestlers of all time, but his memorable performance in this outstanding 1988 film was anything but predictable. In the film, which was directed by horror legend John Carpenter, Piper plays a homeless drifter who discovers a box of sunglasses that allow him to see the world for what it really is: a place under invasion by ugly, blue-skinned, skeleton-faced aliens who are subliminally forcing humans to buy, procreate, and live by their consumerist directives. He soon decides that the only right thing to do is to chew bubblegum, kick ass, and save the world, of course.

Honorable Mention: Ninjas! (“Alien vs. Ninja”)

Confession: I only included the heroes of this 2010 Japanese film in the list so I could include a clip of one of the most ridiculous fight scenes in cinema history, featuring a lady ninja going up against an “Alien”-ripoff in a rubber suit, who clearly gets a little handsy with his female opponent.

What are some of your favorite unlikely defenders of Earth? Chime in below or on Facebook or Twitter.


Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.


Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:


The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.


They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!


Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.


Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.



Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”


IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?

Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!

Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.

Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 


IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.