6/30/08

RVOD027 Buying Food

(1950, Educational/Short, color)

Riffers:

Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett, and Kevin Murphy

May we also remind you that water is wet and fire is hot.

Rating: ***1/2

In a nutshell:

Apparently, we should only buy food we intent to eat.

Summary:

A loaf of bread, a quart of milk, and a stick of buddah...After some brief introductory patter from the narrator we meet Henry Slinkman, whose wife sends him to the store with the rather vague instruction to buy “something that looks good.” He purchases three pints of oysters, a pair of large, unidentified root vegetables (I’m guessing they’re rutabagas) and a prepackaged cake. Unfortunately, that many oysters make him ill, and no one in his family likes rutabagas or cake.

After a pair of firm but gentle scoldings from both his wife and the narrator, Henry disappears from the film, presumably to curl into a fetal position and groan until all those oysters finish working their way through his system. Thereafter, the narrator teaches housewives such shopping tricks as:

1) Shopping from a list to avoid going overbudget.
2) Not buying more or less than her family will use.
3) Not buying food her family will refuse to eat.
4) Buying food in the proper quality and state of preservation for her family.
5) Buying fruits and vegetables in season and canning them herself whenever possible.
6) Buying hamburger and hot dogs instead of steak.

Thoughts:

Grayer is not always better.Henry’s impulse buying isn’t doing the family budget any favors, but I think the ill-fated meal resultant from his wild spending spree could have been avoided if he’d just heeded his wife’s instruction to buy “something that looks good.” Does anyone’s mouth water at the prospect of oysters, rutabagas and cake? Henry’s purchase of the rutabagas is particularly funny. “I don’t know what this is, so I’ll take two.” Here’s another shopping tip for you housewives out there—like most things, buying food is much, much easier if you’re not a complete and utter moron. Alternative explanation: Henry hates grocery shopping so much that he screwed it up intentionally, hoping his wife will never ask him to do it again. Unfortunately this scenario only makes him look slightly better, as it still ends with a full night of intense gastrointestinal distress and oyster-induced nightmares as the self-inflicted punishment for one shopping trip’s worth of marital rebellion.

Though much of the short is fairly staid and common-sense, Henry’s wildly inadvised trip to the store starts it out on a high note, and the riffers take full advantage. As Henry adds unknown items to his cart just for the hell of it, Bill notes, “Henry will pay for and eat any unidentified lump that’s put in front of him,” and later, “The world is your three pints of oysters.” When the narrator carefully acknowledges that the different grades of food have the same nutritional value, Mike says, “Both will enhance your pastiness,” and then “Grayer is not always better.” Milk is the apparent exception to this rule, leading Kevin to add, “If you’re chewing your milk more than three times, throw it out.” By itself, the short shakes off its initial Henry-related strangeness to make some valid but rather obvious points about how to buy food. Thankfully, Mike, Kevin and Bill manage to keep up the same level of mockery all the way through for a consistently funny short.

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Meet Dave

(2008, SciFi/Comedy-ish, color)

Put Number Two in my butt!

Rating: *1/2

In a Nutshell:

Miniscule aliens come to Earth in a human-shaped spaceship.

Summary:

[shudder]A tiny meteorite penetrates Earth’s atmosphere and then a New York tenement window, but somehow does not break the fishbowl it lands in. The boy to whom the fishbowl belongs watches in awe as the meteorite absorbs all the water, presumably condemning the unfortunate goldfish to a slow death by asphyxiation.

Shortly thereafter, something else falls to Earth, leaving a crater on Liberty Island. It pulls its face out of the dirt and stands up, assuming the form of a man in a white suit (Eddie Murphy). The apparently indestructible white-suited man jerks himself across the island to the ferry, flailing his arms and legs like a stork. He continues his odd behavior as he navigates the streets of New York City, eventually attempting to cross a road against a light. Of course he gets hit by a car. A distraught woman (Elizabeth Banks) jumps out of the vehicle to see if he’s hurt or dead or something. The man stands up, still refusing to speak. While the woman attempts to dial 911, he makes a break for the alley.

Time for some exposition. Safely ensconced in the alley, the man’s ear slides open to disgorge a tiny figure who rappels the length of the body to the oddly twisted ankle. Inside the bridge, er, head of the man-shaped spaceship, the miniscule Captain (also Eddie Murphy) spouts authoritative Star Trek-ian pseudo-science while his crew rushes to assess the damage. In the midst of the faux technobabble we learn that they’ve come to Earth for the super-absorbent meteorite, with which they plan to drain Earth’s oceans, with which they will somehow save their home planet.

Above the alley, the fishbowl boy looks down and tells his mom there’s another drunk in the alley. His mom turns out to be the crazy driver who struck him earlier. She rushes into the alley with her son to apologize and make sure he’s not hurt, or litigating. The man-ship speaks awkwardly, assuring her that he is not permanently damaged. She invites him up to her apartment for breakfast.

There’s a bit more exposition here, as we learn that crazy-driving mom’s name is Gina, and she’s a widowed artist with a heart of gold. When pressed for his name, the man-ship’s Captain turns to his hot cultural officer Number Three (Gabrielle Union), who searches her databases for the most common name on the planet. The man-ship proudly proclaims that his name is Ming Chang. Upon seeing Gina’s confusion, the Captain quickly alters his ship’s name to Dave Ming Chang. After some awkward egg-breaking and ketchup-drinking shenanigans, it is further revealed that her fishbowl-owning son’s name is Josh, and that he has confidence issues stemming from the death of his father. Plus, he has a neat water-absorbing rock that he’s entering in the school science fair. The Dave-ship excuses himself to track Josh down at school.

Cut to the school in question, where a bully picks on Josh and steals his absorbent meteorite. Cut to the streets of New York, where Dave’s crew has realized that their blinding white suit (copied from an intercepted transmission of Fantasy Island) is now hopelessly out of style. One embarrassing Old Navy sequence later, Dave emerges in modern garb and continues to school. A harried school official mistakes him for a substitute teacher and puts him in charge of Josh’s class. Met with skepticism by the kids, Dave writes a complicated scientific theorem on the blackboard at blinding speed to prove his teaching credentials, and then instructs Josh to follow him out of class.

That's one hell of a parasite.Josh confesses he’s lost the meteorite to the bully. In one to two minutes it’s taken to convey that information, school has somehow ended and the bully is now probably across town somewhere, so Josh offers to help Dave look for him. They check out the bully’s usual haunts at the convenience store, but find robbers instead. Dave accidentally thwarts the robbers with his super strength, but denies being a superhero when Josh asks him about it. Josh says he doesn’t know where the bully is now, but he’s sure they’ll find him at the fair tomorrow. He invites Dave home to play video games and have more tender, expository conversations with his mom.

Next evening, Dave, Gina and Josh go to the fair. After some hot dog eating contest/bathroom shenanigans, he does indeed find the bully in question. A sequence of borderline child abuse and nonsensical wedgie references follows, and Dave recovers his absorbent meteorite. Despite some urging on the part of his second-in-command to just drain the Earth’s oceans and have done with it, the Captain decides to continue his date with Gina and Josh, leading to an unfortunate carnival game sequence, which leads to an expository trip to the hospital (direct contact with electrical current recharges the Dave-ship’s batteries; remember that for later kids!), leading to a dance sequence in a Latin club.

At this point the main plot crashes into a subplot, one I hadn’t mentioned before simply because it wasn’t relevant until now. An alien-obsessed cop has found the imprint of Dave’s face in the crater on Liberty Island, gotten a plaster impression and an artist’s rendering of same, and then faxed it to all the precincts and hospitals across town. Dave’s earlier trip to the hospital tipped him off, and now he’s tracked the man-ship to the dance club and arrested him for... I dunno. Falling face-first on Liberty Island, I guess. While Dave sits in the precinct steadfastly refusing to answer any questions, yet another subplot kicks in when Number Two stages an armed revolt inside Dave-ship’s head, confining the Captain to his quarters. Now under the control of the bloodthirsty Number Two, Dave’s finger turns into a death ray. He leaves the interrogation room, insults Gina and Josh, and then blasts his way out of the station.

Now a third subplot clunks into place when the sultry Number Three rescues the Captain from imprisonment, only to be banished from the ship, only to rush headlong through New York traffic while arguing about their relationship. They eventually climb back into the ship, where they finally override control of the left arm to stop the right arm from throwing the absorbent meteorite into the ocean. They fail, and Earth’s oceans begin to drain. The Captain regains control of his ship, and diverts all his ship’s remaining power to recovering the orb, thus saving the Earth. The Dave-ship falls, its batteries drained. Gina and Josh arrive to exchange tender words of farewell. The cops arrive, and Josh steals a taser to recharge Dave’s batteries. Dave’s mouth hatch opens, and the captain emerges to explain the situation so that everyone can Learn An Important Life Lesson.

Just then The Government shows up to take Dave and his tiny alien crew into custody. They succeed in capturing the Dave-ship, but all the aliens escape in one of Dave’s rocket-powered feet. The Captain smooches Number Three. The rest of the crew cheers, even though their planet will now probably perish horribly without the stolen ocean water.

Thoughts:

Ladies and gentlemen, Eddie Murphy's only facial expression.In case the title of this site hadn’t tipped you off, this is a fan guide with no pretentions to serious film criticism. By extension, I should note that I’m a fan, not a critic, and am thus heavily inclined to enjoy anything created by the objects of my fannish adoration—in this case, Meet Dave co-writer and MST3K veteran Bill Corbett. Because of this, I am going to pretend that Mr. Corbett can be credited all the funny parts of this only marginally watchable cinematic turd, and that the serially tasteless Eddie Murphy and his director Brian Robbins are to blame for the rest of it.

Indeed, for a movie that could accurately be advertised as “From the comedy team that brought you Norbit,” Meet Dave is funnier than it deserves to be. I laughed at it. Sometimes. A little. (Note to advertisers looking for pull quotes, “I laughed at it. Sometimes. A little,” is very much available. So is “only marginally watchable.”) Particular bits that caught my fancy: Dave’s initial choice for the most common name on Earth; the running gag regarding Gina’s horrible driving record; the way the right arm operator’s ill-timed bathroom break ruined Dave’s first attempt at the carnival game. If I shut my eyes and wish hard enough, I can convince myself that Bill Corbett is solely responsible for all the above-referenced moments of merriment.

Using a similar method, I can also convince myself that the story’s disjointed subplots, blatant inconsistencies and nonsensical jokes are all the fault of the other co-writers. So, Dave’s crew can barely make him walk, shake hands and change clothes, but they’re coordinated enough to make him write complex mathematical theorems at blinding speed, play videogames with superhuman alacrity, and fire a ball at a stack of bottles with uncanny accuracy? Which is it movie? He can’t be both a klutz and a highly efficient machine with no reason or transition between the two modes. And what, exactly, is it about Earth culture that virulently infects these alien invaders? More specifically, how does a few seconds of A Chorus Line make someone instantly, flamingly gay? If Fantasy Island is their point of reference, how has the crew of the Dave-ship not learned basic motor skills, or how to greet someone without saying “Welcome to Old Navy”? Who thought that pooping money was funny? Or that hanging someone upside down would give that someone a wedgie? And who slathered the whole thing in that schmaltzy, gooey layer of feel-good after-school special clich├ęs?

Oh, and why does Eddie Murphy keep doing this kind of thing when he obviously doesn’t enjoy it? Steve Martin or John Cleese would have been ideal, but they’ve both more or less retired. Couldn’t they have hired Will Ferrell or Joey Pants or Brendan Fraser or Rowan Atkinson? Hell, even Will Smith or, heaven forbid, Chris Kattan could have done better. Considering the aliens’ point of reference, Ricardo Montalban would have been a funny choice too. (You will note that I purposely did not wish for Robin Williams.)

I guess you could pay to see Meet Dave if you wanted to support Bill Corbett’s initial foray into high-rolling Hollywood screenwriterhood, but the way the royalty agreements are usually structured (with the writers at or near the bottom) Bill’s probably seen all the money he’s going to see out of this greasy, steaming pile. The nicest thing I can say about it is that, yes, it’s crap, but it’s aged, moldy crap. You know, the kind that only smells half as bad as the fresh stuff, and merely crumbles underfoot instead of sticking to the bottom of your shoe. (Second note to advertisers looking for pull quotes, the previous line is also available, as is the next one.) While Meet Dave doesn’t exactly manage to drag Eddie Murphy out of the gutter, at least it drags him to a slightly cleaner gutter in a nicer part of town.

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6/26/08

So That's Why My Wife Ignores Me...

The Seventh Sense is still stuck in development hell.Welcome, won't you?

A ghost story without underpants and vomit is like a day without sunshine, a rose without thorns, a cowboy without a sad, sad... you get the idea. Thankfully, The Sixth Sense keeps its ghostly vomit and gratuitous underpants to a minimum. Also thankfully, it's actually kind of decent. The Rifftrax is pretty funny too. Read the review here.

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6/25/08

Sense VI: The Sensening

Mike gets kicked in the choch a lot by dead people.Welcome, won't you?

Did you know that Rosebud is a sled? Or that the girl in The Crying Game isn't really? Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker's father, you know. Also: Bruce Willis is dead. To go by his last three films, so is M. Night Shyamalan's talent.

Before his filmmaking instincts shuffled off this mortal coil, however, M. Night gave us one of the most popular cinematic ghost stories ever made. The Rifftrax for The Sixth Sense, featuring Mike, Bill and Kevin, is now available. Pick it up now.

P.S: The Titanic sinks, and King Kong dies.

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6/24/08

Socking Away Posts For The Future...

This visual metaphor only works if you think of posts as dirt.Welcome, won't you?

Placeholder posts have been added for the next section of ten Rifftrax. The Sixth Sense, first release of this section, comes out tomorrow...

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6/23/08

RVOD026 Skipper Learns a Lesson

(1952, Educational/Short, color)

Riffers:

Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett, and Kevin Murphy

Let’s go down to the salon and hurl epithets at the poodles!

Rating: ***

In a nutshell:

Skipper the Racist Dog learns that it’s what’s on the inside that counts.

Summary:

Why do none of these dogs begin each syllable with the letter R?Somewhere in the midst of a barren Midwestern wasteland, Susan and her hirsute dog Skipper move into a new neighborhood. Susan quickly makes friends, and soon she’s joined a multi-racial child task force dedicated to digging random holes in vacant lots.

She invites Skipper to join them, but our hairy protagonist refuses. Why, one of those kids is black, and another Polynesian. She leaves him to stew on the porch. The neighborhood dogs arrive to greet him, but he doesn’t like them either. The dachshund has a funny shape, the German shepard’s too big, and that black and white mutt just looks shifty.

At this point you might be wondering if there’s anything Skipper isn’t racist against. Well, he’s okay with poster paint, I guess. Soon he’s covered in the stuff, but it’s not as much fun as he apparently thought it would be. He goes looking for Susan to get cleaned up. The neighborhood dogs find him first and drive him away. Skipper tries to tell them that it’s him, the dog they spoke to earlier. “We know,” the dogs reply. “Get away from us you lousy bigot.” (Or, you know, words to that effect.)

Eventually he finds Susan, who recruits her multi-racial posse into helping her bathe all the poster paint off of him. Having washed all the racism away too, I guess, he apologizes to everyone for his earlier behavior. With his apology accepted, dogs and children alike run off to frolic in the hole-pocked vacant lots once more.

Thoughts:

We've burrowed eight whole inches into the earth!  What fun!It’s encouraging to know that, even as early as 1952, a few makers of educational films thought racism was kind of stupid, and managed to convey this in a way that children would understand. It’s also encouraging to know that since that time, ten-to-twelve-year-old kids no longer have to entertain themselves by wandering unsupervised into the hoary barren wilderness to dig holes in vacant lots with sticks. Since the advent of X-Box Live, in fact, they are now free to spend their leisure time in the comfort of their own homes, hurling racial and sexual epithets into their headsets at people they will never meet and whose real racial backgrounds they may never discover. We have truly come a long way.

I had never before considered anthropomorphic racism as a subject for mockery, but that’s probably because such an idea had never even occurred to me before I saw Skipper Learns a Lesson. Mike, Bill and Kevin take the concept and run with it, though. “He’s a rabid racist. Literally,” Bill says near the beginning. Kevin, in the meantime, wonders where the hell this is supposed to take place. “Roaming packs of dogs?” he says. “Vacant lots? What kind of neighborhood is this?” “I don’t even want to think about how he treats cats,” says Mike. To which Kevin responds, “He probably secretly dresses up in their clothes and goes to their clubs.” The short is a little staid, but it’s often bizarre enough to inspire some pretty funny commentary.

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Drugs Are Like Dizzy Softball Players

...of drugs.Welcome, won't you?

Drugs are also like Legos, stupid childrens' games and swinging over a lake with a fragile rope tied to your member. I promise I did not any of that up. Rifftrax's latest On Demand short Drugs Are Like That is second only to One Got Fat for hallucinatory strangeness. It's almost as funny, too. Review posted here.

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6/20/08

Let's See How Many Nautical Metaphors I Can Cram Into This Post

Now available: four gigs of pure love.Welcome, won't you?

Looks like EZTakes has pumped the bilges and righted the ship, because the product page for Doomsday Machine says it's available for download again, and some denizens of the Cinematic Titanic forum report smooth sailing. Those of you who missed the boat yesterday can try again. Keep your fingers crossed.

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6/19/08

Not Doomsday Yet

Dude, Doomsday Machine totally used to open for Motorhead.Welcome, won't you?

After months of delay, the second Cinematic Titanic release Doomsday Machine is finally available...in theory. I was going to title this post "Doomsday Is Upon Us!" but J. Elvis used that one for today's email club announcement, and besides, it's just not accurate. Doomsday Machine: The DVD ($14.99 plus shipping and handling) can be ordered directly from Cinematic Titanic, shipped in three to five business days, and then delivered in however long shipping takes after that. Doomsday Machine: The Download ($9.99) was supposed to be the cheaper and faster alternative, but downloadable DVD vendor EZTakes apparently thought that only three or four people would be interested. High demand killed their server within hours of release. You'd think they'd have learned their lesson from the last release date fiasco.

I'll be ordering a physical DVD and reviewing it whenever it arrives, because it looks like I'll get my hands on it faster that way.

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RVOD025 Patriotism

(1972, Educational/Short, color)

Riffers:

Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett, and Kevin Murphy

Making ugly things even uglier is what patriotism is all about.

Rating: **1/2

In a nutshell:

Everything, and I do mean each and every little action, can be considered patriotic.

Summary:

Whatever you do, DO NOT agree to appear in any of the star's 'other projects'.Former sitcom star Bob Crane narrates while a number of children wander the streets picking up trash, trampling flowers and complaining to city officials. According to Mr. Crane, all of these activities are patriotic. So is just about anything else you feel like doing.

Thoughts:

Oddly, this short’s definition of patriotism doesn’t specifically mention national pride. It also appears reluctant to advocate a determination to abide by our country’s laws, participate in the democratic process, or contribute in a time of national crisis. But Mr. Crane doesn’t rule such things out either, so I guess it’s implied. Aside from this, well, this and some really strange syntax near the middle, there’s nothing remarkable about it.

This brief scene is the only time the filmmakers allow this man near a child.Obviously the mockery for this short has to center on its infuriating vagueness, with occasional forays into Mr. Crane’s notorious depravity. Bill references the latter when he says, “Bob Crane had a funny sense of what constituted ‘a little act of patriotism’.” Later, Mike follows up yet another of Mr. Crane’s vague admonitions with the sarcastic, “Yes, I'm Bob Crane, lecturing you on how to be a good person.” Also amusing are Kevin’s Daffy Duck impersonation and Mike’s decision to declare “putting walnuts in your brownie recipe” and “wearing white pants” as the only unpatriotic acts possible. The short is fairly bland, and the commentary doesn’t seem to find much footing in it. It’s not boring; it’s just not all that special compared to previous shorts.

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6/18/08

Drugs Are Like Harmless Things That Are Not Drugs

Drugs are like three grown men playing with children's toys while making fun of elderly education shorts.Welcome, won't you?

Have you ever wanted to know what drugs are like, but didn't want to deal with all the altered consciousness crap, the horrific side effects and attendant health problems associated with prolonged use? Me neither. Too bad, because the makers of Drugs Are Like That want us to know anyway. According to the sample (behind the cut), drugs are like snot-covered binkies, for example. Good to know.

Download the DRM-Free Rifftrax On Demand short Drugs Are Like That here.

<a href="http://www.rifftrax.com/misc/flvplayer.swf?file=rtmp://rifftraxfvs.cdnetworks.us/rifftraxfvs/flashstream/&id=DrugsAre-sample&width=500&height=330&overstretch=fit&volume=100&autostart=false&type=rtmp&" target="_blank">http://www.rifftrax.com/misc/flvplayer.swf?file=rtmp://rifftraxfvs.cdnetworks.us/rifftraxfvs/flashstream/&id=DrugsAre-sample&width=500&height=330&overstretch=fit&volume=100&autostart=false&type=rtmp&</a>

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I See Riffed People

Did... Did Mike just pee himself?  Is that was that pose/facial expression means?Welcome, won't you?

I hope X-Files and Alien didn't burn you out on earnest, half-whispered dialog, 'cause Mike, Bill and Kevin won't have to raise their voices to be heard over their next target either. With convoluted suspense-monger M. Night Shyamalan firmly in their sights, the Rifftrax crew will be taking on The Sixth Sense on June 18, 2008. I'll be adding placeholders for the next set of ten Rifftrax to the site sometime this week.

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RVOD024 Down and Out

(1979, Educational/Short, color)

Riffers:

Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett, and Kevin Murphy

Sidewalk chalk kills millions.

Rating: *1/2

In a nutshell:

One guy falls down a lot.

Summary:

Far more entertaining than the short it promotes.Um, I guess I’m supposed to make this section longer than the “In a nutshell” section, so here goes: One guy falls down a lot while another guy narrates endlessly about how falling down is bad for you.

Thoughts:

I claim no definite knowledge of this workplace safety short’s origins, but it looks like something a workers’ compensation carrier would commission, and then offer small premium breaks to policyholders if they showed it to their employees. It’s only nine minutes long and the sole actor falls down at least three to four times per minute, no exaggeration. Most of the falls look embarrassingly stagy while a few look like they hurt, but beyond that there’s very little variation. I guess it served its purpose in that I no longer want to seriously injure myself at work. Falling down just looks so dull.

Ad nauseum.This presents something of a problem for the Rifftrax crew. Mike, Bill and Kevin mock the material at hand, but said material consists only of a small collection of fall-precipitating structures, so eighty to ninety percent of the jokes refer to them. Examples: “Surfaces are out to get you” (Mike); “Satan’s staircase! Everybody run!” (Bill); “Ladders are an instrument of evil” (Kevin). If I haven’t made this short sound all that funny, well, that’s because it isn’t. The riffers make fun of everything the short has, so I’m not sure what they could have done to make it funnier. I guess they could have ignored the action entirely to talk about other subjects, but then what would have been the point of using the short at all? This is the first Rifftrax short subject that I can’t really recommend.

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6/17/08

The Film Crew is Dead; Long Live Rifftrax!

In Memoriam.Welcome, won't you?

No new DVDs have been filmed in years, none have come out since 2007, and now The Film Crew has even let its domain name lapse. In a recent Q&A, Bill Corbett confirmed what we have long suspected--The Film Crew is now dead, survived by four DVDs and a legion of mourning fans. I've cut my link to their site and added a note to The Film Crew Guide.

Here's the text of the announcement behind the cut:

As of this week — literally a few days ago — I can finally confirm the sad news that The Film Crew is no more.

We’re all pretty bummed that we couldn’t work out a way to continue Film Crew, in some form. It has more to do with the unfortunate timing — as I’ve probably said in a previous Q and A, we were waiting around for a long time after we filmed the Film Crew things in 2005, wondering if they’d be released. For a while the answer was NO.

So we moved on. And Mike joined up with Legend to do Rifftrax, and was kind (or foolish?) enough to ask Kevin and me aboard. And now there’s just no way of doing both.

It’s not the fault of Shout Factory — they’ve been pretty excellent to us. It’s what came before they picked us up!

As for seeing our live images onscreen again — thanks, but why would you want that? We’d getting old and creepy (creepier) looking. Well, I speak personally.

Thanks for the question. There may yet be ways for Rifftrax to branch out into other ways of riffing, including some cool visual component. We’ll be trying something soon. Stay tuned, as ever!
Don't worry, honey. Rifftrax is still around.

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6/16/08

In Space Even This Film Uses Sound Effects

Leathery omelettes anyone?Welcome, won't you?

Here we have the quintessential Deep Space Horror film--a slow, contempletive drama punctuated by tiny moments of sheer terror. All things considered, I'd say Alien is a great deal more frightening than a film about a Masai in a rubber suit should be. Still, it's not the most fast-paced of films, and the Rifftrax doesn't do much to help it move. It's enjoyable enough for Alien fans and/or the very patient. Review here.

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6/13/08

Keep Your Feet on the Ground, and Keep Reaching for Dark Star

Talk to the hand.Welcome, won't you?

The Dark Star crew has finished another couple of spaceship interior levels. Maybe we'll get it this December after all. I'll have to add it to my Christmas list. Go here, and enter the "News" portion of the site for the latest update.

A Bit of Advice: The Alien rifftrax only works with the Director's Cut released in 2003. Make sure you look at the release date of the movie you're purchasing/renting before completing the transaction, regardless of how the cover is labeled.

Status of the Next Review: The Alien review will be delayed until tomorrow at the earliest and Monday at the latest due to the inability of more than one $&*#! video rental outlet to correctly label the different versions of that movie. Blockbuster, for instance, has a clearly labeled Director's Cut case that contains the 1999 Special Edition. When I brought it back and showed them, it turned out that no, they did not actually stock the version I needed. My locally owned and operated backup store had both versions, but the regular case contained the Special Edition, and the Special Edition case contained the Director's Cut. I attempted to explain that the Special Edition and the Director's Cut have significant differences despite their near-identical running time. The teenage girl behind the counter responded with a glazed stare.

Long story short, I finally have the right version, and will be reviewing it soon.

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6/12/08

RVOD023 Drugs Are Like That

(1979, Educational/Short, color)

Riffers:

Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett, and Kevin Murphy

So, drugs are like harmless things that are not drugs.

Rating: ***1/2

In a nutshell:

Two kids discuss how drugs are like lots of things that drugs are not like.

Summary:

I think that Kevin is more like drugs than Mike or Bill.A brother and sister (I assume) retrieve a box of Legos from the closet to build an elaborate network of battery-powered gears and wheels. While they build, they hold a tentative, awkward conversation—full of long silences and mind-numbing repetition—on the subject of drugs. They conclude that drugs are like the following:

1) A baby’s pacifier.
2) A rousing game of step-on-a-crack, played well into adulthood.
3) Spinning in a swing before a softball game.
4) A cookie-seeking three-year-old falling off a countertop.
5) A lake, complete with bathing beauties and a rope swing.

In conclusion, the Lego siblings turn on their machine and watch it twist and turn in silent awe. One of them switches one little piece around. Huge clouds of gray smoke pour out of the contraption before it explodes into a shower of sharp-edged individual pieces. The kids conclude that, you know what, drugs are like that.

Thoughts:

Spiders! Spiders! Eeeaaaaarrrrrggghhh!As a father of small children, one sequence in particular made me cringe. When the three-year-old slipped and tumbled four feet onto a tile floor, landing on her upper back, neck and head, it sent an electric shiver down my spine. Then her mom opened the kitchen door and tapped her foot angrily instead of, you know, rushing to hold her daughter still while screaming at her spouse to call an ambulance. Maybe when the kids conclude this section with “drugs are like that”, they’re referring to a parent so out of her mind on ‘ludes that she can’t recognize a potentially fractured spine when she sees one.

As you have no doubt figured out by now, none of the things discussed above have anything in common with drugs. A pacifier will not alter your brain chemistry, inculcating you with a literal physical dependency upon it. Neither will children’s games, spinning swings, highly-placed cookies, or inland bodies of water. The spinning swing might make you a bit dizzy for a few seconds, but otherwise none of these things will alter your consciousness in any way, either.

Oddly, the whole short is more pro-drug than not. No one ever comes out and says that drugs are bad for you. The short says that drugs might be bad for you. Then again, it goes on to state, drugs might not be bad for you. Why take the chance, the short asks. And then, by implying that “drugs are like harmless things that are not drugs” (Mike’s words) it stacks the deck in favor of the possibility that drugs might be harmless. Scripting its child protagonists to speak as if they’ve just burned their way through an entire bale of cannabis doesn’t help the case against drugs either. Maybe that Lego thing they’re building is an animatronic bong.

The Rifftrax “Big Three” (Mike, Kevin and Bill) provide the commentary. After the pointless, meandering children’s conversation has revealed a remarkable lack of short-term memory, Mike suggests that they “check their house for carbon monoxide.” When an adult becomes hooked on the step-on-a-crack game, Bill says “he’s a step-on-a-crackhead.” When the narrator recaps at the end, Kevin notes that drugs are also like “Persian poetry, topsoil, the Ides of March, butterscotch pudding, and paperclips.” Mike and friends become increasingly and hilariously frustrated while the exuberantly wrong-headed short continues to pile one inept simile atop another until the whole thing unashamedly falls to pieces at the end. This latest short is also one of the funniest to become available at Rifftrax—which, according to Bill, is also like drugs.

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6/10/08

You Are My Lucky Star

So that's what comes out of those things.Welcome, won't you?

Keep your faces covered and your tiny white underpants handy, because Bill and Kevin's commentary track for Alien is scheduled for release today. Keep checking back here to pick up your copy.

Important Correction: The Rifftrax will only work with the Director's Cut of Alien, and not the Theatrical Cut as previously reported.

Behind the cut: A sample, for your viewing pleasure.

<a href="http://www.rifftrax.com/misc/flvplayer.swf?file=rtmp://rifftraxfvs.cdnetworks.us/rifftraxfvs/flashstream/&amp;id=alien_sample&amp;width=500&amp;height=330&amp;overstretch=fit&amp;volume=100&amp;autostart=false&amp;type=rtmp&amp;" target="_blank">http://www.rifftrax.com/misc/flvplayer.swf?file=rtmp://rifftraxfvs.cdnetworks.us/rifftraxfvs/flashstream/&ampid=alien_sample&ampwidth=500&ampheight=330&ampoverstretch=fit&ampvolume=100&ampautostart=false&amptype=rtmp&amp</a>

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6/9/08

Doomsday is Nigh!

Invented by the guy who killed Superman.Welcome, won't you?

J. Elvis dropped by the CT email club's inboxes this afternoon to lay another thick chunk of news on us. Cinematic Titanic's long-awaited second release is finally near. 1970's cheesefest Doomsday Machine is scheduled for release in DVD and download formats on June 19, 2008. He also wanted to remind us that tickets for their live show in Los Angeles on June 21, 2008 are on sale here.

A new trailer for Doomsday Machine can be found behind the cut:

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6/6/08

Now They're Historical Documents; Yeah, That's It...

Robots of the future riffing the mousepads of the past.Welcome, won't you?

Just a quick update to the MST3K.com Guide today. Though unwilling to erase all evidence of the sordid past (and, in doing so, throw away a lot of suddenly unnecessary material), I have added explanatory notes to the guide and the legacy videos list to make it clear that they are past.

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6/5/08

Turns Out Mary Jo Had the Truth in Her Purse All Along

Aborted fan service.Welcome, won't you?

In the words of Mary Jo Pehl, "The truth is out there, and it's incredibly dull." Fortunately, Bill and Mary Jo appear to have put aside their differences and closed ranks against the boring and disjointed X-Files: Fight the Future, making it the funniest Rifftrax Presents title yet. Full review here.

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6/4/08

My Mother was a Wood Duck

Robots of the future riffing the mousepads of the past.Welcome, won't you?

MST3K.com is back up and it actually looks decent. I don’t mean to sound shocked. It’s just that after the last iteration—what with the unscrollable fixed dimensions, the constant background noise drowning out the videos and the boring-as-hell flash cartoons—I wasn’t expecting much. Now that Mr. Mallon and company appear to have put that unfortunate stain on the show’s history behind them, I promise this will be the last time I mention it.

The new MST3K.com has a lot to love. There are four sections. The first one is called Riff of the Day and it’s exactly what it sounds like: a brief clip of a particularly funny quip from a classic episode. Yesterday’s was from Red Zone Cuba, spotlighting a tender moment with the craggy proprietor of a roadside diner. The next two are titled Planet Theater and Gypsy’s Host Segment Drive-In, respectively. They positively brim with classic host segments and clips from film segments, each one clearly labeled with its episode of origin. The last section is a link called MSTie Mall, which leads to the unaltered (at least as far as I can tell) MST3K.com store.

So, all in all, an easily navigable site chock full of classic Mystery Science Theater 3000 goodness. Good job, guys.

As far as their site redesign relates to my site, I will no longer be continuing coverage of MST3K.com. Making reviews and lists about them made sense back when they were producing original content, but now that they’re not, it seems like it would be silly to review clips from shows I’ve already reviewed. Even the “Legacy Videos” list I used to maintain is no longer necessary; if you want to know what host segment is from which episode, just hover your mouse over the video and it will tell you.

In the next few days I will alter the main page of the MST3K.com Guide to reflect the changes to their site. Then I’ll leave notes on the ‘Bot Cartoon reviews and the “Legacy Videos” list to assure readers that these belong to a sad and distant past.

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In Space Everyone Can Hear You Riff

Come on, Riff_Martian.  Where's Sigourney in her underpants?Welcome, won't you?

Rifftrax continues to build its library of non-Mike commentaries. On June 10, 2008 Kevin and Bill will leap out of the air ducts, wrap themselves around our heads, and then lay their eggs in our chests with a track for the theatrical cut of Ridley Scott's Alien. The Rifftrax folks will make their next announcement on June 18, 2008.

More to come on the subject of MST3K.com...

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6/3/08

Grappling with Unspecified Potential Events

Bill Corbett and Mary Jo Pehl on a desperate quest to mumblemumblemumble...Welcome, won't you?

In case your near-inaudible suspicious mumbling requirements haven't been met for the week, Rifftrax Presents has released the Bill and Mary Jo commentary for The X-Files: Fight the Future. Buy now. Sample in yesterday's post. The DVD will be harder to obtain. An exhaustive search has placed a copy in the hands of my enemy, Obscure Local Video Rental Merchant Man. I will attempt to penetrate his place of business tonight. If I'm not back by tomorrow, call Mulder and Scully.

Also: MST3K.com has returned! And it's a flash-based site that doesn't work in IE6, so I have no idea what's on it! Huzzah! I'll take a look from my Firefox-enabled home computer later tonight and have more information tomorrow.

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6/2/08

It's Like Grease, but Without the Strong Sense of Morality

From the way he's holding that knife, Matt looks more like he's about to pick his teeth than stab that girl.Welcome, won't you?

What do you get when a small number of promiscuous young adults frolic in the uncharted American wilderness? Every Dead Teenager flick since the 1970s, that's what. House of Wax might actually be slightly above average for the genre, but I don't care. I hate it anyway. The review has been posted here.

Also: A sample for the upcoming Rifftrax for The X-Files: Fight the Future, found behind the cut:

<a href="http://www.rifftrax.com/misc/flvplayer.swf?file=rtmp://rifftraxfvs.cdnetworks.us/rifftraxfvs/flashstream/&amp;id=X-Files_Sample&amp;width=500&amp;height=330&amp;overstretch=fit&amp;volume=100&amp;autostart=false&amp;type=rtmp&amp;" target="_blank">http://www.rifftrax.com/misc/flvplayer.swf?file=rtmp://rifftraxfvs.cdnetworks.us/rifftraxfvs/flashstream/&amp;id=X-Files_Sample&amp;width=500&amp;height=330&amp;overstretch=fit&amp;volume=100&amp;autostart=false&amp;type=rtmp&amp;</a>

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