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“Alien Vs. Ninja”: I can sum this movie up in three words.

“Alien Vs. Ninja”: I can sum this movie up in three words. (photo)

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Reviewed at the 2010 New York Asian Film Festival.

High concepts don’t get much more low-brow than “Alien Vs. Ninja,” a great victory for truth in advertising and a movie whose subject matter can be — and is — summed up in just three words. Crackling with enthusiasm (if not high-end special effects), the movie delivers exactly what it promises, not a bit more, not a bit less. Don’t expect this NYAFF selection to go the Janus Film/Criterion Collection route the way “House” did last year, though someday this could be the best and wittiest movie ever to air at 2am on the SyFy Channel.

Masanori Mimoto stars as Yamata, the toughest and most stylishly coiffed ninja in an extremely well-styled clan sent to investigate a mysterious fireball that crashes into the woods outside their village. As you might suspect from the title, its contents are a bunch of grumpy, ill-mannered aliens. No points here for originality: their design is shamelessly stolen from the Giger Alien, with just a dash of a dolphin thrown in to keep the copyright lawyers at bay. So it’s Flipper the Xenomorph versus an army of sexy katana wielders with the fate of the world (or at least the fate of the generic forest where the entire movie is set) at stake.

06302010_avn3.jpgAdmittedly, the effects look cheaper than cheap, with laughably rubbery dismembered limbs and alien blood that looks like Kraft Fat Free Thousand Island Dressing straight out of the bottle. But the cast appears impressively unaware they’re in a schlocky movie, and they attack their roles with a commitment that would have impressed Lee Strasberg. Similarly unfazed by his budgetary restraints, director Seiji Chiba squeezes every last ounce of creativity out of his premise. Unlike the tedious repetition of most stock-and-trade American monster movies, “Alien Vs. Ninja” doesn’t just stick to 90 minutes of creatures striking from the shadows. Be prepared for a wide array of thrills: jump scares, karate fights, alien splatter, and even some creatively choreographed wirework.

One could question the inclusion of Donpei Tsuchihira as an annoyingly bumbling ninja — would you cast Jerry Lewis in Michael Biehn’s part in “Aliens”? — but it does at least give us a reason to root for the aliens in what would otherwise be a fairly one-sided contest. “Alien vs. Ninja” isn’t great art, but it’s pretty entertaining trash. C’mon, who doesn’t want to see an alien who shoots smaller aliens out of his nose deflect a hail of bullets with a ninja sword?

You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. All right, so you won’t cry. But you’ll definitely laugh.

“Alien Vs. Ninja” does not yet have US distribution. It plays Saturday, July 3 at 6:00 PM at the Japan Society and Tuesday July 6 at the Walter Reade Theater in New York City.

[Photo: “Alien Vs. Ninja,” Sushi Typhoon, 2010]

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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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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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.


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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