12/31/08

Coming in Two Thousand... Er...

On Tatooine, 2009 has already come and gone.Welcome, won't you?

The good folks at Parallax Studios wish us a happy new year, and would like to us to know that the projected release date for Darkstar has now been pushed back to Christmas 2009. (Go here and click through to their news section.) The inital splash scene still rather comically promises us a 2008 release; I suspect this will be corrected shortly.

In other news, I've seen the Star Wars Episode IV - A New Hope (Special Edition) Rifftrax. I've got family in town for the new year and likely won't post a full review until next week. In the meantime, let me just say that it's one of the funniest things they've put out in months. Pick it up and enjoy it, why don't you?

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12/30/08

Ah, For the Halycon Days Back When I Used to Bullseye Whomp Rats...

Throw me the idol and I'll throw you the...  Wait.  Wrong franchise.Welcome, won't you?

Rifftrax has released the commentary for a cinema classic today, titled (for now) Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (Special Edition). Get it while it's hot, 'cause you never know when Lucas will add a few more minutes of CGI and tack on another subtitle.

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12/27/08

E Vivo!

With sexy lady lightning-powered zombies as well.Welcome, won't you?

I finally resurfaced from a home networking nightmare to find a new Cinematic Titanic Email Club announcement in my newly recovered hotmail account. It was rather like dragging myself clear of a river of raw sewage to find a glittering gold nugget on the bank. Anyway, Cinematic Titanic's New Year's gift to the world will be an Italian movie about lightning-powered zombies (I assume), called Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks. (Imdb here. Youtube trailer here.) Due for release on January 8, 2009. That means that the last of the current batch (Blood of the Vampires) will probably come out March-ish.

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12/24/08

The Be-Top-Hatted Spider-Dog of Bill's Nightmares

Poor, stupid Santa got caught again.First, the review for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was posted yesterday, but I screwed up the link. Here's where it really is. It's been fixed in yesterday's post as well.

Also, the review for Christmas Toyshop was posted this morning. Tune in for Santa's bad acid trip, featuring the gassing and dismemberment of the be-top-hatted spider-dog of Bill's nightmares.

Unless something big happens, I won't post again until the release of the Star Wars Rifftrax next Tuesday, so I guess I'll see you then. Merry Christmas everyone!

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12/23/08

RVOD041 Shy Guy

(1947, Educational/Short, b&w)

Riffers:

Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy

The stalking is coming easy to me now.

Rating: ***1/2

In a nutshell:


Can’t fit in at school? Put on a sweater and start stalking!

Summary:

Need any help?  Better say yes, dammit!Try as he might, Phil (Dick York) can’t seem to make friends at his new school. After a particularly frustrating and isolated day, he solders ham radio parts in his basement while complaining that his classmates don’t like his clothes or his strange, out-of-town manners. His overly cheerful father advises him to observe his classmates so that he may better dress and behave as they do.

Heeding his father’s advice, Phil goes to school the next day in a sweater instead of his customary three-piece suit. He follows his classmates around and is astonished at how they listen to one another, occasionally offering help to fellow classmates in need. Phil tries to work up his courage to listen and help like his classmates do, but has to be corralled into attending an after-school party by an aggressively friendly classmate before he finally finds his opportunity. Overhearing a couple of guys with a particularly knotty ham radio problem, he saunters over to offer his expertise. Soon, dozens of students of both genders are flocking to his basement workroom to guzzle Coke and marvel at his many shapeless masses of wire.

Thoughts:

Oh Phil!  Ham radios are soooo hot!This is our second short from 1947 to address the burning issue of teenage popularity. It is also the second Teen-Popularity-Short-of-1947 to get the issue exactly wrong. Wrong in the exact same way, in fact, suggesting that the excesses of the sixties might have been prevented if only the adults of the forties and fifties had bothered to pay attention. This is not to say that the advice is bad. Listening to people and offering assistance are good starting points for any teen with an interest in becoming a decent human being. Let us consider this a desirable Point B. Point A’s “Follow the popular kids and do what they do” won’t get you there. Oh, it’ll get you popular, at least peripherally, but anyone who’s ever been to high school can tell you that the popular kids don’t wear sweaters and sing Kum-bah-yah.

The short itself is a lot of fun, owing in no small part to a very young and Tobey Maguire-ish Dick York. While Phil’s voice-over wonders if “listening” is the secret to his classmates’ success, Mike says, “The only way to know for sure is to kidnap them and steal their essence.” While he wonders if he ought to “listen” too, Kevin says, “Nah, I’m more of a Read-Catcher-in-the-Rye-and-Plot-My-Revenge kind of guy.” Upon arrival at the whitest, squarest teen party ever captured on film, a boy meets Phil at the door, prompting Bill to say, “Can I get you a piece of toast, or a cup of bouillon?” Many strange elements evince a rather bizarre obsession with ham radios, menu collections and sweaters, giving the Rifftrax Crew plenty of material to work with all the way through. While I can’t guarantee that watching this excellent short will make you popular, it certainly can’t hurt your chances.

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Rifftrax Video On Demand 031 to 040

RVOD031 Each Child Is Different

RVOD032 Kitty Cleans Up

RVOD033 Why Vandalism?

RVOD034 Aqua Frolics

RVOD035 The Incredible Hulk: The Final Round

RVOD036 Good Health Practices

RVOD037 Good Eating Habits

RVOD038 Know For Sure

RVOD039 Shake Hands with Danger

RVOD040 Christmas Toyshop

The last three shorts of this section finish off the "Eat Our Shorts" promotion of July 2008. Quality wasn't bad for the duration, just slightly worse than normal. It shoots sharply upwards again once we get back to the "every once in a while" schedule. Includes an episode of the Incredible Hulk television series that was a pleasure to watch, and still would be if the popularity of its free streaming format hadn't broken its little corner of the internet. (Fortunately, it's been released commentary-only for people who can track down the Season One DVDs.) Good Health Practices and Good Eating Habits, mark an excellent return to form for the riffers in terms of educational shorts, and while it's a bit more uneven than the previous two, Know for Sure is noteable for its hilarious Italian stereotypes (and for being about syphilis). For sheer weirdness, though, you really can't go wrong with the Holiday-flavored short Christmas Toyshop, as violent war toys take on the be-top-hatted spider-dog of Bill's nightmares.

Also noteable: Shake Hands with Danger, a graphic construction safety short exclusive to the Best of Rifftrax Shorts, Volume One DVD. Its episode number, indeed its very insertion into the Video on Demand lineup, is entirely arbitrary. I just couldn't figure out where else to put it.

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The Adventures of Luke Starkiller as Taken from the 'Journal of the Whills': Saga I - Star Wars

Why does Han look more feminine than Leia?Welcome, won't you?

After years of speculation, months of whining and weeks of other requests both polite and otherwise, Mike, Bill and Kevin will finally issue a Rifftrax for Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (Special Edition). It's a Christmas miracle! Due out on December 30, 2008, so I guess it's a post-Christmas miracle, actually.

By the way, the post title is an actual working title for this film, taken from the imdb page, proving that, but for cooler heads involved, Episode IV could easily have been as bad as Episodes I through III.

In other news, I have seen Christmas Toyshop, and it is every bit as hallucinatory as promised. I may not get to reviewing it until after Christmas; if I don't, consider this my recommendation. You have to watch this, if only for the sinister, powder-sprinkling demon elf and the six-legged be-top-hatted spider-dog of Bill's nightmares.

In still further news, the Prisoner of Azkaban review has been completed, and will post later today or tomorrow morning. [Update: Posted now.]

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12/22/08

Santa's Little Shop of Horrors

Santa Mike has a wonderful grinchy idea.Welcome, won't you?

In this season of need, Mike, Bill and Kevin have provided the holiday film-hungry among us with a new on-demand short, whimsically titled Christmas Toyshop. I haven't seen it yet, but the Rifftrax product description promises drug-dispensing demons, so I'm sold. Pick it up here.

Also, I apologize for the slow posting recently. I am awash in post-vacation backlog, house-shopping madness and Christmas cheer, making it difficult to clear a way to the computer sometimes. A Prisoner of Azkaban review is coming before Christmas, though, I promise.

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12/17/08

You Will Believe a Bat Can Growl

Batman has strategically defaced the aptly named Not Appearing In This Film Building.Welcome, won't you?

Here's a fresh, steaming hot The Dark Knight review, as promised. Good movie? Absolutely. Great movie? Probably. Too good to riff? Of course not. Nothing's too good for mockery. Too dark to riff effectively? Um, yeah. That one fits. It's fun to watch, but the film's grim tone tends to drag on the humor a bit.

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12/16/08

Timothy Q. Diaperhat?

Where did Kevin get those lucious wavy locks?Welcome, won't you?

And here we have our second Gary Oldman film in a row. The Rifftrax for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban has been released. Pick it up here. The Dark Knight review will be up tomorrow.

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12/13/08

An Uninteresting Post About Site Maintenance

This is what I look like in real life. Really.Welcome, won't you?

Comments have been added to the last set of ten Rifftrax. Placeholder posts have been added for the next set of ten. That is all.

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12/12/08

I'm Baaaaaack...

Bill's resemblance to Emma Thompson is uncanny....and this time [significant pause] it's personal.

A few things happened while I was gone, all of them Rifftrax-related. The Rifftrax for The Dark Knight was released on Tuesday, just as we knew it would be. Expect a review early next week.

The next Rifftrax was also announced right on schedule. Mike, Bill and Kevin give Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban a good working-over on December 16, 2008.

Also, a welcome surprise; after an attempt to offer a free riffed version of The Incredible Hulk: The Final Round crashed the internets a while back (review here), the commentary track for that experiment is now available for sale on the site. You'll have to track down a copy of the The Incredible Hulk: Season One to make use of it, but it's definitely worth the trouble. Pick it up here.

Also, as always, welcome, won't you?

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12/5/08

Off to my Undisclosed Location...

Not anyplace you're likely to have heard of...Welcome, won't you?

Greetings all,

At least two things of note will happen next week. The Rifftrax for The Dark Knight will release on December 9, 2008. The title of the next Rifftrax after that will be announced on December 10, 2008. Perhaps other items of importance to MST3K fandom will be announced as well, but I will have no way of knowing, as I will be ensconced in my undisclosed location.

I'll catch up with you guys when I get back from vacation next Friday. In the meantime, don't forget to check Rifftrax on Tuesday and Wednesday for the aforementioned events.

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12/4/08

Ba-dow Ba-da-dow Dow!

A hand not long for this world...Welcome, won't you?

Now that Blogger's posting issues appear to have been resolved, my review of the DVD-exclusive short Shake Hands with Danger is finally available. Apparently, the folks at Caterpillar and Centron think that climbing into a running road paving machine might not be the best idea. Neither do faux Johnny Cash and his guitar. Features CGI bobblehead Mike, hideous man-bird Bill and disturbing man-popcorn Kevin.

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RVOD040 Christmas Toyshop

(1940s-ish, Children/Holiday/Short/Animation, b&w)

Riffers:

Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy

Try not to let your nightmare-inducing wallpaper induce nightmares.

Rating: ***1/2

In a nutshell:

An anthropomorphic spider invades a toy shop.

Summary:

Santa Mike has a wonderful grinchy idea.Actually, the plot summarized in the “In a nutshell” section only describes the middle of three stories, each one framing the other. The outermost layer of this strange little forties concoction (made either in 1944, 1945 or 1946, depending on the source) is comprised of a standard nuclear family—two parents, one boy child and one girl child—each perfectly coiffed and dressed to the nines as they sit around the house on Christmas Eve. Dad switches the radio off and announces bedtime. The kids change into six layers of formal sleepwear and climb into bed. Meanwhile, Dad brings in the tree and presents, pratfalling all the way.

You’d think the noise would get the kids right back up, but no. This is where the second layer of the story kicks in, as an ethereal demon elf sprinkles magic hallucinogens over our helpless protagonists. In their supernatural drug-induced stupor, the children believe their incredibly bumbling dad is actually Santa Claus, who tripped while coming down the chimney. They seize the clumsy, right jolly, and thoroughly disinterested old elf to demand a story.

Santa complies with the short’s creamy nougat story center—an almost plotless little cartoon in which a be-top-hatted spider-dog (“of my nightmares,” Bill is quick to point out) invades a toy party and makes off with the Little Miss Muffet doll. Whimsical dance routines and horrific animated carnage ensue. Miss Muffet is saved, the spider-dog is gassed and dismembered, and we pull back out to story layer two to see that the kids have fallen asleep on Santa’s lap.

For those of you keeping score, yes, story two is also a dream (so I guess they’re dreaming that they’ve fallen asleep) from which they wake the next morning back in story one. They run downstairs to greet their cringe-inducingly incompetent father and stern, school-marmish mother. They instantly see through their dad’s unconvincing Santa costume, then seize a drum and bang on it until it’s time to end.

Thoughts:

A rather bored Santa prepares to conjure up visions of an evil Terrytoon spider.Recipe for Christmas Toyshop: Take one mediocre cartoon. Roll on a layer of off-the-shelf Santa. Roll again in standard family love, spiced with generic stooge pratfalls. Deep fry and serve. It sort of tastes like a Christmas classic, (by forties standards, I guess) but it leaves you with grease coating the inside of your mouth, and you’ll feel gassy and bloated for hours afterwards. For a truly unique holiday flavor, try adding the Christmas Toyshop secret ingredient (LSD) to every layer and let terrifying visions of arachnid/sugarplum hybrids dance through your head.

This bizarre little short inspires one of the most original commentaries we’ve had for a while. As the kids ask their mother to sing them to sleep, Kevin launches into a falsetto Italian aria that increases in pitch and volume as the scene drags on, finally devolving into a rendition of “This is Why I’m Hot” with Bill. When the drug-dispensing demon elf holds a finger to his lips, Mike rasps, “Tell no one of our encounter, Earth creatures.” And of course, throughout the cartoon, Bill doggedly refers to the antagonist as “The be-top-hatted spider-dog of my nightmares.” In addition to being a lot of fun to watch, I’d go so far as to say that it ranks right up there with One Got Fat as one of the most hallucinogenic shorts they’ve ever done.

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12/3/08

Speaking of Batman...

Bearded Batman looks downright terrifying....the next Rifftrax will be Chris Nolan's nine-hour Batman epic, The Dark Knight. Set your calendars for December 9, 2008, when Mike, Kevin and Bill will riff the caped crusader's latest light-hearted adventure.

Oh, and welcome, won't you?

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12/2/08

Three Riddlers Fighting an Invisible Batman

Hey, don't point that thing at Santa.Welcome, won't you?

Two things:

1) The full review of Cinematic Titanic's take on Santa Claus Conquers the Martians has been posted. Enjoy! Or better yet, order online or download and enjoy even more.

2) The next Rifftrax will be announced tomorrow.

That is all. We now return you to your regularly scheduled pre-Christmas mayhem.

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12/1/08

Be Not That Afraid. Be Very Not That Afraid.

You hate to see booger on booger violence.Just a couple of post-Turkey Day updates:

1) I've now seen the Cinematic Titanic version of Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. To those of you who stopped getting these because of the film selection (you know who you are): it's time to buying again. It's Joel and friends doing what they do best to a movie that doesn't make you want to kill yourself. Oh, it's bad. Make no mistake about that. It's just bad in a happy upbeat sort of way. Full review coming tomorrow.

2) My copy of The Best of Rifftrax Shorts was shipped last Monday, and arrived the day after Thanksgiving, including the CGI-riffed construction safety short, Shake Hands With Danger. (Ba-dow dow-da-dow dow!) A review for that will be coming soon as well.

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