Friday, October 31, 2014

A Green Halloween: Rifftrax vs. Anaconda


Two years ago, Rifftrax decided that monsters weren't scary enough for Halloween, and turned to insane birds with Birdemic, a low-budget knock-off of The Birds.

This year, it decided again that Mother Nature is more terrifying than the Wolfman, zombies and that creepy doll from The Conjuring combined. On Halloween Eve, it took on the 1997 movie Anaconda, with Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube, Kari Wuhrer, Eric Stoltz (sort of), Owen Wilson and Jon Voight. A film crew hoping to find an Amazon tribe meets a captain who claims he'll bring them to the tribe. What he really wants to do is hunt a large, man-swallowing Anaconda for big bucks. It's interesting one of the riffs refers to some of the cast as "MTV rejects", although Cube and J-Lo have done all right since this movie. Still, does Ice Cube always have that "today is a good day" catchphrase in all of his movies, including Ride Along?

Anyway, I saw the show at the Century Riverside 12 in downtown Reno, dressed in a Gizmonic-style jumpsuit and helmet. The movie was much more entertaining than the Godzilla show a couple of months back. It may be due to the length, only 90 minutes, but the Rifftrax crew were sharper with the jokes. While a few people may have liked Anaconda, even Roger Ebert, it was prime '90s cheese, back when movie studios hoped to make big bucks with CGI monsters.  The mp3 for this movie will be a best seller when it's available in 60 days or so. Hopefully by that time, I'll actually find the DVD for this movie. 

Here's just a few of the riffs...

Eric Stoltz's character tells J-Lo's character they'd make a great team
Mike Nelson:  Your smugness, my great ass

The crew see fireflies in the jungle glowing, showing that they're ready to make
Bill Corbett:  Speaking of manly flashes... (that's only half of the joke)

Owen Wilson and Kari Wuhrer are about to make out
Kevin Murphy:  Being stalked by Jason Vor-hiss

The anaconda is caught in Voight's trap
Kevin:  A snake that screams like Jamie Lee Curtis. That is truly horrifying

And remember the clip that fans were asked to make a riff? This is the winning entry, as the snake bites Wilson and twirls around:

I'm very sorry. I was trying to swim up you urethra.  

The movie also includes riffs on Sir Mix-A-Lot, Voight's face, Jimmy Carter, Ken Burns, Roy Orbison, Grumpy Cat, Jimmy Walker, and Nick Nolte. It also comments on how cute it was to make Wilson look tough by holding a rifle. 

Before that, the crew had a short called Halloween Party, with a family that's a bit eager to celebrate the holiday. The story centered around the family dog eating the son's cat mask just before a costume contest. Mom saves the day by coming up with another costume, but her choice may have been worse. Here's the link to the unriffed version. 

That was followed by a preview of the second Total Riff-Off on the National Geographic Channel on December 16th. As expected, the gang will take on Man v Monster with Richard Terry again. They'll look at the "Mekong Man-Eater" episode where Terry investigates why farmers in Thailand are being attacked in shallow water. Here's a clip from that episode, and it looks like he's trying to make his own version of Anaconda without a mostly unconscious Eric Stoltz.

Also, remember when Mike mentioned he'd have a Thankgiving offering called Fun in Balloonland?
You can pre-order it now through this link. It will be released on November 24th, and looks like the next Turkey Day classic, As I said before, this movie about a kid interacting with balloon people from holiday parades makes "A Visit to Santa" look like The Empire Strikes Back. It's available for $9.99, and it is worth it. 

For more info on this and other Rifftrax offerings, plus a link to the next live show, Santa Claus on December fourth, go to rifftrax.com


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Rifftrax vs. Godzilla '98: The Home Game


It's been two months since Rifftrax took on the 1998 version of Godzilla, or as it was produced, Sleepless in Jurassic Park.

Backers of the Kickstarter project, including me, just got the mp3 version of the riff for the movie. This likely made a lot of people happy, especially those who didn't hear the riff in theaters.

I've already made a review of the live show. Seeing the movie again with the mp3 actually made the movie better. There were a couple of riffs people may not have understood the first time, but it got easier the second time. There were at least a couple of new jokes, but only a few remarks about this year's version. A lot was also made on Emmerich's attempt to mock Siskel and Ebert by making them bungling New York City officials. Nice try, Roland, but rebooting Godzilla from scratch doesn't work out. At least the 2014 version admits its Godzilla probably came from 60 years ago, and the MUTO in that film may have said 'SCOOOOOOOTTTTEEEEERRR"

Here's some more riffs:

early in the credits
Bill Corbett:  Before Michael Bey'd, there was Roland Emmerich

Shot of NYC skylinw with the caption, "The City That Never Sleeps"
Kevin Murphy:  Ah, Las Vegas. Fort Worth?

Fishing Market starts its day
Mike Nelson:  Delivery for some guy named Oswald Cobblepot (makes more sense thanks to Gotham)

Godzilla heads for the fish that Nick the worm guy (Matthew Broderick) laid out for him
Kevin:  Ferris Bueller's second day off not as whimsical as the first

One of the eggs Godzilla laid at Madison Square Garden hatches
Mike:  Biggest disappointment since the Gobbledy Gooker

Audrey decides to broadcast on TV by using "an internet"
Mike:  An internet. Is that where they have the Google?

And of course, Godzilla's two painful cries, "PAAACCCKKKEEERS"  and "SCOOOOTTTEEERRR".

There's also riffs on Game of Thrones, Rodan, The Monkees, Bernie Goetz, Harry Knowles, Dr. Strangelove, Ernie Anastos (mainly for this), 4 Non-Blondes the Knicks, and this year's Godzilla.

The mp3 riff is now available soon at the Rifftrax site. Meanwhile, Rifftrax Live prepares for Anaconda on November 4th and Santa Claus (the 1959 version) on December 4th.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Rifftrax Celebrates the Holidays

Let's be honest. The holidays do not start on the week of Thanksgiving. They start next Friday with Halloween. I've believed this ever since I saw the Grove Shopping Center in L-A finish building Santa's House the day before Halloween. Imagine trick or treaters trying to visit that house.

Now there's a new reason:  Rifftrax will be very busy with some new events, including revisiting another holiday movie.
It also starts next Thursday with its presentation of Anaconda with Jon Voight, Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube and Owen Wilson. That event was made possible by its Kickstarter campaign a few months ago after getting funding for riffing the Jurassic Park-Sleepless in Seattle mashup that was the 1998 version of Godzilla. The riff for that, by the way, should be coming next month.
Anyway, the attack, I mean showing, of Anaconda will be presented in several theaters nationwide thanks to Fathom Events. Since the movie is 90 minutes, the show will include a preview of the return of Total Riff-Off, where the gang take on a typical show from the National Geographic channel. It was very popular when it was done on April Fool's Day, and it'll be interesting to see what they'll do when they have two more specials in December. Expect the host of Man vs. Monster being a likely target.

Then in November, it'll observe Thanksgiving with its take on Fun in Balloonland. As I said elsewhere online, it makes "A Visit to Santa" look like The Empire Strikes Back. It starts with a mom reading a bedtime story, which puts her to sleep. Then the kid dreams he's in a world filled with balloon people. Here's a look:



It's basically the worst movie about the Macy's parade, or any other holiday parade.  A guy called the Cinema Snob has his take on this, If Mike can top that review, he is truly the God of Riffing

The big news from its Facebook Q and A event is that the Christmas show on December 4th will feature the 1959 Mexican holiday classic, Santa Claus. That's right, little Lupita, Pitch, and the kid who's left alone on Christmas Eve while his parents go out and drink will all be there. Of course, MST3K fans know the movie when it first aired in 1993. It was later part of the Volume XVI DVD set. What's different is that the gang will likely riff on the whole movie, as they did with Manos, Hands of Fate. When Santa Claus was first riffed, they cut some scenes out, including this one where Lupita dreams about having a doll. Since Pitch set off the dream, it includes evil dancing that wasn't part of the MST version. See if you can riff on this:



Actually, if you use the Canadian Thanksgiving rule, you'd be justified to start seeing holiday specials after November first, including what Rifftrax has to offer.

You can learn more about next week's showing of Anaconda, Total Riff-Off, Santa Claus and more at Rifftrax's updated website. Enjoy!

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Texas Robocop Knockoff Massacre: Rifftrax vs. R.O.T.O.R (Plus Holiday Offerings)


It's the usual thing:  someone makes a successful movie, and a hundred guys try to make their own version. Sadly, this includes some guy named Cullen Blaine.

Shortly after Robocop reached theaters, Blaine made his own Texas BBQ-ed version called ROTOR. It's like Robocop made with a budget of 24 bucks. Rifftrax recently had its take on the movie, and described it as The Room meets Cybercop 2. It's about a computer expert named Coldyron (which is Texas for Rowsdower) who invented a cop of the future called Robotic Officer of the Tactical Operations Research...or Reserve.
Naturally, the robot goes nuts and kills people. He also clobbers guys who are completely delusional about how macho they are.
The movie also includes a janitor named Shoeboogie who claims he's Native American but looks more like Bruno Mars, and a sarcastic robot who's more interesting than most of the human cast. Here's a short trailer, thanks to Rifftrax:



What's really strange is how the story is told. A couple heads for a weekend trip to the lake, and see an explosion, followed by a dead woman on the road (Kevin Murphy:  "My poor brave wife. She died trying to save our meth lab."). Then we see Coldyron about to be arrested, then "officially unofficially" interrogated by a couple of cops. (Bill Corbett:  "His acting coach was Al Gore"). Then we get a long flashback that begins with him sharing a massive cup of coffee with his horse. As soon as he gets to the Dallas PD, seeing Shoboogie dancing with Willard the Robot, he gets a call from the police chief telling him to get ROTOR ready or else in 60 days. Coldyron decides to quit, because he thinks it'll take years to get ROTOR on duty. The project is given to some guy named Houndling, who thinks he can get ROTOR going. As he tells Willard, "what do you think this is, some low-budget sci-fi flick?" Of course, that's too much of a trick question to get a response.

It takes a really stupid accident involving Shoeboogie's headphones to awaken ROTOR, who wastes no time following his prime directive, "to judge and execute." It's also considered the state motto of Texas. It wastes no time pulling over a bickering couple who broke the speed limit. It shoots the driver while his girlfriend...who may look familiar to those who paid attention...tries to get away. She has two things against her:  the Dallas police doesn't care, and ROTOR can see 30 seconds into the past to find the girl. He's also described by Kevin as "John Hodgman with a leather fetish". Its only weakness is a loud car horn, but that only slows him down a little.

Coldyron decides to ask for help from a fellow computer scientist in Houston...who's he never met...and looks like Luna Vachon but slightly more attractive. Her hair color is less to be desired, though. They talk about how they made a robot that was made for the lawless future, not 1987, and that they have to stop him.

What's really absurd about this movie is how it tries to set up a sequel. To say that it's done very clumsily would be an understatement. Not only that, the credits reveal that Coldyron's voice was dubbed, and that one of the songs from the soundtrack was done by "Larry's Dad". It's no wonder why this has become a Rifftrax essential in lousy film making.
Prepare for riffs on Alan Jackson, Madonna, Dinosaurus, Texas in general, the iPhone 7, Larry the Cable Guy, Coronet films, Denny Terrio, and Small Wonder.

You can click here to get ROTOR, and here to see a "summary" of the movie on YouTube provided by a Rifftrax fan.

Also, Rifftrax decided to riff on part of It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Here's what they did:



There's a tweet on the Rifftrax page that suggests they may do more Peanuts specials, but we'll see about that. It would be something if they did the early ones, like A Charlie Borwn Christmas or He's Your Dog, Charlie Brown.

Finally, Rifftrax announced it will do a Thanksgiving film that makes "A Visit To Santa" look like "The Empire Strikes Back". It's called Fun in Balloonland, and it's the worst Macy's Parade film ever.



It's so awful it would make a great feature for the Rifftrax Christmas show. However, it will be available on the website in a few weeks.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Movies A Sure Thing In Reno Casino

I've been in Nevada for four months, and the first thing that stunned me about the state was seeing several slot machines at a Safeway. This was before I found more slots at another supermarket and assorted gas stations.

This is more unusual: a movie theater at a casino. This is at the Grand Sierra Resort Casino in Reno, which is the most impressive facility around. Aside from a flashy new night club and a big theater, it also has a very big bowling alley.

However, I came this past weekend for the movie theater just to see how it compares to other multiplexes. It's basic in its offerings of popcorn, soda and candy, The seats also recline, more than the usual multiplex. At four dollars for second-run movies, you can't go wrong. It has fewer showings and a smaller staff, but it's still a good bargain, It'll also help you forget dropping 50 bucks on a penny slot machine.

I waited until now to try it out because it finally had a movie I wanted to see: Lucy with Scarlett Johannsen. It's about a girl who's forced to deliver a strange drug in her body. Something goes wrong, and the drug expands her mind in a lot of ways. It was all right, but I liked her other sci-fi movie Under the Skin a lot more (and no, it's not because it showed a lot of her skin). Luc Besson is good at directing action movies, but his version of a sci-fi movie was a bit too strange at the end. I'll just say it would be a good idea to see Lucy followed by Her.

The posters inside the theaters plugged movies that the casino hopes to show three months after everyone else, including The Interview, Annie and Mockingjay. I expect while they're shown, the theater will show The Maze Runner, The November Man, and Guardians of the Galaxy two weeks before its DVD is released. It reminded me of a UA Theater at Sunrise Mall near Sacramento that showed second-run features for three bucks. I never went there, but I should have.

For the most part, I'll stick with the regular theaters, mainly the Galaxy Theaters in Sparks. I might go back to the GSR again if there's another movie I never got around to seeing.