Monday, August 17, 2015

What MST3K Movies Deserve a Second Riffing?

Last week, Rifftrax released its latest feature, The Magic Sword. It was unusual for several reasons, such as it's one of the few Burt I. Gordon movies that isn't too absurd to exist. It also has Basil Rathbone and Estelle Winwood, real actors in a cheesy fantasy movie.

The biggest one, of course, is that it's the first former MST3K title to be tacked by Rifftrax that's not a holiday movie, a short about springs or one that knew your father, it did, or Manos. Some people gave it a try, while some fans in the comments section were rather upset Rifftrax would mock a movie that was once heckled by the Holy Trinity that is Joel, Servo and Crow.

However, it also started a discussion on which former MST3K titles should be re-riffed. One fan suggested riffing the rest of the episodes of The Master, starring Lee Van Cleef and Timothy Van Patten as some dorky guy who'll never be a ninja...but would have better luck as a director of TV shows.
For some reason, Sho Kosugi, who plays the guy who tries to kill Van Cleef's character, gets top billing in this VHS cover. I don't think his character ever had any lines. If he did, he'd tell Van Cleef he's unfit to be a ninja because he couldn't beat Clint Eastwood.

Wikipedia says they had planned to take on episodes five and six, but they decided on "Samson vs, the Vampire Women", which marked TV Frank's exit from the show. If they kept going, they would have had episodes that featured Doug McClure, Janine Turner, George Maharis and Stuart Whitman. The movie titles would also have been ridiculous, like "Ninja--The Shadows Kill" and "The Ninja Man".

Another suggestion was "The Slime People", which was done in season one. One fan said Mike wants to get another chance at this movie, where a sportscaster helps a professor and his two daughters battle creatures from under the earth. Sure enough, page 12 of my heavily autographed Episode Guide proves it

Also suggested was "Mitchell", which was Joel's last movie. If they are going to do that, they should restore the deleted scenes that prove John Saxon was in the movie. However, they should also remove the "sex" scenes Joe Don Baker had with Linda Evans.

What other movies should be re-riffed?

How about "Swamp Diamonds" (aka "Swamp Women")? Some of the riffs are a bit dated, but they can add a bunch of riffs related to Orange Is The New Black and mock the Oscars for thinking Roger Corman deserved one for his "body of 'work'".

"Robot Holocaust" would be another idea, since it gave birth to the first riff callbacks "It was after the apocalypse" and "You and your daughter are doomed". Since Rifftrax has released movies that has nudity, people who dreamed to see Valeria in the Pleasure Booth without her costume or ridiculous accent will finally get the chance.

For a real dare, why not re-riff "Monster A Go-Go"? Well, there are lots of reasons why, but taking another look at the story of a missing astronaut, a killer alien on the loose, and an ending even stupider than Exorcist II would be quite a challenge.

Let's also add a KTMA movie, like "SST Death Flight". This was a TV movie in 1977 about the first supersonic plane's first flight. Naturally, everything goes wrong: some guy sabotages the plane, and no one will let it land because it has a killer disease on board. The director of this movie went on to direct Airport '79, which was also about a supersonic plane that's targeted by fighter jets thanks to a guy who's trying to hide his illegal arms sales. Clearly, the TV movie was slightly more plausible even if its cast wasn't as famous (except for Billy Crystal, Lorne Greene, Robert Reed...and Peter Graves).

Another idea is "The Green Slime", the movie Joel Hodgson used in his proto-pilot of the show. It's sort of like Armageddon, where astronauts destroy an asteroid that is threatening the Earth. However, they bring back alien slime that mutates the crew...sort of like Alien. It was also a movie made in Japan, but featured actors are from the USA (Richard Jaeckel) and Italy (Luciana Paluzzi).
This poster also reveals it was rated "X", which I suspect was due to the gruesome deaths.

It's best to wait a while before Rifftrax will take a second look to an old MST3K episode. After all, it's due for a Miami Connection in about six weeks.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Samuel L. Jackson And Spy Kids

Recently I saw two movies with Samuel L. Jackson dealing with teenagers who get involved in some serious situations. One featured him running a school for future assassins not unlike the Red Room program that created Black Widow and Not Dottie from Agent Carter, while the other one had him as the President relying on a 13 year old Finnish kid to escape assassins in the wilderness.

Let's start with Barely Lethal, which has been in the VOD circuit through Amazon, iTunes and DirecTV and should be in Redbox soon. Hailee Steinfeld, who's come a long way from the True Grit remake, plays Agent 83, a girl who's had enough of knocking off bad guys, She's able to fake her own death, and head to a nice normal town and a nice normal high school. She calls herself Megan, and approaches it like another one of her missions. She also  bases her intel on several teen movies like Bring It On and Mean Girls. Naturally, she's attracted by the cool musician dude Cash (Toby Sebastian) while the AV guy Roger (Thomas Mann) looks on. It really becomes a typical movie about high school.
Maybe a bit too typical. There's also a slightly clueless mom played by Rachel Harris (prefer her nastier side in The Hangover) and Liz (Dove Cameron, Descendants, namely Malificent's daughter), the daughter who is upset over her parents' divorce and is very suspicious of Megan.

However, a prank that winds up on YouTube exposes Megan/83, and Jackson thinks she's working for someone else. Well, maybe being a normal teen means she's her own boss, but his attitude took me out of the film a bit. He's also not too good at disguising himself as a bus driver, either.  Later, she's plagued by Agent 84 (Sophie Turner)  who decides to horn in on Megan's life. She calls herself Heather and claims she knows Chris and/or Liam Hemsworth.

There's also Knox (Jessica Alba), an arms dealer that is captured by Jackson's crew, but later escapes. The problem with Alba's performance is that she's too Tori Spelling to be considered dangerous, even when we find out her true background. You want fashionable and dangerous? Rose Byrne in Spy is what Alba doesn't reach. Still, Alba has one good line about Jackson training second-graders to kill.

The movie is geared to teens, so it's not exactly like Spy Kids or any spy thriller. Still, it's interesting seeing a teen assassin be just as awkward as any other teen. It's also cool seeing Sophie Turner trying to clobber her rival agent at the prom. It's what everyone wishes Sansa Stark would do to Ramsey Bolton on Game of Thrones. Still, Jackson is there just as someone Megan doesn't want to be...not completely anyway.

However, Jackson is much better in Big Game, made in Finland by Jalmari Helander, who also directed Rare Exports (the Santa is not-so-jolly movie). Jackson plays the President who's on his way to a conference. He's also failing in the polls, and that does sound familiar. Terrorists attack Air Force One thanks to a mole inside the plane, but the President escapes. He's found by Oskari (Omni Tommila, who was also in Rare Exports) , a 13 year old who's trying to hunt a deer to fulfill the local manhood ceremony. However, the men in the town, including his dad, aren't sure he can do it. He can't even use a bow and arrow, Still, putting their skills together, Oskari and the President try to keep the terrorists, and the mole, from making the President their latest trophy...literally.

It turns out Oskari has better sense than his dad suspects, and it serves him well. Also, the movie is wise not to make Jackson as a bad-ass president. He actually has a tough time trying to fight the head bad guy. The movie also throws in a conspiracy connected with the attack, but it should have been less complex.

Another problem with the movie is that it's too short. Even with the credits, it's less than 90 minutes. If we had more backstory on the President and why he's not getting respect, and Oskari also not getting any respect (maybe five minutes of how he seems to be a terrible hunter), it would have been better.
Despite that, the story was compact and complete, even with one last twist at the end. It also appeals to adults and kids.

Barely Lethal is now available on DVD, including some deleted scenes, Big Game, meanwhile, will be released on DVD at the end of the month.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

In the Not Too Distant Future: How Rifftrax May Take On Sharknado 3

Now that we know we'll have as many Sharknados as Transformer movies, maybe it's time to predict how the Rifftrax crew will take on this year's version of the cheesy SyFy franchise.

It's already taken on part one, as well as part two just a few weeks ago. It's safe to say that if it goes to another Kickstarter campaign to help fund the 2016 season, the fans will hit the goal within a weekend.

Fin (Ian Zierling) and April (Tara Reid) battle two big Sharknados wreaking havoc on Washington DC and Orlando. Then, they threaten to merge into something not even Bruce Willis and an Aerosmith ballad can stop. However, thanks to a spare Space Shuttle, and the power of the Hoff, they blow up the storm from outer space, They also battle sharks in space, and one of them eats April just as she's about to give birth. However, thanks to her chainsaw hand, she escapes, and her baby is OK. Yet it ends with a piece of the shuttle about to hit her, and the movie asks the fans if she should live, The latest word, according to Reid on Adam Carolla's podcast, is that she just might be back. She could be back anyway, Twitter votes be damned.
Nova (Cassie Scerbo) is back, too, apparently trained as a shark killer thanks to watching Michonne a lot on The Walking Dead, and also as a pilot thanks to Fin's son who's busy elsewhere.

Anyway, here's my prediction of what riffs we can expect next year from Mike, Kevin and Bill:

The movie starts with a James Bond style opening, with Fin and his chainsaw

It's 007 in Live and Let Bite, as seen from the mouth of Richard Kiel

Ann Coulter as the VP:  "I feel for the sharks, but they're wrecking our schools, our hospitals, our roads"
If they want to do that, they should run for Congress (yeah, too easy, right?)

Then the sharks arrive. When they're not destroying the Washington Monument more convincingly than Space Invaders or Donkey Kong in Pixels, one of them lands on the Lincoln Memorial.

You guys bite without me. The first sequel was exhausting

Fin gets help from President Mark Cuban, and both are armed to the teeth,

Marc Cuban is the President in Machete Bites!

Fin, his brother, the president and a woman lift an American flag and wind up stabbing one of the sharks, resulting in this

Uh, didn't people complain when same sex marriage supporters did the same thing?

We meet Nova, who's upset by all these Sharknados:  "Kill them all, just kill them all, shoot, bang"

Are you talking about the sharks, or the SyFy execs who keep approving these movies?

Meanwhile, at Universal Studios Orlando, April is there with her mom (Bo Derek).

April decides to help when the sharks get there, but mom isn't hearing it:  "April, Dawn, Wexler, Shepherd"
Is she listing the names of the new Ghostbusters?

Jerry Springer is a tourist standing under what he thinks is a fake shark at the Jaws Pier. He asks someone to take a picture of him. He soon finds out the shark is not fake

Hah! That Arnold Schwarzenegger prank at the wax museum really works.

A shark crashes into an xfinity billboard
This message brought to you by DirecTV

A theater is showing "Shark Wedding", with George RR Martin in the audience. A shark breaks through the screen, killing him

And now his watch has ended. Ours, however, still continues

We see David Hasslehoff at a chicken wings joint with Penn and Teller. They discuss how Finn is doing, while the Hoff says "He's just making it up as he goes along"

Oh, like Republican candidates trying to get on that Fox News debate

Fin's weapon against sharks in space?
It's the new Stihl Lightsaber Saw

A shark finally drops in, literally, the Today show set

Robin Roberts says hello!

Granted, the Rifftrax crew will come up with better snide remarks, because that's what they do. It's interesting what they would say to April giving birth while inside a shark...and escaping thanks to her chainsaw hand. They'd either say, "eat your heart out, Bruce Campbell" or "Shop smart, S-mart". There's also that last scene where April is about to be hit by a piece of the shuttle. Personally, I'd like to see April saved by Georgia Lass (Ellen Muth) from Dead Like Me, and remark "hey, my death was embarrassing enough. It won't happen to you, no matter what social media says"...then leave.

Hey, if you need cameos, get creative.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Sparks Is Running on Dunkin'

When I wet to see Ant-Man last week, I noticed something strange.

It was a Dunkin' Donuts store near the Target at the Legends Outlet Mall in Sparks. I had no idea it was coming to town, about six months after a store opened in Carson City. The franchise is planning to open several stores in the Reno area over the next five years.

I haven't been at a DD since one opened in the Sacramento area several years ago. I went there once, but not too often after that because it was in an inconvenient location. Placing a DD at Legends works in many ways because it's close to I-80, so it can be a quick stopover for people heading to work.

Where I live, the only places to get donuts are Walmart and Scolari's. You can get individual donuts at Scolari's but not at Walmart. There's no local bakery in town, I really like the idea of a coffee/donut place like a DD or, to show how old I am, a Winchell's place.

The opening was a big deal. There was a line of 18-20 people waiting to get in around 8 AM, mainly because it was possible to get a free cup of coffee during the first week. It was also warm, and customers got a free sample of one of its smoothies.

Anyway, it was so big all the TV stations were there:

Normally, the ribbon cutting my the Chamber of Commerce took place in front of the new business. They decided to move it to the lawn.

The mall also recently added a Jimmy John's. I haven't taken a look inside to see if there's a picture of Brock Lesnar, but I might the next time I head to the Galaxy Theater. It will likely I'll be at the DD in Sparks much more often than the once in Sacramento. There's word that adding a place in Reno may be six to nine months away. I'm guessing they could put it at the Meadowview Mall, but it would be interesting if it's located in the Peppermill or Atlantis, but I doubt it. The DD is Sparks should be ruling the donut market for some time.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Review of "Trainwreck": Drunk in Love With Amy

Amy Schumer made a name for herself with her comedy act that's "mostly sex stuff" but also her TV show on Comedy Central that says a lot about women and our perception of them. It recently scored several Emmy nominations.

But can she conquer the big screen?
That's a job that's tough for a female stand up to conquer. With the help of director Judd Apatow, and her own script that she expected some other actress to follow, Schumer has a winner with Trainwreck, about a party girl who's really thrown for a loop whe she falls for a surgeon played by Bill Hader. 

Amy plays a writer for a men's magazine who has a wild personal life. She learned early in life from her dad, Gordon (Colin Quinn), that "monogamy isn't realistic". That's why her life is mainly druken one-night stands. She has a semi-steady played by John Cena (yeah, THAT Cena). Seeing them have sex, much less seeing John showing a LOT of skin, is worth the price of admission. He's also going to be in Sisters with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, so he's got a future in movies.

She has a sister, Kim (Brie Larson), who has married and also has a stepson who Amy thinks is a bit off. They discuss putting their dad in a home because of his MS condition. He's about as brash as Amy is. 
At the magazine, she works for Dianna, who is really played by Tilda Swinton who apparantly copied her look from Alison Janney.

She assigns Amy to an interview with Aaron (Hader), a sports surgeon who works on the top athletes, even Lebron James. Amy is surprised to find herself falling for Aaron, and hopes she can put her party girl past behind. Her old demons, however, threaten this love story.

Even though Schumer is best known for her bawdy humor, she does well in quiter moments, like when she gives an interestng eulogy, and admits to sis that she's got to make some changes.

What's also surprising is LeBron's scenes with Hader. Seeing Hader try to score against the NBA all-star is very funny, but so is this scene when LeBron compares Cleveland to Miami. Even Apatow said he was impressed. Maybe LeBron ought to go back for a second stint at hosting SNL. 

As I mentioned at a Rifftrax review, Norman Lloyd, who's been in TV and movies literally forever, is also in this movie as one of the older patients at the nursing home. At the age of 100, he is as sharp as ever.

Trainwreck is much more than Inside Amy Schumer, the movie. It's a fine look at a girl was given really bad advice about men by her dad, and learns to overcome it. Some may be puzzled by the end, where there's an intervention that features people you wouldn't expect. However, the final scene was cute, and it was a given there would be a happy ending somehow.

Let's hope the success of Trainwreck gives Schumer lots of chances to show she's more than just a party gal. With this movie, she's off to a great start.

Oh, and there's a very funny spoof on pompous indie movies in general with a former boy wizard and the new Aunt May. maybe that can be expanded to a movie or at least a Funny or Die bit,