5/29/09

May The, Er, "User Power" Be With You

The brilliant Disney minds responsible for this film would like to remind everyone that they've never even heard of Star WarsWelcome, won't you?

What's cheesy and pseudo-religious and takes place in a virtual world? Well, okay, yeah. The Matrix and its sequels. Tron beat them to the punch, though, by a whole seventeen years. Stars a pre-Dude Jeff Bridges, a post-Caddyshack Cindy Morgan, and Bruce Boxleitner at the height of his, um, "popularity". Very special guest riffers Jonathan Coulton and Paul & Storm give this film a working over in what is probably the finest commentary by non-Rifftrax folks thus far. Review here.

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5/27/09

Riff It, Sam

Of all the commentary tracks in all the world...Welcome, won't you?

Rifftrax annouced of a surprising choice of film today. On June 2, 2009, Mike, Bill and Kevin will do their best to add a layer of comedy to that undisputed classic, Casablanca. Should be interesting, at the very least.

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Random Words Go Here

The resemblance to my twelve-year-old self is uncanny.Welcome, won't you?

The arbitrarily titled Alcohol Trigger Films is the educational short that dares to say, "Discuss the issue amongst yourselves", without deigning to tell us what the issue is. Is it beer? Embarrassing moms? Plaid jumpers? Cat vomit? What? Review here.

Also, I have seen the Jonathan Coulton/Paul & Storm commentary for Tron, and it is one of the funniest Rifftrax Presents titles available. You owe it to yourself to pick it up. Review to come.

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5/26/09

Time For Some Real User Power

They've become 5,427,342.6 times smarter since then.Welcome, won't you?

It's been decades since I last saw Tron, so I can't vouch for the accuracy of the quotes I put in the title and alt text. If memory serves, it has even less to do with actual computing than Harrison Ford's computer-flavored thriller Firewall. It's also a lot more fun to watch, though that may just be my nine-year-old self talking. We'll see what my thirty-six-year-old self says after I watch it again tonight. The Rifftrax Presents commentary, featuring special guest riffers Jonathan Coulton and Paul & Storm, has been released.

In related news, Jonathan Coulton and Paul & Storm have been added to the Rifftrax Dramatis Personae. I'll post a review for the inscrutable Alcohol Trigger Films tomorrow.

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5/22/09

Does Roy Rogers Know?

So, that one kid's gonna shoot the other kid with an alcohol trigger?Welcome, won't you?

Rifftrax has a new short out: Alcohol Trigger Films. What the hell does that even mean? Let's all find out, shall we?

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5/21/09

I Hope You Like Walking Scenes

This poster gives a false impression of the movie by featuring way too many dinosaursWelcome, won't you?

But for Blogger's dreaded "Content Expected" errors, I'd have had this review up a lot sooner. Here's my take on Planet of Dinosaurs, a.k.a. The Emptiest Film Since "Manos". The fact that they make it watchable at all is amazing.

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5/20/09

Greetings Programs

The badly animated horsemen of the apocalypse?Welcome, won't you?

Of course, just when I get my Rifftrax Dramatis Personae fixed, they have to go and add more riffers to the pile. Jonathan Coulton and Paul & Storm team up for a very special Rifftrax Presents of Tron. Coming May 26, 2009. Hopefully, I'll be able to get the riffers added to the cast page sometime before then.

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Sorry, Chad

The milk stock will be properly rotated through the power of the Dark SideWelcome, won't you?

While we're waiting for the Planet of Dinosaurs review (I'm still only halfway finished), I thought it would behoove me to fix a discrepancy I noticed in the Rifftrax Dramatis Personae page. Despite having appeared in two rifftrax now, Chad Vader has been conspiculously absent from the list. He's there as of today, wedged where he belongs, between Lowtax and Neil Patrick Harris. Sorry for the delay, Chad.

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RVOD067 Voodoo Man

(1944, Horror, b&w)

Riffers:

Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett

Gosh all fishhooks!

Rating: ***

In a Nutshell:


Bela Lugosi kidnaps beautiful young women in an effort to revive his dead wife.

Summary:

Is the guy in the bottom right supposed to be John Carradine?A young woman out driving alone stops at a gas station to ask directions. The overly solicitous owner Nicholas (George Zucco) directs her to a lonely back road, but warns her that there might be a detour due to road construction. As soon as she leaves, Nicholas sends his assistant away on some pretext and uses a hidden phone to contact the bearded and sinister Dr. Marlowe (Bela Lugosi). Marlow’s henchmen Grego and Toby (a very young and very, very embarrassing John Carradine) set up the roadblock and then waylay the young lady just as soon as Dr. Marlowe’s vacuum tube remote car-killing device has taken effect.

Newspapers spin to announce the third abduction of a young woman on a lonely country road within the last year. A studio executive growls at one of his screenwriters, ordering him to find a movie plot in the tragedies. The screenwriter, an unremarkable young man named Ralph, begs off, citing his impending marriage.

On his way to his wedding, Ralph stops at the very same gas station, pays for gas, but absentmindedly drives away before the attendant can pump it into his car. He runs out halfway over the lonely back road. Shortly thereafter, a young woman named Stella stops at the station to ask for directions, leading to a replay of the opening scenes. On her way to the roadblock, however, she finds the stranded Ralph. After a bit of banter, they discover that she is the cousin of his bride-to-be, and is on her way to attend his wedding.

They reach the roadblock and turn off. The car-killing device does its work, but the henchmen are momentarily stymied by the presence of Ralph. Ralph is no mechanic, though. After a few moments of puzzled staring at the engine, he walks off to look for help. The nearest house belongs to Dr. Marlowe, but the creepy housekeeper (is there any other kind?) drives him away. When he gets back to where he left Stella, she and her car are gone. He assumes that she got it started again and left without him, and walks back to his own car in a huff.

The henchmen take Stella to Dr. Marlowe, who hypnotizes her and takes her to the basement. Nicholas the gas station owner meets him there, and they perform a ritual that involves silly robes, drum-beating henchmen, and a self-tying square knot while Marlowe moans, begging Stella’s lifeforce to leave her body and animate the corpse of his long-dead wife. It works for a few moments, but ultimately fails, leaving both Stella and the dead wife as mindless zombie women.

Why do villains keep saying 'I won't hurt you' when they very clearly already are?In town, Ralph arrives at his fiancĂ©e’s house. His irritation with Stella turns to alarm when he discovers that she hasn’t arrived yet. When he hears that this is the place where three previous young women have disappeared, he performs his only sensible act of the film; he goes to the police. Unfortunately the police force consists of an aged chief and his somnolent deputy. They promise to do their best and head out to hunt for clues.

The cops figure that, since all the missing beauties disappeared on the same road, they might as well question the only man who lives on it. In a rare display of cunning, the police chief assures Dr. Marlowe that he is above suspicion while snooping into every corner he can find while Marlowe’s out procuring drinks. The chief leaves empty-handed, but in the meantime, Toby has been taking the zombie girls out of their glass cases to fondle their hair. He forgets to shut Stella’s case when Marlowe calls him away, and the zombified abductee wanders out into the night. The cops find her on their way out, and take the gowned and vacant Stella to Betty’s house for identification.

Betty and Ralph take her in and call the local doctor, who just happens to be Dr. Marlowe. Marlowe steals a button and instructs them to leave her alone for a while in the hopes that she’ll snap out of it. He takes the button home and has Nicholas mutter over it in his voodoo regalia. Stella rises and somehow walks the ten to fifteen miles back to Marlowe’s house without attracting notice.

Betty and Ralph find her empty bed in the morning and rush to Dr. Marlowe’s house to ask for advice. While Marlowe makes soothing noises and gets them drinks, they look through the open door to see his zombified wife (already established as dead in prior conversation) wandering the halls. They make excuses and leave quickly. They stop at a coffee shop to linger, discuss and eventually call the police. Meanwhile, Marlowe has decided that Betty will make an excellent new subject and gives a pilfered glove to Nicholas, who uses it to hypnotize her from afar. She gets up and drives away in a stupefied haze while Ralph is off phoning the police chief.

Thankfully, she left in broad daylight from a crowded room; Ralph follows the trail of witnesses to her abandoned car on Marlowe’s property. He follows an open secret passageway into Marlowe’s secret voodoo cellar in time to watch the secret voodoo ritual begin. A henchman knocks him over the head with a drumstick, and he slumps over in a corner for the rest of the action sequence. Fortunately for him, one of the friendly witnesses called the cops. They arrive at Marlowe’s place. The chief shoots Marlowe when the latter charges with a large voodoo knife. Marlowe dies. His newly revived wife dies. All the zombie girls wake up. Ralph marries Betty and writes a screenplay of the whole event (presumably at the same time). They drop it on the studio executive’s desk on their way out, with the advice to try and get Bela Lugosi for the title role.

Thoughts:

Starring the original Dracula, the original Professor Moriarty, and the progenitor of Kill Bill's Bill.Though the people in this film display the impaired intelligence usual to horror movie characters, I have to give the police chief points for realizing that his prime suspect has to be the only person who lives near the place where they all disappeared. Of course, he loses just as many if not more points for not figuring that out until the fourth victim. But then he gets all those points back by being the one who charges in and shoots the mad doctor. He’s pretty much the only proactive non-evil character in the whole film. Even Ralph the supposed “hero” doesn’t do anything but petulantly stomp around before getting clobbered at the end. As bad as it is, though, Voodoo Man is actually just a little above average for a horror picture of that era. It’s short (one hour), doesn’t drag, and you actually can tell what’s going on.

Mike, Bill and Kevin do what they can with it. As Toby carefully arranges the zombie girls in a pattern around the voodoo ceremony, Kevin says, “He’s arranging a four square game. Of the damned,” while Mike notes that Toby is “such a Torgo wannabe, it’s sad.” As Nicholas appears in their ridiculous voodoo robes, Bill wants to know, “How come he’s got more patches than Bela? Look, he’s got a fancy M,” while Kevin goes on, “Pink hearts, yellow moons, green clovers...” My favorite line is actually from the somnolent deputy, who improbably cries, “Gosh all fishhooks!” when they find zombie Stella on the road. The riffers take up this cry for the rest of the film, and if they don’t continue to do so in subsequent riffs (in the proud tradition “Hi-keeba!”, “There was no monster” and “He tampered in God’s domain”), I shall be very disappointed. Also, for people seeking a little extra hilarity after a funny but relatively short experience, Disembaudio chimes in after the end credits have rolled with a very special something for fans of John Carradine’s, er, “guest performance” in Red Zone Cuba.

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5/19/09

Includes at Least One Song About the Sparkling Undead

The most original band name since 'The Band'Welcome, won't you?

Not much happening in the post-MST3K riffing world today, so here's a couple of minor items.

1) If you've been following the Rifftrax Blog, you'll know that Mike, Bill and Kevin have a band, the imaginatively named Rifftones. If you've been following their blog rather more closely than I have, then you'll also know that, as of May 7, 2009, they have a downloadable album of movie-themed tunes available for sale on the site. If you were waiting for the start of the live short last Friday, or you sat through the song that lasted past the end of the credits on the Jaws riff, then you've heard a sample of their work already. It's not accessible in the main catalog right now, but since you're my buddies, I'll give you the direct link here. Or you could, you know, go to the site and use the blog's search function. Whatever floats your boat. (Thanks to Senor Haury for the tip.)

2) Being men and/or women of their word, the Rifftrax folks have already begun the process of making up with the paying customers of Friday's live show debacle. If you bought a ticket and you haven't heard from them yet, you might want to check your spam filter, or maybe drop them a line.

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5/15/09

Canned Version Posted

There were dinosaurs in the 1970s, right?Welcome, won't you?

The Live Show may have been a bust, but you can still enjoy a brand-new Rifftrax tonight. The studio version of Planet of Dinosaurs is now available for sale as a Video on Demand file or Audio MP3. The commentary-only file is cheaper, but not recommended, as it will only work with one of the many different versions available. Check it out.

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Live show canceled

Hey, where's the Indian head?Welcome, won't you?

Show Canceled! Read the last entry!


5:59 p.m. As I feared, Rifftrax's popularity is too great to sustain a live show on their site. For now, you can go to Ustream.com and watch the free short there. (Search for the Rifftrax stream). I don't know what we're going to do when it's time for the paid portion of the show, though. I can't access my ticket information...

6:10 p.m. Finally started on Ustream. Rifftrax.com still not available.

6:28 p.m. Short's over. It played like a slideshow, and went out of sync pretty badly. Then the sound cut out a minute too soon. Now I still can't access the Rifftrax site to get my ticket and attend the paid portion of the program. I'm comforted, a little, by the realization that I paid for the full kaboodle, so if I miss it, I can download and watch it later. But not comforted that much...

6:32 p.m. Rifftrax.com/live finally let me in. Now, will it remember that I paid for the show in time?

6:42 p.m. Guess it remembered. Mike started to explain what was going on, but then then the feed disappeared. Still waiting...

6:48 p.m. Feed came back, then froze...

6:50 p.m. Feed disappeared again. Now the Rifftrax site redirects to the Ustream page.

6:55 p.m. The show has been canceled due to technical difficulties. Full refunds have been promised.

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5/14/09

Breaking News!

Bill's going after Kevin with that hot glue gun.Welcome, won't you?

We (meaning me) here at War of the Colossal Fan Guide have just learned that the Rifftrax server has become infested with angry Japanese ghost children. Anyone attempting to view their site on May 15, 2009 between the hours of six and eight p.m. PST will automatically download these destructive little Nipponese phantasms, which will then leap out of your monitor to murder you and all you hold dear.

This is totally, absolutely true, and not something I just made up to keep people from showing up en masse and crashing their site while I'm trying to watch the live presentation of Shake Hands With Danger (free showing) and Planet of Dinosaurs ($6.99 to watch, $14.99 to watch plus a plethora of downloadable extras, details here).

Beware!

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5/13/09

RVOD066 Alcohol Trigger Films

(1979, Educational/Short, color)

Riffers:

Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy

I guess it’s just booze that ties things together.

Rating: **1/2

In a Nutshell:


Um... something about underage drinking, I think? Maybe?

Summary:

So, that one kid's gonna shoot the other kid with an alcohol trigger?Alcohol Trigger Films is a set of three short films with alcohol playing a role in each. Where does the “trigger” come in? Your guess is as good as mine.

Our first film is titled “The Party”. In it, three underage drinkers come over to a friend’s house to slurp down beer, listen to loud music and, uh, wear hats. The friend in question isn’t too happy about the direction the party has taken, but he doesn’t actually do anything about it.

Next up is “The Mother”, in which a drunken lush embarrasses the living daylights out of her middle school daughter in front of her friends, while weaving through rain-soaked traffic.

Finally, we have “The Ride”, so named because... I don’t know. “The Party” had a party in it and “The Mother” depicted an inebriated female parent, but “The Ride” is about young teens who interrupt softball practice to pass around a bottle of liquor while they argue about vomit. I guess it has cars in it, but no one rides in them.

Thoughts:

The resemblance to my twelve-year-old self is uncanny.Alcohol Trigger Films depicts inappropriate drinking, usually underage. I think the “trigger” part of the title refers to situations that might trigger alcoholism, but that’s just a guess on my part. I’ve also supplied the first sentence of this paragraph with the descriptor “inappropriate”. This comes entirely out of my own background and experience as an adult; since no consequences beyond potential embarrassment have been supplied, I’m at a loss as to what the filmmakers think. “Bad”, I guess, but once again, that’s just an assumption based on the fact that it was made to be shown in schools. Would a kid, used to drinking in his social life, with no other guidance, come to this conclusion on his own? Just what do the seventies have against education, anyway? I know I get down on the fifties social guidance shorts sometimes, but at least they aren’t shy when the time comes to tell you what they’re about. Even the syphilis shorts eventually own up to the subject of venereal disease. I’m all for discussing the problem amongst ourselves, but that gets difficult when you refuse to tell us what you think the problem is.

The short’s aimless, freestyle vibe mostly leaves the riffers to their own devices. Teens emerge from the local deli with a large paper sack, then disappear around a corner when the cops drive past, promping Bill's secretive rasp, “You got the pastrami?” When the first film ends, we watch a blank screen for nearly half a minute while Kevin says, “Presumably they all died and entered a black eternal void. Us too.” While the drunken and slightly masculine mom grates out unsolicited hairdressing advice, Mike says, “So her mom is an enthusiastic gay man?” It’s a strange, wandering short that doesn’t give the riffing much of a place to stand, but the riffers plant their feet anyway and do their best. It’s funny enough, so long as you’re not frustrating yourself trying to extract a purpose from it.

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RVOD065 Planet of Dinosaurs

Reviewed in the regular Rifftrax section.

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Watch Out For Snakes!

To prove a point, I will now release one thousand deadly Africanized bees...Welcome, won't you?

Please go here for my review of the latest Rifftrax short, Toward Emotional Maturity, in which a boxed snake convinces a young woman to remain virginal. I could not have made that up if I tried.

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5/12/09

Oh Yeah? Well, I'm Twice As Emotionally Mature as You Are. So There!

Slab Humpchest!Welcome, won't you?

Hmmm. Rifftrax has just released Toward Emotional Maturity, the second short on that subject in a row. Are they trying to tell us something? Just what are they implying, exactly? (Available here.)

Also, The Satellite News has the latest information on the Cinematic Titanic's upcoming tour here. Looks like the third of the tour films is going to be The Alien Factor (imdb) after all. This puts it alongside East Meets Watts and Danger on Tiki Island in the upcoming release pool.

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5/11/09

RP012 Tron

(1982, Fantasy/SciFi, color)

Riffers:

Jonathan Coulton, Paul Sabourin and Greg “Storm” DiCostanzo

All glory to the C prompt, amen.

Rating: ****

In a Nutshell:


Jeff Bridges ventures into the computer world to prove ownership of a copyright.

Summary:

The brilliant Disney minds responsible for this film would like to remind everyone that they've never even heard of Star WarsInside our global network of computers there lies a blacklit universe, populated by skullcapped men in glowing bodysuits. These men (er, programs) worship us (the users) as gods, and struggle every day to carry out our will. Or, they did until the villainous and despotic Master Control Program conquered the computer world, subsuming the functions of his inferiors and forcing the superfluous unitard-clad code to do battle, gladiator-style, in his video game arenas.

But some resist. Rogue program Clu (Jeff Bridges) boards a cyber... tank-ish thing to assault the main MCP fortress and recover a crucial piece of data for his user. He fails, gets caught, and is subsequently de-rezzed (i.e. killed).

In the real world, the MCP informs his creator, ENCOM senior executive Ed Dillinger (David Warner), of the attempted intrusion. It seems that Mr. Dillinger once stole the work of fellow programmer Kevin Flynn and presented it as his own. The work in question, a set of video games, was so immensely profitable that it triggered Dillinger’s meteoric rise within the company. Dillinger immediately locks all users out of the MCP security group that Flynn’s program, Clu, was using.

This raises the ire of ENCOM programmer Alan (Bruce Boxleitner), who was also in the security group locked out by the MCP. He’s one of the few who’ve started to understand the sinister implications of the MCP, and he’s been working on a program called Tron to shut it down. He goes downstairs so he can whine to his girlfriend Lora (Cindy Morgan), a scientist who has just perfected a laser that can convert matter into computer graphics and back again. Turns out she used to be Flynn’s girlfriend, so it isn’t much of a leap for her to figure out who is responsible for the “security issues” cited as the reason for the lockout.

Alan and Lora head down to Flynn’s place in a gigantic company van. Flynn (Jeff Bridges, again) lives above an arcade, dividing his time between practicing his l33t video game skilz and trying to hack into the MCP for evidence of Dillinger’s theft. He admits this to Alan and Lora, and together they hatch a new scheme. The three of them will return to ENCOM headquarters, where Flynn will use a company terminal to temporarily lift the security lockout. This will give Alan an opportunity to activate Tron and shut down the MCP.

They break back into the ENCOM building, and the terminal Flynn uses just happens to be the one in front of the matter conversion laser. While Flynn begins to hack, the MCP turns on the laser and—Hey Presto!—Flynn falls into a digital universe of black lights and polygons. Hooded sentry programs capture him instantly, forcing him to battle to the death in the very video games he created. Ah, the irony (or something).

It's not the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, but it'll do.After he refuses to do away with a friendly opponent, MCP’s main henchman Sark (David Warner, again) teams him up with the captive program Tron (Bruce Boxleitner, again) and a digital redshirt named Ram (Dan Shor). The game is light cycles, in which two teams of motorcycles try to crash each other into walls of solid exhaust (I think). Flynn exploits some kind of loophole in the game (again, I think) to crash his opponent into a wall and escape through the resulting hole. Tron and Ram do away with their opponents and follow. They run away, wander around, drink some clear stuff, and then run away more until a well-placed tank blast finally destroys the motorcycles used by Flynn and Ram. Believing them to be dead, Tron goes on alone.

As a user, however, Flynn cannot die (I think). He hauls the mortally wounded Ram to some sort of digital junkyard and uses his newly discovered magic user powers to build himself a flying tank. Ram tearfully realizes that Flynn is a user, come down from heaven to deliver them from oppression (I think) and dies happy. But just because Flynn can build flying tanks with his mind doesn’t mean he knows how to drive them. He swerves around like crazy to try and arrive at the glowing what’s-a-ma-thingy place where he somehow knows he’ll find Tron.

Meanwhile, Tron runs to his girlfriend program Yori (Cindy Morgan, again) who leads him into the what’s-a-ma-thingy place’s back window. Apparently this ill-defined station is some sort of access port to the outside world. Tron talks the guardian (yet another analog of a real person, this time in a large phallic hat) into letting him pass, so that he can chat with his user, Alan. Alan imbues a luminescent Frisbee with power from on high, and tells Tron to hit the MCP with it. Tron and Yori escape before Sark can arrive with the guards. They sneak out of the what’s-a-ma-thingy place to hijack a giant bowtie.

Flynn catches up in time to hop aboard the bowtie conveyance just as it begins its journey across the geometric landscape to the fortress of the MCP. Sark gives chase in his star cruiser-esque-type thing, and despite Flynn’s last-ditch attempts to save them with his poorly defined “user powers”, he and Yori are captured. Sark sentences them to a needlessly complicated and ultimately unsupervised death. Of course they escape rather easily.

Also of course, Tron survives the wreck of the bowtie and sneaks into the fortress to throw his magic Frisbee at the MCP. He throws over and over again, trying, without success, to penetrate the nefarious program’s defenses. Sark catches up and battles Tron with a magic Frisbee of his own. Tron wins, but the MCP resurrects Sark, inflating him to gargantuan size. Seeing that things aren’t going too well for Tron, Flynn throws himself into the MCP’s data stream (whatever that means). The MCP’s defenses shut down; the holy Frisbee finds its mark; and the vaunted Master Control Program is revealed to be nothing more than an extraordinarily old program with a typewriter and a large stone block. He fades peacefully into oblivion.

For no reason whatsoever (that I could determine, anyway), Flynn reappears in the real world. Apparently, Tron’s defeat of the MCP has caused evidence of Dillinger’s intellectual property theft to pop out of the system like bread out of a toaster, plastering the information across every terminal in the company. Dillinger sees it on his own computer/desk and knows his goose is cooked. In the next scene, Flynn greets Alan and Lora as the new head of ENCOM.

Thoughts:

Abiding is not The Dude's only talent.While reading the summary above, you may have noticed that after Flynn arrives in the digital world, things stop making a whole lot of sense. For this, I apologize. As viewer and a human being, my ability to comprehend is somewhat limited, forcing me to color any summary I write with a fair amount of interpretation. Should you decide to watch this for yourself (a course of action I recommend), I promise the film will make far, far less sense firsthand.

I think the problem here (one of them, anyway) is that the computer world has few established rules and no consistent physics to speak of, making anything that happens in it appear to happen at random. “User power” is a prime example. It’s less defined than The Force and more intermittent than spider sense, only popping up when the plot finds it convenient, to do things it will never be able to do again. Culturally, the computer world is every bit as haphazard. They worship users as gods, sure, but when Flynn finally starts convincing people of his divine userhood, that’s no big deal. And yes, the computer world is pretty friggin’ ugly, but I admit that’s not a valid criticism. It may not compare favorably to today’s movie-making technology, but in 1982, the visuals were jaw-droppingly awesome. (Jawesome, if you will.)

These days, the only things we have to comfort us are the lickety-split pacing—which, thankfully, doesn’t bog down in a pathetic attempt to explain things—and Jeff Bridges as smarmy idiot man-child savant Kevin Flynn. All the other actors play it straight, but Bridges seems to know just how stupid this is and decides to have fun with it instead. Even when he’s throwing himself into the data stream and possible death (I think), he’s not taking this seriously, and because he’s not, neither are we. This is a good thing. If we were, we’d be horribly frustrated and/or confused. Instead, we get to lay back and bask in exciting, lightweight, luminescent fun.

Mike, Bill and Kevin start off the introduction to the commentary track, but are quickly subdued and summarily executed by the real riffers for this film—internet songsmith Jonathan Coulton and musical comedy duo Paul & Storm (a.k.a. Paul Sabourin and Greg “Storm” DiCostanzo). I’m not as familiar with their voice work, so I won’t be able to tell you exactly who says what, but here are some of my favorite quips: Regarding the grid-like light cycle arena, “Graph paper: the game.” As Clu screams in agony before finally evaporating into red mist, “This is a much more satisfying way to delete files than dragging and dropping into the Recycle Bin.” As Ram dies, “Too bad this was before the invention of the one-up mushroom.” As Tron steps up the access port with religious reverence, “All glory to the C prompt, amen.” It’s an exciting and extraordinarily silly film, the writing is sharp, and the riffers are experienced performers with excellent comic timing. Mike or no Mike, this one needs to be in your collection.

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The Alien... Tractor?

The Alien... Raptor.Welcome, won't you?

First: I was all set to be offended by the brusque insensitivity of the short featured in Rifftrax's latest offering, but Snap Out Of It! is, instead, maddeningly vague. Snap out of what, exactly? No one seems quite clear on that point. Review here.

Second: The Cinematic Titanic site has been redesigned. It's easier to read and easier to navigate than before, and almost as out-of-date. Also, I'm not sure if this came with the new site, or if this has been up a while, but here's a smallish poster with an indistinct shot of yet another upcoming release, The Alien... something. Factor, I think.

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5/8/09

Sequel to Buck Up, You Pansies!

Snap!  Snap, I say!  Snap like you've never snapped before!Welcome, won't you?

It's Friday, and at the current breakneck two-per-week pace, that means another Rifftrax short. The provocatively titled Snap Out Of It! looks like another illuminating venture into counterproductive fifties psychology. Enjoy, won't you?

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5/7/09

The Fearsome Electric Fried Egg Gang

Hand-sewn gang patch courtesy Miss Kelly's first grade class.Welcome, won't you?

Apparently, the gang featured in What About Juvenile Delinquency divides its time evenly between pointless violence and sewing their own hand-crafted gang uniforms, making them the cutest little band of teenaged anti-establishment ruffians ever. Mike, Bill and Kevin return to their MST3K roots for a perfectly servicable re-riff of a short they did back in the good old days. Review here.

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5/6/09

The Return of Rifftrax Live!, or, Planet of Convoluted Pricing

Bill's going after Kevin with that hot glue gun.Welcome, won't you?

The next Rifftrax has been announced, and it's something you've probably never heard of. Planet of Dinosaurs (imdb here) will be riffed live on the internet on Friday, May 15, 2009. They'll start out at six p.m. PST with a free showing of the formerly DVD-exclusive short Shake Hands With Danger (Ba-dow dow-da-dow dow!) and then move on to a pay-per-view of the film, followed by pay-per-view of the subsequent Q&A. Click here to buy your tickets now!

Entry fee for the whole enchilada is $14.99. That includes downloadable video of the live session, to be posted early the next week, and will possibly include other goodies to be named later. If you miss the live show, $12.99 will get you downloadable video of it, only without the short or the Q&A. If you want to watch it live, but don't care about downloading it later, then your price tag is $6.99. Studio (i.e. prerecorded) versions will become available immediately after the live show: the commentary MP3 for $3.99 (though this is not recommended as it will only work with one version out of the many available for this film), and the Video on Demand file for a price that has not yet been announced, but will probably be $9.99 just like every other VOD they've released. Shake Hands With Danger will probably be released in some form too, but the pricing and format of such a release have not yet been addressed.

You got all that? 'Cause I'm not sure I do. I'll post further details as they develop/I figure them out.

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5/5/09

The Answer to That Last Question is Most Likely 'Yes'

Well, what about it?Welcome, won't you?

Rifftrax dips back into MST3K content for the first time ever with a do-over of the short from Episode 518, What About Juvenile Delinquency? That's right, Bill is the only riffer featured who hasn't already riffed this. Does madness ensue? I guess we'll all just have to watch and find out.

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5/4/09

This is a Post

Pots are temperature-resistant cooking implements into which food can be placed and heated.Welcome, won't you?

A post is a collection of words placed on the internet for people to read. Reading is the practice of looking at collections of symbols, called "letters", each of which represent sounds. Sounds imbued by a culture with meaning become words, which then combine into sentences to convey meanings even more complex. Meaning is a shared comprehension of intent which...

Okay, I can't keep that up. Sufficeth to say that the short Cooking Terms and What They Mean is so remedial, it makes even the preceeding seem new and insightful. It's great with the commentary, though. Pick it up here. The full review can be read here.

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5/3/09

RVOD064 Toward Emotional Maturity

(1954, Educational/Short, b&w)

Riffers:

Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy

...and yes, I’m talking about sex.

Rating: ***

In a Nutshell:


Perhaps the most oblique abstinence film I’ve ever seen.

Summary:

So, does he represent raw emotionality or coolly reasoned logic?Sally has had a wonderful time at the school dance. Her boyfriend wants to take her “parking” but a matronly narrator talks her out of answering right away. During the leisurely drive out of town, the narrator goes on about the importance of placing cool logic above hot-headed emotion when making decisions. These exhortations are illustrated with episodes from Sally’s recent past, like the time she freaked out because her teacher threw a snake at her (really!), the time she joined an angry mob and vandalized a teacher’s house, the time she brutalized her dog because she thought her boyfriend was taking out another girl, and the time she deliberately tried to injure her sparring partner in a school fencing match. Somehow, Sally construes all these rage-and-fear-fueled flashbacks to mean that she should just go home instead of “parking”.

Thoughts:

To prove a point, I will now release one thousand deadly Africanized bees...So, is this film about anger management or abstinence? I’m thinking abstinence, because that’s the conclusion Sally seems to come to at the end; presumably it’s the conclusion the filmmakers wanted their audience to arrive at as well. However, when you consider that most of the examples involve Sally flying into violent rages with very little provocation, there’s a decent argument to be made for anger management as well. (Don’t ask me how the needlessly cruel “box of snakes/box of puppies” demonstration fits in with either lesson; I can’t figure it out.) Of course, the third possible conclusion is that they really were taking a broad “logic, not emotion” stance, making it the world’s very first bit of overt Vulcan propaganda.

A few of my favorite lines from the commentary track: While the narrator exhorts us to consider how others feel, Kevin adds, “Feeling others can lead to trouble, so be careful who you feel”. As the mob flops heedlessly about on the maligned teacher’s front lawn, Mike notes that it “looks more like a badly organized game of Red Rover”. While Sally hacks mercilessly at her opponent during a fencing match, Bill begs, “Please stop, I thought this was beekeeping!” It’s a vague, jumbled and sometimes bizarre short coupled with decent riffing.

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5/1/09

Shorts and Compilations

The meaning of all things is '42'.Welcome, won't you?

Another multiple topic day:

1) The subject of Wednesday's spontaneous live pay-per-riff Cooking Terms and What They Mean has been released in all its prerecorded glory. Grab it here.

2) In DVD news, The Best of Rifftrax Shorts: Volume II has been released as well, compiling such gems as One Got Fat, Beginning Responsibility: Lunchroom Manners, Each Child is Different, Why Won't Cathy Eat Breakfast/Petaluma Chicken, Act Your Age, Safety: Harm Hides at Home, Coffee House Rendezvous, Are You Popular and Good Heath Practices. No disturbing CGI riffers to worry about. No DVD-exclusive shorts either, which is nice, because that means I don't have to buy it to be a completist. (My tiny amount of discretionary income thanks you, Rifftrax!) Quality-wise, the selection is miles better than the Volume I, and it's only $9.95 to boot. In summary, you get funnier shorts at a better price. If you don't have these already, I highly recommend you pick them up.

3) In CD news, Rifftrax has put together four of compilation discs containing MP3s of their older commentaries. There's a superhero collection, a dumb action movie collection, a blockbuster collection and a Star Wars/Star Trek collection. Each disc costs $19.99 and contains seven commentaries. If you haven't bought any of them yet, then this is far less than what it would cost you to buy them separately. Get them by clicking on "Swag" and then "Goodies" on the site's navigation bar.

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