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DID YOU READ

As you prepare for Trapped in the Closet, here are ten great sing-along flicks

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When you think about musical movies, your mind generally tends to gravitate towards Disney cartoons and Peabo Bryson – or at least mine does – but musical doesn’t have to mean the films that glaze your eyes over because children want to watch them over and over and over again. In fact, they can be crazy, twisted affairs with hookers, transvestites, race cars, demons, murder, and man-eating monsters. So let’s take a look at ten great sing-along movies that don’t necessarily cater to the kiddies.

And when you’re finished reading, don’t forget to mark your calendars for this Friday at 9/8c, when IFC is airing all-new chapters from R. Kelly’s legendary hip-hopera Trapped in the Closet.


1. “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”

Of course, we have to start here, with the gloriously schlocky and deviant 1975 classic that boasts the longest theatrical run in history that endures to this day. From “Science Fiction Double Feature” to “Sweet Transvestite,” it remains the epitome of the midnight movie, and has a unique element of audience participation that’s been the key to its longevity. What other show can you go to that encourages you to throw toast and toilet paper around the room? That, and Tim Curry’s there’s-no-other-word-for-it-but-delicious performance as Dr. Frank N. Furter, the glamorously mad scientist determined to create himself a beautifully sexy Charles Atlas kind of man for carnal pleasures, much to the chagrin of the straight-laced Brad Majors and Janet Weiss. (See also: The First Nudie Musical)


2. “Grease”

You can’t leave this 1978 staple film about 1950s Americana out, either. John Travolta’s Danny Zuko and Olivia Newton-John’s Sandy Olsen gave us chills and were electrifyin’, and you have to love any movie where the moral of the story is that you shouldn’t be afraid to slut it up a bit to prove your love to a guy who’s been squarin’ it up for you. Then there’s the whole Kenickie/Rizzo knock-up scare that puts this firmly into reasonably-mature audience territory – although, truth be told, “Greased Lightning” is where some of us first learned a goodly number of dirty words. (See also: Hairspray and, if you must, Grease 2)


3. “The Muppet Movie”

Hey, there are certainly monsters and weirdos here! Well, okay, you can argue that Jim Henson’s wonderful 1979 film was indeed geared towards kids, but the appeal of The Muppets goes far beyond that, especially when you consider how underrated Henson was as a songwriter. Whether it’s Kermit and Fozzie driving cross country and singing the infectious “Movin’ Right Along,” or Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem busting out “Can You Picture That?” – you can’t help but get a bouncy little feeling of joy and laughter in your soul. And I defy you to not have feelings upon feelings whenever you listen to that quiet banjo accompanying the ballad of a frog with big dreams and bigger questions called “Rainbow Connection.” (See also: The Muppets)


4. “Little Shop of Horrors”

This one’s wild – Frank Oz of Muppet fame directing a 1986 film based on a 1982 musical based on a 1960 Roger Corman movie that featured one of Jack Nicholson’s earliest roles (one that would be filled by Bill Murray in Oz’s version). That Muppet pedigree was certainly necessary when creating a massive man-eating plant that can sing and dance while Rick Moranis’ put-upon Seymour Krelborn tries to find a way to feed its gruesome appetites. The love of his life, Ellen Greene’s Audrey, is mixed up with a nasty piece of dental work played brilliantly by Steve Martin, and his masochistic cruelty makes him the perfect victim for Audrey II, the Mean Green Mother From Outer Space.


5. “Repo: The Genetic Opera”

There are elements of both Rocky Horror and Little Shop in this 2008 goth-rock opera, but it’s got a much darker tone than either of those films. Darren Smith and Terry Zdunich composed and wrote the play the movie sprang from, and Zdunich appears as the GraveRobber – our pseudo-narrator through this futuristic world where Anthony Head is a repossessor of organs (an idea that would be ripped off in the 2010 dud Repo Men) who is trying to protect his daughter (Alexa Vega) from the harsh realities of the world in twisted ways. This underseen effort also absolutely qualifies as the most interesting thing Paris Hilton has ever done in her life. (See also: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and, for more Head, “Once More, With Feeling,” the Buffy The Vampire Slayer musical episode – and, while we’re at it, Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog)

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SO EXCITED!!!

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.”

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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. 

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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.

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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.