10/14/10

Rifftrax Live, October 28, 2010 (Broadcast from Nashville, Viewed from San Rafael)

The sight of Bill's tail is now burned into my memory forever.Getting to the show was far less eventful than it’s been in the past. I bought dinner, drove south, took a book for the half-hour I’d wait at the theater, etc. The pre-show slides were a nice way to pass the time when I finished my book; the one about Frankenstein being the name of the mad doctor not the—WHO THE HELL CARES! was my favorite. The cheesy infomercial-style advertisements for Rifftrax.com were pretty funny too. I think I’ll adopt “Hi, I’m Bob Rifftrax” as my new catch-phrase.

The show began with just a little patter this time, enough to give us their names and to make fun of each other’s half-assed Halloween costumes. Bill showed everyone his tail, provoking groans of disgust from his co-riffers. The shorts began.

First up: Magical Disappearing Money, an insane little short about an overexpressive woman dressed like my great-grandma’s sofa. She stalks a grocery store shaking her head with disgust at each unnecessary purchase. Finally, she waves her magic wand, forcing a child to knock over a laundry detergent display. Thereafter, she turns expensive processed foods into their cheap component ingredients for stupefied crowd.

Moments after accidentally consigning an unlucky milkman to the fires of hell.Comedian Paul F. Tompkins came out to join them, stopping the show for several minutes to do a very funny bit about his crippling fear of bathroom mirrors. Then he joined the Big Three to riff another short whose name escapes at the moment. It involved a possessed paper bag that abducted small children from their beds to witness the death and torment of his tree of origin in a paper mill. I’m sure it was meant as a whimsical journey of learning, but the end result was pure, unadulterated nightmare fuel. Of course the riffers—all four of them—pointed this out.

A word about Mr. Tompkins: Having missed the Reefer Madness show, I can’t speak with complete authority on the subject, but as far as I can tell, he’s the best guest they’ve had in a live show thus far. His comedy routine was hilarious and didn’t overstay its welcome. His riffing was pitch perfect and different enough to have its own style. (This may be more personal preference than anything. All my favorite guest riffers sound distinct from the others.) Hopefully he’ll appear in a full-length Rifftrax someday. Mr. Tompkins also appeared briefly during the featured riff, when Kevin made a particularly awful joke and was ejected from the stage by Mike and Bill. He started recycling riffs they’d done earlier in the film, and they swapped him back out for Kevin.

Which brings us to House on Haunted Hill. I’ve already reviewed it twice, so I won’t bore you with another summary. The commentary subtly improves every time they riff it, but in my mind, that’s not enough to justify yet a third treatment. Don’t get me wrong, it was funny as hell, but I’d gladly pay double for a live show that wasn’t built around yet another retread.

And, uh, that’s about all, really. The movie wound to its ridiculous, non-haunted finale, the riffers took their bows and I went home.