DID YOU READ

“John Dies at the End” review: A demented, dimension-hopping good time

john dies at the end 2

Posted by on

Some films are easy to review. You assess the director’s presentation of the story, note the highs and lows of the cast’s performances, offer some critique of the writing, set pieces, or any other standout elements of the film, and then call it a day.

“John Dies At The End” is not that sort of film.

Like “Naked Lunch” or “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension” before it, “John Dies At The End” is a weird, wild, and wonderfully unique film that defies just about every convention that critics – and traditional media – throw at it. And while that’s usually a recipe for disaster, “John Dies At The End” somehow manages to make all of its disparate elements work together into a fun, crazy adventure that carries you along for the ride instead of making its audience feel perpetually left behind.

Directed by Don Coscarelli (“Bubba Ho-Tep,” “Phantasm”) and based on Jason Pargin’s trippy horror novel of the same name (published under his pseudonym David Wong), “John Dies At The End” follows a pair of slackers whose experience with a new drug called “soy sauce” reveals the existence of an interdimensional invasion occurring all around them. As they get caught up in thwarting the invasion, the drug’s effects on time and space push them into confrontations with all manner of strange creatures and leave them uncertain of what’s real and what is simply another hallucination.

The film stars Chase Williamson as protagonist and narrator David Wong, and a similarly unfamiliar face, Rob Mayes, as David’s stoner pal, John. Paul Giamatti, Clancy Brown, and Doug Jones highlight a short list of well-known actors who appear throughout the film in a variety of appropriately weird roles.

Not having read Pargin’s 2007 novel, I can’t speak to Coscarelli’s faithfulness to the source material, but given the surreal nature of the story, “John Dies At The End” deserves praise for somehow finding the linear narrative in what could’ve been a terribly messy, tangled adaptation. Instead of falling apart into a series of weird, sci-fi vignettes, “John Dies At The End” manages to constantly move forward with the story it’s telling – even when it seems like a plot point or timeline has veered off into tangent territory.

Coscarelli’s knack for putting an unsettling, sinister spin on just about any type of scene – one of the hallmarks of his “Phantasm” films – gets a heavy workout in “John Dies At The End,” as there’s rarely any certainty about what’s real and what Dave and John have unintentionally conjured from their drug-addled, reality-warping subconscious. Still, there’s an underlying sense that the pair are taming the drug as the adventure progresses, and by the end of the film the ratio of chemically-induced terror to chemically-induced heroism (a twisted, non-traditional sort of heroism, but heroism all the same) gradually shifts into their favor. It’s a subtle transition that could’ve been easily overdone – or even not done at all – but Coscarelli does a nice job of turning his aimless slackers into our dimension’s best hope for survival.

Williamson and Mayes both offer up great performances in their respective roles, with Williamson playing off Giamatti particularly well during their scenes together. Neither Giamatti nor Brown (or Jones, for that matter) have particularly meaty roles in the film, but Coscarelli puts them to good use providing a big dose of flavor to scenes that might otherwise be a little dry. The entire cast, in fact, seems to find just right the balance in their performances to sell the over-the-top weirdness going on around them.

Still, despite all of the diverging, mingling, and meandering timelines that constitute the narrative of “John Dies At The End,” the story being told in the film still manages to stay on a linear course that separates it from many other failed adaptations of unconventional stories. There’s no shortage of mash-ups out there that try to blend elements of horror, sci-fi, and black comedy – often with a heavy dose of the surreal to lubricate the mix – but few of them manage to pull it off with any success.

“John Dies At The End” is a great example of what can happen when a writer and director’s vision syncs up with that of the author of something very unique, and very special. Only time will tell if “John Dies At The End” will achieve as similar a level of under-the-radar success as Coscarelli’s “Bubba Ho-Tep,” but it’s hard not to believe the film is well on its way to becoming a cult classic.

“John Dies At The End” hits theaters in limited release Friday, January 25. The film is directed by Don Coscarelli, and is based on a book of the same name by Jason Pargin (written under the pseudonym David Wong).

Soap tv show

As the Spoof Turns

15 Hilarious Soap Opera Parodies

Catch the classic sitcom Soap Saturday mornings on IFC.

Posted by on
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

maryhartman

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

ikea heights

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

fresno

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

soap

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

cooks2

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

darkplace

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

attitudes

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

peaks

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

invitation

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

stomach

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)

joey

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

acorn

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

pointplace

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

spoils

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.

spoilsdying


15. All My Children Finale, SNL

allmychildren

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.

wilmer_valderrama-1920×1080

Fez-tivities

Wilmer Valderrama Spent His Birthday With Some Wolves

Catch That '70s Show Mondays & Tuesdays from 6-11P on IFC.

Posted by on
Photo Credit: James Atoa/Everett Collection

Wilmer Valderrama, who played That ’70s Show‘s resident foreigner and quote machine Fez, celebrated his 36th birthday over the weekend — making him one of three members of the original cast who never actually witnessed the ’70s firsthand. (Mila Kunis and Laura Prepon are also ’80s kids.) And to commemorate his inevitable climb to 40, girlfriend and singer Demi Lovato took Valderrama to a wolf sanctuary to pet some lycan scruff.

“Spent the day at Wolf Mountain sanctuary…It was unbelievable,” the 23-year-old Lovato wrote on Instagram. “I fell in love with the wolves there and wish I could spend more time with these beautiful, spiritual creatures.”

Check out the photo series (which includes a nice birthday message to Wilmer) here and wonder how long Fez would last in that place with all his limbs still attached. Be sure to catch back-to-back episodes of That ’70s Show Mondays and Tuesdays from 6-11P on IFC. (Click here to find IFC on your TV in your area.)

Weird Al  Yankovic   The Saga Begins

Force Joke

10 Hilarious Star Wars Parody Songs

"Weird Al" is coming to Comedy Bang! Bang! this spring.

Posted by on
Weird Al Yankovic

Since the release of the original Star Wars in 1977, denizens of a galaxy far, far away have been comedy fodder for parodists. Whether it’s your coworker’s awkward Yoda impression or a feature-length Mel Brooks film, George Lucas’ space opera has garnered quite a few snarky jabs, many of them set to music.

With “Weird” Al (no stranger to Star Wars parody tunes) joining Comedy Bang! Bang! as the new bandleader and co-host, we thought it was time to pay tribute to the many hilarious Star Wars song parodies released in the last four decades with a video and a lyrical highlight from each.

1. “Yoda,” Weird Al Yankovic

I saw the little runt sitting there on a log
I asked him his name, and in a raspy voice he said, “Yoda”
Y-O-D-A, Yoda
Yo Yo Yo Yo Yoda


2. “Let It Flow,” Box Step Productions

Fire grows bright on this planet tonight
Not a Jedi to be seen
A galaxy gripped in turmoil
And I’ve knocked up the ex-Queen


3. “Moves Like Jabba,” Break Originals

So eat them frogs
Cuz this won’t end nice
Grab this chain, ooh Jabba, take your life


4. “All About That Base,” Nerdist

The Emperor told me not to worry about the size
He says, “It’s not like it’d be blown up twice by the same Jedi”
And no I won’t be no Sith-fighting Jedi like Obi-Wan
So if that’s what you’re into Stormtrooper, then move along
Because you know, I’m all about that base
No Rebels


5. “Cantina a Capella,” Scott Aukerman and Paul F. Tompkins

Rah pah pup dup dup dah dah
Daddle dah duh duh dahhh


6. “Star Wars Cantina,”Richard Cheese

Her name was Leia
She was a princess
With a danish on each ear
And Darth Vader drawing near


7. “Bohemian Rhapsody: Star Wars Edition,” UAT Digital Video

I’m just a slave boy
Qui-Gon’s come to free me
He is the chosen one from the prophecy
Spare him his life from this captivity


8. “Happy (We Are From Tatooine),” Star Wars Tunisia

C-3PO: It might seem crazy what I’m about to say
Sunshine she’s here, you can take a break
Stormtrooper: I’m a hot air balloon that could go to space
With the air, like I don’t care baby by the way


9. “The Saga Begins,” Weird Al Yankovic

Oh my, my, this here Anakin guy
May be Vader someday later
Now he’s just a small fry
And he left his home and kissed his mommy goodbye
Sayin’, “Soon I’m gonna be a Jedi”
“Soon I’m gonna be a Jedi”


10. Oscar Isaac’s acoustic cover of Bill Murray’s lounge cover of “Star Wars”

Star Wars
Nothin’ but Star Wars
Gimme those Star Wars
Any old day

Powered by ZergNet