7/30/10

Look Who's Talking: The Prequel

So, Mike is a Martian?Welcome, won't you?

So, The Boy in the Plastic Bubble is public domain now? I guess it must be. Go ahead and grab the Rifftrax commentary for Baby Travolta in Hot Pants event of the century (thus far) here. Available both as an MP3 and as Video On Demand.

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7/28/10

Almost Certain

With Dad gone, mom's under Joey's thumb now.Welcome, won't you?

I think I'm caught up now. Pretty sure. Reasonably positive. The review that brings us up to date is the one for last week's Rifftrax divorce drama, Thing Are Different Now. Read it here.

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7/27/10

RVOD127 More Dangerous Than Dynamite

(1941, Educational/Short, b&w)

Riffers:

Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy

Somehow something went wrong with my huge pan of gasoline.

Rating: ****

In a Nutshell:

Don’t wash your clothes in gasoline.

Summary:

She has more destructive force than 86 pounds of dynamite.This California Fire Marshall-produced film starts with some explosion footage, and then a quick rundown of many of the most prominent ways people used to burn down their houses. Pennies behind fuses, frayed cords under carpets, standing too close to the radiator, that kind of thing. Now we move on to the subject of the short.

In the thirties, I guess people used to dry clean their clothes at home with gasoline. A young housewife demonstrates this practice. The narrator takes careful note of her proximity to several open flames, the children running in and out distracting her, the static electricity generated by rubbing the dress against itself, her home’s lack of steam emitters and so on. Interspersed we see scenes of the fictional “Reputable Dry Cleaning Company,” which also uses gasoline, but has many, many safety measures designed to contain and douse fire after the inevitable explosions. The housewife’s tale ends with cartoon flames and permanent disfigurement.

Thoughts:

Looking back at my summary, I don’t think I made this short sound funny enough. Let me clarify now: More Dangerous Than Dynamite is hilarious early-twentieth century camp, filled with ridiculous assertions and ludicrous melodrama. Much of this has to do with the era that produced it. In a more credulous time period you probably didn’t need to prove or qualify wild statements like, “One gallon of gasoline has more explosive power than 86 pounds of dynamite!”, or worry that the teary, big-eyed youngsters and crestfallen mustaches would make the audience laugh instead of cry. Business owners also apparently didn’t need to worry about protecting their easily replaceable workers, as nearly all the dry cleaner safety measures are designed to prevent structural damage. The one concession to the human element is a set of asbestos blankets, used to stop your dead coworkers from smoldering.

A few favorite comments: Partway through the initial list of dangerous, potential fire-causing behaviors, Kevin says, “Your home is more dangerous than a World War I trench filled with lions.” When the narrator decries smoking in bed, Mike says, “But I can still smoke while washing my children’s hair with gasoline, right?” At the end, when the newspaper mournes the disfigurement of a beautiful young housewife, Bill adds, “If she was ugly, no one would care.” Throughout, the riffers adopt a tone of disbelief that such a practice ever existed. (I have a few doubts about it myself, but I think it’s entirely possible. Seventy years from now, which of our current practices will make future generations gasp in disbelieving horror?) Their incredulity works though, providing a very funny counterpoint to an already funny short.

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George's Unremarkable Brother

A young and chubby Carrot Top.Welcome, won't you?

Time to take care of the short I somehow missed. Elementary school teacher Miss Hart learns valuable lessons about verbally abusing and publicly humiliating her charges in this one. Watch her break little Roy's spirit and crush his fragile self esteem in Individual Differences. Review here.

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7/26/10

Clash of the Airbenders

Is it just me, or does the eye look angrier this year?Welcome, won't you?

The Rifftrax Comic-Con panel has once again come and gone, and once again time, money and distance conspired to keep me from attending. Guest correspondent E.P. Haury was there, though. Check out his thorough write up of the event here.

In a nutshell: The guys have promised to riff The Last Airbender and Clash of the Titans in the near future. Prepare for whispery, pretentious dullness and loud, shouty riffing mayhem, respectively.

Speaking of Conventions: If you haven't seen this already, take a look here. Apparently, Darkstar's really real actual release date will be announced at Dragon Con in Atlanta, Georgia on September 3, 2010. Really. For reals this time.

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RVOD125 The Fad Diet Circus

(1970s-ish, Educational/Short, color)

Riffers:

Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy

Never take dietary advice from a man whose head looks like a boiled onion.

Rating: ***

In a Nutshell:


Dr. Atkins is evil.

Summary:

That unsightly torso is preferable to his later outfits.We begin with a leisurely montage of bathing beauties while a narrator rambles on about the virtually unattainable ideals of physical perfection. Gradually the montage shifts to normal-(i.e. overweight)-looking people. Now the narrator runs down a list of bad-idea-diets while heavyset actors comically pass out after every pantomime of an unhealthy meal.

Just before the halfway mark, the short first mentions Dr. Atkins. In the remaining runtime, the filmmakers show clips of an ambush-style interview with Dr. Atkins in a hideous plaid jacket at his “opulent” office. (“His relatively modest office furniture flies in the face of God!” Mike declares.) Between interview clips, the narrator sustains a relentless and unrestrained attack on Dr. Atkins and his assertion that eating only red meat will help you lose weight. The trials conducted by the filmmakers demonstrate this assertion to be correct, but only in the short run. In the long run, it leads to weight gain and health problems. The narrator also extols the virtues of a low-calorie diet as healthy and sustainable alternative.

Thoughts:

Fad Diet Circus a strident attack film with the good grace not to pretend otherwise. This measure of self-awareness helps it, as it uses bikini ladies, humorous pantomime and over-the-top inflammatory rhetoric to get its point across. Its point is still valid, too; Atkins is still popular, and still unhealthy. Has anyone taken on The Secret yet?

A few favorite comments: When the narrator tells us our national obesity problem is our own fault, Mike asks, “Isn’t there an ethnic group we can blame?” As a dog stands by the table to beg during a particularly plaid-drenched pantomime, Kevin says, “I don’t want food, I just want you to dress better.” As the short ends, Bill shouts, “Dr. Atkins is a lying demon! Spread the word!” Like I said, it’s a strident attack film that knows what it is and revels in it. The commentary was funny enough. I’m not sure why I didn’t like it more. Maybe it didn’t revel enough? I dunno.

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RVOD124 Library World

(1970s-ish, Educational/Short, color)

Riffers:

Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy

I made this waterfall with a garden hose and some ham.

Rating: **1/2

In a Nutshell:


The library is the hippest place in town.

Summary:

Thankfully not starring Gabriel Byrne.A boy invites a tiny androgynous child to go play baseball with him in the park. It (he? she?) agrees, but first It has to return a book to the library. Boy doesn’t think libraries are cool enough to enter, so he waits for his hirsute, genderless friend outside. That is, until the Coolest Car in the World drives up to disgorge the Coolest Teenaged Library Volunteer in Recorded History.

Boy follows Coolest into the library and watches him load a display case with Civil War artifacts. Coolest notices his audience and snares Boy with his amazing ability to make dry reference books come to life in a barrage of boring stock footage. Soon It has joined them, and the threesome loudly tours the card catalog, the media collections, the librarian’s desk, etc. Boy comes away with a newfound appreciation for knowledge, and vows to visit again soon.

Thoughts:

The most amazing thing about It is that mane of thick black hair surrounding her/his head in a perfect thirty-inch sphere. At least half that kid’s body weight has got to reside above the neck. Must make for a weird center of gravity. Also, it’s worth noting that The Coolest Teenaged Library Volunteer in Recorded History is a skinny, squeaky-voiced Civil War reenacter in a funny hat and a butterfly collar.

A few favorite comments: When Boy refuses to enter at first, Mike notes he “hasn’t been in a library since a card file attacked and killed his parents.” As footage of everyday activities increases the library’s allure, Bill asks, “Why skateboard when you can read about skateboarding?” When Coolest tells It and Boy to “keep the noise down” in the same piercing tone he’s employed the whole film, Kevin asks, “KEEP THE WHAT DOWN?” It’s funny enough, especially during the occasional lapses into stock footage, but mostly the short’s about knowledge and the acquisition of same. These are deep and fascinating pastimes, they’re not especially interesting as visual subjects, and all the snide comments and seaweed footage in Christendom are not enough to change that.

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7/23/10

Things Are Pretty Much the Same Now

Who let Mike out?Welcome, won't you?

Three things:

1) The next full-length Rifftrax will be a Video on Demand riff of an embarrassing relic from John Travolta's pre-celebrity days, The Boy in the Plastic Bubble. Featuring Mike, Kevin and Bill. Available at Rifftrax on July 30, 2010.

2) Shorts have resumed with the ominously titled Things Are Different Now. Available here.

3) I thought only four shorts had been released while I was traveling, but it turns out there were five. How did I miss this? I can offer no explanations, only apologies. Individual Differences was released at the end of last month, between Pearl of the Orient and Whatever the Weather. I'll be posting a review and rearranging the numbering on the VOD guide to accommodate said review sometime in the next few days.

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RVOD123 Decisions, Decisons

(1970s-ish, Educational/Short, color)

Riffers:

Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy

Joey is Kaiser Soze!

Rating: ***

In a Nutshell:


Tommy can’t decide whether or not to ditch his weird friend Joey.

Summary:

It's prime coop-paintin' season.Tommy moves to a farm, and the first boy he meets is Joey. Joey’s a little brusque and kind of weird, but he's amiable enough. He invites Tommy to come over to his grandma’s house sometime that fall and help him paint a chicken coop. This will net them twenty dollars each. Twenty dollars will go a ways toward buying Tommy a new horse to go with his new farm, so he readily agrees.

Then school starts. None of the other kids like Joey, and with good reason. He sits by himself on purpose and behaves rudely to people who approach him. As Tommy’s circle of friends expands, he finds himself frequently having to choose where to spend his playtime as Joey and the other kids refuse to mingle.

Now Tommy is torn. Should he break with Joey entirely or continue to divide his attention? His oddly characterized parents offer useless advice, ultimately leaving the decision up to Tommy. Things come to a head when Joey comes up to Tommy at school and interrupts some friendly horseplay to tell him when the chicken coop-painting date has been set. Tommy might refuse to go to save face, or he might embarrass himself by agreeing. The short ends before we find out.

Thoughts:

Decisions, Decisions poses an interesting question. Ordinarily this would be a false dilemma: siding with the loner kid and eventually bringing him into your circle of friends would clearly be the right choice. In this film, we’re not quite sure. Joey isn’t just socially awkward, he’s aggressively, defiantly awkward. He’s alone, not by circumstance, but by choice. Asking a child of more mainstream temperament to put up with this kind of behavior could be considered a little beyond the pale.

Is it relevant? Do lots of Joey-esque children exist; enough to warrant posing this question to educational film viewers everywhere? I don’t know. Interesting question, though.

A few favorite comments: When Tommy and Joey go inside for lunch, Mike assigns “pizza for Tommy, allergy medicine for Joey.” When Mom refuses to make Tommy’s decision for him, Kevin notes her odd delivery with, “I’m too full of valium and coconut rum.” When Dad does the same, Bill responds, “Whatever you say, Gay Southern Dad.” Lots of nerd jokes and lots of mockery heaped on the very strangely played parents make this one worth watching.

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7/22/10

RVOD122 William's Doll

(1981, Educational/Short, color)

Riffers:

Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy

Kid seems too eager. I sense a voodoo practice.

Rating: ***1/2

In a Nutshell:


William gets a football helmet for his birthday, but he really wants a doll.

Summary:

Made of rawhide, with guns for arms.William is a manly boy who wins footraces at school and plays football with his dad. One day, while he’s playing in the dirt with his toy dump truck, his little sister comes to join him. She abandons her baby doll a few feet away. William eventually tires of the dump truck. Curious about the discarded doll, he picks it up and pretends to nurture it. At this inopportune time, his friends arrive to jeer at him.

Undeterred, William asks his dad to get him his own doll for his birthday. Dad refuses, citing that toy’s traditional gender restriction. How about a football helmet? He receives a football helmet at his party, and enjoys playing with it, but that night he confesses his secret doll desires to his visiting grandfather. Grandfather goes out and buys him a doll.

While William prances rather disturbingly around the house with his new toy, his father expresses his dismay to grandfather. Grandfather tells a few embarrassing childhood stories about father while insisting that men need to learn how to love too. His passionate defense of doll ownership for males moves father to accept William’s non-traditional plaything preferences. Later, William sets the doll aside to go play football in the park with his friends, proving his father’s fears unfounded.

Thoughts:

Why is William so keen on getting his own doll? He’s got a little sister. At that age, my boy would have pushed her down and taken one of hers.

All kidding aside, I don’t really have a problem with boys owning dolls. I don’t have a problem with them not owning dolls either. The latter statement seems to put me at odds with the short, which is stridently pro-doll. If I had to extract a message, I’d go with, “You can be effeminate without becoming homosexual,” which is an odd thing for a children’s short to go out of its way to say.

The urgent pro-doll tone is at odds with the short’s source material too—a simple, heartwarming children’s book about not letting traditional gender roles get in the way of good parenting. Something was lost in translation here, or now that I think about it, added. I think it’s the kid who plays William. With just a few words and pictures, the book lets you imagine something sweet and innocent, but the film casts a boy who clearly doesn’t play with dolls in real life. His method of portraying love for a baby, real or otherwise, is to fondle it creepily.

A few favorite comments: When William meets a neighbor’s baby and fondles its hand, Mike says, “She’s yours for fifty bucks. I got a whole trunk full of them.” When he cradles his sister’s doll in his arms, Bill says, “When I’m a dad, I will breastfeed.” When Dad says “no” to William’s doll request, Kevin asks, “What if it’s made out of rawhide and has guns for arms?” It’s one of the most unintentionally creepy things they’ve mocked at Rifftrax, and the riffers take full advantage.

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7/21/10

Cry Little Sister

Yes, Jason.  Those glasses -do- make you look fat.Welcome, won't you?

No new Rifftrax shorts for a while now, but that's not all that surprising. With most of the world's nerd nobility gathered in San Diego for Comic Con this week, internet-based entertainment has dropped off pretty much everywhere.

While we're waiting for things to pick up again, here's my review of the Rifftrax Presents for The Lost Boys, a fun little horror/comedy with a halfway decent commentary.

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7/19/10

Blandness of Personality Helps the Digestion

Blandness of personality helps the digestion.Welcome, won't you?

With this review for the inexplicable Mealtime Manners and Health, I am now up to date on my short reviews. Now I just have to watch The Lost Boys, and maybe think up some lines for the Reefer Madness joke-writing contest.

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7/16/10

Beware of Entries from Ernest Scribbler

Showing up stoned not recommended.Welcome, won't you?

In lieu of a short today (I assume), Rifftrax has provided a nifty little video pertaining to a joke-writing contest for their live broadcast of Reefer Madness, coming up on August 19, 2010. Go here for details.

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7/15/10

A Girl Named Jason

One of these girls is named 'Jason.'Welcome, won't you?

Surely the best way to quell racism against Asians is to put a bunch of them together and challenge white kids to tell them apart. Are All People the Same sees no problems with this plan. Review here.

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7/14/10

Rifftrax Video On Demand 111 to 120

RVOD111 Watch Out For My Plant

RVOD112 Values: The Right Thing to Do

RVOD113 Family Teamwork

RVOD114 Pearl of the Orient

RVOD115 Individual Differences

RVOD116 Whatever the Weather

RVOD117 Building Better Paragraphs

RVOD118 Are People All the Same?

RVOD119 Mealtime Manners and Health

RVOD120 Things Are Different Now

Pearl of the Orient's the best of this section, with hilarious condenscenscion and the actual, oblivious depiction of cockfighting. There's lots of Seventies free-form education here too, with Are All People the Same, Family Teamwork, Watch Out For My Plant and Things Are Different Now. And, if you like boredom, you can always partake of the grandeur that is Building Better Paragraphs.

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Paragraphs and Vampires

Which one is supposed to be Corey Haim?Welcome, won't you?

I saw The Lost Boys a long time ago, and I seem to remember enjoying it. I expect to enjoy it more with Janet Varney and Cole Stratton's Rifftrax Presents commentary, now available. Grab it here.

Also, here's my review for Building Better Paragraphs, the short that taps into the wild excitement one inevitably feels while watching another person write.

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7/13/10

Celebrating the Four Weathers

'Season' and 'weather' are interchangeable, right?Welcome, won't you?

Whatever the Weather's about the seasons,
Instead of "the weather" like the title was teasin'.
Here's a review that contains no rhyming,
Something, something, something miming.

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7/12/10

RVOD121 The Boy in the Plastic Bubble

Reviewed in the regular Rifftrax section here.

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Comic-Con Rifftrax Panel, July 23, 2010 (by guest correspondent E.P. Haury)

Have you noticed how often the Rifftrax trio makes fun of Comic Con in their riffs? Yet somehow they keep attending themselves. And with this panel, it’s clear that they have settled on a pattern. They opened with a montage of movies and riffs, did a live riff of a short that they had previously released, then held the Second Annual Help Pick a Movie They Will Riff Contest. They even kept the same moderator as last year, Veronica Belmont.

Video Montage

This year, montage started with a caption reading “Since we last saw each other.” Then they showed videos elusively form riffs released in the last year. Films included The Matrix Revolutions, Titanic, Avatar, Paranormal Activities, Transformers 2, Content-Winner Dragon Wars, Return of the Jedi, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, New Moon, and The Return of the King as well as a “host segment” from the Christmas Special. Multiple clips were shown from each movies. A clip from Return of the King included a riff declaring that Comic Con is coming to Minas Tirith while the horrified image of King Theoden filled the screen.

Once Veronica introduced the trio after the video, they entered and started cracking jokes. Bill came on and asked people to announced whether they were on “Team Edward,” “Team Jacob,” or “Team What the [Expletive Delegated] is This Sparkly Vampire [Expletive Deleted]?” You should be able to easily tell who won.

Live Riff

They quickly went on to do their live riff, which was a reprise of “Buying Food.” No need to summarize the story, since that’s already done. But it is worth noting that, perhaps because the original release of “Buying Food” is two years old, about one third of the riffs had been changed—either with revisions of earlier riffs or wholly new ones.

For example, when Henry Slinkman decided to buy oysters, Bill called them, “The classic impulse buy.” When we were shown (in vibrant black and white) the different grades of caned tomatoes, Mike asked, “Tomatoes? Are you sure those aren’t crushed rats?” Faced by the incredible difficulty in determining the grades of different canned foods Kevin went with a running Rifftrax joke and suggested, “So avoid them and stick with bacon.”

And along with all the changed riffs, it was interesting how the same riff, said in a different way could change the meaning of what was said. So bottom line, it was a good riff before and is a good but different one now.

Second Annual Help Pick A Movie They Will Riff Contest

Like before, people lined up and were given about thirty seconds to pitch the movie they thought should be riffed. I was able to write down most of the suggested movies with a few comments. In general, it seems to me that the types of movies didn’t vary as wildly as they did last time, perhaps because people might have been prepared this year and been thinking about them. There were no suggestions to riff the MST3K movie, for example.

The contest has two purposes. Not only to actually help pick a movie, but also to provide entertainment by having the trio riff the suggestions. So anyone who tries this in the future, bear that in mind and be ready. Last year I suggested Speed Racer. This year, I was tempted to suggested Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. But even though I really felt the need for it to be riffed, I didn’t think I could articulate it this time. Here’s hoping they get to it anyway.

And here’s the list with notes for most of the films:

Footloose: Mike reminded the person that Janet and Cole already riffed it and recommended it be checked out.

Last Airbender: That suggestion received heavy applause.

Jaws the Revenge: One of the major selling points the suggester gave was that the movie was boring. Mike leaned forward at that, as if intrigued, and said, “Boring, you say?” Bill added, “I'm intrigued.” Bill also reacted to the statement that someone died at the beginning with “They’ve never did that before in a movie.”

2012

Jonah Hex: Because they would bid farewell to Megan Fox’s career. All three thought that would be a worthy cause.

Pandorum: The woman who suggested it said she’d take her top off instead of giving reasons. (This refers to something said while giving the instructions for the contest.) But she didn’t do it because Bill threatened to have Kevin take his top off in response, and Kevin said he was ready to do so at a moment’s notice.

Samurai Cop:

Skycraper: Die Hard with McClain played by 300 lb. Anna Nicole Smith.

Hook: Some people booed the man who suggested this and started shouting “Rufio! Rufio!”

Passion of the Christ: Got laughter and then Mike riffed on Gibson’s latest rant.

Tremors: The suggester said it was the first Brokeback Mountain. Mike asked, “What the Hell were you watching?”

Zardoz: Bill said that the comment “Sean Connery in a diaper” was all that needed to be said. I’ll say right now that that became my favorite. But more on the results later.

Black Sheep

Pocahontas: The man who suggested it said that should try another family movie to expand their repertoire. Mike chimed in with “The Room wasn't a family movie?” Leading to the suggester saying, “I don’t know what your family is like, but. . .” (This was only one of many references to or imitations of Tommy Wiseau the trio made during the panel.)

Cool as Ice with Vanilla Ice: The suggester impressed the guys by knowing Vanilla Ice’s real name. As the suggestion as bring made, noise from a neighboring room (probably a video clip being shown) caused the walls to shake, leading the guys to wonder if that was Vanilla Ice enraged that he was being mocked. The wall shook several times during the panel. Surprisingly, no Paranormal Activity references resulted.

Blade Runner: The person argued it was slow and dull, and that’s as far as I could hear before the boos completely covered up his argument. He might have been better off arguing it be done like they did Casablanca.

Onichan Bara: Not sure if I got the title right. Apparently a Japanese zombie movie.

Mighty Morphing Power Rangers Movie: Another big applause getter.

Roger Corman’s Death Race 2000: Suggested it be done in honor of Corman’s honorary Oscar.

Remo Williams

The Mystical Adventures of Billy Owens: Bill asked if there were any non-mystical adventures.

Shock Treatment:

Valley of the Guanji: Cowboys and dinosaurs

Vampire Kiss: With Nicholas Cage.

Sex in the City: (either movie) The woman who suggested it said “It's like a Michael Bay film except for women.” The idea intrigued the trio, although Kevin asked if they could burn all the prints instead of riffing it. Bill and Veronica agreed that Mike is a Samantha.

The Warriors: 70s Cult classic.

Basic instinct:

Super Mario Brothers: The suggester noted that this was a repeat suggestion from last year. It got cheers.

Silent Running: The woman suggesting this one wore a coat covered with various buttons, so it makes sense that she called herself “The Button Lady.” She pitched the movie as “One man, two robots,” which led Bill to say, “What a ridiculous premise.”

Clash of the Titans (remake): The guys liked the idea, but Kevin asked about the possibility of the original—whether instead of or in addition to, I’m not sure.

Can't Stop the Music: Staring Bruce Jenner, Steve Gutenberg, and the Village People

Grizzly Man: A documentary with a sad ending. You can imagine how well that went down.

And with that, the suggestions ended. The trio got to work, repeatedly announcing that they would solicit the audience’s opinion but would feel free to disregard its sentiment if they wished. As they went through the list, they said for the first of perhaps a dozen times that, “Last Airbender is a gimme,” or in other words, “Of course we’re doing that.” Bill expressed a desire to do 2012, and Kevin spoke up for Zardoz. (He did say he thought there were few copies of Zardoz available, limiting the market. This led to people shouting that Netflix has it. And I know my medium-sized public library has a DVD copy. Kevin noted that availability and said, “Good to know.”)

They asked for audience options on Clash of the Titans (the remake), Zardoz, 2012, and the Last Airbender. The response to 2012 was tepid, but all others were reasonably enthusiastic.

After gauging the reaction and a little more discussion, they announced the results. The Last Airbender won. But because, as they again said, it was a “gimme,” they declared the Clash of the Titans remake to be the special runner up.

Trailer

After that, they played the trailer for the August theater riff of Reefer Madness. It’s the colorized version. Along with the main feature, they will riff three shorts so obscure that, they said, not even the people who made the films had seen them before. And Lowtax will again be involved to provide that special something.

Thoughts

The guys were funny. Buying Food was great, and hearing it done differently gave an interesting twist to things. The preview for August makes me hope that Flagstaff finally gets a theater that will show these live riffs, since I can’t possibly drive two hours into the heart of Phoenix, AZ—in summer—just to see one performance.

I also have to say that I would like one year for them to take questions.

But the heart of the matter is the Pick the Movie Contest. And I have to admit to being disappointed. Not extremely, but a little bit. One of the great things about last year’s choice of D-War is that there was no way we would have gotten that riff without the contest. More than half of us in the room hadn’t heard of the movie before, and I’m sure many of those who had heard of it hadn’t seen it. Even though I haven’t seen The Last Airbender—which is a “gimme,” in case you haven’t heard—it sounds like a perfect fit. And Clash of the Titans should work well, too. But those are both obvious choices.

If the contest doesn’t get the guys to riff a movie they wouldn’t have done otherwise, at least I should have gotten them to riff a movie that fit their typical profile but had slipped through the cracks. The Clash of the Titans DVD was only recently released. There’s no reason to assume they weren’t going to get to it soon. (Zardoz, on the other hand, a movie that has so much for them to riff, they probably wouldn’t get to otherwise.) Like I said there’s nothing wrong with either of the riffs they promised to do. They could and should do well with both. (And if they were to do a one two punch of the original and then the remake of CofT, now that would be something.) I just feel like we were given a (admittedly limited) wish by the Rifftrax genie, and it ended up wasted.

But who knows, nothing to forbid them from taking other suggestions they heard and doing them anyway.

And the experience itself was fun. I usually watch Rifftrax alone. To hear multiple hundreds of people laughing along with me added something special to the experience.

MST3K-Related Booths

Legend Films didn’t have a booth this year. But Shout Factory, releaser of the MST3K and Film Crew videos, did. However, unlike last year, when MST3K was one of Shout Factory’s big new shows, they didn’t have any Mystery Science products available for sale. (Films by Roger Corman, one of this years big shows, were prominently displayed. I wonder if this will influence the priority of releases of Corman produced MST3K episodes.) But a banner dominating the booth’s wall, laid out like a theater marquee, did mention MST3K along with other Shout Factory Releases. And they had a sample statuette of Gypsy, perhaps four inches high, on their table. The statuette will be included in the next MST3K box set in November.

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7/11/10

RVOD120 Things Are Different Now

(1978, Educational/Short, color)

Riffers:

Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy

I just feel like you’re a little divorced from reality.

Rating: ***

In a Nutshell:


Joey’s having a hard time coping with his parents’ divorce.

Summary:

With Dad gone, mom's under Joey's thumb now.Joey hasn’t been himself lately. His voice cracks during choir rehearsal at his grandpa’s church. He’s rude to his best friend, eventually picking a fight. He’s barely civil to his mother and refuses to call his father, or speak to him when he calls.

Father doesn’t live with them anymore, which is the root of the trouble. Joey struggles to assume the role of Head of Household, taking on extra chores, getting a part-time job, flipping out whenever he sees his mom with another man, etc. Eventually his best friend comes back to finish the fight Joey started. They wrestle and smear each other with mud, and the friend eventually tells him how he felt when his own parents divorced. They have a long talk during a bike ride, and by the end Joey finally feels calm enough to go visit his dad.

Thoughts:

Here’s one film, at least, where the Seventies-style refusal to spell anything out for the audience pays off. The drama gets slightly cheesy in spots, but most of it is surprisingly poignant. Despite the riffing, despite the Seventies, I felt bad for Joey, and was happy for him when he finally started to deal with his feelings about the situation.

The goofy bits lend themselves to riffing, though, and the short’s topic of emotional pain never seemed too much at odds with the added joviality. A few favorite comments: Upon seeing him for the first time, Bill describes the best friend as, “A young It’s Pat.” When another child stands behind Joey in the choir to provide us with a bit too much view, Mike begs him, “At long last, zip up your pants.” When Joey catches his mom with another man, Kevin introduces him as, “Alterna-Dad.” I managed to laugh at the jokes while being touched by the short, which must have been a tricky balance to pull off.

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7/10/10

And Cheese, and Vegetables, and Very Small Rocks...

...and spam!Welcome, won't you?

The title Mealtime Manners and Health seems like it ought to be a non sequitur, but I'm sure that can't really be the case. The makers those grand old educational shorts of the past would surely never think up an incoherent title without a convincing argument to back it up. I look forward to seeing what it is. Grab the latest Rifftrax short here.

In other news, the Rifftrax live broadcast of Reefer Madness is now officially scheduled for August 19, 2010 at various evening-esque times depending on your time zone. More information here. Also, I'm back from my two week road trip, but now I have to unpack and get my house in order, so reviews will resume some time next week.

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7/7/10

Similar at Least?

Identical in Every Way.Welcome, won't you?

Still on the road, and now it's very late at night at my aunt's house. Yesterday's Rifftrax short was Are People All the Same? In the parlance of the short, I'm guessing the answer is "yes." Grab it here.

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7/2/10

Use Exclamation Points as Nails

Welcome, won't you?

Another new Rifftrax short that I can't get to until I get back to California in a couple of weeks. This one's Building Better Paragraphs. I guess they're easier than mousetraps. Grab it here.

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