Thursday 17 Apr

Holy Ghost People

Holy Ghost People examines two sisters whose bond is torn — but by what? After her sibling has been missing for more than a year, Charlotte (Emma Greenwell, TV's Shameless) intends to find out.
04/15/2014 | Comments 0

No Holds Barred

RLJ Entertainment's new Blu-ray for No Holds Barred begins with what seems like dozens of trailers for movies starring pro wrestlers from the WWE talent pool. Each flick went direct to home video, but once upon a time — aka 1989 — one had to go to the multiplex to catch such a spectacle.
04/15/2014 | Comments 0

Knights of Badassdom

In 2008, the third act of the guy comedy Role Models used LARPing — live-action role-playing, that is — as a backdrop for our protagonists' lessons learned. Today, Knights of Badassdom extends that half-hour into a full feature, to the point where viewers are left not smiling, but exhausted. 
04/02/2014 | Comments 0

Switched on

Not everything on television has to appeal to mass audiences. In fact, with the further fractioning of viewership thanks to alternatives like Netflix and VOD, more series can afford to become more niche. Here are five examples of shows both past and present — and new to DVD and/or Blu-ray — that encompass some of the more outrageous ideas ever to go beyond boardroom discussion.
04/02/2014 | Comments 0

Confession of Murder

Seventeen years after slaying 10 women and getting away with it, the charismatic serial killer Du-sok (Park Si-hoo) comes clean with a Confession of Murder, in this 2012 South Korean crime thriller. He does so by publishing a book that dishes all the grisly details.
04/02/2014 | Comments 0
Home · Articles · Movies · Features · Riff raff

Riff raff

'Mystery Science Theater' vets hit theaters with 'RiffTrax Live'

Rod Lott December 17th, 2009

Turkeys and chestnuts aren't the only things being roasted this holiday season. Bad movies are, too, as three alumni of television's "Mystery Science Theater 3000" invade the multiplex to provide scathing commentary on short films for "RiffTrax Live: Christmas Shorts-Stravaganza!"

With special guest "Weird Al" Yankovic, the two-hour show will broadcast live at 7 p.m. tonight to theaters nationwide, including AMC Quail Springs Mall 24, Cinemark Tinseltown USA and Norman's Hollywood Theaters Spotlight 14. An encore performance beams 7 p.m. Thursday.

"Shorts-Stravaganza!" marks the second such big-screen event for the RiffTrax gang, following August's successful skewering of Ed Wood's notorious "Plan 9 from Outer Space." RiffTrax creator Mike Nelson said tonight's agenda will include riffing on a bizarre Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer cartoon, but not the one audiences catch in annual TV repeats.

"We trolled far and wide to find some oddities for this, and we did," Nelson said. "We have a short singing the praises of pork that has to be seen to be believed. I've looked around for that at other places, but I believe we're the world premiere of this pork short, which I'm excited about."

For a decade, Nelson made a mockery out of misbegotten movies as head writer and later host of cable's cult hit "Mystery Science Theater 3000." Following its 1999 cancellation, he and compatriots Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett kept at it on DVD for a brief period as The Film Club, before Nelson realized the Internet made for a more viable distribution platform, launching RiffTrax in 2006. Murphy and Corbett soon joined him.

"We're such an odd little company. We don't make a very big impression on the world, but we have a nice little club," Nelson said.

That said, when they decided to do the nationwide live show via NCM Fathom Events this summer, he wasn't certain anyone would pony up $12 for a ticket.

"We have a nice little business on the Internet doing this obviously extremely niche thing, and I'm aware that's sort of our core. And anytime we do something outside of it, it's a little bit of a risk, so having it be a success was obviously a great relief," he said.

That initial "Plan 9" show was such a sensation, demand called for an encore, shown two months later. This time, the encore follows in 24 hours.

"It'll be a pretty full evening. Hopefully, it's zip right along," Nelson said. "The shorts are kinda one of the most popular things that we do. We make as many as we can. It's getting harder to find them and get good sources for them. We're starting to get into that and really dig. That's been fun."

He said they entertained the idea of ridiculing a holiday feature film, but found the pool disappointingly small, because "Christmas movies tend to be comedies or lighthearted stuff. We sort of need a seriousness in our material for it to work."

Before the all-shorts lineup was cemented, RiffTrax fans online speculated the target would be the 1972 no-budget aberration "Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny." With its ineptitude abound, one might surmise it'd be perfect RiffTrax fodder.

"As it happens, we have been delighting ourselves around the office with that lately, but I think we would traumatize enough people that it might not be something we want to do live," Nelson said. "Although I think we'll definitely get around to riffing that at some point."

But don't hold your breath for an "MST3K" reunion. Nelson said the RiffTrax crew extended an offer to the rest of the old show's cast " now operating as Cinematic Titanic " but "they seemed like they didn't want to do it."

Oh, well. At least fans can attend RiffTrax's live shows. He said as long as people keep showing up, they'll keep putting them on a few times a year.

"It is very infectious," Nelson said. "I don't want to do too many that we take away from our other stuff. Because we've got 'Twilight's to riff, you know." —Rod Lott

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5