11/25/09

Happy Maniacal Thanksgiving!

For a bit of variety, try stuffing this year's turkey with delicious cat eyeballs.Welcome, won't you?

Maniac is out. Well, the MP3 and VOD versions are, anyway. The burn-on-demand version ought to be available shortly. Pick it up here.

I'll watch it tonight, but family matters will probably keep me occupied for the rest of the weekend. I might pop in with a few thoughts in a day or so, but I probably won't get to writing a full review until sometime next week.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Lamia Is Actually the Name of the Thirteenth Reindeer

Bill Corbett is secretly a gypsy, while Mike Nelson is secretly Alison Lohman.Welcome, won't you?

Maniac is still "coming soon" (I'll post again when it actually comes out) but in the meantime, the next Rifftrax has been announced. On December 1, 2009, Mike Nelson and Bill Corbett will riff that delightful, heartwarming Christmas classic, Drag Me to Hell. Kevin apparently had to recuse himself, further confirming my belief that he is secretly Santa Claus.

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11/24/09

Star Trek Is Fun Again? What Universe Are We In?

Kirk's forehead is coming right at us! Against all odds, J.J. Abrams's aptly named Star Trek rescues the franchise from its seemingly endless self-parodying decline. With the Rifftrax commentary, Mike, Bill and Kevin do a great job making it even more entertaining. Full review here.

So, if Lucas dies, will we get Star Wars back too?

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CT008 East Meets Watts

(1974, Action, color)

I think she missed the “Falling Redneck” sign.

Rating: ****

In a Nutshell:


A funky black man and a Chinese kung fu expert team up to... uh...

Summary:

A.K.A. Dynamite Brothers.Chinese man Larry arrives in San Francisco by ship. He leaps out at the docks to avoid detection, but not even his furtive running can help him escape from the trio of Asian thugs tracking his every move. They fight, and he runs away despite the fact that he just won.

His stated reason for coming to the States is to look for his brother. Dingy apartment and car bomb shenanigans lay a trail down to L.A., so he goes to some kind of train station/hardware store/liquor emporium to get arrested by a crooked cop. At this point he is, for some reason, handcuffed to a newly arrested black man named Stud. Larry and Stud beat up their would-be arresters and run for it, hopping into the back of a flatbed truck on its way out of town. They bond over the Larry-and-Stud-induced deaths of several racist rednecks, hack off their bonds in a barn, and hitch a ride with a sexy Asian girl. She, of course, would like to flirt with our Asian hero, but he can only flash back to the bloody death of his wife.

They arrive at a bar belonging to a friend of Stud’s, the provocatively named Smiling Man. Smiling Man is busy getting cut up by the villainous Razor, but Stud and Larry soon put a stop to that. L.A., it seems, is in the midst of the gang war. Razor’s mysterious Asian drug lord boss wants to flood the streets with heroin, while the slightly more scrupulous gang headed by Smiling Man would rather he didn’t.

Our redneck-stompin' heroes.The remainder of the movie splits into Larry’s search for his brother and Stud’s fight to stop Razor. Larry follows a lead to a comically short nightclub owner and a comically fake gravestone. Larry isn’t fooled. He goes back to the super-short owner’s place to call him a liar, and is thrown in a snake pit for his trouble. Larry escapes to confront him again, only to find his former assailant dead by acupuncture.

Stud, in the meantime, falls in love with a beautiful mute girl named Sarah, and sings her the most embarrassing love song ever committed to film. Several poorly-lit gunfights later, Razor slinks away to take blade-related revenge on Stud’s girl. Stud and Larry find her bloodied corpse, and hold a crooked cop at gunpoint to get the perpetrators’ address.

Stud stops just outside the villa to gun down Razor. Larry goes on ahead to find out that the evil Asian drug lord is actually his long-lost brother, also responsible for the death of Larry’s wife in the flashback. The most badly edited fight scene of cinematic history follows. Everyone flails away at everyone else until only Stud and Smiling Man are left standing.

And Larry and drug lord guy, because they left for the chase scene several minutes before the fight ended. The chase happens at very low speed, continuing even after both the chaser and chase-ee have ended up in the same vehicle. Larry jumps out just as his brother goes over a cliff. Stud and Larry say goodbye to Smiling Man and hit the road for parts unknown.

Thoughts:

Be very, very grateful you can't hear this scene's soundtrack right now.This is an ugly film. The scenery is grimy, dull and empty. When the story makes sense—which isn’t often—it’s tired and obvious. The dialog doesn’t just clank, it wheezes obnoxiously, with an extra helping of racist slurs that would have been considered horrible even in 1974. The romance nauseates. I expect a Blaxploitation flick to be misogynist, but to have the hero take possession of a girl who can’t speak (with the immortal “Sarah and Stud” song, a musical number that will live forever in infamy) and then have the villain mutilate her to death? That’s some pretty sick crap right there. The fight choreography is weak, a problem compounded by a shooting/editing combination that refuses to tell us who is doing what to whom, and for what reason. The gunfight consists entirely of near-total darkness punctuated by the occasional muzzle flash, while the fistfight at the end has an indistinguishable mix of Asians and African-Americans beating the crap out of each other apparently at random. Every so often they leap off a fifty-foot roof to... to... I have no idea. As far as I can tell, at least half a dozen gangsters jump to certain injury or death on an entirely voluntary basis. Let me reiterate: this is an ugly, offensive film.

The villainous brother in question.The riffers are the only reason this movie works. A few of my favorite comments: When Larry jumps ship into some kind of industrial neighborhood, Trace says, “The letter said ‘Meet me by the gravel pit in America’”, while Joel adds, “It’s too bad the Bay Area didn’t have any beautiful locations they could shoot at.” When Larry and Stud walk into a fight in Smiling Man’s interestingly decorated bar, Frank notes, “Chuck E. Cheeses were a lot more violent in the seventies.” When Razor and Smiling man begin the midnight gunfight/car chase, J. Elvis says, “You can’t accuse them of glamorizing violence. Or even understanding it,” while Mary Jo says, “I’ve seen better car chases with my nephew’s hot wheels.” The performance was filmed in front of a live audience, which helps their energy level tremendously. The lighted riffers standing on either side of the picture can be a bit distracting at times, but the arrangement allows for gags that wouldn’t be possible in a studio version—like their synchronized spit take the first time a character drops the N-bomb, or the way they all turn off their lights and hide during the during the unseeable gunfight. The picture is studio-quality, the sound is almost studio quality, and very few lines were flubbed or lost to audience reaction. Overall, I’d say the live recording adds more to the DVD experience than it takes away.

So yes, East Meets Watts is a horrible, ugly, offensive film, but it’s also one of the funniest things they’ve done so far. It’s worth noting that their previous successes were movies that would have been at least somewhat entertaining without them. This may very well be the first time they’ve managed to spin a dismal, truly depressing film into comedy gold.

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11/20/09

Maniac Mania

He's a maniac, maniac on the floor...Welcome, won't you?

Rifftrax dips back into an MST3K-esque pool of obscure early 20th century horror for its next offering. 1934's Maniac (a.k.a. Sex Maniac according to imdb.com) will be released in MP3, VOD and burn-on-demand formats on November 25, 2009. The product description promises "the weirdest experience you have ever had." Coming from the people who riffed Wild, Wild World of Batwoman, that's quite a statement.

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11/19/09

To Boldy Go Where Mr. Roddenberry's Already Been

Make it so.Welcome, won't you?

It's Franchise Reboot Day, with more recast time warp retcon shenanigans than you can shake a phaser at. Rifftrax's commentary for the newly reimagined Star Trek (2009 version) has been released. Pick it up here.

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11/18/09

How'd I Get Burned? How'd I Get Burned!

Starring Tad Ghostal.Welcome, won't you?

Nicholas Cage plays the role he was born to play--that of an immolated skeleton--in Ghost Rider. It's easily the stupidest, most unintentionally funny movie I've seen since The Happening, and the men of Blame Society take every opportunity to make it funnier. Tracking down this movie's shorter theatrical cut may take some effort on your part, but finding the right version is well worth the effort. This is now the best commentary the Rifftrax Presents catalog has to offer. Review here.

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11/13/09

Isn't Sylar Supposed To Be Spock's Evil Half-Brother?

I can't wait to see Nick's teethmarks in the scenery.Welcome, won't you?

Two things:

1) The Blame Society Rifftrax Presents commentary for Ghost Rider has been released. Get it here. DVD-wise, make sure you get the theatrical cut, not the extended cut.

2) The next Official Rifftrax will be Star Trek, a movie forever destined to be haunted by the unofficial parenthetical subtitle, (2009 version). Haven't seen it yet, but I think it reimagines the Vulcan Mind Meld as twisting the tops off people's heads to study their brains.

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11/12/09

The Customer Is Always Dumb

Call it Maize.Welcome, won't you?

Cheerful, stupid, slightly deranged... These are all promising adjectives, especially when describing a short's riffability. Call It Free, Part 1 is all of the above and reasonably competent to boot. In a nutshell: People are stupid, but you gotta love 'em anyway. The riffers seize this message and run as far as they can with it, which is about halfway through. Tune in two to six weeks from now when they riff Part 2.

Full review here.

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11/10/09

And Fancy Free

Before the cartoon dog and the sexy asian crime lord, Ren was a misunderstood dancing teen.Welcome, won't you?

Three Four things:

1) The new short Call It Free, Part 1 has been released. Bask in its gas station attendant glory.

2) I've reviewed the Footloose commentary, and it's pretty decent. The movie's not bad either. Full review here.

3) My second attempt at buying tickets for the upcoming Rifftrax Live Christmas Shorts Extravaganza (with Weird Al) was a success. I'll be watching the tape-delayed broadcast on December 16, 2009 from San Raphael, California. Get your tickets now.

4) The real release date for Blame Society's Ghost Rider riff is Friday, November 13, 2009.

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11/9/09

Call It Shirley

Call it Ishmael.Welcome, won't you?

I guess they're announcing shorts ahead of time now, 'cause the catalog lists Call It Free as slated for release tomorrow. Apparently it's about how to be a gas station attendant. I was a gas station attendant for the first year and a half of my college career, and it ain't rocket science. I'm wondering how they'll think up eight-to-ten minutes worth of things to say about it.

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11/8/09

RVOD086 Maniac (VOD Version)

See the main Rifftrax section for the review.

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11/6/09

We'd Better Watch Out, Better Not Cry...

Weird Al is watching...Welcome, won't you?

Rifftrax (semi) Live is back, and this time it's, um, Christmasy. I was hoping for another interpretation of Santa Claus Conquers the Martians*, but they actually have a selection of holiday-themed shorts for us this time. With special guest star Weird Al. Streaming live to theaters everywhere** on December 16, 2009 and rebroadcast on December 17, 2009. I'll be picking up my tickets just as soon as the Fandango site stops freaking out at me. If you feel luckier than I do, try the ticket preorder link here.

Also, the site claims to have released a Ghost Rider Rifftrax Presents commentary yesterday. Given the fact that it's listed as "Not Yet Available", and they actually released Footloose yesterday, I'm assuming we're going to have to wait until this time next week to watch Chad Vader and his Blame Society creators quip while Nicky Cage chews scenery.

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*No, I wasn't.
**Except the West Coast, where it will be tape-delayed for an hour.

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11/5/09

Highway to the Footloose Zone

Kenny Loggins time.Welcome, won't you?

House on Footloose Corner, Everybody Cut, um, Footloose. And that's pretty much all the Kenny Loggins songs I know. I'm not sure if I should be ashamed or proud. Anyway, the Rifftrax Presents commentary for Footloose, with Janet Varney and Cole Stratton, has been released. Pick it up here.

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11/3/09

The Boat Sinks in Spite of Rose's Uncovered Knockers

Tragedy!Welcome, won't you?

Did you know that Titanic is more than three hours long? I did, and was still unprepared for how mind-numbingly tedious it was. Not that it's badly made; I suspect I would have enjoyed it more if I was a fan of romance films. I suspect I might have enjoyed the Rifftrax more as well. Review here.

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