Thursday, November 23, 2017

FINALLY! Mystery Science Theater 3000 Will Return On Netflix in 2018

It is almost time.

Thousands of fans of Mystery Science Theater 3000 switched off their computers, streaming sticks and tablets when the annual Turkey Day Marathon ended this past Thanksgiving. They missed a Rifftrax ad and a Shout Factory ad about new MST3K swag that's now available, including JOIKE sweatshirts.

Maybe they should have stuck around a little longer. Here's why:

That's right, guys. Netflix realized there is lots of room for Shonda Rhimes, Daredevil, young Queen Elizabeth and Stranger Things...and the Satellite of Love.

So, probably after next Easter or more likely around the summer, we will know what happened after Jonah was "eaten" by the Reptilicus Metallicus at the end of "At the Earth's Core" when Max had to stop Kinga from "marrying" Jonah for ratings. It's been all but confirmed the big worm has no stomach, so Jonah will be stuck there for a while. I'd be surprised Max isn't forced to take over for Jonah for a week or two, then he tries to do the same to Kinga. Then, eventually, it'll be back to normal.

What movies will be next aren't picked yet. It's hoped we'll see Lou Ferrigno as Hercules, since Shout Factory has those movies now. However, in this interview in Brooklyn Vegan, it's unlikely Argoman will also be on the list because it's considered a "concert film" kind of movie. That means it'll be tough to turn a live show movie into a regular episode. Maybe that also explains why "World Without End" wasn't chosen for a regular episode after it was also done live.

The point is, the saga of the third test case, Jonah Heston, will continue. How what happened at the end of season eleven will affect Kinga and Max, and whether we'll get ten or 13 episodes, is still up in the air. Still, having her shove Max into the SOL seems like a natural. Then again, we'll get something else, but we'll get something.

Thanks for pushing the button, Netflix.

Monday, October 16, 2017

MST3K Redux: Hangar 18

It's been a long time since I've written a review of a Rifftrax movie, so let's take a look at this sci-fi conspiracy movie done by Rifftrax's British Invasion, Matthew J. Elliott and Ian Potter.
This was also chosen because it was one of the last movies targeted in the KTMA years, and the shortest intro Joel ever did.

First off, Elliott has written a ton of radio dramas and short stories before he got into the riffing biz. Potter is a vet of TV production for the BBC and was a curator for a media museum. How they got sucked into watching bad movies, they'd rather not say.
Their style is similar to Jonah Ray and the crew at the new MST3K, jamming in as many riffs as they can. What's great is their selection of riffs from British TV to past targets, er, movies featured on MST and Rifftrax.

So, why Hangar 18?

It's a supposed docudrama about two astronauts who witness a UFO crashing into a satellite, causing the death of a third astronaut. For some reason, the White House wants to cover this up because it's too close to an upcoming presidential election, They think no one would vote for a president who believes in UFO's, even if you also show one to the press in broad daylight.

Otherwise, it's an excuse to make a cheesy sci-fi movie that's chock full of TV actors. The cast features Darren McGavin 12 years before A Christmas Story, Gary Collins just before his talk show career started, Robert Vaughn somewhere between The Man From UNCLE and paid programming, and Pamela Bellwood a year before Dynasty. Even Phillip Abbott, best known for The FBI, is there as a general, although he's mistaken for Dr. Bellows in the KTMA version.

Even though the two versions are 28 years apart, some scenes do inspire the same response. As the space shuttle lands, and the NASA guy says "90 knots", they give the same riff, "Don Knotts" (although the Rifftrax version wraps it up nicely with "Knots Landing"). Both versions also notice the guy replacing McGavin's character looks way too much like Burt Reynolds, and the guy who witnesses the alien landing looks like John Belushi.

After that, the Rifftrax version packs in more riffs only because Joel preferred fewer riffs in the early days of MST. So, let's compare...

NASA scrambles because something's gone wrong

KTMA:  They'll never get the Disney Channel now
RT:  C'mon, guys, it's not rocket...oh, wait

The UFO kept at Hangar 18 is lit up

KTMA:  Castle Greyskull, I think
RT:  That's not the UFO. That's a Roomba

They find the dead alien pilots, as their chairs turn around

KTMA:  Uncle Fester! AHHHH!
RT:  They love my singing (The Voice)

They blow up the hangar to save the President from losing the Electoral College

KTMA:  Good thing scientists are expendable
RT:  As coverups go, this is a bit on the overt side to me.

Also, Matt and Ian came up with some doozies

They find a blonde woman inside, and the staff says she must be sent to a hospital
But enough about Courtney Love 

The two astronauts meet some guy at a rural airport
Son of Cherokee Jack, Monterey Jack

McGavin:  "The female slaves (prehistoric humans) found it a great honor to be chosen to live with and to bear the offspring of the Gods"
Their names were Ivana, Marla and Melania.

There are also riffs on David Bowie, The Grand Tour, Coronation Street, Teenage Caveman, Robert Denby, and Alan Smithee.

Matt and Ian have riffed on a lot of movies including Scared To Death and King of Kong Island. You can check them out in the "Rifftrax Presents" section of the website. They'll also be part of the dismantling of Batman v. Superman:  Dawn of Justice later this year.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Rains of Castamere: What's So Funny, Rifftrax?

Mark Twain once said that "humor is tragedy plus time."
Could that also apply to one of the bloodiest and most pivotal episodes in the history of Game of Thrones?

Rifftrax took a brave move by riffing the famous "Rains of Castamere" episode from season three. This was where much of the Stark family was killed in an ambush after a wedding feast hosted by Walder Frey. Apparently since Robb Stark decided not to marry one of Frey's daughters after he promised he would, Frey decided to wipe out a family he doesn't like after he promised he wouldn't. Hey, fair's fair in his mind.

Who would smile or joke during a massacre like that, except the Lannisters?
Really, the only reason to smile at the end of this is the knowledge that one of the few living Starks will make sure he won't get away with it.

Aside from that, the crew of Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett do a very good job mocking the subplots of the episode as well as the Red Wedding.
They especially wonder if Mike even watches the show. He insists he can hold his own, but meekly asks if Robb Stark is actually Percy Jackson. He also mistakes Samwell as Mike Meyers in a fat suit.
This is silly, of course. Mike Meyers in a fat suit is the host of The Gong Show.

The episode also looks at Arya hoping to reach the Twins and get to the event, Bran, the future Three-Eyed Crow, hanging out with some kids and Hodor, Daenerys figuring out how to take over Yunkai, and Jon Snow trying to prove himself to his fellow Wildings while spying for the Night's Watch.

Once the Rifftrax gang get to the Red Wedding, the riffs are rather grim, but doing this is still a brave move. If there's a riff that will make fans wince, it's the very last one where Bill sings a song..and it's the worst choice available.

If nothing else, it's a sign that the Rifftrax gang will have quite the time mocking "The Five Doctors" later this month, and not just because of what the Cybermen look like.

OK, riff time...

The Hound comments at Arya's refusal to kill an old man just to take his horse and cart
"You're kind. Someday that will get you killed."
Just like Mother Teresa

Bran wargs into a wolf's body
Little Orphan Annie powers, activate

Walder escorts Roslin Frey to her groom, Edmure (who's glad she's cute)
She's a living anime character

Ser Jonah exaggerates how "easy" it was to take the city
"They threw down their swords and surrendered."
And the nation of France was born

Now the Red Wedding, where Catelyn is hit by an arrow...
That's how my mother felt when I told her I was going into theater

...and Roose Bolton stabs Robb Stark
"The Lannisters send their regards."
I was hoping for an Edible Arrangement

There's also riffs on Bruno Mars, Blue Apron, American Apparel, Les Miserables, NASCAR and Bjork. Sadly, no traditional Golden Corral riff...although it would have fit perfectly in the deadly meal.

I watched this episode twice, once on the app and once with the mp3 online. As usual, the riffs don't start on the app until the dialogue does. That's why you miss a very funny argument in the opening credits over whether the gang is watching TV or HBO. That's also odd since HBO hasn't used that slogan since 2009.

Rifftrax's riff on "Rains of Castamere" is available on the Rifftrax website.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Buffy's Forgotten Anniversary

This year's San Diego Comic-Con paid tribute to Buffy the Vampire Slayer's 20th anniversary on TV with a big bash at a local night club that included a  former adversary (Clare Kramer), lots of pictures from the show, and "The Harvest" playing in the background.
There were also panels on how the show was designed, and a new book that will get inside how the show was made. That will be released in the fall.

However, nothing was mentioned about Buffy's other anniversary, her 25th year as the original movie. It may be due to the fact that it's not as good as the TV show, but attention should be paid. When it was released at the end of July 1992, it seemed it could appeal to some fans. Sure, the idea of a high school cheerleader being chosen to clobber vampires and assorted hellspawn may be different, and possibly weird after years of Freddy and Jason picking off teenage girls. Joss Whedon, a guy who wrote for Roseanne,  thought it would be cool if the typical victim in horror movies would become scarier than the monsters she faces. Turns out he was right.

However, it didn't turn out that way as the movie made $16 million after a seven million dollar budget, and was mainly forgotten. At least it led to something better.

I only care about this because several years ago I managed to get a baseball cap from the movie at a thrift store. After that, I got the press book, and eventually met Kristy Swanson herself at a small con in Sacramento. She was a great interview, actually.

It would have been great to have a panel at Comic-Con with both Buffys talking about how the role changed their lives. You would have needed three Hall H's for that.

YouTube actually has some videos connected with the original movie. Here's a photo shoot with the cast to plug the movie. It's a nice look behind the scenes:

or Kristy talking about the movie with Arsenio Hall

and a brief story in Entertainment Tonight.

Still, you have to admit the movie could have better, if not for Fox deciding it shouldn't be that scary if the heroine was a demon-hunting cheerleader. Joss Whedon, who wrote the movie, had a different idea with his original script which eventually was made into a comic book series with Dark Horse in 1999. For one thing, Merrick had a different explanation about why it took so long to find her, the action was much more violent, and her throwaway line about how she "blew up the gym" was explained. Fans today would have bought that.

There was also talk that maybe David Bowie or Mick Jagger would be vampires at the Spring Dance or henchmen to Lothos, but that faded quickly.

It did serve as a place where some familiar faces got their start, including Hillary Swank, Ben Affleck and Ricki Lake. Paul Reubens used it as his comeback after that arrest in an adult theater in Florida. It included that really long death scene that was a smart idea in retrospect. Luke Perry hoped it could lead him towards a film career after 90210.

It's just too bad that, in the end, the Buffy movie was an example of the "they just didn't care enough" school of cinema. There's a boom mike visible in the first few minutes, Benny the Vampire has a reflection on a window, and all the students are clueless until the last ten minutes. That's a far cry from the Buffy we know getting some Slayerettes by the second episode

If you haven't seen the original Buffy movie, it's available at Amazon as a double feature with Jennifer's Body. So is the Origin comic, although a bit pricey. It may be possible to get it cheaper at local comic book stores.

Meanwhile, the Nerdist wrote its own column on the movie on the 20th anniversary of the TV show. It gives a summary of the movie and compares it to the TV show. It also argues that it taught Joss something:  while Buffy may be the hero, she has to have some interesting supporting characters. That's a lesson he applied to his other shows. Imagine if Buffy's friends from the movie weren't so "Clueless" three years before the movie of that name. Maybe in a different universe we'd have "Daughter of Buffy" taking over where she left off...or both of them battling vampires. That would have worked, too.

In any case, happy 25th to the Buffy movie, and all who were part of it.

UPDATE:  A 25th anniversary blu-ray of the movie is coming October 3rd but it's exactly like the old blu-ray. No new features at all. They should have at least tracked down the old cast, and that's not difficult to do.
The TV show, though, will have a new set two weeks earlier with new features and commentaries. That makes sense because  it was the more popular version but the movie deserves more attention.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

MST3K Live Conquers Comic-Con

In the not too distant past, last Saturday A-D...
Mystery Science Theater 3000's live tour stopped off at the annual center of the pop culture universe known as San Diego Comic-Con. It was a big hit as both shows were slightly hotter tickets than Hall H on Marvel Day. That's pretty good, since they were competing with all the parties, screenings of Atomic Blonde, and a major Doctor Who bash.

Jonah Ray, Joel Hodgson and Felicia Day, along with lots of other cast members stopped by the Shout Factory booth to sign assorted things. Here's a look:

Clearly Jonah has a future in retail. since he accidentally sold several copies of Fargo.

As for the Saturday show, they had problems with the pre-recorded clips with Felicia and Patton Oswalt, but we could always pretend the feed from Moon 13 got scrambled a bit due to solar winds.
The live part with Synthia (Rebecca Hanson) and Terry the Bonehead worked much better. Joel even appeared to announce there will be a comic book where the SOL gang will suddenly find themselves in bad comic books. They also lived up to the "Watch Out For Snakes Tour" name by shooting some really big snakes from a bazooka on some guy. At least they should have given him one to take home.

As for Netflix, still no word. That's odd, considering Comic-Con is the time for big news, like announcing certain shows will be back next year. Heck, it said all four Defenders will be back next year with new shows..and that The Punisher will even have his own show. It may be waiting until after the tour ends next month in Atlanta before we finally get the word.
Besides, Jonah didn't the end of season eleven, right? (If you don't know, that's what Netflix is for).

Also, since I had the "bronze" VIP level at a hundred bucks, I was supposed to get a VIP lanyard along with a tote bag and poster. Well, no lanyard, but I did get this...

May not be able to wear it, but it's a good consolation prize.
As for the souvenir stand, the snakes were pricey, but the t-shirts were reasonably priced along with the mugs and even pins. Chances are the choices will be different depending on the city. They also have a very nice photo book of the cast behind the scenes. Considering the tour is in its third week, it's impressive they got it out so quick.

So, what was the not-Eegah movie like?
Since the movie will be shown a few more times, we'll keep it vague. Let's say it involves a lot of Swinging Sixties stuff, constant changing of robes, and a completely stupid "plot". Oh, and it was interrupted a couple of times by a "Watch Out For Snakes" warning...but not long enough. We'll actually name the "movie" once the tour is done in a month. It's safe to say it's bound to appear in season 12.
The live segments were great, including a fashion show that even used Synthia and Terry quite well. Maybe those two will turn on Kinga, or convince her there's a better way to make the experiment her cash cow....just as long as they don't use the word "Rifftrax".
Not only that, the Shout Factory booth showed trailers of upcoming movies the company will be selling soon. Two of them are Hercules movies with Lou Ferrigno. The first one, judging from this trailer, has got to be a guaranteed choice for season 12.

The live tour should be a success, but it should convince Netflix to give the Satellite of Love more episodes. After all, shouldn't Luke Cage, President Underwood or young Queen Elizabeth have a good laugh? MST3K would give them that.