Friday, October 25, 2013

Riffrax Live: Return of the Night of the Living Dead

The week before Halloween, the Rifftrax gang presented a ghoulish display of one man’s living nightmare….then showed the classic zombie movie, Night of the Living Dead.

A sellout crowd in Nashville, Tennessee and thousands more at theaters across the country enjoyed a night of cinematic horror, punctuated by funny comments. Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett presented an improved print, and also improved sarcasm, of the classic George Romero movie. There were some jokes left over from the original DVD, but they took out the riffs about women, Keith Olbermann, Ron Paul, and the Steelers (since the movie was filmed near Pittsburgh). The new version added jokes about Crocodile Dundee, Game of Thrones, cab drivers who hate to go to Brooklyn, non-alcoholic weddings, Les Miserables, To Kill a Mockingbird, Nancy Grace, Microsoft Zune, Miley Cyrus,  Orville Redenbacher, and Birdemic.

It’s also fun to compare the original DVD  to the live show. Mike starts off with this comment during the long driving scene in  the opening credits: “If they pass a sign that says ‘Valley Lodge’, I’m leaving.” This was followed by…

The first zombie attacks Johnny and Barbara at the cemetery:

DVD: C’mon, lady, ward him off with your giant forehead.
Live: Knock off the fighting. What do you think this is, an Irish wedding?

Ben, the male lead, shows up at the abandoned house surrounded by zombies.

DVD: Apparently the zombies were emanating that weird mosquito noise
Live: Young President Obama, thank God you’re here!

He tries to comfort a stunned Barbara:

DVD: She’s got gonna sing, is she?
Live: Lars and the Real Girl had more chemistry. (TV’s Frank would be so proud)

A naked female zombie is seen from the back

DVD: How come every time a naked chick shows up at your doorstep she’s either a zombie or she just escaped from some lunatic’s basement?
Live: She’s not a zombie. She just likes to par-tay! (No gorilla grams, either)

The Coopers are in the basement, thinking they're safe, but Tom, who's upstairs, says he and Ben found a TV.
DVD:  You're still not allowed to come up. Just wanted to tell ya
Live:  We can watch The Walking Dead. (that was the most inevitable joke that night)

Tom asks Judy why she always has a smile for him

DVD:  I like marshmallows.
Live:  Dianetics

While the riffers are glad the zombies are not Instagramming the human remains they’re eating, they see a zombie enjoying an arm too much

DVD: It isn’t disgusting enough to eat corpses, now they went and got KFC.
Live: Tori Amos has gone feral.

The most tragic line of the show occurred when we see Helen Cooper dead after her zombie daughter Karen stabbed her:

DVD: Finds a spotlight as she’s dying. That’s true show biz spirit, folks.
Live: She’s been spade (or spayed). This got Bill fired for ten seconds.

Once this show is available on VOD, it’s certain to replace the DVD version as the definitive riff on this classic movie.

Before that, fans saw true horror in a new “Norman Krasner” short where he is told by his boss to write a speech and presentation with hardly any time to prepare. Just like the other shorts, everything goes wrong. The cleaning lady vacuums some of the slides then pours coffee on his notes. It ends, quite appropriately, with a sprinkler system pouring water on Norman just as his speech collapses in a pile of failure. These shorts were supposed to teach business people how to prepare for the unexpected, but with so many things going wrong for Norman, the moral seems to be, “we’re doomed, so why bother?” There’s jokes about Transformers 3 and Eeyore, while Norman is left asking the question, “Where the Hell is my dignity?”

It was also announced the first “Norman Krasner” short, which was given to certain backers of the Kickstarter project, will be available to everyone next month. I’ve seen it already, and have this review. It’s black and white and also a horror story.

Rifftrax had its traditional 30-minute “fun facts” show, including haikus, costume ideas like dressing as a Native American dressing as Johnny Depp, and the next great horror flick title: Freddy vs. Jason vs. Milo and Otis.

The winners of a caption contest were also announced. This is the picture…

My entry was: “They’re not only saying Grace, they’re eating her, too.”
It couldn’t compare to the winner, “Steve, the other white meat.”. Second place went to “Subway: Eat Flesh”, which I think should have won.

After Halloween, preparations for Christmas start almost immediately. Rifftrax will be ready on December 5th to take on, yet again, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. If it can re-riff Manos and Mr. B Natural, Santa on Mars, not to mention Droppo and Tor the Robot, aren’t safe either. 

One more thing: the closing credits included the names of people who donated at least $125 to the Kickstarter campaign. They were supposed to be included  after the Starship Troopers show last August.

One of those names: someone claiming to be Faith Lehane. According to the "Thanks" page, she's listed as "Faith L.", but the credits had her last name, too. It might be her, but you'd also expect Buffy to drop a few dollars to Rifftrax.

Maybe Rifftrax’s next Kickstarter event should be Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the movie….and Nick Brendon is invited to help out. Just an idea.

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