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“Bullet in the Face” creator Alan Spencer shares his series inspirations

Alan Spencer

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By Alan Spencer

IFC asked me to share my influences for creating “Bullet in the Face.” I submitted a list of meds I’m on, but they said they were more interested in the movies and TV shows that fueled my subconscious. A session with a local hypnotist, who also does automotive work, unearthed the following magnum opuses embedded in my brain.

“Johnny Cool” (1963)

“Johnny Cool” influenced me because it starred friendly and familiar faces from TV playing prostitutes and lowlifes. Samantha from “Bewitched” is a hussy whose magic power is making her slacks disappear. She’s madly in love with the title character described as an “international murder machine,” an early example of outsourcing. Long before Albert Brooks’ turn in “Drive,” this film featured comedians playing heavies: Jim Backus, Joey Bishop and Mort Sahl. (In “Bullet in the Face,” I’m honored to have Eddie Izzard uphold this tradition.)

“Impulse” (1974)

Since the main character of “Bullet in the Face” is a sociopathic criminal, I referenced William Shatner’s peerless portrayal in this little seen thriller “Impulse.” The Captain formerly known as Kirk plays a paranoid, leisure-suit-wearing weirdo who romances women and kills them (merciful so they don’t have to see the rest of the film). Shatner inspired me to cast a Canadian actor as our lead, so Max Williams plays Gunter Vogler. Max sometimes pauses in between sentences, but not as long as Shatner.

“Alphaville” (1965)

“Bullet in the Face” takes place in a surreal, crime ridden city called Bruteville. Most people think it’s inspired by a graphic novel or video game, but I admit Jean-Luc Godard’s seminal film “Alphaville” crossed my mind. The movie is hard for me to describe, mostly because I’ve never seen it… but here’s the trailer:

“The Abominable Dr. Phibes” (1971)

I wanted the villain Eddie Izzard plays, Johann Tannhäuser, to have a baroque lair. I imagined him using the same decorator as Vincent Price’s outrageous serial killer Dr. Anton Phibes, a disfigured genius. Long before Don Draper, Phibes was the best of the mad men with campaigns all about terror. The art direction in this flick remains a marvel. I’m pleased “Bullet in the Face” also possesses great visual style.

“Tannhauser” (1843)

My inspiration for the character of Tannhäuser was the fabled knight and poet of the same name. According to legend Tannhäuser found Venusberg, the subterranean home of Venus, and stayed there a long time to worship the goddess. That sounded like a case of agoraphobia to me, which Eddie Izzard’s bad guy suffers from. I’m also a fan of opera and incorporated that into the story. Opera tends to mirror relationships as it always features men and women bellowing at each other.

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G.I. Jeez

Stomach Bugs and Prom Dates

E.Coli High is in your gut and on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Brothers-in-law Kevin Barker and Ben Miller have just made the mother of all Comedy Crib series, in the sense that their Comedy Crib series is a big deal and features a hot mom. Animated, funny, and full of horrible bacteria, the series juxtaposes timeless teen dilemmas and gut-busting GI infections to create a bite-sized narrative that’s both sketchy and captivating. The two sat down, possibly in the same house, to answer some questions for us about the series. Let’s dig in….


IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

BEN: Hi ummm uhh hi ok well its like umm (gets really nervous and blows it)…

KB: It’s like the Super Bowl meets the Oscars.

IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

BEN: Oh wow, she’s really cute isn’t she? I’d definitely blow that too.

KB: It’s a cartoon that is happening inside your stomach RIGHT NOW, that’s why you feel like you need to throw up.

IFC: What was the genesis of E.Coli High?

KB: I had the idea for years, and when Ben (my brother-in-law, who is a special needs teacher in Philly) began drawing hilarious comics, I recruited him to design characters, animate the series, and do some writing. I’m glad I did, because Ben rules!

BEN: Kevin told me about it in a park and I was like yeah that’s a pretty good idea, but I was just being nice. I thought it was dumb at the time.


IFC: What makes going to proms and dating moms such timeless and oddly-relatable subject matter?

BEN: Since the dawn of time everyone has had at least one friend with a hot mom. It is physically impossible to not at least make a comment about that hot mom.

KB: Who among us hasn’t dated their friend’s mom and levitated tables at a prom?

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

BEN: There’s a lot of content now. I don’t think anyone will even notice, but it’d be cool if they did.

KB: A show about talking food poisoning bacteria is basically the same as just watching the news these days TBH.

Watch E.Coli High below and discover more NYTVF selections from years past on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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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.

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Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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GIFs via Giphy

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.

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