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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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As the Spoof Turns

15 Hilarious Soap Opera Parodies

Catch the classic sitcom Soap Saturday mornings on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures Television

The soap opera is the indestructible core of television fandom. We celebrate modern series like The Wire and Breaking Bad with their ongoing storylines, but soap operas have been tangling more plot threads than a quilt for decades. Which is why pop culture enjoys parodying them so much.

Check out some of the funniest soap opera parodies below, and be sure to catch Soap Saturday mornings on IFC.

1. Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman

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Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman was a cult hit soap parody from the mind of Norman Lear that poked daily fun at the genre with epic twists and WTF moments. The first season culminated in a perfect satire of ratings stunts, with Mary being both confined to a psychiatric facility and chosen to be part of a Nielsen ratings family.


2. IKEA Heights

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IKEA Heights proves that the soap opera is alive and well, even if it has to be filmed undercover at a ready-to-assemble furniture store totally unaware of what’s happening. This unique webseries brought the classic formula to a new medium. Even IKEA saw the funny side — but has asked that future filmmakers apply through proper channels.


3. Fresno

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When you’re parodying ’80s nighttime soaps like Dallas and Dynasty , everything about your show has to equally sumptuous. The 1986 CBS miniseries Fresno delivered with a high-powered cast (Carol Burnett, Teri Garr and more in haute couture clothes!) locked in the struggle for the survival of a raisin cartel.


4. Soap

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Soap was the nighttime response to daytime soap operas: a primetime skewering of everything both silly and satisfying about the source material. Plots including demonic possession and alien abduction made it a cult favorite, and necessitated the first televised “viewer discretion” disclaimer. It also broke ground for featuring one of the first gay characters on television in the form of Billy Crystal’s Jodie Dallas. Revisit (or discover for the first time) this classic sitcom every Saturday morning on IFC.


5. Too Many Cooks

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Possibly the most perfect viral video ever made, Too Many Cooks distilled almost every style of television in a single intro sequence. The soap opera elements are maybe the most hilarious, with more characters and sudden shocking twists in an intro than most TV scribes manage in an entire season.


6. Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace

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Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace was more mockery than any one medium could handle. The endless complications of Darkplace Hospital are presented as an ongoing horror soap opera with behind-the-scenes anecdotes from writer, director, star, and self-described “dreamweaver visionary” Garth Marenghi and astoundingly incompetent actor/producer Dean Learner.


7. “Attitudes and Feelings, Both Desirable and Sometimes Secretive,” MadTV

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Soap opera connoisseurs know that the most melodramatic plots are found in Korea. MADtv‘s parody Tae Do  (translation: Attitudes and Feelings, Both Desirable and Sometimes Secretive) features the struggles of mild-mannered characters with far more feelings than their souls, or subtitles, could ever cope with.


8. Twin Peaks

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Twin Peaks, the twisted parody of small town soaps like Peyton Place whose own creator repeatedly insists is not a parody, has endured through pop culture since it changed television forever when it debuted in 1990. The show even had it’s own soap within in a soap called…


9. “Invitation to Love,” Twin Peaks

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Twin Peaks didn’t just parody soap operas — it parodied itself parodying soap operas with the in-universe show Invitation to Love. That’s more layers of deceit and drama than most televised love triangles.


10. “As The Stomach Turns,” The Carol Burnett Show

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The Carol Burnett Show poked fun at soaps with this enduring take on As The World Turns. In a case of life imitating art, one story involving demonic possession would go on to happen for “real” on Days of Our Lives.


11. Days of our Lives (Friends Edition)

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Still airing today, Days of Our Lives is one of the most famous soap operas of all time. They’re also excellent sports, as they allowed Friends star Joey Tribbiani to star as Dr Drake Ramoray, the only doctor to date his own stalker (while pretending to be his own evil twin). And then return after a brain-transplant.

And let’s not forget the greatest soap opera parody line ever written: “Come on Joey, you’re going up against a guy who survived his own cremation!”


12. Acorn Antiques

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First appearing on the BBC sketch comedy series Victoria Wood As Seen on TV, Acorn Antiques combines almost every low-budget soap opera trope into one amazing whole. The staff of a small town antique store suffer a disproportional number of amnesiac love-triangles, while entire storylines suddenly appear and disappear without warning or resolution. Acorn Antiques was so popular, it went on to become a hit West End musical.


13. “Point Place,” That 70s Show

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In a memorable That ’70s Show episode, an unemployed Red is reduced to watching soaps all day. He becomes obsessed despite the usual Red common-sense objections (like complaining that it’s impossible to fall in love with someone in a coma). His dreams render his own life as Point Place, a melodramatic nightmare where Kitty leaves him because he’s unemployed. (Click here to see all airings of That ’70s Show on IFC.)


14. The Spoils of Babylon

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Bursting from the minds of Will Ferrell and creators Andrew Steele and Matt Piedmont, The Spoils of Babylon was a spectacular parody of soap operas and epic mini-series like The Thorn Birds. Taking the parody even further, Ferrell himself played Eric Jonrosh, the author of the book on which the series was based. Jonrosh returned in The Spoils Before Dying, a jazzy murder mystery with its own share of soapy twists and turns.

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15. All My Children Finale, SNL

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SNL‘s final celebration of one of the biggest soaps of all time is interrupted by a relentless series of revelations from stage managers, lighting designers, make-up artists, and more. All of whom seem to have been married to or murdered by (or both) each other.

Five reboots that worked, in honor of “The Amazing Spider-Man” on Blu-ray

Andrew Garfield in The Amazing Spider-Man

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The “reboot” has become the new go-to term for Hollywood to use when they decide to remake a film that’s either not really that old or they want audiences to believe they’re taking a fresh take on the material. Sometimes it’s true. Sometimes it’s spin. Either way, movie fans have seen a whole slew of reboots in recent years as the number of wholly original films coming out of the dream factory gets smaller every year.

Perhaps this year’s most high-profile reboot is Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man, a “fresh take” on the character and the films Sam Raimi established as canon only a few years back. While it’s certainly debatable that The Amazing Spider-Man actually “worked” as a reboot, it’s undeniable that the film includes some stunning visuals, a fantastic bit of chemistry between leads Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, and a bend on Spidey’s origin that audiences hadn’t seen before. It also boasts a pretty astonishing Blu-ray (in stores now) with an exhaustive documentary crafted by Charles de Lauzirika. It’s a must-buy for any fan of the webslinger.

Feel free to argue yourself into oblivion about how well Webb’s film actually holds up but, if anything, it gives us the chance to delve into five reboots that did work. It’s like déjà vu all over again.


“Dawn of the Dead” (2004)

George A. Romero fans (myself included) are rabidly protective of the man’s work, and for good reason: he’s the Godfather of the modern zombie film. If it weren’t for Romero’s 1968 classic “Night of the Living Dead” you probably wouldn’t be seeing the type of popularity that zombies are enjoying now. Things like “The Walking Dead” probably wouldn’t even exist if it weren’t for Romero’s work.

So fans were skeptical at best when they heard that Zack Snyder was planning to remake one of the master’s most loved films: “Dawn of the Dead.” Not only that, but he planned to employ fast-moving zombies. What? Yes, that’s right. Snyder’s zombies are quick little buggers hell-bent on eating brains and tearing flesh. It was a major change that hardcore zombie fans had a very hard time coming to grips with. Yet, despite all the misgivings and nervous Romero ‘shippers out there, Snyder’s 2004 “Dawn of the Dead” actually works. It’s certainly not the original, and it’s a wholly new take on the film’s zombies-in-a-mall concept where the social satire doesn’t quite hit as strongly as Romero’s take, but it’s a hell of an entertaining film and still stands up as one of the best zombie flicks of the last decade. Packed with a quality cast, tightly directed, and jammed with plenty of winks to Romero’s original, “Dawn of the Dead” is one reboot for which I’m happy to be a fan.


“21 Jump Street” (2012)

Nobody, and I mean nobody, except for the folks making 2012’s “21 Jump Street” thought this reboot was going to work. And I don’t blame them. The odds were certainly stacked against the film. The original TV series that it’s based on really wasn’t very good (aside from giving the world a glimpse into the mind of a very young Johnny Depp), the casting seemed off (who knew Channing Tatum could pull off comedy, right?), and concept itself seemed to be reaching. The final product, however, is completely badass and hilarious. Fans began to have hope when that first poster came out with the hilarious tagline (which I won’t repeat here) and early trailers backed up their suspicions that “21 Jump Street” just might have a chance at working. And work it does. The team of Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum is way funnier than anyone expected, the fresh take on the concept is surprisingly adept, and the clever cameos and inside jokes turn “21 Jump Street” into one of the year’s best comedies and one that I’ll watch again on Blu-ray plenty of times. Who knew?


“The Fly” (1986)

When the master of flesh-based horror, David Cronenberg, decided to remake the 1958 Vincent Price-starring film of the same name he not only made the decision to reboot the original concept, but he actually took the film’s basic premise of a scientist merging with a housefly and blew it up in only the way Cronenberg knows how. The results are not only better than the original film, but they’re also astonishingly original, completely horrific, and totally Cronenberg. “The Fly” is often regarded as the director’s best film, but even that might be selling it short. Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis both deliver career-best performances, the effects are just as effective two decades after the film’s release, and the subtext of “The Fly” holds up extremely well. If you’re looking for the definition of a true “reboot” look no further than Cronenberg’s film. Not only is it absolutely creeptastic, but it’s also smart, well made, and wholly original. Oh, and it’s also often pretty damn gross.


“Disturbia” (2007)

Now’s the time when all the Shia LaBeouf haters will take out their pitchforks and come running after me. Go ahead, folks. Bring it because I still watch “Disturbia” to this day and I still get a hell of a kick out of it every time. Based on Alfred Hitchcock’s classic film “Rear Window,” D.J. Caruso’s 2007 film might not be a true, full-on “reboot,” but it definitely has enough elements of the original film to call it one. There’s a guy (in this case LaBeouf) holed up inside his house and he can’t stop staring out the window watching life happen outside. Then he sees what he believes to be a murder occurring. From there, “Disturbia” strays quite a bit from Hitchcock’s film, but it’s the same basic premise with similar results. The film is clearly no “Rear Window” but it is a damn fine film with some truly suspenseful moments and excellent performances from Shia LaBeouf and Sarah Roemer. “Disturbia” is one of those films that, if it pops up on TV, it’s nearly impossible to turn it off. That alone, in my opinion, is enough to call it a reboot that works.


“The Thing” (1982)

John Carpenter’s 1982 classic “The Thing” just might be the greatest reboot of all time. Based on the 1951 Howard Hawks-Christian Nyby film “The Thing from Another World” (and possibly more so John W. Campbell Jr.’s novella “Who Goes There?”), Carpenter’s film is an ice-cold slice of paranoid perfection. Similar to what Cronenberg does with “The Fly,” Carpenter takes the original premise and blows it up to create a wholly new film in the director’s signature style. Starring Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, Keith David, Donald Moffat, and Charles Hallahan, “The Thing” is exactly what you’d expect it to be… until it isn’t. It’s a film that will have you questioning who you trust and why, who your friends and enemies really are, and just what might lurk under the surface of every conversation, action, and moment of solidarity. It’s also, arguably, Carpenter’s greatest film and that’s saying a whole lot. If you’ve only seen the 2011 prequel version of “The Thing” get your butt over to Amazon now and pick up the excellent Blu-ray version of Carpenter’s film. You won’t regret it. Trust me.

Top 25 “Oh Shit!” Moments in Horror Movies (with video)

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Here are the jump scares, third-act revelations and just plain crazy moments in horror that made us exclaim “Oh shit!” (or perhaps something even a little bit stronger). Brace yourselves!


25. Alien chest burst in “Alien” (1979)

How great would it be to go back to a time before the world was intimately familiar with the “chest-bursting” of the “Alien” movies and see poor John Hurt ruin everyone’s dinner for the very first time? How amazing it must’ve been to be sitting in a movie theater on opening night of Ridley Scott’s now-classic sci-fi horror film and see this scene with a crowd that had absolutely no idea what was coming. Due to all of the “Alien” sequels (and the unfortunate “Alien vs. Predator” spin-offs), we now barely even flinch when a “chest-bursting” happens, but back in the summer of 1979, audiences were as speechless as the cast.


24. “I know who I am!” in “Angel Heart” (1986)

Sure, you knew that Robert De Niro was the devil the whole time, with or without Mickey Rourke’s groan-inducing “Lou Cypher. Lucifer” line. But what you probably didn’t know was that Johnny Favorite, the long-lost musician who owes his soul to Satan, and Harry Angel, the seedy private investigator hired by the Prince of Darkness himself to track Johnny down, were the same person. This final revelation forced a considerable re-evaluation of all the film’s previous events – and certainly made that crazy sex scene with Lisa Bonet even more gross and a lot less hot.


23. Ending of “The Blair Witch Project” (1999)

What is this house? Who lives in it? Why won’t Michael respond to Heather’s cries shortly after disappearing from her view? Oh my god – why is Michael facing the wall … kind of in the way described in that earlier story we heard? Oh my god, why did Heather fall down? HAS THE WORLD GONE MAD? So much for sleeping a wink during the second half the summer of ’99 … and, for some, beyond.


22. Sink kill in “The Blob” (1988)

“What is this?” It’s the Blob, you fool! The underrated 1988 remake of the ’50s B-movie creature feature had the benefit of being a product of the go-for-broke ’80s, a decade in which horror filmmakers didn’t let limited resources (no CGI yet) keep them from exploring the most over-the-top indulgences of their twisted imaginations. Because of “The Blob,” we all know that the best thing to do if a sink is clogged is to walk away … to the next town. Bonus bit: Kevin Dillon exclaiming “Don’t touch him!” upon witnessing the poor dude getting sucked down the drain. Don’t worry, fella – we won’t.


21. Basketball kill in “Deadly Friend” (1986)

Anne Ramsey’s gig in-between “The Goonies” (1985) and “Throw Momma From the Train” (1987) was Wes Craven’s hey-why-not B-movie that feels like one big decompression from the fact that his “Nightmare on Elm Street” has become a series dictated by box office success and not by his own creative control. “Deadly Friend” stars Kristy Swanson as the murdered girl next door brought back to life by via a computer brain that used to be inside a robot dog (yeah). Zombie robot girls can do lots of cool things, like throw basketballs really, really hard at people’s heads.

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