Friday, November 28, 2008

The Second Riffing of Santa and the Martians

When Cinematic Titanic revived the traditional style of insulting movies hat are themselves insults to cinema, some have wondered if the brave crew would dare revisit one of its past traumas, I mean, movies. Could they dare riff on Manos again? Monster-a-Go-Go? Pod People?

No....they had to take the ultimate risk: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians!

Joel Hodgson had thought about taking a second look at one of the movies he and the bots riffed on in the MST days. Just in time for the holidays, this looked like the ideal choice. The crew tried it out in St. Louis before a live audience, although the DVD was probably made before then. Considering the fact that half the jokes in the original would be lost on the younger fans, a new version would be needed.

We know the story: Martians come down to Earth to kidnap Santa so he can bring his Yuletide cheer to Mars. This inspires some Martian named Dropo to become Santa himself. This movie makes Four Christmases, or even Home Alone, look like It's a Wonderful Life.

Now, how do SCCTM 2.0 translate on screen? Well, when the crew is told, Trace tries to run away, while TV's Frank says "Stop calling it a film. We know better."

I'll start with comparing riffs from certain moments in the film.

When Santa is asked if he'll trade his sled for a rocket, he says "we're going out the good ol' fashioned way...."

MST: Guns a' blazing
CT: hammered.

Chochem explains Martians need Santa because "We have no children on Mars. They have children's bodies with adult minds..."

MST: like Drew Barrymore
CT: like Dennis Kucinich

Kimar meets Billy and Betty on Earth: "We're from Mars. Don't be afraid. We have children just like you."

MST: only they're worse actors
CT: We eat them

There is one example where I think the MST riff is much better. This is when Billy told the Martians they'll never kidnap Santa: "You won't get away with this, you....Martian."

Josh from CT: "I can't believe he dropped the M-bomb like that".
MST: "Santa's gonna cut you, man. Santa's a blade man, man."

But that's just me.

Other riffs in the second version have their charm. When the Martians use an air blaster to freeze Mrs. Claus: "Now why can't they do that to Ann Coulter?"

When Dropo starts dressing like Santa: "Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, I wish I had a gun."

The Martian kids are told to go to bed: "Being a Martian is a bigger drag than being a Mormon"

Oh, and the final scene where Volmar is defeated by a toy attack...the MST version compared it to several scenes, such as the pie-throwing scene in The Great Race and the orgy scene in Caligula. All Mary Jo said about it is "OK, it's official. They made me hate fun", while Joel said it was as if "Barbarella and Jane Fonda had a big stupid mustache."

My suggestion: see both versions. That will drive you to egg nog, as long as it's 5% egg and 95% nog, but it would be worth it.

Also, I got the Rifftrax DVD featuring some of its most popular shorts. It's also a great diversion from the typical cheesy holiday specials that are not Rudolph, Frosty or Jimmy Stewart. It also includes a new way to riff: the crew takes on a safety film called Shake Hands With Danger, but you see Mike Nelson, Kevin Nelson and Bill Corbett as CGI avatars. Mike is still human while Kevin's a living popcorn box and Bill's a parrot. It's quite a different experience than seeing them in silhouette mocking bad cinema. Check it out!

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