10/28/10

Don't Be an Australian Benny Hill Impersonator

Don't miss tonight's performance either.Welcome, won't you?

A review for the confrontational camping safety short Don't Be a Bloody Idiot has been posted. Enjoy! Hopefully while preparing to watch the Rifftrax Live broadcast of House on Haunted Hill in your local theater tonight. (Tickets available here, if you don't already have one.)

Read More......

10/27/10

Rifftrax Live Tomorrow

I hope they don't hand out loaded guns and then lock the doors.Welcome, won't you?

A review for Don't Be a Bloody Idiot will be posted tomorrow. Also happening tomorrow: Rifftrax's live broadcast of House on Haunted Hill. Find tickets and locations here. I'll be watching from San Rafael.

Read More......

10/26/10

Not Sure Why It's a Meme

SpartaaaaArgos!Welcome, won't you?

"Release the Kraken!" Liam cried in the deep, portentous voice that made him a star. Yes, it was silly, but not any sillier than the rest of the movie. If anything, Neeson's delivery made it more dignified than most of the other lines, reduced as they were to incomprehensible mush by Sam Worthington's emotionless growl.

Anyway, the commentary's good, but Clash of the Titans itself is duller than drying paint. Review here.

Also, if you thought that pig short's title was delicious wait'll you see today's offering. Don't Be a Bloody Idiot comes to us through Rifftrax by way of Australia, where it's apparently kosher for educational films to swear at their students right in the title. I'm looking forward to it. Grab it here.

Read More......

10/23/10

Serving All Your Kraken-Releasing Needs

A single glance at this jpeg will turn you to stone.Welcome, won't you?

The Rifftrax commentary for the new version Clash of the Titans was released yesterday, but I was too busy enjoying Carpeting Adventures in the Rain(tm) to note this. Hell, I didn't even get to Parent-Teacher conferences like I was supposed to. But I guess it's better to release the Kraken a day late than not at all. Grab the commentary here. Review to come.

Read More......

10/22/10

RVOD139 Values: Understanding Ourselves

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

Riffers:

Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy

How come dogs only talk to me?

Rating: ***

In a Nutshell:


Three kids wander around; one is driven to madness by a discarded hubcap.

Summary:

The One Hubcap, which drives its users to madness.Three small boys wander a neighborhood, jumping off walls and teasing girls, their arms around one another at all times. A narrator tells us about their different (read: all but identical) family situations, then touches on the story of Aladdin. Soon after, the boys find a hubcap in a vacant lot. They stick their tongues out at it for hours, eventually deciding that it’s a magic hubcap, capable of granting wishes. The Hispanic boy rubs it with feverish desperation, wishing to be someone else. He stops after several minutes, finally deciding that it’s okay to be himself after all. The Caucasian and African American boys decline their turns at rubbing. Whether they reached the same epiphany as their friend or were just sort of freaked out by his brief lapse into hubcap-polishing lunacy is a question that remains unanswered.

Thoughts:

Good short full of good points. I feel like it really helped me understand those boys better, you know, as people. I never actually thought about it before, but polishing a hubcap with your sleeve really is a revealing experience. It’s a pastime that generates moments of pure insight into the meaning of life. When it’s just you and your greasy, distorted reflection, you better believe your skill at introspective rubbing is the only thing that can tell you whether you’re a boy or a man. That’s the way I see it, anyway. I could be wrong. And if I am, then the short is nonsense with no point to it at all.

A few favorite comments: When the boys can’t stop showing the hubcap their tongues, Mike says, “It’s practically begging us to lick it.” When the narrator calls the hubcap a “magic mirror”, Kevin notes that it’s “a magic mirror, splattered with mud and old motor oil.” While the boys obsess over their discovery, Bill wants to know, “Had they not invented toys yet when this was filmed?” The short’s basically just a big block of unconnected assertions, and the riffers do a decent job pointing this out.

Read More......

10/21/10

DOING!

Don't know what to say / The monkeys won't DO...Welcome, won't you?

Rifftrax's latest short Monkey See, Monkey Do: Verbs has monkeys in it. And verbs. And a guitar. That's about it, really. Hope you like monkeys. Review here.

Read More......

10/19/10

RE: Teats

The monkey's name is 'Verbs'?Welcome, won't you?

Behavior of Domestic-Pigs in a semi-natural Pig Park is simple enough in idea and execution, yet somehow reaches almost One Got Fat-levels of weirdness. I heartily recommend it, with the warning that it contains teats and distended porcine reproductive orifices. Review here.

Also on the animal short front, Rifftrax has released the simian grammar film, Monkey See, Monkey Do: Verbs. Grab it here.

Read More......

10/15/10

Release the Hyphens!

A single glance at this jpeg will turn you to stone.Welcome, won't you?

Lots of things to discuss today.

1) Here's the Safe Living at School review, the safety short for clumsy, drum-headed children everywhere.

2) The title alone is an English major's nightmare. Rifftrax's newest short is Behavior of Domestic-Pigs in a semi-natural Pig-Park. What other grammatical horrors are in store? Let's all watch and find out.

3) The next full-length Rifftrax will the this year's remake of Clash of the Titans. I haven't seen it yet, but I understand that, at some point, Liam Neeson shouts something silly. Featuring Mike, Kevin and Bill. To be released on October 22, 2010.

Read More......

10/14/10

RVOD138 Magical Disappearing Money

(1972, Educational/Short, color)

Riffers:

Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy

Join me in the abyss of savings!

Rating: ****

In a Nutshell:


Only buy food in its basest, most unvarnished form.

Summary:

Christine O'Donnell was Delaware's Republican candidate for the Senate in 2010.  In an interview she said she'd briefly practiced witchcraft as a rebellious teenager.Shoppers wander the grocery store selecting their favorite processed foods while an invisible woman in a hideous dress shakes her head and clucks with disapproval. Finally, she can stand it no longer. She whirls her muumuu’s cape and wags a finger, causing a child to crash his cart into a large display of generic laundry detergent. This somehow makes her visible to the shoppers. They gather round while she conjures herself a podium.

There’s a lot of finger wagging coupled with cheap special effects, peripherally involving an undernourished kitten and the consignment of a milkman to hell. The bulk of her act, however, consists of breaking down the shoppers’ prospective processed food purchases into their component ingredients. The child’s pre-sweetened cereal would be cheaper if his mom bought unsweetened and then added her own sugar. Head-ball lady would be better served with plain rice than the seasoned boxed kind. Muttonchop man should just buy fresh zucchini instead of that frozen, breaded stuff. And so on.

The shoppers nod their heads in general agreement. The floral-print grocery witch wags a finger and disappears, reconstructing the generic laundry detergent tower in her place. Fearing her whimsical, scatterbrained wrath, the shoppers return their overly extravagant purchases to the shelf, swapping them out for cheaper, plainer fare.

Thoughts:

How to describe the Grocery Witch? Let’s just say that if Mr. B Natural got really high and dressed like a 1950s Chesterfield, you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference. Strangely, I actually find myself agreeing with her shopping suggestions quite a bit, if not for the reasons she gives. I buy component ingredients because I love to cook, and food always tastes better when it’s been hand-prepared by someone who knows what they’re doing. It follows that we disagree on the subject of powdered milk, which is really friggin’ nasty. If you can't cook, or you don’t have the time and inclination, you'd be better off ignoring her.

A few favorite comments: When the title appears, Kevin subtitles it, “The story of the trillion-dollar stimulus package.” When the witch declares quick oats much too expensive, Bill adds, “Satan’s oats only cost your soul.” As the shoppers come round to the witch’s way of thinking, Mike invites them to “spread [her] dark gospel across the land.” Throughout, the witch has a habit of suddenly popping into frame at odd intervals, provoking deep-throated exclamations like, “Obey me!” and “I’ll drag you to hell!” when she appears. Kevin's parting short, "Vote Christine O'Donnell!" is hilarious, even if, no one will remember what that means a year from now. It’s a very strange short, expertly mocked, and the riffers punch up its oddity and abruptness at just the right places.

Read More......

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.

Read More......

10/13/10

Jaws Ay, Ay, Ay

The 'D' stands for 'Deathly Boring'.Welcome, won't you?

I was going to call Jaws 3 (formerly Jaws 3D) the dullest horror film ever made. But then I remembered Dark Water, a commentary for which is also available from Rifftrax Presents. So Jaws 3 is only the second most boring horror film I've ever seen. High praise indeed. Commentary's decent, though. Review here.

Read More......

10/12/10

Grade Schools Are Pits of Disease and Pestilence

An unholy amalgamation of Macaulay Culkin and Emo Phillips.Welcome, won't you?

A Jaws 3 review is in process. In the meantime, head back on down to Rifftrax, where the short film du jour teaches us Safe Living at School, a subject that doesn't get nearly enough class time at Hogwarts. Grab it here.

Read More......

10/11/10

RVOD137 Don't Be a Bloody Idiot

(1978, Educational/Short, color-ish)

Riffers:

Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy

Your tax dollars: searching for middle-aged fur trappers who are too drunk to move.

Rating: ***

In a Nutshell:


Make sure you’re prepared before you go walking about the bush.

Summary:

Don't be an Australian Benny Hill impersonator either.A bearded Australian (dubbed “Crocodile Brigham Young” by Kevin) points a shotgun at us and warns us all not to be bloody idiots. He quickly touches on the subject of shotgun safety before introducing us to three parties of outdoorsmen. Party One is a cartoonishly oafish couple who speed about the landscape in fast motion like Benny Hill. They fumble a barbeque and some folding chairs into the back of their station wagon and head into the wilderness. Party Two is just one guy on a hunting expedition, dropped off by his friends in the middle of nowhere to shoot at unspecified wildlife. Party Three is a group of four. They carefully plan their route ahead of time, packing all the necessary gear for staying out of doors overnight. They let the local police department know where they’re going on their way out of town.

Bearded Bruce McGunhappy narrates us through all of the above, plus their packing lists and some observations on what they’re doing right or wrong. That night it rains. The broadly played bumbling couple just wandered into the bush at random. They weren’t planning to be out overnight, but now they’re lost and can’t start a fire because they don’t have the right gear. The hunter didn’t take proper note of his position, so he’s lost too, but he’s got the equipment to start a fire and conserve his body heat. The hikers have wet weather gear, fire starters and tents, which they have the good sense to pitch on high ground. Of course they know exactly where they are, and hike right back to civilization the next day, making sure to let the cops know they’re back. The shooter survives his night out, finds a landmark, and returns to civilization as well. The designated Bloody Idiot couple remains thoroughly lost and unprepared. Fortunately, a nosy neighbor alerted the authorities of their absence and rescue efforts are underway as the short ends.

Thoughts:

The short is straightforward and fairly clear, if a bit overzealous. I’m all for being prepared, but hauling five tons of gear and informing the local authorities of my probable whereabouts at all times seems kind of excessive. But then, I’m not one for knocking about in the uncharted Tasmanian bush. I prefer to limit my wilderness experiences to the tamer “Carry a Map and Stay on the Trail” school of outdoorsmanship.

A few favorite comments: The short opens with the camera looking down a shotgun barrel, and Bill says, “Stop threatening me you Aussie lunatic.” After a little more abuse from the narrator, Kevin says, “I suppose it’s too much to ask that he gets mauled by a wallaby?” When the narrator asks what you should do when you’re lost, Mike suggests, “Give serious thought to the possibility that the world might be better off without you.” The fact that the short was made in a time and place where “bush” meant “wilderness” instead of “pubic hair” lends itself to jokes as well. It’s an often staid and sometimes oddly confrontational short whose regional quirks lend themselves well to mockery, and the riffers do a decent job of it.

Read More......

10/8/10

This Time It's Not Yet Personal

They're so happy about their imminent deaths.Welcome, won't you?

The Cole Stratton/Janet Varney Rifftrax Presents commentary for Jaws 3 is out. Grab it here.

Read More......

10/7/10

Sebum!

The views and opinions expressed by this short do not necessarily reflect those of the ACNE corporation.Welcome, won't you?

Sebum. It's all over you. It's inside you. And it's disgusting. Learn absolutely nothing about what you can do about sebum (and, by extension, acne), in You Can Do Something About Acne. Review here.

Read More......

10/5/10

Call Your Local Congressman Today!

But, without acne, where would Wile E. Coyote get all his stuff?Welcome, won't you?

It's Tuesday, and that means a new Rifftrax short. Today's offering is You Can Do Something About Acne. Maybe form an acne committee, or join an acne focus group. Perform dangerous, flamboyant stunts to raise acne awareness. Incite a rampaging vigilante mob and eradicate acne from our streets. Grab the short here.

Read More......

10/4/10

The House on Rifftrax Hill

I challenge the reader to work the phrase 'In partnership with Chud.com' into casual conversation some time today.Welcome, won't you?

Rifftrax once again spreads laughter and joy to children everywhere on October 28, 2010, when they perform a live broadcast riff of The House on Haunted Hill. This is not new news. The link to the place where you can buy tickets is, though. Go here.

Read More......

10/3/10

RVOD136 Monkey See, Monkey Do: Verbs

(1971, Educational/Short/Children, color)

Riffers:

Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy

Stop saying it like that, you warpo.

Rating: ***

In a Nutshell:


Monkeys and aimless folk guitar, with just a tiny bit of grammar.

Summary:

The Howler Monkey saw the best minds of his generation destroyed by... Well, you know the rest.Look at the monkeys. What are the monkeys DOING? Isn’t it amazing what all those monkeys can DO? Let’s watch them SWIM, SIT, SCRATCH and BITE. Now let’s sit in silence through similar footage while you (presumably the kids in class) think of words for what the monkeys are DOING yourself. Now let’s repeat the first section, this time as a rambling, pointless folk song.

Thoughts:

Yeah, it’s dumb, meandering, mostly pointless and vaguely obscene (DOING!), but I’ll be danged if the monkeys aren’t cute, and at least it gets across what a verb is. That last point alone puts it head and shoulders above most of the other grammar shorts I’ve seen via Rifftrax.

The material isn’t coherent enough to inspire much beyond your garden variety “monkeys throw poop” jokes, so the riffers frequently have to strike out on their own. Mike works in a Road House reference. Bill works in a Star Wars Holiday Special reference. Kevin works in an Alan Ginsberg reference. Kevin sums the whole thing up with my favorite comment near the short’s end, “I’m starting to think this movie was based on a drunken bet.” It captures the essence of what this short is—a more-or-less random set of images, words and music, aimed at children, likely by someone with an altered consciousness. The end result isn’t entirely hilarious, but somehow the riffers make it work.

Read More......

10/1/10

The "D" Has Long Since Slunk Away From the Title In Shame

They're so happy about their imminent deaths.Welcome, won't you?

I just got back from sailing the San Francisco Bay with a bunch of fifth graders, and boy are my arms tired. That sentence, while true, makes no sense as a joke, but ought to reveal a lot about my current state of exhaustion. Fortunately, my father has never offended a powerful shark dynasty (as far as I know), so the event was entirely marine predator-free.

See what I did there? I shouldn't be as proud of that segue as I am; I suspect I'll regret it after a good night's sleep. In any case, Janet Varney and Cole Stratton will delve back into their beloved 1980s for the next Rifftrax Presents, Jaws 3. To be released October 8, 2010.

Read More......