1/30/09

Suddenly Rifftrax is Standing Beside You...

They're mean green mothers from outer space.Welcome, won't you?

Finally, an update worthy of its own post. After an absence of excruciating length, Rifftrax.com returns with not one, but two new goodies. The non-live version of the server-melting short Overcoming Fear, plus another three-riffer do-over of a film from Mike's solo days. Bill and Kevin join the master riffer to mock Roger Corman's odd, tasteless classic Little Shop of Horrors, available both as an MP3 and Video on Demand. Pick them up here.

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1/29/09

RVOD051 Swing Parade (Three Riffer Version)

The review is posted in the regular Rifftrax section.

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RVOD050 Carnival of Souls (Three Riffer Version)

Review posted in the regular Rifftrax section.

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RVOD048 Missile to the Moon (Three Riffer Version)

Review posted in the regular Rifftrax section.

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RVOD047 Night of the Living Dead (Three Riffer Version)

Review posted in the regular Rifftrax section.

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1/28/09

Same Riff-Time, Same Riff-Channel

Mike has one of those farmer's tans that end just under his chin.Welcome, won't you?

Just a quick reminder: Overcome your fears at Rifftrax Live, online tonight at six p.m. PST. Be there!

Update: If you're here, right now, at 6:08 p.m., still trying unsuccessfully to access Rifftrax's fallen site, well, um, sorry. I'd advise you to go to UStream directly, but they appear to have broken that as well. More details to come...

Update: 6:20 p.m. It's working! It's working! Hit the link above and watch!

Update: 8:03 p.m. It's over, and my kids are
now fed, pajama'd and in bed, so it's time for the post-mortem. The live riff finally re-started twenty minutes late, visible from Ustream only. Mike, Bill and Kevin were funny as always, though an awareness that they were running long seemed to rush them a bit through the subsequent Q&A. I'd encourage you to go buy a copy of Overcoming Fear right now, but Rifftrax.com still appears to be dead. I guess I'll come back and try again tomorrow (Thursday).

Update: 7:07 a.m. Thursday morning, and Rifftrax.com is still down. I was thinking that the live show screwed their server but good, but their twitter feed (currently their only public link to the outside world) seems to indicate that the problem is rodent-based. Throwing more rodents at the problem didn't work, so now they've turned to lesser primates for a solution. More on the situation as it develops...

Udate: Rifftrax.com still down as of 12:28 p.m. Thursday afternoon, and according to twitter, it's gonna be a while yet. All data has been saved, but some of the hardware has failed. Also, there are unconfirmed rumblings regarding a possible rebroadcast of last night's live performance. No word on their technical support's current species...

Update: You know, I probably wouldn't even care that much if I didn't know that the current Riffpocalypse was keeping me from their latest release. Anyway, it's Thursday, 8:31 p.m., and the site isn't back yet. According to twitter, the hardware issues are resolved and now they get to piece the software back together.


Update: Friday 1:44 p.m. Light at the end of the tunnel. The Rifftrax forums are back. The main site is not, but visible progress has been made.

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1/23/09

I Wish the FDA Would Test Me for Soul-Destroying Qualities

That guy peeking through the smoke--is that Skeletor?Welcome, won't you?

Here's my review for the three-riffer commentary of Reefer Madness. It's funny enough. Is it ten dollars worth of funny? Probably not. Worth picking up the lower-priced commentary-only MP3 if you've already got the DVD, though.

And here's a neat little tidbit regarding classic MST3K. Distributor Shout Factory now has an itunes storefront, so you can buy select episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000 online. Check out The Satellite News for more information.

Not much else going on today in the world of MST3K fandom. In my personal life, however, I have just opened escrow on my very first house. This is relevant to readers of this blog because my shifting financial/free time/internet access situation will probably make make updates spotty through February and into March. Congratulations to me!

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1/20/09

But Wait, There's More...

The devil's weed, known to cause spontaneous homicidal rages.Welcome, won't you?

Surprise Rifftrax Video On Demand Release! A three-riffer version of the classic anti-marijuana screed Reefer Madness is now available. I haven't seen it yet, but the folks at Rifftrax have assured us that the commentary is substantially different than Mike's previous stab at the subject. Review to come.

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San Francisco, Here I Come

Marty's lovin' that spotlight now.Welcome, won't you?

Greetings all,

Though the FAQ states that I have never attended an event where an MST3K alumnus has appeared, after the thirteenth of next month this will no longer be true. That's right, I manned up, plunked down my forty bucks (plus $12+ in ticketmaster fees) to see Cinematic Titanic riff an as-yet unspecified film at the Marines Memorial Theater in San Francisco. That's my entire allowance for February, so don't let me down, guys!

Also, my review of Self-Concious Guy has been posted. I don't think it will spoil anything if I tell you up front that the eponymous "Guy" eventually overcomes his fears, even though he richly deserves them.

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1/19/09

RVOD046 House on Haunted Hill (Three Riffer Version)

Review posted in the regular Rifftrax section.

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1/17/09

We Have Nothing To Fear But, Um, Death and Taxes, I Guess

Mike has one of those farmer's tans that end just under his chin.Welcome, won't you?

The time and title of the next Rifftrax Live session have been announced: The fifties-era self-confidence cavalcade will continue on January 28, 2009 at six p.m. PST with the short Overcoming Fear. Set your calendars accordingly.

And speaking of live shows, Cinematic Titanic has announced the dates and locations for their next tour. Tickets go on sale Monday for people who know the presale code. (The extremely hard-to-remember code is "MST3K".) Go here for links and information.

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1/16/09

His Nemesis is Self-Aggrandizing Guy

So the key to relaxing in public is to blame others?Welcome, won't you?

Last night's live streaming riff of Self-Conscious Guy went swimmingly. "Self-Conscious" Bill Corbett, Mike "No Muffins" Nelson and Kevin "Girl Pants" Murphy were funny as always both during the short itself and the subsequent Q&A session. And despite an audience of over three thousand, the Rifftrax site didn't crash until after the whole thing was over. A second live streaming show will take place just under two weeks from now on Wednesday, January 28, 2009. The time and subject matter have yet to be announced.

In the meantime, a non-live version of Self-Conscious Guy has been made available at the Rifftrax site for $0.99. (Review to come early next week). Video of the Q&A is not for sale, but alert fan bettertommorrowamy has posted an audio-only recording of the session here.

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1/15/09

RVOD045 Little Shop of Horrors (Three Riffer Version)

Review posted in the regular Rifftrax section.

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Frankenstein's Castle of Bare-Chested Ladies

Features naked boobies...Welcome, won't you?

My review of Cinematic Titanic's decidedly chestular new release Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks has been posted. Thrill as the eponymous freaks (i.e.: hunchbacks, dwarves, Neanderthals and men in top hats) amble across the countryside doing nothing in particular! Marvel as silhouettes of lighter-than-air-craft strategically block views of shapely young ladies who take off their clothes! Chuckle as thirty-nine people who all sound like cartoon bears burn the whole movie down at the end! Check it out, folks. This one's a lot of fun.

And don't forget to show up at Rifftrax at 6:00 p.m. PST for the live streaming show.

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1/14/09

A Reminder and a Cartoon

Not what I would have done, but...Welcome, won't you?

Free streaming Rifftrax tomorrow at 6:00 p.m. PST! Also coming tomorrow: my review of Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks. To tide you over until then, however, why not watch this cartoon? It's not MST3K alumni-related, but it's Frankenstein-related. And it's by Max the Hero creator Mike Salva. Enjoy!

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1/12/09

Get Me My Phosphate, You Twisted Little Monkey

Phil's listening/helping/sweater-wearing skills are coming along nicely.Welcome, won't you?

Are you popular? Well, yes, I know we already did that one, but why not do it again? 1947 was apparently a good year for the socially awkward, yielding a bumper crop of cinematic advice. Go here for my review of the latest Rifftrax short, Shy Guy.

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1/9/09

Turns Out These Are the Droids You're Looking For

For the record, Mark Hamill has also played the Joker.  Does a pretty good job, too.Welcome, won't you?

My review of the Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (Special Edition) Rifftrax has been posted as promised. If you haven't already seen it, I recommend you do so now now.

Now I'm only two reviews behind. Reviews of Shy Guy and Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks are coming next week.

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1/8/09

RVOD044 Overcoming Fear

(1950, Educational/Short, b&w)

Riffers:

Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy

Fix your damaged self today!

Rating: ***

In a nutshell:


Aquaphobic Bill finally learns to swim.

Summary:

Kevin's sea anenome disguise isn't fooling anyone.Teenage Bill’s mortal fear of water does not prevent him from hanging around at the community center pool. He watches his friends play from the sidelines while an internal monologue, steeped in self-loathing, cycles constantly through his head. When one of the girls nearly drowns in an unlikely beach ball accident, Bill is first on the scene, but he can’t bring himself to jump in after her. His shrill girlish cries bring more competent swimmers to the rescue.

Disheartened by his own cowardice, Bill heads back to the locker room where he can hate himself in peace. Now the narrator steps in, a swimming instructor named Barker. Barker’s largely irrelevant pep talk about high-jumping dogs and bicycle safety regulations lifts Bill’s spirits. One short training montage later, Bill is a champion swimmer.

Thoughts:

Domesticated canine terror rains down from above!So, is Bill afraid of water because a dog jumped over Mr. Barker’s baby sister? Or does his crippling aquaphobia result from a displaced sense of shame over his support for the new city bicycle ordinances? Or are these the cure for his fears? Does riding your bike on the street while snuggling a puppy soothe all ills?

Oh wait, I know. Bill is actually a slightly older Orv from One Got Fat. He changed his name and moved to a new town after witnessing the grisly bicycle-related deaths of his monkey friends, tamping the guilt and shame deep down inside until the bicycle ordinance meeting brought it all out again. Since he ate his dead friends’ lunches in their honor that day, he associates this guilty feeling with overeating. Now he has the overeaten/guilt feeling all the time, which triggers a subconscious aversion to swimming until after that feeling has passed. Hence, his fear of water. Yes, it’s all so clear to me now.

The commentary wobbles from amusing to hilarious and then back to amusing again. As the narrator revisits Bill’s fears time after time in the opening scene, Kevin notes, “Bill’s fear of water kept him foul-smelling and greasy throughout childhood.” As Bill continues to hate himself in the locker room, riffer Bill says, “He’s like Charlie Brown’s more depressed brother.” When Barker comes up to say, “I’ve, um, noticed you out there,” Mike calls it, “Things you don’t want to hear in the locker room.” These parts are reasonably funny, but the very best part of Overcoming Fear is the dog scene. As soon as the neighbor’s rowdy dog starts frightening Barker’s baby sister, they kick into high gear, with Kevin guessing that its probable possession of a firearm adds to its menace, Bill freaking out about its ability to perform a six foot vertical leap, and Mike noting that it will likely be drafted by the Knicks. It’s worth watching for that sequence alone.

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Freakenstein's Castle of... Franks?

Frankenstein lives in a featureless block of granite?Welcome, won't you?

Cinematic Titanic's version of Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks is now available both as a download and as a physical DVD, for $9.99 and $14.99 (plus shipping and handling) respectively. No distribution glitches thus far, that I've heard of anyway. That's three good launches in a row now, so I guess I'll have to stop mentioning it. I'll be starting my download tonight and viewing it over the weekend.

Also, there is another (temporarily) free Rifftrax on the horizon. Continuing their coverage of the acclaimed "Guy" series, Mike, Bill and Kevin will riff the 1951 self-esteem short Self-Conscious Guy live on the internet at 6:00 p.m. PST on Thursday January 15, 2008, after which a non-live version will become available for sale on the site. I'm hoping for an epic tale of a superhero who gains his powers after being bitten by a newly irradiated Bashful the Dwarf, but I realize I'm setting myself up for disappointment.

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1/7/09

RVOD043 Reefer Madness (Three Riffer Version)

Review posted in the Regular Rifftrax section.

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Chicks Dig Ham Radios

Why are none of the people wearing sweaters?Welcome, won't you?

I realize I'm a day late on this one, but when the work backlog/house shopping/holiday cheer thing gets a nice, hearty Christmas flu piled on top of it, things tend to bog down even further. Though the New Year has yet to yield a title for the next full-length Rifftrax, the newest short actually came out yesterday; I downloaded it to my Pocket PC and watched it over my lunchbreak. Head down now to check out Shy Guy, featuring hilarious fifties advice about how to be popular. (You have to wear a sweater, then stalk people.) Features a very young Dick York.

Reminder: the latest Cinematic Titanic release, Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks, comes out tomorrow.

Also: I still owe you a Star Wars review. Now that the holidays and the flu have subsided, I'll get you one by the end of the week.

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1/6/09

RVOD042 Self-Conscious Guy

(1951, Educational/Short, b&w)

Riffers:

Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy

Not caring that you suck is the key.

Rating: **1/2

In a nutshell:

Turns out the cures for self-consciousness are apathy and blame-shifting.

Summary:

Now known as Shameless Guy.Marty’s bashfulness causes him to imagine a spotlight in his face at all times. This stymies him in his attempts to deliver impromptu speeches and try out for school plays. He’s not bashful at all about ping pong though, a sport that gives his more dramatically inclined friend Jack the shivers. Eventually, Marty concludes that in order to have self confidence, you must either a) not suck or b) not care that you suck. Shifting the blame to others and acting like a goofball for no real reason are good ways to shake off that ubiquitous metaphorical spotlight as well. With these tools in hand, Marty lands a lead in the school production of The Importance of Being Earnest.

Thoughts:

As a former high school drama nerd, I’m a bit taken aback by the stilted, overexaggerated acting style of the school production. We were bad, but we weren’t Oscar-Wilde-performed-as-some-awkward-combination-of-vaudeville-and-kabuki bad. If that’s the best Marty can do, then he probably should be self-conscious. Aside from that, I’m a bit skeptical about the short’s advice, to wit: either get good at something or be shameless about your inadequacy. Isn’t caring what others think sort of central to self-consciousness? Just relax and do your thing.

Marty's lovin' that spotlight now.Mike, Bill and Kevin put the already-nervous Marty though the wringer. When Marty obsesses during his attempt at impromptu speechmaking, Kevin obsesses along with him: “Was my nose bleeding? Had a dog crapped in my hair?” As Jack becomes self-conscious during a ping pong match, Mike explains that he isn’t really: “I just can’t see the damn ball with that light in my face.” My favorite line was only in the live version; when we see the Coronet Pictures logo, Bill says, “We’re small, shrill and we blow.” (In the pre-recorded version, he simply says, “We’re small and shrill”.) I’ve seen this short both as part of the live online riffing and as the pre-recorded short, and I have to say that the live riffing was better. It had an energy that the pre-recorded version, though funny, seems to lack. It’s worth seeing, though.

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