Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Rifftrax Wonders Where Westworld Went Wrong...Went Wrong....Went Wrong...

After mocking two episodes of Game of Thrones, the Rifftrax gang wondered which cable show they can attack next. It will take on the first episode of Stranger Things later this summer (after MST3K mocked the first two minutes last year).

Since season two of Westworld is coming next weekend, let's take a look on how Rifftrax looked at the first episode. The gang spend a lot of time on how the show compared to the movie, and slipped in a riff about Yul Brynner. Most of the riffs were mainly about how really rich guys went to Westworld to pretend to be outlaws and desperados and have sex with robots (which is the opposite of its VOD Dark Future), and how the people who built it think they're just making a Disneyland on steroids. Or as Kevin Murphy described the place, "Westworld, where insanely rich people want the same vacation as an eight-year-old boy from the '50's."...with sexy and violent results.

The opener has people enjoying the fake Western life complete with booze, guns and women, the staff dealing with glitches affecting the "hosts", and a girl named Dolores suddenly realizing her life isn't what she thought it was. Safe to say, when season two starts, the tables and worms will turn.

However, this blog is more about the riffs than the show, so, let's get to it:

The opening credits inspired some good riffs:

When can I hump a robot?
Ah, ha, Westworld
What's Westworld?

Tim Burton's Annie Oakley

Then the action begins...

Dolores is sitting nude on a stool, as Bernard talks to her
"Do you know where you are?"
Auditioning for a Weinstein film?

The staff enters a room where dozens of hosts are stored, and they're nude
Looks like the Rhythm Nation hit the skids

A chunky guy, later identified as an employee for Tires Plus, is excited he's looking for a dangerous gunman. His wife is not.
Why did I bring Ricky Gervais to the Wild West?

A poster is spotted with a guy named Larry Clause wanted for murder
Santa's evil half-brother. 

Dolores is upset her friend Teddy (also a host) has been shot.
"Teddy, No!"
You've got to uphold the Ruxpin name.

There's also riffs on Matt Lauer, Blade Runner, Deadwood, Philadelphia, Thomas the Tank Engine and John Ford.

We can't exactly prove it, but there's a chance Rifftrax mocked Westworld after Mike Nelson discovered he didn't like Ready Player One after he read it. Thus, he decided to riff on another technological oasis, a more disturbing one. RP1, though, will be next.

You can get the riff on HBO's Westworld opener at the Rifftrax website.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Rifftrax vs. Godmonster of Indian Flats, or Mutated Alf Goes West

There are some movies that make no sense, no matter how people try to justify it. The Wild, Wild World of Batwoman comes to mind, along with Bermuda Triangle. The Last Slumber Party and whatever that movie was where some mad scientist tries to drive a small town insane then burn it down to hide the evidence.

For the most part, the movies Rifftrax has targeted movies that make some sense, but not the ones just mentioned here.
Then there's Godmonster of Indian Flats, part Western and part mutant sheep movie set in a small Nevada town called "Comstock" in 1973.  A sheep farmer named Eddie wins 200 bucks in Reno then hitches a ride to the small town and gets robbed. He then meets a professor named Clements who gets him to a farm to sleep it off.

After having a weird dream about sheep, he wakes up to a mutated embryo. The doc tries to bring it to term, while linking it to a legend about a monster from the mines.
Eddie also hangs out with an almost-cute girl named Mariposa.

The movie then concentrates on the town and Mayor Silverdale, who is trying to keep some African-America guy named Barnstable from buying the town because the mayor thinks it'll ruin the heritage and old-fashioned way of life.

The mayor and the citizens go to great lengths to keep Barnstable from buying the town, mainly by framing him for shooting a dog and a guy with a weird haircut.

Once the monster is revealed, the mayor thinks it can get tourists to the town. They even rope the thing.

Then there's the ending. Mayor Silverdale makes crazy announcements, including the fact that Barnstable has bought the town and the monster's in a cage. This leads to a riot that makes no sense, while the Mayor makes even less sense. Finally, it climaxes with the monster exploding, and the sheep eating its remains. This seems to guarantee they'll be future Godmonsters to come, and that should bring in the tourists, right?

This movie is so bizarre, at least one website has tried to make sense of this. Crimes Against Cinema claims the movie is actually a response to race relations, corporate greed, nostalgia and incompetently-made monster costumes. Whether that's true is another matter.
It might remind people of Creeping Terror, especially how it approaches its small-town victims.Thankfully, it doesn't eat anyone.

OK, let's get to the riffs:

Eddie tries to convince a deputy he was just robbed
Deputy Dog in human form.

Sheriff Gordon tries to do his job from his office, which includes a closed circuit screen.
Ready Player One had more gunting than this guy.

Some weird woman spies on Eddie and Mariposa from a graveyard
Lydia Dietz, the middle-aged dowager years.

The fake funeral for the dog Barnstable didn't kill
Spuds MacKenzie will say a few words.

The Godmonster is leaking yellow smoke
When there's smoke, there's a barely functioning puppet.

The mayor gives an insane rant about him beating Barnstable or something
We have to restore some sanity here. Please fill your underpants with baked beans and run around yelling "I killed the Kaiser".

There's also riffs on Matt Lauer, Reno, Guy From Harlem, Al Pacino, video games, and the Ice Cream Bunny.

The movie is available on the Rifftrax website.
Also, the site will start selling episodes from season eleven later this month. Individual episodes are available at $7.97 for regular video or HD versions for $9.97. The whole season can be had for $99, which is the better bargain because you get all 14 episodes and the documentary that shows how MST3K returned.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Is Rifftrax Taking a Page From MST3K's Kickstarter Campaign?

Once again, Rifftrax has gotten more than enough funding for its annual live shows. It also broke a record, snagging just over 501 thousand dollars from more than 9400 backers.
The stretch goal rewards were a bit impressive, including riffs on Last Jedi, Ready Player One and the first episode of Stranger Things. They also gave out its first set of pins to rival the ones MST3K has been selling, a VOD of a movie that features the voice of Eric Roberts (which you can call "Uninvited II: Look Who's Talking Meow), a blu-ray of the Space Mutiny live show, and a new DVD of shorts.
Even the one dollar donors came out ahead by getting ten shorts, and an upcoming riff of Solo: A Star Wars Story for free. This should be interesting since no one knows how a movie about a young Han Solo will do come Memorial Day weekend.
Even with a 100 dollar pledge (which I made), backers got good value. It's too bad it'll be only two shows this year with Space Mutiny and Krull. It would have been nice to get another Halloween live show in there, but it's possible it could add a "best of" show again.
Besides, people will get a chance to hear alternative opinions about three blockbuster movies. The Avengers and Marvel should be grateful they won't be targets this year.

What's interesting is that the campaign isn't really over
People who contributed to the MST3K Kickstarter campaign two years ago got a chance to buy some of the rewards separately, including USB drives shaped like Servo and Crow, a special DVD set of season eleven, t-shirts, calendars and even a coffee table book.
It only makes sense that Rifftrax follow suit. Clicking to this link will send you to a BackerKit showing all the non-video rewards. They're all reasonably priced, too.
The pins are 12 bucks apiece, but the full set is 40 dollars. The Space Mutiny DVD is priced the same as the other DVDs in either form. People who just want the digital media in one package can do that, too.
In fact, that section has already raised a thousand bucks in the first day. If only the number of backers could be added so we can get closer to more people getting a free riff of Ready Player One. Oh, well...
The shorts should be available soon, but you can bet a lot of people just can't wait until the Last Jedi riff is available, It'll please those who liked the movie and those who felt betrayed by weird stuff by seeing Leia float in space and live, Rey and Kylo getting a bit too close, or Luke milking that....whatever it was.

Meanwhile, the MST3K season 11 DVD is coming in a month, but people can get it just after Easter if they order now at the website or Shout Factory. It'll include a documentary about how the show finally came back. Maybe once everyone can get it in three weeks we'll know when they'll start making season 12.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Time For Rifftrax's Annual Pledge Drive, With Cheesy Sci-Fi

Being a fan of vindictive movie commentary is getting expensive...and worth every penny.

It's bad enough the new MST3K on Netflix is pulling a lot of fans' hard earned money thanks to an upcoming DVD set, t-shirts, pins, oven mitts and aprons. Now Rifftrax is asking the fans to give again for this year's live shows.

The drive started on February 20th and will continue through just before Easter. Its goal is 250 thousand dollars, same as last year. It earned 430 thousand bucks, and might hit it again if it offers the right stretch goals. Last Jedi and It's A Wonderful Life riffs, anyone?

Two movies are confirmed, as shown in the above photo. Space Mutiny, a fan fave from season eight, will be shown on Flag Day. This movie was best known for giving leading man Reb Brown alternate names to his character David Ryder. The complete list is here, but for $500 anyone can come up with something stranger like maybe Ty Tanium or  Lun Dolphgren.
It's also remembered for a missed opportunity. Aside from Cameron Mitchell appearing as a commander who stole Santa's beard, and a woman who dies in one scene yet is alive again 30 seconds later, there's lots of unused footage from the original Battlestar Galactica. Mike and the bots didn't notice that, but he, Kevin and Bill won't make that mistake again.

The other movie, set for August 23rd, is Krull from 1983. It's a space swashbuckler where some prince gets some lowlife pirates to help save a queen from some beast or other. It also has cool frisbee blades that are tossed around. Checking the wiki for this movie, Liam Neeson had one of his earliest roles here.  The cast includes Robbie Coltrane, Francesca Annis just before Dune, and the body of Lysette Anthony (she was dubbed because her voice wasn't mature enough).

The movie was not popular, although it has some fans. It should be interesting how many Star Wars, Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings jokes they can fit into the movie. People who pledge 25 bucks or more can get the mp3 of the Krull riff around Thanksgiving AND a ten dollar credit to cover the cost of getting the movie via Amazon Prime or DVD. That should get a lot of people to pledge at least that much cash.

As of 6 PM Pacific time, or about five hours after the Kickstarter began, it's earned 124 thousand dollars. That's much faster than last year, when the campaign hit the first goal in two weeks. Maybe it'll hit the all-time record of 630 thousand two years ago. It all depends on what else the Rifftrax gang will offer between now and March 24th.

UPDATE:  Mission accomplished after less than five days, a new record.
Last Jedi next?

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Oscars 2018: The Fish Guy, Billboards, Lady Bird and Getting Out

Even before the nominations for the Academy Awards came out Tuesday morning, the acting races were already settled thanks to the SAGs and Golden Globes. Aside from that, there should be some interesting competitions when they're given out after the Olympics.

Here's the nomination announcement with Tiffany Haddish and Andy Serkis, who should get nominated someday (especially Andy, who's going to force the academy to invent Best Virtual Character someday):

Some thoughts:

Some might call the result "sexist" because Wonder Woman got nothing, but then see the real wonder woman was Greta Gerwig, getting bids for direction and writing for Lady Bird. It got five nominations, and it's a great day for Thrift Town and Sacramento.
Besides, it guarantees Gal Gadot will be there as a presenter. Some websites thought Wonder Woman would get Adapted Screenplay, and I thought maybe Costume Design would be another possibility. Hopefully, Diana of Themiscyra will get her due during the ceremony.

Meanwhile, the #MeToo campaign made James Franco the real Disaster Artist, robbing him of a Best Picture and Best Actor bid. That may be the reason why Denzel Washington made the final cut even though Roman Israel Esq. wasn't well received.

Phantom Thread, a romance set in the world of design, got in the Best Picture race because of beautiful clothes and Daniel Day Lewis. Darkest Hour is also up for Best Picture due to Gary Oldman (who will win for Best Actor just for being Churchill, and the makeup job, too).

The big battle will be between The Shape of Water, a Cold War romance that would also be a fairy tale for adults, and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, MO, which starts as a woman's bid for justice but becomes something much different. Shape will get Best Director because Guillermo Del Toro is in but Martin McDonagh is not. Both are in Original Screenplay, and either may win. McDonagh may have an edge because of the unpredictability of the story. If there's a chance for an upset, Jordan Peele may do it for Get Out. However, Del Toro being in Best Director race may be enough to get Best Picture.

As I said, the acting races are done. Frances McDormand has Best Actress, Oldman Best Actor, Sam Rockwell for Supporting Actor and Alison Janney for Supporting Actress. Willem Dafoe was considered a favorite for The Florida Project, and he'd have a better chance if the movie was at smaller markets (still not in Reno, for example). It'll be more available on streaming services by early February, though

When I saw The Post this week, I knew Meryl Streep would get in for Best Actress, Seeing her as Washington Post publisher Kay Graham is amazing. She starts out unsure, relying on other men for advice. She only got the paper because her husband killed himself. Slowly, as the paper plans to expose the Pentagon Papers, she realizes she is the boss, and if this is important, she has to do the right thing. If not for McDormand, a fourth award would not have been out of the question.
The movie didn't get much after that, which upset some people. There are two reasons: it's a pretty competitive season, and Spotlight was made in 2015. Even the academy would think two really good journalism movies in five years is too much. This is called a "lame but true" excuse.

It's too bad I, Tonya didn't make the final cut for Best Picture. Otherwise, Margot Robbie would have been the first woman nominated for Best Actress and Best Picture as a producer for the same movie. You know, what happened to Nicole Kidman for Big Little Lies and Tina Fey for 30 Rock at the Emmys recently. Pick up the pace, movies.

Despite Wonder Woman being shut out. it's a good year for comic book movies. Logan, the swan song for Professor Xavier and Wolverine, got in for Adapted Screenplay (which should have happened to Steve Rogers, Wonder Woman, Deadpool, the Avengers and Batman). This is a big moment for comic book movies, and it should happen again. Guardians of the Galaxy Volume II got in for Visual Effects, which was expected. It'll have quite the battle against Last Jedi and War For The Planet of the Apes.

Between now and March 4th, there will be a few awards that may give hints on how will carry out the Oscar. Aside from the BAFTAs on February 18th, one to watch is the Writers' Guild awards held on the eleventh. It should give a hint on whether Peele could make history, or an X-Man could.

For now, let's all get caught up on our Oscar homework.