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DID YOU READ

Opening This Week: Gay zombies, the literal Sundance kid and the Muscles From Brussels

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11032008_alphabetkiller.jpgBy Neil Pedley

Those nursing a Halloween hangover can enjoy a little hair of the dog with some amusing takes on terror, a double bill featuring the greatly missed Bernie Mac and a trio of Fantastic Fest titles coming their way.

“The Alphabet Killer”
Eliza Dushku reunites with “Wrong Turn” director Rob Schmidt for this supernatural riff on the infamous Alphabet murders that took place in Rochester, NY in the early ’70s. Dushku stars as the lead investigator in a series of brutal child killings who’s struck down by a severe mental breakdown. Two years later, her career as a detective is ostensibly over, yet when the killings inexplicably start up again, so do her crippling hallucinations and she must find a way to track down the serial killer with or without the help of her former colleagues at the police department. Timothy Hutton, Cary Elwes and Michael Ironside dutifully fill their positions of obligatory veteran C-list actors in supporting roles.
Opens in Rochester; opens in New York and Los Angeles on November 14th.

“The Boy in the Striped Pajamas”
Having delivered such inoffensive melodrama as “Little Voice,” Brit helmer Mark Herman certainly knows how to tug a heartstring or two, although given the somber subject matter contained within author John Boyne’s source novel, he really doesn’t have to try very hard. Against the backdrop of World War II, Herman crafts a tale of forbidden friendship between Bruno (Asa Butterfield), the blissfully unaware son of a concentration camp commandant, and Leon (Zac Mattoon O’Brien), a young Jewish boy on the other side of the barbed wire fence. David Thewlis and Vera Farmiga play Bruno’s parents, who have a far less innocent point of view.
Opens in limited release.

“Gardens of the Night”
“Labor of love” is perhaps the wrong term to apply to a portrait of abused kidnap victims and their slow descent into emotionally damaged, drug-addled squalor, but writer/director Damian Harris has been neck deep in exhaustive research for his script since the late ’80s, conducting interviews with both victims and perpetrators. Gillian Jacobs and Evan Ross co-star as Leslie and Donnie, respectively, two teens who find themselves living on the streets of San Diego after they were abducted as eight-year-olds by a pedophile (Tom Arnold) and his partner (Kevin Zegers). Now, the discarded pair attempt to resolve their differing reactions to what happened in their childhood. John Malkovich co-stars.
Opens in New York; opens in Los Angeles on December 5th.

“The Guitar”
The miraculous role that shopping plays in rejuvenating the human spirit is well-documented, having ably soothed career woes, broken hearts and everything in between on screen for decades. Marking a directorial debut for the literal Sundance kid, Amy Redford, and scripted by New York indie icon Amos Poe, this bittersweet dramedy stops short of suggesting shopping can cure cancer — but implies it certainly doesn’t hurt. Saffron Burrows stars as Melody, a recipient of some truly deflating news from the doctor that inspires her to trust what time remains to the care of retail therapy, starting with that 1963 red Fender Stratocaster she’s always dreamed of.
Opens in New York.

“House”
The idea of an slasher film set to a score of Christian heavy metal music might sound more like a trick than a treat for hardcore horror fans still recovering from Halloween. But director Robby Henson seems to have employed all the genre hallmarks (it’s nasty!) to satisfy a suitably broad audience with the Christian-influenced tale of a bickering couple trapped inside a remote motel besieged by the mythical Tin Man, a maniac killer who targets unrepentant sinners. If that piques your interest, just try and avoid IMDb, as the film’s list of credits gives away something of the mystery.
Opens in limited release.

“JCVD”
For a fallen action star whose last few direct-to-video dramas have been more like comedies, leave it up to Jean-Claude Van Damme to take a ludicrous premise seriously. The Muscles From Brussels finds himself embroiled in something of a Van Damme Day Afternoon in this surrealist meta-movie from French director Mabrouk El Mechri. Playing a loose version of himself telling a loose version of his story, the dejected “Kickboxer” star returns home after losing a bitter custody battle and getting tagged with a gigantic legal bill he can’t pay. Things go from bad to worse when the bank he goes into gets held up and the local authorities conclude that he masterminded the robbery.
Opens in New York.

“Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa”
Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, Jada Pinkett Smith and David Schwimmer reunite behind the microphone for this sequel that picks up where the 2005 animated safari left off. After the animal quartet left the comfy confines of the New York Zoo for Madagascar, our institutionalized band of colorfully neurotic critters head to Africa, putting Marty the Zebra (Rock), Alex the Lion (Stiller), Gloria the Hippo (Pinkett Smith) and Melman the Giraffe amongst their native species. Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric the Entertainer, Andy Richter and the late Bernie Mac are among the funny faces who lend their voices to the cause.
Opens wide.

“Otto; or Up With Dead People”
As a spirited champion of low-budget, pulp ham-horror celebrated by a small army of adoring fans for his shoddy production values and characteristically haphazard techniques (including some at Sundance and Berlin, where “Otto” premiered), Canadian queer cinema icon Bruce LaBruce has become something of a heir to Ed Wood minus the penchant for angora sweaters. His latest opus sees Jey Crisfar as Otto, a zombie who rises from the grave to search for his former lover, only to be railroaded into a gay zombie porno by a pompous underground filmmaker (Katharina Klewinghaus). You know, just another one of those kind of movies. In English and German with subtitles.
Opens in limited release.

“Pray The Devil Back to Hell”
Against the backdrop of Liberia’s second devastating civil war, ending in 2003 with more than 250,000 dead, Oscar nominated documentary filmmaker Gini Reticker highlights the ferocious courage of a group of everyday Liberian women and their role in ending the bloody conflict. Mixing archival footage with international media coverage, Reticker charts the formation of parallel anti-war movements (one Christian and one Muslim) who put aside their longstanding differences to come together as one in an effort to bring about peace in their war-torn country.
Opens in New York.

“Repo! The Genetic Opera”
Give him any vaguely plausible excuse to cut people open and throw their insides around and director Darren Lynn Bousman (three “Saw” sequels”) and his queasy color palate are there like a bear to honey — although to be fair, this gloriously daft musical gorefest is a more imaginative excuse than most. After a global epidemic of organ failures gives rise to an all-powerful biotech company that specializes in cloning replacements, Nathan Wallace (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”‘s Anthony Head) tends to his sick daughter (Alexa Vega) and struggles with his job as the repo man who visits those recipients who fall behind on their payments. Sarah Brightman, Paul Sorvino and Paris Hilton all star in the film that Bousman told Matt Singer back at Fantastic Fest was a unique mix of “Puccini meets Nine Inch Nails.”
Opens in limited release.

“Role Models”
The preposterous idea that anyone would ever wake up one morning and decide they want to be like Stifler from “American Pie” is not lost on Paul Rudd, David Wain and Ken Marino. In fact, the trio behind “The Ten” even recruited the man who played Stifler (Seann William Scott) to star alongside Rudd as a pair of misanthropic energy drink reps that get high on their own supply and wind up learning life lessons when their exploits earn them a community service mandate as youth counselors in a Big Brother program. Jane Lynch, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and one of Elizabeth Banks’ many clones (because really, how can she be in so many films at once?) co-star.
Opens wide.

“Soul Men”
The titular leads might not be on a mission from God, but this soulfully retuned effort from Malcolm D. Lee wears the influence of John Landis’ 1980 cult classic like a black-banded fedora. Samuel L. Jackson and late great Bernie Mac star as a pair of former backup singers reunited after a decades-long spat to pay tribute to their former frontman. Setting out on a cross-country road trip, the duo must hash out their differences in time to take the stage at the legendary Apollo Theatre. The equally late, equally great Isaac Hayes has a cameo as himself.
Opens wide.

[Photo: “The Alphabet Killer,” Anchor Bay Entertainment, 2008]

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Uncle-Buck

Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

via GIPHY

Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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SistersWeekend_103_MPX-1920×1080

WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

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IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

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IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

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IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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