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DID YOU READ

10 Plot Shifts That Came Out of Nowhere

From Dusk Till Dawn

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We all know From Dusk till Dawn is a vampire movie. It had vampires in the trailer, bats on the poster, and the title itself plainly describes a bloodsucker’s daily schedule. But those who’ve seen the movie know the undead don’t make their presence known until the one-hour mark — long after an unrelated bank heist and kidnapping leads the protagonists into the seedy bar south of the border. Put simply, From Dusk till Dawn isn’t a vampire movie for longer than it is one, and yet it’s the mid-movie plot shift that helps make it such a fun cult classic.

But Robert Rodriguez’s grindhouse carnival ride isn’t the only time audiences were blindsided by a total shift in story and tone. Here are 10 other movies with plot shifts that came outta nowhere. Heads up: It’s about to get spoiler-rific below!

10. Stripes

Columbia Pictures

Columbia Pictures

Although Full Metal Jacket is usually cited as a war film that completely changes midway through, there’s another military-themed movie that takes an even sharper turn from comedy romp to rescue mission behind enemy lines. Stripes appears to be your typical “rehabilitated schlub” comedy with future Ghostbusters Bill Murray and Harold Ramis as the leads. But after basic training, when Stripes seems like it’s wrapping up, the film suddenly jaunts to Russia where Murray and Ramis’ troop — and a motorhome with a flamethrower — have to be rescued. Not even Kubrick is capable of pulling off that tonal shift.


9. Sunshine

Fox Searchlight Pictures

Fox Searchlight Pictures

28 Days Later director Danny Boyle returns to his “the hunted becomes the hunter” roots with 2007’s Sunshine — but not until the third act. Gleefully spitting in the face of hard science, a group of astronauts embark on a mission to deliver a massive nuclear payload to the surface of the sun, thereby reigniting the dying star. But just as the audience’s disbelief is able to be suspended, the movie changes from Interstellar-lite to slasher flick when the severely burned captain of a previous mission stalks the main characters like a voracious stowaway, à la Alien.


8. Miracle Mile

Hemdale Film

Hemdale Film

Where will you be when nuclear annihilation strikes? If you’re Anthony Edwards in the largely forgotten 1988 movie Miracle Mile, it’s in the middle of a romantic comedy. From the top, Edwards plays his affable Goose-y self trying to court a woman he met at the La Brea Tar Pits. But as we brace ourselves for a whimsical, Katherine Heigl-level assault on our senses, a misdialed phone call alerts Edwards to an imminent nuclear holocaust and completely shifts the story to an apocalyptic thriller. Hey, whatever saves us from a bridal gown montage is fine by us.

7. Million Dollar Baby

Warner Bros.

Warner Bros.

In 1994, a scrappy Hilary Swank showed the world that she could handle herself in a fight, truly earning the title of The Next Karate Kid. 10 years later, she proved she still had the muscle and heart…to treat us to a dissertation on the morals of euthanasia. Trained by an old leather wallet (Clint Eastwood), Swank rises through the boxing circuit ranks to become a beloved underdog on par with Rocky. But everything changes halfway through the film with a simple post-round sucker punch, a broken neck, quadriplegia, and ethical dilemmas over killing your surrogate daughter. That definitely wasn’t in Mr. Miyagi’s purview.


6. Death Proof

Dimension Films

Dimension Films

Debates are still being waged over which half of Grindhouse is superior — mostly by the few dozen who saw the double feature in theaters. But nobody could admit that they saw what was coming during Tarantino’s section, Death Proof. Continuing the tradition of another film further down this list, Quentin invests us in the lives and minutia of a group of women — leading us down texting subplots and hanging lapdance threads — only to violently kill them off midway through the film via head-on collision. And like a bad case of whiplash, we are then introduced to another group of women as if Quentin’s starting another movie. And this group of ladies is far more deadly.

5. The World’s End

Focus Features

Focus Features

Writer-director Edgar Wright is known for his habit for subverting genre tropes while simultaneously celebrating them, and that also applies to how he tells a story. Shaun of the Dead begins like a romantic comedy but turns into a zombie film, Hot Fuzz spends most of its time mocking action cliches but then revels in them, and nothing in the first half of The World’s End would make it seem like it’s a modern retelling of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. But as we get to know an estranged group of pals as they re-attempt an impossible bar crawl, out of nowhere, blue-goo androids attack and threaten the entire mission.


4. Click

Columbia Pictures

Columbia Pictures

No one expects to cry at an Adam Sandler movie. (Well, for intended reasons, anyway.) But audiences thinking they were about to spend an hour and a half laughing at Sandler ogle slow-motion bosoms were in for a tear-jerking surprise. Click begins like your boilerplate Sandler movie with the man-child acquiring a magical remote control that can control time, i.e. rewind to life’s cherished moments or fast-forward through dull ones. It isn’t until after a few wacky hijinks that the movie introduces themes far heavier than Sandler’s usual fare when he fast-forwards too far and is greeted by cancer, chemotherapy, heart attacks, absentee parenthood, and death. Then again, it might’ve been a riot with Kevin James.


3. Adaptation

Columbia Pictures

Columbia Pictures

Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman is anything but predictable, doubly so when he — and his twin alter ego — are basically writing a movie in real-time from within. In one of his few unironically great performances, Nicolas Cage plays Kaufman and his imaginary twin brother as they try to adapt an unadaptable novel into a screenplay. As Kaufman #1 struggles to deliver a unique script that rejects all the banal and formulaic plot points, he hands the reins over to his hack (yet successful) brother, which switches the movie over to all the expected tropes — including deus ex machinas, tearful goodbyes, and personal redemption. It’s like a dozen levels of meta intersecting with themselves.


2. Audition

Vitagraph Films

Vitagraph Films

Going into a Takashi Miike movie, you have to prepare to leave as bloody and scarred as one of the characters. But midway through Audition, even the savviest viewers might’ve expected that maybe the purveyor of unspeakable cinematic torture turned over a new leaf. After all, it’s just a quirky tale about a lonely widower auditioning young woman to be his new wife. That is, until the woman of his dreams drugs him, sticks needles in his eyes, and severs his foot with a sharpened garrotte in a startling and painfully extended scene. The lesson is, stick with eHarmony.


1. Psycho

Paramount Pictures

Paramount Pictures

The granddaddy of plot shifts, Psycho‘s shower scene is unfortunately one of the most spoiled moments in cinema history. But even knowing the sequence beforehand, viewers can’t help but marvel at what a misdirect the entire first section of the movie is. What begins as an embezzling scheme, carried out by a lovely real estate secretary, is wholly abandoned when she’s brutally murdered, as if to say, “Nope, it ain’t about her,” in the bluntest way possible. The film, as we all know now, then focuses on motel manager Norman Bates and his kindly, devoted mother. Over half a century later, it remains the greatest plot shift of all time.

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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.