Wednesday, May 9, 2012

ICWXP: Rick Wolf is Legend

Vincent Price, Chuck Heston, Will Smith...kiss my last omega legend on Earth ass! Where's your Big Bad Apocalypse now?...Commander Rick Wolf

It's been a good week for fans of Mystery Science Theater 3000: the next DVD set with the Fugitive Alien movies and TV's Frank's farewell is coming this summer, Rifftrax finally released its live DVD of Jack the Giant Killer, and now Incognito Cinema Warriors XP has its first new DVD since November.

It establishes Flux Namtani as the new bot in town, while Rick Wolf decides that battling zombies to the death is preferable to seeing cigarettes square dance..or another talky horror flick. The series is now sort of traditional MST3K on steroids. That is, we see the gang deal with their post-apocalyptic world, while also enduring lame short subjects. Hopefully, they'll go back to even lamer feature films. The production values of the host segments is getting better thanks to fans chipping in through Kickstarter.

Before they get to the short, Topsybot 5000 and Johnny Cylon slowly get Flux unstuck in the 1980's, and update him about pop culture over the past 50 years (does this mean the show is set in the 2030's?). He is horrified to learn that since the '80s, vampires sparkle in the movies and zombies date. They also find out the Count from Sesame Street has gone metal, and uses the song "Bodies" to help kids learn to count ("Let the numbers hit the floor").

So how does Rick do in the outside world? Actually, it's disappointing: he only finds a Zombie Spock. However, it has an epic battle with one of the flying Ludivico spy cams that resembles, as one YouTube fan put it, Joe Cocker trying to bowl. I thought it looked more like CC Sabathia trying to pitch a possessed baseball.

Zombies or not, there are still short subjects to be riffed. So, the gang heads back to the Cine-a-Sorrow Theater for their latest torture, Soapy the Germ Fighter. It's a disturbing little movie about a boy who claims that having to be clean will make him a sissy instead of the macho cowboy he thinks he is. Through a dream, or a heroin nightmare according to Topsybot, he's taught the error of his ways by Soapy, a disturbing cake of soap with legs but no pants. It shows him several people who like to be clean, like a cowboy who tries to wash off "all that Indian blood". Strangely, it's the first movie to show a bucking bronco while the Nutcracker Suite is heard. To prove how much of an MST3K fan I am, I recognized a couple of the kids in the film as the same ones from a Rifftrax short about good eating habits.

Before that, the gang has to sit through some of those old ads that convince you to get some popcorn or corn dogs (made from cats) before the movie starts. This is what your grandparents had to suffer through before those "First Look" theater commercials were invented. Not only that, they see the famous "VD is for everybody" PSA, which makes Cylon shout "Natalie Portman, no!". That's followed by pop-up ads that not only appear out of nowhere but start arguing. I'm not kidding. It's, as Rick puts it, "a peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwich for the ages".

Then there's two major confrontations. One of them involves Ludivico lackeys expecting to cart the body of Rick away after he's supposedly dead after seeing a certain movie made by a Texas fertilizer salesman (yes, that one). Rick and the bots actually handle this problem very well. The other one battle involves...well....we'll just say there's a death scene you'll never forget.

The DVD has great special features. There's an audio commentary from Rikk Wolf and Nick Evans, who discuss everything from moving their offices to Kansas City to figuring out which software is better to make their weird puppet show. Another edition of "Ask a Cinema Warrior" answers questions about The Walking Dead, the chances of being on a TV network, and which movie they'd like to riff on if given the chance. There's also a blooper reel with behind-the scenes stuff, along with an unplugged version of the ICWXP theme, and a special Fun With Shorts feature from writer Josh Way. It's about Nick, the goofy teen from "What To Do On a Date" (the short from MST's Swamp Diamonds episode), and how he learns the "Benefits of Looking Ahead." Let's just say it saves him from eating an apple while living in in a burned-out building.

The new DVD is available at There's also other stuff like DVD's, the non-motion picture in comic book form, and stickers.

Note: Nelson's Liquor Mart, which was one of the ads shown on the show, was located in Tomahawk, Wisconsin. We're not sure if it's still open for business.


Anonymous said...

Great review and another slam dunk from ICWXP!!

"Time to wash your mouth out with me!"

Flopsy T. Hamster said...

Great review. With this release, the ICWXP guys (and offscreen gals) move another step away from being an MST3K tribute, and one step closer towards their own identity. The acting and writing continue to improve, and the extras are terrific. The insert inside the DVD says that they'll be spending more time in the theatre in future episode, as per the fans' request. Whether that means returning to feature films ahead of schedule remains to be seen. But I doubt it. It probably means more than one short, or perhaps more "skit" based antics, such as the hilarious and unexpected pop-up battle. But as long as their episodes remain as funny as this, I'm onboard.

Demimonde Mesila Thraam said...

I adore ICWXP and dare I blaspheme to say that in many ways, it seems to be a Better Thing, a progressor, rather than just filling in the hole that the lack of MST3K left.

It's got a harder, more adult-friendly edge: the gang's not sheepish about uttering the odd cussword here and there, and also there's a serial mystery behind the whole series, rather than just a bunch of shows in which the same characters show up and frolic. That takes a lot of work, and here, it pays off.

The riffing's also REALLY awesome, well-timed, and with each episode I find Topsy and Cylon developing more and more as characters. Flux is amusing as hell - I hope he won't end up like Dr. Zedekiah (the pet zombie head the gang liked to torture) and end up fading out of the picture.

If you watch the episodes, especially the S2 ones, you will catch lines easy to miss in the first watching that are likely important plot points. Let's just say Flux is one mysterious bot who gives signs that he knows more than he lets on. Maybe.

My favourite part of this one was the "Weenies and Banners" bit, as I remember my Pirate Bay days when that awful "CONGRATULATIONS, you've WON!" flash-ad would attack from multiple open pages and annoy the living crap out of me. I laughed so hard I nearly knocked my monitor over.

I was also amused by the subtle Phantasm reference - whether or not it was intentional (?) when "Spock" is messing with the Ludivico spycam ball.