(1978, Children/SciFi/Comedy/Musical/Television/Holiday, color)
Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett
Well, there you go. It’s not every day that you see the stupidest thing you’ve ever seen.
In a nutshell:
Chewbacca runs an Imperial blockade to make it home in time for Life Day.
This... this film? No. This movie? This television special? Not really. Um... This thing? This object. This unholy mess? Closer. This putrid, rotting bantha loin...with commercials?
I feel that’s as close as I’m going to get.
Anyway, the plot of this putrid, rotting bantha loin with commercials is that Chewbacca’s family—consisting of wife Malla, son Lumpy, and father Itchy—wait anxiously back on the wookiee home planet of Kashyyyk while Chewy (Peter Mayhew) and his friend Han Solo (Harrison Ford) struggle to get past an Imperial blockade in time for Life Day.
While they’re waiting, they call various friends to check on Chewy’s progress, including Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), C3PO (Anthony Daniels), and R2D2 (R2D2). Various “entertainments” are “enjoyed” while they wait, including holographic acrobats for Lumpy, a holographic prostitute for Itchy (Diahann Caroll, servicing him in the living room under a hair dryer for some reason), and a cooking show for Malla (starring Harvey Korman as a large, shiny woman with four arms). Most of the above takes place in the wookiee language with no subtitles. The some of the latter portion contains helpful translation by a disturbingly low-cut Art Carney.
Imperial storm troopers interrupt the “entertainments” to search the house for no explained reason. In the course of the search, one trooper finds a box that plays a Jefferson Starship Video. Lumpy distracts himself from the chaos with a cartoon that stars Boba Fett and a very strangely drawn Han Solo. At gunpoint, the Imperials force the family to watch a video of Bea Arthur singing at the Mos Eisley cantina. (Harvey Korman costars as a man who drinks through a hole in his head.) The Imperials wreck Lumpy’s room for some reason. Lumpy retaliates by repairing some sort of console (aided by an instructional video of a seizure-prone Harvey Korman) and transmits a signal that requires the Imperials to return to base.
The Imperials leave as ordered, leaving one behind to guard the family. This lone trooper discovers Lumpy’s console and smashes it, and tries to kill the wookiee child. Chewbacca and Han finally arrive just in time to prevent him. Despite the fact that everyone carries some kind of firearm, no one fires; the supremely clumsy trooper simply trips and falls from the wookiee tree house. Han bids them all a Happy Life Day and leaves.
Home at last, Chewy and his family celebrate Life Day with little globes that transport red-robed versions of themselves into space, through a star, and into some kind of mist-filled wookiee collective consciousness. (I think.) Han, Leia, Luke, C3PO, and R2D2 are all there too for some reason. Leia sings a very strange song while the camera focuses on Chewbacca’s expressionless face, and then everyone returns to the real world for dinner.
The interspersed commercials include tons of union propaganda, a hilarious Fruit-of-the-Loom spot, an extremely suggestive pantyhose ad, and Tobor. Quoth the announcer, “Tobor is Robot spelled backwards!”
I’ve probably screwed up the order a bit, but I don’t think I missed anything. You never know what my brain may have blotted out in self-defense, though.
First off, this is the funniest Rifftrax recorded thus far. If, for some reason, you plan on watching only one Rifftrax in your life, then this is the one. For instructions on how to see it, please see this post.
Caveat emptor: this is also the worst film, er, putrid, rotting bantha loin with commercials to receive the Rifftrax treatment thus far. It’s not just bad; it’s exuberantly bad. Every THC-saturated particle of effort put into its creation seems to have been absolutely focused on badness. If you’ve imagined an Ed Wood film with guest stars and a budget then you’ve started to understand, but you still haven’t gone far enough. A feature-length version of Mr. B Natural with all the supporting cast replaced by excrement-flinging apes and flamboyant, hirsute, cigar-smoking men in Little Bo Peep costumes would have been less of an affront to good taste. Did I mention it’s bad? Let me get that out of the way now. It’s bad.
Why? Why would you broadcast anything that features twelve uninterrupted minutes of animals growling at each other? Why does Itchy have that bizarre lower jaw that reaches higher than his nose? Why is that horny old wookiee turned on by human prostitutes, and why couldn’t he go enjoy his guilty little holographic pleasure in private? (For that matter, why did the makers of this...this putrid, rotting bantha loin with commercials feel the need to add a virtual hooker to a children’s variety show anyway?) Why do I need to see Art Carney’s cleavage? Why did they need to imply Harvey Korman’s cleavage? Why do storm troopers like Jefferson Starship, and why do they force people to watch Bea Arthur at gunpoint? Why is cartoon Han’s face melting? Oh, and here’s a hint for you, Mr. CBS-makers-of-putrid-rotting-bantha-loins-with-commercials. It’s the body language that makes a wookiee expressive. Why would you include so many extreme close-ups of these creatures when their immobile latex faces make them look dead? And what’s the deal with all those come-hither looks Leia keeps casting at Chewy during her final song? And what the hell does Life Day celebrate, anyway? Why? Why? Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?
At least half the reason that this...this you know turned out so hilarious is the ebullient, awful strangeness I’ve just described. But I have to give credit where it’s due: without the heroic efforts of Mike, Kevin, and Bill, this profane creation is so unspeakably horrible that most people not inured by rabid Star Wars fanboyhood die of internal hemorrhaging soon after viewing. Here’s a small sample of the commentary: During the opening holographic acrobats, Kevin says, “I’m going to get a letter in the mail tomorrow, explaining that I’m now legally gay.” During the Jefferson Starship video, Bill urges Mike to give in to the singers demands and “Set the sky on fire.” Mike tries, but has forgotten his matches. Bill then urges him to give in to the singers secondary demand, to “take [him] higher than the diamonds in the sky.” Mike replies that he is not licensed to do so. When an Imperial officer commands Lumpy to clean his room, Bill shouts, “Cower before Darth Baby Sitter!” When the camera refuses to move from Chewy near the end, Mike cries, “Ladies and gentlemen, Chewbacca’s lifeless stare!” At the very end, Kevin’s final comment is, “That was the strangest thing I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen Mulholland Drive backwards and underwater.” It’s by far the best riffing they’ve ever done, and considering the subject matter, it needed to be. So go watch it, already.
(1978, Children/SciFi/Comedy/Musical/Television/Holiday, color)