Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Rifftrax Goes Rogue With Latest Star Wars Riff


Over the years, Rifftrax has taken on the most popular...and reviled...movie franchises around.
It may respect (sort of) Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, but also has some darts for Twilight and Transformers...and Wings Hauser.

The Star Wars saga gets some respect, but not so much the prequels. It would be inevitable that Rogue One would be next on Rifftrax's list. Even fans wondered if the franchise could have a movie that doesn't have a Jedi or even R2-D2 at the center of things, but you could still throw in Darth Vader. Some also thought it was annoying another girl gets to be the hero.
The movie did do well with the story of Jyn Erso, Cassian Andor and K-2S0 hoping to stop the creation of the Death Star. Having Tarkin and the young Princess Leia recreated by CGI didn't hurt,either (even though one was better than the other).

The Rifftrax trio of Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett came up with a good mix of riffs poking fun at the franchise and movies in general. Who would have expected them to throw in a riff on John Ford and two on a classic campus comedy? They also made a lot of interesting comments on the new droid, K-2S0.

Here are some other examples:

The movie doesn't start like all the others
Where's the music and the massive wall of text? I TRUSTED YOU!

Galen:  You're confusing peace with terror
Krennic:  You've got to start somewhere
Honest tag line for The Phantom Menace

K-2S0:  Why does she have a blaster and I don't?
Asimov's fourth law of robotics:  Tattle like a bitchy kid brother

Saw:  Did you come to kill me?
That's why I say to scare Girl Scouts off my front porch

Darth Vader talks to Krennic
This better be good. Draining that goo tube ain't cheap.

There's also riffs on Princess Bride (guess why), Avatar, Fraggle Rock, Frankie Avalon, Enya, Garden State, and The Terminator.

The riff is available at the Rifftrax website

Friday, April 28, 2017

MST3K Redux: What Would Women Think Of Angels' Revenge?


When Mike Nelson and his MST3K crew mocked Angels' Revenge, which was Charlie's Angels disguised as The Dirty Dozen, they emphasized the absurdity of these women thinking they can bring down a drug ring through physical means (mainly through their cleavage and fighting in bikinis). They also talked a lot about how familiar faces had to do this movie to keep their flagging careers going, including Alan Hale Jr., Arthur Godfrey, Peter Lawford, and future Oscar winner Jack Palance.

When the Riffing Housewives, Mary Jo Pehl and Bridget Nelson, took this on, they just showed what they think such women would be concerned about while battling the drug dealers. Otherwise, it's a brutal pummeling on an example of "jiggle TV" as a movie. As Mary Jo asks at one point, "Are 90% of all Hollywood movies written by eleven year old boys?" She thinks that's how this movie was made. It's no coincidence all the male actors were in the credits before the women with the bigger roles were mentioned.

The story is about Michelle Wilson, a popular singer who learns her brother was beaten up by a drug pusher who got him hooked. She teams up with April, his teacher, who has a plan to destroy a processing plant outside of Los Angeles. The teacher uses the singer's fame to get the crew she needs, filled with expertise and breasts.
Mary Jo doubts the wisdom of this:  "You need a hit song to call the cops?"
Be grateful Ocean's 8 will have better actresses and writing, but then upset most men will see no difference between that and this movie.

What's interesting about this version is that it includes 15 minutes that was cut by MST for time and maybe dignity. There's a montage of the girls "training," but it's shown in three separate boxes, Once the girls pose in their mostly white jump suits, Bridget asks, "So what are they supposed to do after Labor Day?" For those who don't get that, just Google "wearing white clothes after Labor Day".

Another section that wasn't shown on MST is where Elaine, the cop, reported to her boss (Neville Brand) about the girls. The first scene is OK, but the second featured two of the girls giving him the drugs they seized still wearing bikinis. It's not exactly undercover work, but it's supposed to appeal to the men with eleven-year-old brains who wanted this movie.
Also, remember the scene where the girls bathe in their underwear after they blow up the plant? MST also cut away after that, but Rifftrax revealed the girls were held at gunpoint by some goons until April saves them thanks to a nearby helmet.

Now let's compare riffs. In some cases, the guys are meaner. In others, the girls are

Michelle's rear end is shown from above as she's climbing a ladder
MST:  Hey, you're giving away the plot
RT:  Spanx for the view


April and Keiko approach the drug processing camp
MST:  They're attacking a Klingon language camp
RT:  I didn't know they had auto shop in colonial Williamsburg


April:  "Women can make a difference"
RT:  If properly trained
MST:  The director wrote that so he could get laid


April slams her fist on a table
RT:  Meanwhile, Sally Hansen plots revenge
MST:  We will, like, bury you
(Combine them both, and it's a superior riff)


At a foggy beach, the girls meet one of the drug ring's goons and talks to Terry, an African-American stunt woman:  "Do you play basketball?"
MST:  This is offending one-celled animals
RT:  Sexist, racist, height-ist, AND NOT FUNNY


The girls bathe under a waterfall after blowing up the plant
MST:  And now, ladies and gentlemen, the reason this movie was made
RT:  Behold the waterfall of men's tears


The girls did recycle  two riffs from the original version, Those who saw both know which ones. There were also riffs on Rose Kennedy, La-La Land, Chevy Chase and the J. Geils Band.

You can get Angels Revenge at Rifftrax's website, and volume 2 of MST3K DVD set re-issued by Shout Factory.




Wednesday, April 26, 2017

MST3K Redux: The Magic Sword


Recently, Rifftrax allowed Mary Jo Pehl and Bridget Nelson to re-riff Angels' Revenge, a Charlie's Angels/Wild Bunch/anti-drug PSA knockoff that was also known as the last MST3K episode Comedy Central ever showed. Very soon, it will also take another look at Final Justice with Joe Don Baker. .

Two years ago, though, Rifftrax reriffed The Magic Sword, an MST episode from 1992. It was made by Bert I.Gordon, and includes his trademark "special" effects. It featured Gary Lockwood as the adopted son of a witch and Basil Rathbone as an actor who had to appear in movies like these to pay for expensive parties thrown by his wife, Actually he's a cruel sorcerer who really needed a good wardrobe.

Anyway, George falls for a princess he's been stalking through magic pools. She's grabbed by Lodac (Rathbone), who wants to feed her to his dragon. George wants to save her, but his adopted mom says he shouldn't bother because he's so young at 20. He takes some magic gifts he was supposed to get when he's 21, and he's on his way.
He's got a rival in Sir Barton, who's actually in league with Lodac. Barton expects to get the princess thanks to Lodac, but that doesn't work out. Of course, George wins in the end, and gets the princess.

I saw both versions, and it looks like Rifftrax's approach was better than the MST version. The jokes were more sharp, and they didn't give Gordon an inch. Also, the Rifftrax version has the entire movie while MST had to cut for time.

Let's compare riffs:

George spies on Princess Helene thanks to a magic pool

MST:  Gidget goes to the Renaissance Festival
RT:  He's using a pool to watch a woman bathe without her knowledge. So I assume this guy's the villain?

George defeats an ogre by making it dizzy

MST: Chest Hair Club For Men
RT:  He's the type of guy who would throw up on a ferris wheel

Sybil, George's adopted mom, finally escapes after George traps her so he can rescue Helene

MST:  Tonight on Tales From Lucy's Crypt
RT: Septic Tank ruptured and it spawned Carrot Top

Lodac is finally killed

MST:  Oh, goodness gracious, I'm dead
RT: He died as he lived, wearing a lady fortune teller costume.

Rifftrax's version also had riffs on Rod Stewart, Game of Thrones, Safety Woman and Road House.

You can take your choice of either version of The Magic Sword at Rifftrax or Shout Factory. Very soon, we'll compare both versions of Angels' Revenge. The MST version was riffed by some guy, while the Rifftrax version was mocked by his wife and her friend.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Kung-FOOEY! Rifftrax Opens Year With Samurai Cop


If Rifftrax and Mystery Science Theater 3000 has taught us anything, it's that the world's supply of bad movies is more eternal than oil, natural gas or reality shows.

A prime example is Samurai Cop, where a San Diego cop who's an alleged samurai but is more like a Disneyland version of Tarzan battles an evil Japanese gang. He even makes time with a restaurant owner, and is pleased his hair's better than hers.

It's also the first live show for Rifftrax's new season. The riffs are almost exactly like the VOD version, but they edited it twice and actually made it a bit more bearable.
A murder scene that accidentally included a bare breast was taken out, along with a scene where Yamashita (Robert Z'Dar) tried to force a female cop to tell him where Samurai Cop lived. His method? Boiling oil from a frying pan.
These were wise moves because the original version has more sex and maybe a rape scene.  If only they edited out Matt Hatton, who is just terrible as the samurai cop.
But then that's the point.

As a live show, though, it was great, especially for those who never saw the VOD version. I did a couple of days before, and could tell where they changed the riffs. What really made the show enjoyable was the ending theme song that Kevin Murphy made. Fans should stay through the credits for that, and the massive number of people who wore their MST3K revival shirts. Some guy even brought his Tom Servo with the cop's hair.

OK, here's the riffs

Yamashita beheads a possible witness by sneaking into the hospital (and wait'll you see how)

Original:  OK, that guy's head was the first item in our scavenger hunt
Live:  Just get a rear view window, please

"What's an all-American girl like you doing with a geek like this?"
Original:  So racist
Live:  Head-cutting Yakusa bosses, geeks.

Here's a riff I missed the first time:
"I can read eyes"
but that's the only letter I know.

They also added riffs on New Kids on the Block, Road House, and United Airlines.

There was a  short before the main movie called Manners in School. It's about an Our Gang character who is upset with having to skip recess to clean the blackboards. He draws a stick-figure guy, who winds up setting the kid straight even at the threat of being erased.

By the way, they also showed the Netflix MST3K trailer to remind people a new era is coming. Kevin and Bill, though, didn't talk about their return as Bobo and Observer. It would have been great, though.

The next live show will be in June, where they'll look at several cheesy shorts. It will include the Mads along with Bridget Nelson and Mary Jo Pehl, and some secret guests. Maybe one of them will be wearing a jump suit.


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Live From Netflix: The Return of Tom Servo and Crow




When fans of Mystery Science Theater 3000 got word that Crow T. Robot and Tom Servo, the mechanical heirs to Siskel and Ebert's balcony, would have a live press conference to plug the return of the show on Netflix next week, there was a lot of anticipation. They even asked fans for questions that they might answer. Their first official appearance occured this past Wednesday from Netflix's offices just south of San Jose.

The bots were about half an hour late, due to last-minute negotiations over why they should show up. Then again, maybe Kinga Forrester was trying to stop the live feed because SHE should be first, not these guys. Outside of the Netflix trailer, she hasn't even been seen, not even planning to crash Rifftrax's live show next week. It would be a good idea, just saying.
Anywho, before the bots returned, there was this guy:


This little guy is known as Waverly, who could be the spokesbot for Kinga or the SOL. We should know more soon. He looks like a Cyclops parrot.
Then, the bots arrived singing their planned theme song for "Earth vs. Soup". They're now voiced by Hampton Yount (Crow) and Baron Vaughn (Servo). At first voice, they sound just like they did in the Comedy Central years, especially Crow. Servo, though, has more of a "lounge lizard" style of talking, somewhere between the J. Elvis Weinstein and Kevin Murphy voices.

Still, it's them, after some long-overdue upgrading (especially their arms). They started off wondering why Mark Zuckerberg wasn't moderating the event ("What the Zuck?"). They also complained about "bot-washing" where movie studios use American robots rather than Chinese robots to match the source material. Sound familiar? They also think it was offensive that there was a guy inside C-3PO in those Star Wars movies. Crow and Servo would never allow human parts inside them, which is technically true.
As for "Earth vs. Soup", it may not be funded by Kickstarter, but they're confident it'll get done once Soup signs on, and they get the perfect actor to eat that soup. On the other hand, they think school is bad, and you get a better education from Pod People or I Accuse My Parents. Maybe they'll prove that when they deal with life in general.

So what about the Humans who have seen the movies with the bots? Joel was considered the "God-creator", and Mike the "quarterback-older brother" who had the right thing to say. That latter comment may be surprising considering they played a lot of pranks on him, especially the SyFy era. Either they missed him or they hope to sneak into Rifftrax in case things go wrong.
As for Jonah, he's "more of a podcast guy", which is true since he did work for the Nerdist. They do complain he changes sheets too often and moans while he sleeps. Otherwise, it seems the bots accept him now, since this took place after the first season was done.

They also talked about Joe Don Baker movies, Servo teaching riffing, Crow heckling movies in his mind, their many "puberties" and if a big Servo is worse than a thousand small Crows.

They're back. We can really just relax. So, come on out, Kinga, and threaten us with your plans for money-making evil, if you dare (at least bringing back the show is more than your ancestors ever did).
(NOTE:  Of course, I know Felicia's busy with her new kid and other things, but it would be great to see Felicia as Kinga in some way, including Facebook Live. Let's hope it's soon)
The new season of Mystery Science Theater 3000 arrives on April 14 with 14 episodes. Some backers will get the first episode early.