Monday, December 22, 2014

Rifftrax's Ten Worst Movies List: Nostalgia Doesn't Pay.

After mocking Z-Grade movies and shorts, as well as two professionally-made-but-still-cheesy movies from the 90s in theaters, Rifftrax asked its fans what were the worst movies of 2014.
Looking at the list, it seems that trying to bring back the 90s may look good on paper, but certainly not on celluloid.

More than 250 thousand voters were cast in this poll. The "top" three movies on this list were all things we used to like as kids in the 90s, but not any more. Here is the list from top to bottom:
(Disclaimer: I didn't see these movies. I preferred seeing Scarlett Johannson as a sexy OS X)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:  A female reporter's pets that she had when she was young grow up to be ninjas? It did OK as a cartoon show, and wasn't really bad when it turned to live-action, but combining both didn't work out. There was also some question if Megan Fox was real or CGI, based on her acting.

Transformers: Age of Extinction:  Mark Wahlberg as an inventor and overbearing dad might be a step up from Shia LeBeouf, but the clash of robots is not. Besides, they threw in a dragon robot, thanks to Michael Bay. Toothless would have melted this dragon, easy.

Dumb and Dumber To:  This is a mid-life crisis made into a movie. Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels try to reclaim the glory they had as two really dumb guys, but they are really long in the tooth in this sequel.

A Million Ways To Die In The West:  When Mike Nelson implied the script for this movie was found in the same sewer as Godzilla 1998, people knew this would be on the list. This spoof on westerns shows Seth Macfarlane isn't the multi-talented man he thought he was. It kind of reminded me of Quentin Tarantino trying to act, and that includes Django Unchained.  You also can't make an Irish guy a gunfighter even if he pretends to be that guy from Taken,

Left Behind:  Nicolas Cage takes on his most challenging role:   Kirk Cameron, who made these movies 12 years ago, and the author of the original books weren't happy with him, either, It's interesting, and sad, that Cage has gone from Ghost Rider to Rapture witness in his movie career.

Amazing Spider-Man 2:  this was the movie that had the Death That Would Change Him Forever, along with way too many villains and not enough charisma. It might make people miss Tobey Maguire and Willem Dafoe. There's no word on a third movie, much less if it will start all over with a new guy. This could be the Batman and Robin of the 21st Century, except Spidey didn't have nipples on his costume.

Ouija:  instead of Michael Meyers or Freddy Krueger knocking off dumb teens, it's a board game. That's why there will never be a horror movie based on Chutes and Ladders. What this girl does in the poster would have been a good idea for the cast.

Sex Tape:  Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel make a sex tape with an iPad, but it accidentally gets downloaded in the iCloud. So they go to great lengths to keep people from seeing it. Consider it a variation of Fred Flintstone trying to keep his boss from seeing a nasty letter he accidentally mailed,

Noah:  Gladiator on an ark, with rock monsters who thought it was the sequel to Hercules vs, the Moon Men.

300: Rise of an Empire:  While Eva Greene's breasts possessed the souls of hapless chumps in Sin City:  A Dame To Die For, her fashion sense and occasional bare breasts helped command a fleet of ships in this sequel to 300. Actually, her acting was the best thing about it. Still, seeing Xerxes as the Persion God-King of Bling doesn't help things, either.

One movie I expected to see on this list was this one:

Transcendence, with Johnny Depp being downloaded into a massive computer system and becoming Super Max Headroom. This movie was supposed to discuss things like what is true existence and whether technology will change our destiny. It's too bad Toby Jones did the same thing, and accomplished more in five minutes, when he showed up in Captain America:  The Winter Soldier.

Also, how about I, Frankenstein with Aaron Eckhart in the role as the creature, or Dracula Untold, which was slayed by people not showing up?
Godzilla, The Giver and Divergent just escaped this list, I'm guessing, along with Expendables 3. They could have wound up there, though.

This shows that Rifftrax will never run out of bad movies even a hundred years from now. It also makes you wonder how Z-grade movies of the past might hold up against what's being made now.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Total Riff Off 2: Steam-Powered Boogaloo

It's been quite the holiday season for Rifftrax.
It started with a trip to Balloonland that was really a warehouse filled with really ugly balloons, followed by footage of a holiday parade with an odd-sounding narrator. Then, thousands of people saw  the re-riffing of the 1959 Mexican movie Santa Claus in theaters.

Last night, it premiered its second Total Riff Off on Nat Geo Wild, where the crew mocks nature programming and one host in particular. The first half was another episode of Man V Monster with Richard Terry, where he searches for legendary monsters that usually aren't. This was the "Mekong Man-Eater" episode where something is biting people in shallow water in Thailand. At first, he thinks it's a cobra that's responsible. However, it's really another animal that he winds up respecting. The show plays up how much danger he seems to be, but isn't. Unlike the "Demon Bat" episode, this one seemed like an animal version of Law and Order, where the culprit at the start of the episode changed twice before the end.

Some of the riffs:

"I, Richard Terry"...
finder of non-existing bats

Terry is crawling in some underground caves
He really puts the "lunk" into "spelunking"

Terry mistakes a log for a snake as he tries to get to a submerged pagoda.
"That's a log, but for a split second, it got my heart going"
Richard Terry summed up in five seconds. 

Terry meets the suspected monster, a King Cobra, which is the longest venemous snake around
A veritable Manute Bol of death

Terry finds a catfish who could be the real culprit
"Some of these species of catfish can have really sharp barbs."
Some other catfish just trick you into dating them online.

There's also riffs on Batman, Chris DeBergh, Keith Richards, Andy Griffith and Rob Ford.

The second half was a parade of animals behaving badly and strangely. There's a cub climbing in a garage at Lake Tahoe, chimps attacking racoons, a turtle having sex with a shoe, a deer and a dolphin getting too frisky, a woman from India nursing a calf, sheep stampeding inside a cycling store, an orangutan who smokes way too much, and a sea lion snacking on someone's head.

The highlight, however, was seeing a pregnant elephant give birth, then kicking her newborn to wake it up. It's pretty graphic, as are the riffs.

Something's not right at the chimpanzee enclosure at the local zoo
Nick Nolte keeps stealing their food.

A horny buck gets too close to a blonde woman
He has Warren Beatty Syndrome

A leopard takes a dump into a Jeep
Still not as gross as any one minute of Real Housewives

A water moccasin is on the hood of a moving car
He's a teenager. Friends dared him to ghost-ride the whip. 

A turtle has a passion for a show that looks like a female turtle
Yeah, call me Dr. Scholl, baby

An elephant gives birth then kicks her baby to revive it,
I was wondering when you were going to squeeze my trunk and kind of whip my head around

An orangutan goes nuts at a zoo in Taiwan
He's mad about his bitter break-up with Clint Eastwood. 

There's other riffs on The Godfather, Paula Abdul, Guardians of the Galaxy, Seal, Wallace and Grommit, and Johnathan Lipnicki.

It was another very funny Total Riff-Off, and some fans think it should be a weekly show. That may not be likely because Rifftrax doesn't have the time and Nat Geo not enough shows. Having this more often than twice a year would be a good idea. Imagine a holiday Total Riff-Off with reindeer behaving badly.

The two new Total Riff Off episodes are now available, along with last April's episodes, at

Friday, December 5, 2014

Rifftrax Takes On That North Pole Guy And His Friend Merlin

Sometimes, it's better the second time around.

That was true of last night's Rifftrax Live presentation  of the 1959 holiday Mexican movie, Santa Claus. It was first riffed on MST3K 21 years ago, but Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett updated nearly all of the jokes, and kept one from the first version that worked well.

Bill came out wearing what some may call a elf costume, expecting Mike and Kevin to also wear holiday costumes, but there seemed to be a failure to communicate. Actually, he said it's a "North Pole Guy" costume from Party City, and was very proud of his pointy shoes.

The plot of the movie, of course, involves Santa hoping to get toys delivered to all the good children on Earth while battling a pesky devil with big horns named Pitch. A poor girl named Lupita, a rich kid, and three bad brothers get involved, along with Santa's assistant Pedro, and Merlin the Magician after he decided to quit helping King Arthur.
This was also the uncut version, very different from the MST version, and an excellent print, too. The credits were in Spanish, and included the claim that the movie was filmed in "Mexiscope", leading to the riff that it's also the name for jalepeno-flavored mouthwash. Also, we got long scenes of Merlin making the sleeping powders, and a beefy shirtless blacksmith making a key that opens any door, There was also a dream sequence/dance number of evil Raggedy Anitas trying to convince Lupita to be evil. While the MST guys were wise to remove those scenes from the 1993 episode, it was still interesting to see them now.

The best part is taking certain scenes, and seeing how the two riffs compare. Let's start with Santa's helpers who are kids from around the world. In the MST version, Mike, Crow and Servo made fun of their nationalities. It wasn't the same case here, although Bill said at one point "Don't worry, Angelina Jolie is on her way to adopt them all." Here's how the singing Mexican kids were riffed:

MST:  They found a demon puppy. They found Chucky
RT:  The kid on the right is a marionette, right?

Santa gets mail

MST:  There's a dollar in every one. My chain mail scam worked.
RT:  Bring on the hate mail. It only makes Santa stronger.

Santa winds up his reindeer

MST:  Santa, you miracle worker
RT:  This is how GM plans to compete with Tesla

Pitch tries to get Santa to burn his hands with a red hot doorknob

MST:  What is this, Home Alone 2, The Quickening?
RT: And if that doesn't stop Santa, it'll stop Daniel Stern and Joe Pesci

Lupita gets her doll, as her mom thinks she saw a miracle

MST: In the name of Santa, Merlin and the Elves, Amen
RT:  Thank you, Craig

Why "Craig"? In the original riff, Mike and the bots think the mom said "Craig" instead of Christ when she tells Lupita the story of Christmas. In last night's show, they used the same riff, but expanded on it to claim Lupita and mom were praying to Craig.

Also, remember the riff contest, when fans were asked to riff on the dancing devils, led by Pitch?
In the original, Mike said "Oh, I suppose Hell got an NEA grant."  The winning riff should have been "Andrew Lloyd Webber's Paradise Lost" or "Choreographed by Beelzebusby Berkeley." Actually, the winning riff was based on "I Hope I Get It" from A Chorus Line. It still fit with the other two riffs.

There also a couple of good ones, like when the kids saw the odd puppets who kissed either other's hands and heads, Mike said, "Those two have finally snapped after heckling the Muppets." Another was when Santa used his sleeping powders on the rich little boy who missed his parents on Christmas Eve, Bill said, "So Santa is Timothy Leary for kids." There was also one warning Santa told his helpers as he left:  "Keep Merlin away from those lips" (aka the Tele-Talker).
Thanks to Satellite News, we should also mention the riff when Santa starts his journey, "Ride to Ruin and the World's Ending. DEATH!" That's from The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
Oh, and there was the comment that Santa's HQ was more like "a torture chamber designed by Dr. Seuss".
There were also riffs on Star Wars, The Polar Express, Tim Allen, Atari, Futurama, Reservior Dogs, Gilligan's Island and Ticketmaster,

Before that, there was another "At Your Fingertips" short called "Sugar and Spice". It taught kids how to make holiday ornaments and fake Easter chicks by molding slightly moistened sugar and letting it dry, The short explained kids can make art they can eat, leading to the riff  "just grab a slice of instant diabetes."

I was surprised about one thing:  towards the end, Mike riffed as Santa, "Oh, I forgot France. Oh well..." I was so sure he'd use that riff again, only this time Santa forgot Fort Worth. Oh, well, ho-ho-ho-ho...

After Rifftrax's success with that holiday film and Fun in Balloonland, they'll take on Nat Geo Wild later this month with the second Total Riff Off on December 16th. It'll include strange animal behavior and Man V. Monster, which is basically some British guy making a mountain out of a molehill.
As for 2015, maybe it'll take on Sharknado 2. Fans would pay to see that.

UPDATE:  Saw the movie on Retro TV's Off Beat Cinema. It has several parts missing like the opening credits, the kids of the world singing, most of the Dancing Dolls routine, and the blacksmith making the golden key.
UPDATE 2:  Turner Classic Movies did show the movie on December 20th, and it was complete. This channel has shown other movies and shorts that have been MST3K targets

Thursday, November 27, 2014

What Christmas Music Would Be In Star-Lord's Walkman?

This is the first of many attempts to add some holiday cheer to this scene from Guardians of the Galaxy. It's safe to say that people who succeeded in making Li'l Groots for Christmas will add an ornament and a Santa hat. Besides, When part two rolls around in 30 months or so, he'll be Rockefeller Center Christmas tree-size.

The movie shows Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord or maybe Skye's Distant Cousin, owning two cassettes of music that his mom made him. The first became a big seller, while fans got a taste of the second one.
However, what if Mrs. Quill made him a mixtape of Christmas Classics?
If so, I have an idea of what she'd put on that cassette. If the tape was the Phil Spector Christmas album, it would be a winner right there. Still, I've come up with my idea of what the tape could have. As with the other tapes, it must be music before 1980. It does include some songs from holiday specials, also likely from his past.

Little Saint Nick Beach Boys
Santa Claus is Coming to Town  Jackson 5
Rockin Around the Christmas Tree  Brenda Lee
You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch  Thurl Ravenscroft
Run Rudolph Run Chuck Berry
Santa Baby Eartha Kitt
Holly Jolly Christmas Burl Ives
The Little Drummer Boy  Harry Simone Chorus
This Christmas Donny Hathaway
Step Into Christmas  Elton John
Christmas Time Is Here  Vince Guaraldi Trio
White Christmas  Bing Crosby
Feliz Navidad  Jose Feliciano
I Want to Come Home For Christmas  Marvin Gaye
Blue Christmas  Elvis Presley
The Christmas Song  Nat King Cole
Christmas (Please Come Home) Darlene Love
Happy Christmas (War is Over)  John Lennon

This is much bigger than the GoG soundtrack, which has eleven songs. I'll bet Mrs. Quill had a 90-minute Maxell tape that she wanted to use for a special occasion.It's a mix of holiday standards, some Motown, and songs from TV classics.

Of course, iPods and smartphones have made Walkmen a relic of the past, but Quill doesn't know this. If he ever was given an mp3 player, he'd have to take a hard look at his Walkman before giving it up. He'd also have a mixtape that could last for most of us.

Anyone who wants to come up with a better GoG holiday mixtape, please do.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Rifftrax Has Fun in Balloonland With Its Sharp Needling

In the words of Tom Servo, "the Hell?"

That's all you can say about Fun in Balloonland, Rifftrax's new holiday offering whose cheesiness exceeds Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny and Magic Christmas Tree combined. For those who have attended holiday parades and didn't enjoy them, this is your chance at revenge.
It takes the daring move of combining a holiday pageant that takes place in a warehouse instead of PS 134 outside of Philadelphia with footage of the 1964 Gimbels Christmas Parade. (Note: for those who only know Wal-Mart, Gimbels was a department store that was a rival of Macy's in retail and parades),

Here are some clips:

It starts with a song with lyrics that almost make you appreciate One Direction. It's followed by a mom reading a story to a kid. She falls asleep, and he walks over and stands in front of a "Fairy Tales Book". That somehow gets him to Balloonland, where he "interacts" with the balloons, a guy who claims he's Neptune, and some mermaids. Also, a ballet spontaneously appears while kids lie on the ground, and there's a square dance where the kids sort of forget the song. What's really disturbing is at one point the kid wears gold lame shorts, something he shouldn't wear until he grows up to be Channing Tatum.

Someone thought adding balloon people to a third-grade Christmas play would produce something that would rival A Christmas Carol or Miracle on 34th Street,
Just in case, they decided to add footage from the Gimbels Parade, with a narrator who's had too much of a liquid version of turkey.
It's basically a home movie, but an interesting look at holiday parades before they went all show biz (Macy's being a big example, thanks to NBC). It also features the strangest looking balloon floats around, as the Rifftrax crew point out quite often.

The movie seems to end with the kid finally falling asleep, while Mom is also sleeping, but then they use outtakes to create  a "guessing game". Afterwards, you will, like Bill Corbett, wonder what the heck that was.

Now, time for the riffs:

A ballet breaks out with three kids, followed by a Good Fairy

Bill Corbett:  All right, Cindy Williams, let's start wrapping this thing up

The kid is in a square dance

Mike Nelson:  This is a little dance they call "See whose kneecap breaks first"

A balloon float featuring Scrooge and Tiny Tim appears

Kevin Murphy:  It's John D. Rockefeller and his son Dax Shepard, wearing Dad's hat

One of the bands appearing for the parade gets identified as:

Mike:  Please welcome the Didn't-Get-Invited-To-The-Macy's-Parade-In-Fact-Macy's-Called-Just-to-Laugh-At-Us Marching Band

Narrator:  I salute you, Grenadier Guard

Bill:  Just a brand of cheap gin she's drinking

There's also riffs on Game of Thrones, They Shoot Horses, Don't They, North Korea, 1984 (the book), Stratego, The Twilight Zone, and the owner of the NFL team in Washington DC, Daniel Snyder. There's also a callback to a riff Kevin made in the Christmas Shorts Extravaganza in 2009.

You've never seen anything like Fun in Balloonland, and it's unlikely you'd find anything like that today...except the opening would be a rap by Pitbull with much better lyrics.

The short is available now at Rifftrax's website, and there is a special section for the other holiday offerings it's created over the years.
The next big offering will be the re-riffing of Santa Claus in theaters nationwide on December 4th. Here's an updated trailer and a message from Kevin...

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Do You Own The Role, Or Does It Own You? Review of Birdman

While most people decided to go see Interstellar and Big Hero 6, I went to see a movie that's been called the comeback of the original Joel Schumacher Batman, Michael Keaton. After seeing TV ads for Birdman for weeks, I wondered if this is really an anti-super hero movie, and a cautionary tale about what happens when an actor's iconic role that he has tried to shake just won't let go.

Birdman is that, and more. It's a bizarre and touching tale of Riggan Thomson, who was known for playing the iconic Birdman three times...but not much after that. He's hoping a Broadway play based on Raymond Carter will change his luck. However, he's plagued by accidents, a pompous replacement, disasterous previews, and a critic that vows to destroy his play because she can.
All the while, he hears a familiar voice. It's Birdman, urging Riggan to bring him back.

The story is done as one long take, even though the story covers several days. You can tell where the cuts are, but the way it's shot by cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki is just amazing. It wouldn't a surprise to those who remember he won an Oscar last year for Gravity. More praise should be given to director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, who has put together a tale that's part theater backstage politics, part pressure, and part fantasy. It could almost be an re-origin story not for a super hero, but a guy who wants to remind people he's still an actor, and a good one.

He pins his hopes on a play that he's written and directed, with himself as the star. When a falling light hits one of the actors, he gets Mike Shiner (Edward Norton) to replace him. He's a good actor, but also pompous. He makes moves on his co-star Leslie (Naomi Watts) and Riggan's daughter Sam (Emma Stone), and ruins the first two previews. In the third preview, Riggan accidentally locks himself out of the theater, and has to get back in only wearing his briefs.That gives him the kind of attention he wasn't seeking.

While Riggan hopes to be recognized for the right reasons, it's interesting the movie shows people still know him and like him for what he did as Birdman. The attention can be a double-edged sword, due to people taking pictures of him in his briefs with their smartphones. At least one fans asks for his autograph.

The movie also asks if an actor can own the role, or the role can own him. When we first meet him, he's levitating, as if he was Birdman. He also seems to use telepathy, which may may be one of Birdman's powers, to cause major damage to his dressing room. Then there's what he does on the morning of the opening of his play. Is it real, or in his mind? The answer may be obvious, but is it?
There's also a question of what is more important: making zillions in a comic book movie franchise, or having a career that is respected. These days, some actors have managed both, from Daniel Radcliffe to Jennifer Lawrence. That even includes Norton and Stone, who have been part of comic book franchises.

Speaking of which, Norton is really good as Shiner, who can be charming but also difficult. Still, you can't help but like him. Stone was also great as Sam, Riggan's daughter and personal assistant. She loves her dad, but she is still angry at him for his neglect.

This movie should get some attention when award season starts in January. It's a longshot for Best Picture except for the Spirit Awards, but Keaton is a lock for Best Actor, while Norton has a chance for Supporting Actor. Inarritu should be considered for directing and writing too. Can you imagine Keaton swooping in to get an Oscar? It's early, but some just might.

The movie has had a slow but steady expansion, doubling its screens to more than 460 this weekend, and raising more than six million dollars so far. It may not be a billion dollar blockbuster, but Birdman will get both prestige and popularity as a movie that says a lot about art, Hollywood, popularity, identity and eventually self-respect.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Joel's Serving Real Turkeys Online Again This Year

Last year, Joel Hodgson, the man who invented the show that justified cable TV, served up a very special Thanksgiving meal online: five classic episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000. It ended with the bots, Tom Servo and Crow, about to share the Thanksgiving meal. People wept.

It was done to commemorate the 25th anniversary of MST3K, the show that created extreme movie criticism which is recognized as one of America's best industries. Just ask Rikk Wolf, Josh Way, Mary Jo Pehl, J. Elvis Weinstein, Bill Corbett, TV's Frank and Trace Beaulieu.

Actually, the 25th anniversary is still going on, since the show premiered nationally on the Comedy Channel around Thanksgiving of 1989. Shout Factory's newest MST3K set features classic Turkey Day bumpers, the story of how it started, and great movies (to riff, natch) including The Painted Hills, Jungle Goddess, Squirm and The Screaming Skull (with the Gumby short that really upset the bots).

This year, on November 27th, Joel will be serving up turkeys again, This time, according to the Nerdist, people are encouraged to choose the menu. You can tweet Joel at @JoelGHodgson to make your suggestions. I suggested It Conquered The World, one of the movies that haven't made a DVD set yet. However, you could suggest either of the two Godzilla movies the show has riffed (Godzilla vs. Megalon and Godzilla vs, The Sea Monster), or maybe any of the Hercules movies. It's the price those characters should pay for attempting a comeback this year (one more successfully than the other).
The article says special guests may drop by, maybe some of the crew from Cinematic Titanic or an aging Mr,. B Natural. Knew your father he (?) did.
One person who should show up is Michael J. Nelson, the Modern Warrior Against Bad Movies. It would also be the first meeting between the two since Comic-Con five years ago. I still have the special pass from that panel.

Anyway, the show will be found at Expect this site to be more popular than football, parades, your aunt's famous rye bread dressing, and camping out overnight for Black Friday sales.

Of course, Rifftrax will have its own Thanksgiving event, Fun In Balloonland. This has been talked about previously in this site, but it's just as cheesy as you've heard. You can pre-order it before it arrives in three weeks.

So prepare for Thanksgiving the way your parents, or at least your strange uncle, did 25 years ago, and enjoy the kind of turkey you can't use for leftovers for the next month.


Friday, October 31, 2014

A Green Halloween: Rifftrax vs. Anaconda

Two years ago, Rifftrax decided that monsters weren't scary enough for Halloween, and turned to insane birds with Birdemic, a low-budget knock-off of The Birds.

This year, it decided again that Mother Nature is more terrifying than the Wolfman, zombies and that creepy doll from The Conjuring combined. On Halloween Eve, it took on the 1997 movie Anaconda, with Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube, Kari Wuhrer, Eric Stoltz (sort of), Owen Wilson and Jon Voight. A film crew hoping to find an Amazon tribe meets a captain who claims he'll bring them to the tribe. What he really wants to do is hunt a large, man-swallowing Anaconda for big bucks. It's interesting one of the riffs refers to some of the cast as "MTV rejects", although Cube and J-Lo have done all right since this movie. Still, does Ice Cube always have that "today is a good day" catchphrase in all of his movies, including Ride Along?

Anyway, I saw the show at the Century Riverside 12 in downtown Reno, dressed in a Gizmonic-style jumpsuit and helmet. The movie was much more entertaining than the Godzilla show a couple of months back. It may be due to the length, only 90 minutes, but the Rifftrax crew were sharper with the jokes. While a few people may have liked Anaconda, even Roger Ebert, it was prime '90s cheese, back when movie studios hoped to make big bucks with CGI monsters.  The mp3 for this movie will be a best seller when it's available in 60 days or so. Hopefully by that time, I'll actually find the DVD for this movie. (Update: I did find it at WalMart in one of those four-movie discs).

Here's just a few of the riffs...

Eric Stoltz's character tells J-Lo's character they'd make a great team
Mike Nelson:  Your smugness, my great ass

The crew see fireflies in the jungle glowing, showing that they're ready to make
Bill Corbett:  Speaking of manly flashes... (that's only half of the joke)

Owen Wilson and Kari Wuhrer are about to make out
Kevin Murphy:  Being stalked by Jason Vor-hiss

The anaconda is caught in Voight's trap
Kevin:  A snake that screams like Jamie Lee Curtis. That is truly horrifying

And remember the clip that fans were asked to make a riff? This is the winning entry, as the snake bites Wilson and twirls around:

I'm very sorry. I was trying to swim up you urethra.  

The movie also includes riffs on Sir Mix-A-Lot, Voight's face, Jimmy Carter, Ken Burns, Roy Orbison, Grumpy Cat, Jimmy Walker, and Nick Nolte. It also comments on how cute it was to make Wilson look tough by holding a rifle. 

Before that, the crew had a short called Halloween Party, with a family that's a bit eager to celebrate the holiday. The story centered around the family dog eating the son's cat mask just before a costume contest. Mom saves the day by coming up with another costume, but her choice may have been worse. Here's the link to the unriffed version. 

That was followed by a preview of the second Total Riff-Off on the National Geographic Channel on December 16th. As expected, the gang will take on Man v Monster with Richard Terry again. They'll look at the "Mekong Man-Eater" episode where Terry investigates why farmers in Thailand are being attacked in shallow water. Here's a clip from that episode, and it looks like he's trying to make his own version of Anaconda without a mostly unconscious Eric Stoltz.

Also, remember when Mike mentioned he'd have a Thankgiving offering called Fun in Balloonland?
You can pre-order it now through this link. It will be released on November 24th, and looks like the next Turkey Day classic, As I said before, this movie about a kid interacting with balloon people from holiday parades makes "A Visit to Santa" look like The Empire Strikes Back. It's available for $9.99, and it is worth it. 

For more info on this and other Rifftrax offerings, plus a link to the next live show, Santa Claus on December fourth, go to

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Rifftrax vs. Godzilla '98: The Home Game

It's been two months since Rifftrax took on the 1998 version of Godzilla, or as it was produced, Sleepless in Jurassic Park.

Backers of the Kickstarter project, including me, just got the mp3 version of the riff for the movie. This likely made a lot of people happy, especially those who didn't hear the riff in theaters.

I've already made a review of the live show. Seeing the movie again with the mp3 actually made the movie better. There were a couple of riffs people may not have understood the first time, but it got easier the second time. There were at least a couple of new jokes, but only a few remarks about this year's version. A lot was also made on Emmerich's attempt to mock Siskel and Ebert by making them bungling New York City officials. Nice try, Roland, but rebooting Godzilla from scratch doesn't work out. At least the 2014 version admits its Godzilla probably came from 60 years ago, and the MUTO in that film may have said 'SCOOOOOOOTTTTEEEEERRR"

Here's some more riffs:

early in the credits
Bill Corbett:  Before Michael Bey'd, there was Roland Emmerich

Shot of NYC skylinw with the caption, "The City That Never Sleeps"
Kevin Murphy:  Ah, Las Vegas. Fort Worth?

Fishing Market starts its day
Mike Nelson:  Delivery for some guy named Oswald Cobblepot (makes more sense thanks to Gotham)

Godzilla heads for the fish that Nick the worm guy (Matthew Broderick) laid out for him
Kevin:  Ferris Bueller's second day off not as whimsical as the first

One of the eggs Godzilla laid at Madison Square Garden hatches
Mike:  Biggest disappointment since the Gobbledy Gooker

Audrey decides to broadcast on TV by using "an internet"
Mike:  An internet. Is that where they have the Google?

And of course, Godzilla's two painful cries, "PAAACCCKKKEEERS"  and "SCOOOOTTTEEERRR".

There's also riffs on Game of Thrones, Rodan, The Monkees, Bernie Goetz, Harry Knowles, Dr. Strangelove, Ernie Anastos (mainly for this), 4 Non-Blondes the Knicks, and this year's Godzilla.

The mp3 riff is now available soon at the Rifftrax site. Meanwhile, Rifftrax Live prepares for Anaconda on November 4th and Santa Claus (the 1959 version) on December 4th.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Rifftrax Celebrates the Holidays

Let's be honest. The holidays do not start on the week of Thanksgiving. They start next Friday with Halloween. I've believed this ever since I saw the Grove Shopping Center in L-A finish building Santa's House the day before Halloween. Imagine trick or treaters trying to visit that house.

Now there's a new reason:  Rifftrax will be very busy with some new events, including revisiting another holiday movie.
It also starts next Thursday with its presentation of Anaconda with Jon Voight, Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube and Owen Wilson. That event was made possible by its Kickstarter campaign a few months ago after getting funding for riffing the Jurassic Park-Sleepless in Seattle mashup that was the 1998 version of Godzilla. The riff for that, by the way, should be coming next month.
Anyway, the attack, I mean showing, of Anaconda will be presented in several theaters nationwide thanks to Fathom Events. Since the movie is 90 minutes, the show will include a preview of the return of Total Riff-Off, where the gang take on a typical show from the National Geographic channel. It was very popular when it was done on April Fool's Day, and it'll be interesting to see what they'll do when they have two more specials in December. Expect the host of Man vs. Monster being a likely target.

Then in November, it'll observe Thanksgiving with its take on Fun in Balloonland. As I said elsewhere online, it makes "A Visit to Santa" look like The Empire Strikes Back. It starts with a mom reading a bedtime story, which puts her to sleep. Then the kid dreams he's in a world filled with balloon people. Here's a look:

It's basically the worst movie about the Macy's parade, or any other holiday parade.  A guy called the Cinema Snob has his take on this, If Mike can top that review, he is truly the God of Riffing

The big news from its Facebook Q and A event is that the Christmas show on December 4th will feature the 1959 Mexican holiday classic, Santa Claus. That's right, little Lupita, Pitch, and the kid who's left alone on Christmas Eve while his parents go out and drink will all be there. Of course, MST3K fans know the movie when it first aired in 1993. It was later part of the Volume XVI DVD set. What's different is that the gang will likely riff on the whole movie, as they did with Manos, Hands of Fate. When Santa Claus was first riffed, they cut some scenes out, including this one where Lupita dreams about having a doll. Since Pitch set off the dream, it includes evil dancing that wasn't part of the MST version. See if you can riff on this:

Actually, if you use the Canadian Thanksgiving rule, you'd be justified to start seeing holiday specials after November first, including what Rifftrax has to offer.

You can learn more about next week's showing of Anaconda, Total Riff-Off, Santa Claus and more at Rifftrax's updated website. Enjoy!

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Texas Robocop Knockoff Massacre: Rifftrax vs. R.O.T.O.R (Plus Holiday Offerings)

It's the usual thing:  someone makes a successful movie, and a hundred guys try to make their own version. Sadly, this includes some guy named Cullen Blaine.

Shortly after Robocop reached theaters, Blaine made his own Texas BBQ-ed version called ROTOR. It's like Robocop made with a budget of 24 bucks. Rifftrax recently had its take on the movie, and described it as The Room meets Cybercop 2. It's about a computer expert named Coldyron (which is Texas for Rowsdower) who invented a cop of the future called Robotic Officer of the Tactical Operations Research...or Reserve.
Naturally, the robot goes nuts and kills people. He also clobbers guys who are completely delusional about how macho they are.
The movie also includes a janitor named Shoeboogie who claims he's Native American but looks more like Bruno Mars, and a sarcastic robot who's more interesting than most of the human cast. Here's a short trailer, thanks to Rifftrax:

What's really strange is how the story is told. A couple heads for a weekend trip to the lake, and see an explosion, followed by a dead woman on the road (Kevin Murphy:  "My poor brave wife. She died trying to save our meth lab."). Then we see Coldyron about to be arrested, then "officially unofficially" interrogated by a couple of cops. (Bill Corbett:  "His acting coach was Al Gore"). Then we get a long flashback that begins with him sharing a massive cup of coffee with his horse. As soon as he gets to the Dallas PD, seeing Shoboogie dancing with Willard the Robot, he gets a call from the police chief telling him to get ROTOR ready or else in 60 days. Coldyron decides to quit, because he thinks it'll take years to get ROTOR on duty. The project is given to some guy named Houndling, who thinks he can get ROTOR going. As he tells Willard, "what do you think this is, some low-budget sci-fi flick?" Of course, that's too much of a trick question to get a response.

It takes a really stupid accident involving Shoeboogie's headphones to awaken ROTOR, who wastes no time following his prime directive, "to judge and execute." It's also considered the state motto of Texas. It wastes no time pulling over a bickering couple who broke the speed limit. It shoots the driver while his girlfriend...who may look familiar to those who paid attention...tries to get away. She has two things against her:  the Dallas police doesn't care, and ROTOR can see 30 seconds into the past to find the girl. He's also described by Kevin as "John Hodgman with a leather fetish". Its only weakness is a loud car horn, but that only slows him down a little.

Coldyron decides to ask for help from a fellow computer scientist in Houston...who's he never met...and looks like Luna Vachon but slightly more attractive. Her hair color is less to be desired, though. They talk about how they made a robot that was made for the lawless future, not 1987, and that they have to stop him.

What's really absurd about this movie is how it tries to set up a sequel. To say that it's done very clumsily would be an understatement. Not only that, the credits reveal that Coldyron's voice was dubbed, and that one of the songs from the soundtrack was done by "Larry's Dad". It's no wonder why this has become a Rifftrax essential in lousy film making.
Prepare for riffs on Alan Jackson, Madonna, Dinosaurus, Texas in general, the iPhone 7, Larry the Cable Guy, Coronet films, Denny Terrio, and Small Wonder.

You can click here to get ROTOR, and here to see a "summary" of the movie on YouTube provided by a Rifftrax fan.

Also, Rifftrax decided to riff on part of It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Here's what they did:

There's a tweet on the Rifftrax page that suggests they may do more Peanuts specials, but we'll see about that. It would be something if they did the early ones, like A Charlie Borwn Christmas or He's Your Dog, Charlie Brown.

Finally, Rifftrax announced it will do a Thanksgiving film that makes "A Visit To Santa" look like "The Empire Strikes Back". It's called Fun in Balloonland, and it's the worst Macy's Parade film ever.

It's so awful it would make a great feature for the Rifftrax Christmas show. However, it will be available on the website in a few weeks.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Movies A Sure Thing In Reno Casino

I've been in Nevada for four months, and the first thing that stunned me about the state was seeing several slot machines at a Safeway. This was before I found more slots at another supermarket and assorted gas stations.

This is more unusual: a movie theater at a casino. This is at the Grand Sierra Resort Casino in Reno, which is the most impressive facility around. Aside from a flashy new night club and a big theater, it also has a very big bowling alley.

However, I came this past weekend for the movie theater just to see how it compares to other multiplexes. It's basic in its offerings of popcorn, soda and candy, The seats also recline, more than the usual multiplex. At four dollars for second-run movies, you can't go wrong. It has fewer showings and a smaller staff, but it's still a good bargain, It'll also help you forget dropping 50 bucks on a penny slot machine.

I waited until now to try it out because it finally had a movie I wanted to see: Lucy with Scarlett Johannsen. It's about a girl who's forced to deliver a strange drug in her body. Something goes wrong, and the drug expands her mind in a lot of ways. It was all right, but I liked her other sci-fi movie Under the Skin a lot more (and no, it's not because it showed a lot of her skin). Luc Besson is good at directing action movies, but his version of a sci-fi movie was a bit too strange at the end. I'll just say it would be a good idea to see Lucy followed by Her.

The posters inside the theaters plugged movies that the casino hopes to show three months after everyone else, including The Interview, Annie and Mockingjay. I expect while they're shown, the theater will show The Maze Runner, The November Man, and Guardians of the Galaxy two weeks before its DVD is released. It reminded me of a UA Theater at Sunrise Mall near Sacramento that showed second-run features for three bucks. I never went there, but I should have.

For the most part, I'll stick with the regular theaters, mainly the Galaxy Theaters in Sparks. I might go back to the GSR again if there's another movie I never got around to seeing.

Friday, September 26, 2014

SNL Vintage: What Bottles Should NBC Open?

This week, Saturday Night Live will be 40 years old. Not too many shows reach middle age. In TV years, the show is 4000 years old, and Sunday shows like Meet the Press are practically skeletons.

NBC will be showing one-hour versions of old episodes of Saturday Night Live in honor of this major milestone. The opening episode was Richard Pryor hosting from 1975. People prayed the classic "Word Association" sketch will be shown uncut, "N" word included--and it did. It also had the Samurai Hotel bit with John Belushi, a spoof of The Exorcist that was better than the real sequel, and Gil Scott Heron singing "Johannesburg". It's actually sharper than what you get outside of HBO these days.

Next week, the show turns to 2000, with the "More Cowbell" sketch with Will Farrell and Christopher Walken. There's also some fine early Christina Aguilera, too.

After that, what's next? Taking a look at the SNL Archives website, I wrote down several episodes they should air, or will likely air. It's almost certain the show will salute 2001 with the season opener, which aired a few days after 9/11. It featured Paul Simon and New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. It also had Reese Witherspoon in a classic spoof of "The Little Mermaid" that sort of had a sequel ten years later,

So, here are some suggestions. Please remember this is from a typical SNL fan, namely someone who stopped watching at least twice in the 40 year run. Diehard fans may have a more informed list:

1976:  Candace Bergen's second Christmas episode, featuring the first sketch that completely collapsed when she forgot Gilda Radner's character's name--and Radner was supposed to be the dumb one.

1977:  The "Anyone Can Host" contest winner that included Elvis Costello deciding not to play "Less Than Zero", and singing "Radio, Radio" instead. He wasn't welcome back until 1989, and that decision was spoofed in the 25th anniversary show. (Alternate choice: Ray Charles)

1978:  Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi's first appearance as The Blues Brothers. Also, Steve Martin as a medieval barber.

1979: Kate Jackson hosting and seeming to sabotage SNL for then ABC chief (and former NBC chief) Fred Silverman

1980:  Final episode of original cast with Buck Henry

1981:  Bill Murray helping out in this most lost of seasons

1982:  Eddie Murphy hosting when Nick Nolte couldn't make it

1983:  John Candy or Jerry Lewis

1984:  Robin Williams' first time as host. (Alternate choice: Billy Crystal hosting before he joined the cast)

1985:  Mr. T and Hulk Hogan hosting to generate publicity for Wrestlemania. They never had a chance against Crystal as Fernando. 

1986:  Jay Leno in the season when Robert Downey Jr and Joan Cusack were in the cast, but a better choice would be Sam Kinison, NBC will likely choose Leno or even Sigourney Weaver

1987:  Not sure, but Dennis Hopper with Roy Orbison is a good choice,

1988:  Tom Hanks, thanks to the Girl Watchers sketch with Jon Lovitz and Mr. Short-Term Memory

1989:  John Goodman with Toonces and Wayne's World almost showing Madonna's "Erotica" video (compare that to what Nikki Minaj does now)

1990:  Alec Baldwin in an early turn as host, or Andrew Dice Clay

1991:  Michael Jordan with Public Enemy, or Roseanne spoofing "Misery"

1992:  Roseanne again with Tom Arnold, and the famous "Coffee Talk" sketch that includes Madonna talking about Barbra Streisand...and guess who shows up in the final 30 seconds

1993:  Christina Applegate doing a killer impression of Cher, but it's also the episode that introduced us to Matt Foley. Watch it in a van down by the river.

1994:  Dana Carvey, including an appearance by George Bush 41. It includes a sketch on the OJ Simpson Trial

1995:  Again not sure, but George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino are good choices

1996:  Jim Carrey will host October 25th, so why have his first time hosting so we can see "Jimmy Tango's Fat Busters"

1997:  Chris Farley or Jon Lovitz hosting are good choices, but seeing Claire Danes as a bitter Tinkerbell would be a wise choice

1998:  Cameron Diaz spoofing the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky controversy is an easy choice. It's a staple on VH-1 Classic

1999:  Another staple:  Gwyneth Paltrow pretending to be English until Ben Affleck calls her out on it. Yeah, he used to date her, too.

2002:  John McCain would be a good choice. He was quite funny until he decided to be a go-to guest on the Sunday shows

2003:  Justin Timberlake's first time as host, proving to be the best cast member SNL never had

2004:  Lindsay Lohan's first hosting gig, and debut of Debbie Downer. Or, Jude Law in the notorious Ashlee Simpson lip-synch controversy. He also does a great impression of Tony Blair.

2005:  Diaz again, with the Barry Gibb Talk Show including Timberlake. Or, Tom Brady in an unusual sexual harassment film

2006:  Alec Baldwin with Chrstina Aguilera, and Tony Bennett in a sketch with Baldwin spoofing him. Throw in a duet with him and Aguilera, and you have a classic

2007:  Peyton Manning showing he can host better than his brother

2008:  Tina Fey hosts for first time just after end of writer's strike

2009:  Tracy Morgan would be a good choice, but so would Neil Patrick Harris or Taylor Swift

2010:  Betty White, period. They should also show Jon Hamm's first hosting gig, too

2011: Obvious choice is Timberlake and Lady Gaga, but Jesse Eisenberg is my choice because he had better sketches--and Minaj as the Bride of Frankenstein.

2012: Actually, really tough: Mick Jagger would be a great choice, but Emma Stone and Zooey Deschanel also had strong showings. I'd choose Jagger because he did surprising well, It's also the farewell for Kristen Wiig

2013:  Melissa McCarthy in another classic rookie performance.

Yahoo Screen is the online source for old SNL sketches, but Hulu is missing seasons six to 29. What is surprising that no cable channel wants to be the home for all SNL episodes. Comedy Central used to serve that role, and so did E! despite terrible promotion. VH-1 Classic has episodes from 1999 on, but it should consider a marathon of many more episodes.
Also, remember when NBC used to air old episodes at 2 AM, even the less-censored Andrew Dice Clay episode? I got very good old episodes before I got the DVDs from the first five years. Wouldn't anyone like to have TV Land or Comedy Central show the complete history of SNL?

Well, at least NBC will show us a part of the show's history. It would be better if we saw more of it. If nothing else, we'd be surprised when we're reminded that Sid Caesar and Milton Berle actually hosted.

SNL Vintage airs at 10 PM Saturdays starting this Saturday on NBC. Season 40 of SNL airs at 11:30 with Chris Pratt and Ariana Grande.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Jerk-rassic Park: Review of Rifftrax vs. Dinosaurus

It's been a while since I bought a Rifftrax movie, but thanks to a Labor Day discount, and seeing a caveman in a dress in the above trailer, I just couldn't resist.

Dinosaurus, made in 1960, is about a construction crew on an island discovering two frozen dinosaurs in the bottom of the ocean. Since they're blocking the crew's efforts to deepen the harbor, they're taken to shore. Naturally, this turns out to be a wise decision for three seconds. Rain and lightning wake them up, along with a caveman for some reason. The cast also includes a strong-jawed guy named Bart, a typical love interest named Betty, an annoying kid who's described as someone who came from a Gamera movie, and an "island manager" named Hacker who looks like Torgo after he got cleaned up, acquired a French-ish accent, and turned into a douchebag. There's also comedy relief named Dumpy, and an Irish guy who's too much of a stereotype.

Steve McQueen was supposed to be Bart in this movie, but he was never asked. Good thing, or he'd never be in The Magnificent Seven.

The movie also relies on the kid's knowledge of dinosaurs based on cereal box tops, and the island manager's greed. Viewers may suspect the movie's ripping off Eegah, after the caveman carries off Betty and takes her to a mine. However, Eegah was made two years after this movie, and the guy who played the caveman was a slightly better comedian. Just note his difficulties with the 20th Century, and that he gets to be fast friends with the annoying kid.

The writers decide on a final showdown between Bart and the T-Rex by knocking off the villain, a dinosaur and the caveman in less than a minute. While Bart doesn't try to kill the dinosaur with a forklift, what he does use is even more lame. What's more, the movie suggests a sequel. As if. (However, if Dinosaurus 2 reveals the caveman was OK...)

The trailer has the best lines, but here's a few more:

One of the natives mentions how the construction workers will deepen the harbor and lead to "much happiness"

Kevin Murphy:  It's like a live action Speedy Gonzales cartoon, without Speedy.

Julio, the annoying kid, mentions how of the dinosaurs found is cold

Mike Nelson:  and some frozen dork named Captain America is stuck to him (is this because Chris Evans was also the Human Torch in the Fantastic Four movies, Mike?)

Julio threatens to run away after Hacker yells at him

Bill Corbett:  I'm moving in with Zindy the Swamp Boy

The caveman tries to interrupt O'Leary's drinking by breaking down his door

Mike: Take this copy of Watchtower, or I'll kill you.

The final showdown between man and dinosaurus

Mike:  It's Barney

There's also riffs the Brady Bunch, Guardians of the Galaxy, the Marx Brothers, Tim Allen, Shelley Duvall, Paul Simon, Pirates World and Mike Mulligan. They even thrown in a couple of obscure references to Encino Man,  Hackers and an animated dinosaur movie that included Jay Leno.

This also marks the first time the movie includes Rifftrax's new animated opening that was introduced during the Godzilla showing less than three weeks ago. It'll be added to all future selections.

Learn more at Rifftrax's website, and get the movie here.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Look Who's In Nicki Minaj's New Video

This is not something made by some fan. This gif  is the last few seconds of Nicki Minaj's new video, "Anaconda", with a cameo by the MST3K gang.

When this was released last week, people noticed how the song sampled form Sir Mix-A-Lot's "Baby Got Back", a song that would be appropriate for Nicki's rear curves. It also showed a lot of pop refererences from the 1990s. Then at 3:06, Nikki is seen at the MST3K theater riffing on herself, while the guy in the middle (Joel? Mike?) slumps in his seat. However, the way he straightens up again suggests something quite different. Is it the Anaconda about to, er, stand at attention?

Here's the video in question. It's a "lyric video" because the offical video is coming soon. Judging from the behind the scenes video, the official version will have a lot of hot and steamy action, with or without Crow and Tom Servo.

Actually, the MST3K crew have a lot of experience with talking about music videos. Look at how they riff on a report on Radiohead just before the release of MST3K:  The Movie,

And of course, Beavis and Butthead are experts on commenting on videos in between their cartoons.

So what was the reaction from Mike and the guys?

Well, Mike Nelson talked about it on his Facebook page:

But, no pun intended, I don’t know what to make of this MST reference. Reference? Homage? Dis? I’m not sure.
Kevin Murphy and I chatted briefly about it and we suspect there MAY have been substances involved.

Let the work speak for itself. Though note, you have been warned.

Kevin only said he was surprised, while Bill Corbett had this tweet

In a way, it's a great way to plug the next Rifftrax event, Anaconda with Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube, Owen Wilson and Jon Voight, on October 30. If they made this movie today, it would have been Anaconda Cat vs. Shark-Tiger on SyFy, and maybe Iggy Azalea would play the Jennifer Lopez part. At least there would be a video. 

Oh, and if Nicki or her posse do watch MST3K, how about this photoshopped picture where I add a Tom Servo lid to the top of her wig. If you see it at a certain angle, it does look like Servo...

Anyway, the official Anaconda video can be seen here. As for the Rifftrax version of Anaconda, expect a Sir Mix-A-Lot joke or two....or maybe a mention of Minaj..

Friday, August 15, 2014

Rifftrax vs. Godzilla 1998: Bambi's Revenge

That was the one riff they didn't use, but the Rifftrax crew used everything else when they took on the 1998 version of Godzilla Thursday night in Nashville, broadcast in hundred of theaters.

A lot of people wanted to see this big lizard go down for years, especially since it had the bright idea of ripping off Jurassic Park and adding a rom-com plot to the destruction. Judging from the reaction from those who saw the live show, maybe this wasn't the best choice for the Rifftrax guys to make. It's not exactly a bunch of gung-ho teens blasting big bugs, or Tara Reid and that guy from 90210 taking on a deadly storm with teeth. Still, the movie's a lesson that when you remake a classic monster movie, you don't add a lame reboot of When Harry Met Sally.
Still, it seems Rifftrax fans prefer their heroes to take on really bad, and shorter, movies like Yambao or Beast of the Yellow Night. Maybe so, they should continue their Kickstarter projects to take on bigger,yet not better, movies. One day, the dream of targeting Twilight in theaters nationwide will be fulfilled, although Sharknado 2 will likely be done first.

The timing of the crew also seemed to be off. They stumbled on a couple of riffs, but it was a good job anyway.

Now, let's get to some of the riffs.

Matthew Broderick stands in the paw print of Godzilla, and has this shocked look on his face.

My God, I married Sarah Jessica Parker?

An old guy tries to fish in the in the East River...and gets a very big bite.

Ironically, he reels in Rodan, and has to throw him back

Godzilla starts wrecking buildings in the middle of New York

Oh no, we're in Inception. Everybody wake up.

Godzilla chases everyone, stepping on buildings

Godzilla's into parkour. (In fact, the crew marveled at how fit the big lzard looked, compared to the 2014 Godzilla looking a little chunky)

One of the most puzzling things about Broderick in the movie, recalled by a guy from the Rifftrax forum:

Why is everyone acting like he's Channing Tatum?

Audrey, the fake TV reporter, sees a secret tape on Nick's desk

Top Secret. Can we watch that instead?

Mini-Godzillas start hatching at Madison Square Garden, and chase Audrey and her cameraman

The velociraptors from Jurassic Park have acquired a legal team.

Godzilla, who was thought to be dead, emerges from the river after its babies are dead

Oh no, it's King Kong.

and the big guys's final words:  "See you in a forgettable remake in 16 years". Well, at least the remake was worthy of a sequel.

There's also riffs on Game of Thrones, Woody Allen, a pro wrestling idea that never caught on, Dukes of Hazzard, Ladyhawke, Ted Nugent, Dr. Strangelove, The Expendables and Ninja Turtles. There was also a riff when Jean Reno's character opens an elevator at the Garden and just finds spilled popcorn. Mike stumbled on this one, but recovered pretty well.

Before all that, Rifftrax unveiled a new animated intro that will be added to all future releases. The song is pretty good, although it's not exactly like the MST theme. There's also great references from past Rifftrax movies, and even a spaceship we know all too well. Here, take a look:

You can get the intro at the Rifftrax site for 99 cents, and the song at the same price. The song is also available on iTunes.

Next up, the other Kickstarter special on October 30, Anaconda with Ice Cube, Jennifer Lopez, Eric Stoltz, Owen Wilson and Jon Voight. It's basically Moby Hiss, or a crazy guy forcing some people to hunt a really big snake in the Amazon. This was made a year before Godzilla, so expect CGI that's even more lame.

One more thing:  here's my ticket with a nickname for Godzilla that thankfully never caught on in 1998

Friday, July 11, 2014

Rock and Roll Is King, Thanks To Kickstarter

“Listen everybody, let me tell you about the rock and roll…”

When young girls in the South heard that lyric about 30 years ago, they cheered and squealed with delight.
It wasn’t for a rock group, but for a couple of handsome guys who changed pro wrestling in a big way.

Wrestling fan Michael Elliot decided to tell the story of Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson, aka the Rock and Roll Express, through a DVD set called Rock and Roll Will Never Die. Rather than wait until WWE Video get around to it, he made it himself through Kickstarter. It wound up being a three disc set that does a good job of recounting the history of the pair. Here's a trailer from YouTube:

He announced the project five months ago, and was able to get the project done quicker than most Kickstarter-made DVDs. It’s mostly Morton and Gibson recalling how they got together, and their experiences as eight-time world tag team champs. There’s also interviews with nemesis Jim Cornette and the Midnight Express (Dennis Condrey and Bobby Eaton), Tom Pritchard of the Heavenly Bodies, Bill Dundee, referee Tommy Young, Ivan Koloff and Jimmy Valiant. The biggest surprise was George South, a jobber with WTBS wrestling who gave some great insights about the success of the team.

The first disc covers the basic history of the Express. Ricky and Robert had wrestled with other partners before they formed a team in Memphis in 1983. Back then, they were the #2 babyface team behind the Fabulous Ones. They got their big break when Mid-South picked them up along with Cornette and the Midnight Express, and wound up having classic matches.
Both teams joined WTBS and Jim Crockett a year later. Ricky and Robert got there first with the famous match against Ivan Koloff and Krusher Kruschev  for the world tag team belts in July 1985, followed by Cornette and his team. Gibson says RnR really got a big pop for beating the supposedly unbeatable Russians, and that’s how they got popular very quickly. He says RnR were so popular that Ric Flair and Dusty Rhodes were starting to be a bit jealous. He claims the idea of Flair wrestling Ricky for the World title was an attempt to break up the team. He also says the “Super Sizzling Summer Tour” idea was a way for Crockett to generate more money for the team while the rest of the crew got a vacation in Hawaii.
Gibson also says he and Robert were fired over a money dispute, but when they came back to WTBS, they weren’t as prominent as they used to be. There’s also the big run with Smokey Mountain Wrestling, and the feud with the Heavenly Bodies (Pritchard and Stan Lane, and later Jimmy Del Rey). It doesn't give a lot of details about RnR being in the WWE in 1998, but that's due to the WWE owning the footage, along with WTBS and Mid-South. Still, Elliott is able to use photos and short clips from Memphis, SMW and NWA house shows very well.

Disc two has several stories about the team's career, but also footage from WrestleCade and the “King of the Mountain” tournament from Smoky Mountain, and Gibson challenging Rob Conway for the NWA title. You even seen them in ads for heating and air conditioning

The third disc is a real treat. It has Ricky and Ken Lucas as the Southwest Tag Team Champs in 1982 in a TV match and two NWA tag team title matches with RnR and the Midnight Express with very interesting endings. There’s also the famous “loser leave town” match between RnR and the Heavenly Bodies from SMW. The ref bump and ending has to be seen to be believed. Also, Gibson is in an NWA jr. heavyweight title match from earlier this year against champ Chase Owens. This is also a must-see match.

Rock and Roll Will Never Die is a fairly good effort in honoring one of the most influential tag teams in wrestling history. While tag teams aren’t as popular these days, seeing the RnR in its prime is bound to excite fans of any age. Gibson hopes that eventually they will make the WWE Hall of Fame, along with the Midnight Express. That’s a good idea, but so would WWE Video doing a proper DVD for these teams. Until then, this is the next best thing.

And...they threw in an autographed 8 x 10 photo

Better yet, you can get it for 19.95 at High Spots and Amazon.  

Friday, July 4, 2014

Return of MST3K, But Still Not Everywhere

In the not too distant future, tomorrow, A.D...

Mystery Science Theater 3000 returns on over-the-air TV, but sadly not everywhere.
I was checking the responses of fans who learned that Retro TV will start carrying the show July 5th, starting with "The Mad Monster". While some were happy they have Retro TV, others were upset that they didn't have it, or used to have it until the local channel that carried it changed to getTV, Me-TV or AntennaTV. They were also upset that some movies that were in the original list were taken out because of rights issues. That includes "Time Chasers" and "Space Mutiny". On the other hand, it meant the addition of "Pod People" and "Secret Agent Super Dragon." One fan suggested "Mad Monster" was too weak an episode to start the return.

I am in the Reno area, where Retro TV is available...along with a semi-local weekend horror TV host named Zomboo. Let's just say his list of movies is similar to those who have been mocked at the Satellite of Love. I'm hoping to get cable...and my own place...before "Super Dragon" because it's one of the episodes I don't have.

Still, it's a great way to introduce movie mocking to a new generation who thinks they have no way to strike back after they unwisely spent 12 bucks on the latest Transformers movie, Amazing Spider Man 2 or Transcendence (nowhere nearly as good as a certain scene from Captain America's second movie). Sure, they may have heard of Rifftrax, but they may wonder how such a thing was invented. Well, thanks to Retro TV, they can find out how some guy and his two robots changed instant movie reviewing forever. Take that, Zomboo.
This will especially please the online-challenged. While these episodes can be seen on Amazon, iTunes or YouTube, not everyone can get used to downloading TV shows or movies. Seeing the show on cable TV, just like the old days of Comedy Central, can be a comfort for some.

What's interesting is that Retro seems to be interested in showing unriffed versions of previous MST3K targets. It's planning to show The Violent Years after MST3K, and Teenage Caveman in some areas. Maybe it's daring us to riff on these movies at home.

Anyway, MST3K airs Saturdays at 8 PM, and Sundays at 5 PM. Check for more info, including plans to run classic episodes of Doctor Who back in the days when he was a staple on PBS and the early days of SyFy,

Naturally, Retro TV will encourage you to ask your local station to carry the channel. If that doesn't work, you could circulate the tapes...or buy them on DVD....or download them online.
Man, things have changed, haven't they?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Keep Circulating the Digital Downloads

"Keep Circulating the Tapes"

Any fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000 knows those words are the command that spread the word about the comedy series that pitted a man and his robots trapped in space against really bad movies, educational shorts or movie serials. It was part of the closing credits for the first four years of the show, before The Comedy Channel/Comedy Central was much easier to get on cable.

Sure, doing such a thing would be costly, inclujding the price of the VCR, tapes and postage. Still, for many people, it was the only way to see Gamera, Jungle Goddess, and even Manos riffed to oblivion.

Now, tape trading has been replaced by a click of the mouse. Most episodes of Cinematic Titanic, featuring the original MST3K cast plus TV's Frank Conniff and Mary Jo Pehl (aka Dr. Forrester's mom), is available on Amazon video. Some Rifftrax movies are also available on Amazon Video or on the site itself. This, of course, includes fully-riffed bad movies and mp3 riffs on more recent movies including The Wizard of Oz and the Harry Potter series.

Most recently, Rifftrax has added some titles to iTunes, including Ghosthouse, Birdemic and The Guy From Harlem, for rent or download. That's along with the 76 MST3K titles also available on iTunes.

So instant gratification is better in our modern times, right?

Well, maybe. Aside from trying to get MST3K videos through the mail, I also traded tapes of wrestling shows that weren't the WWF. It was the only way I could see Owen Hart and Japanese wrestling (with ads, of course). I even traded with a guy from Canada to get episodes of Buffy for the first season and a half. The sense of anticipation made tape trading exciting. Now, it's all YouTube, Vimeo, and sometimes file trading. Rifftrax is starting to get wise that people may be making illegal copies of their stuff to give to others. That's why the gang says if someone got a Rifftrax mp3 or movie illegally, it would be nice to pay for it now.

So, maybe it's not a good idea to "keep circulating the tapes" anymore, for several especially. Besides, why trade tapes when you're a mouse click away from an MST3K episode you haven't seen in years?
However, if there's an episode or special that's not available anywhere, not even YouTube, that could be an exception. I still have both versions of MST3K, the Home Game, which was The Day The World Ended. You can't find that on YouTube anymore, but CheesyFlix still has it. Getting it this way is a good idea, but since it was never released commercially, circulating these tapes would be OK...if you have them.
Come to think of it, circulating the VHS tape "MST3K Last Dance" which showed footage of the last show from 1999 would also be acceptable...since YouTube and CheesyFlix don't have it either.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Review of How To Train Your Dragon 2: Hiccup's Fiery Saga Continues

It's been five years since the weak son of a Viking chief changed his island by teaching people how to overcome their fear of dragons.
Now, he is looking for new challenges while trying to avoid another one. He also makes a major discovery and faces a dangerous enemy that will both change his life.

When How To Train Your Dragon came out in the winter of 2010, some wondered if an animated feature about a boy and his dragon would work. It did, in a big way, and now Dreamworks has made a very good sequel that may turn out to be a big hit this summer. It's already has a few sneak previews in the past week in Sacramento, and audiences have loved this movie and are likely to return when it officially opens next Friday.

When the story returns to the island of Berk, the locals aren't afraid of dragons burning their homes or stealing their sheep. They are enjoying a new sport called dragon-riding which may be more exciting that Quidditch. Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), meanwhile, is busy flying with Toothless, and discovering what places are beyond his little island. He even has his own wing suit, which may have been a bit much for the movie.
Showing how his engineering skills improved his ability to ride Toothless, and changed Berk overall, would have been enough. What he's not eager to do is prepare to become the new leader after his father Stoick (Gerard Butler) retires.

The other characters haven't changed much. They're older, but still finding their way. Snoutlot (Jonah Hill) is still the brash hero in his own mind, Fishlegs (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) still has his "Magic The Gathering"-style of thinking, Ruffnut and Tuffnut (Kristen Wiig and T.J. Miller) still fight. Astrid (America Ferrera) is still competitive, but also caring, and is destined to be Hiccup's wife and advisor. On the other hand, things have changed, symbolized by the fact that Stoick has his own dragon. That would have been unthinkable five years before. Then again, people who saw the spinoff show on the Cartoon Network are already aware of how these kids have grown. Here's a featurette to show just that...

Anyway, Hiccup and Astrid discover some dragon trappers led by Erit (Kit Harington, aka Jon Snow from Game of Thrones). They work for Drago (Djimon Hounsou), who wants to create his own dragon army and become more dangerous than that Red Death dragon that enslaved the other dragons on the first movie.

Hiccup thinks he can change Drago's mind, but Stoick says that can't be done. Years before, Drago tried to take over the island with his dragons. Hiccup also meets a mysterious Dragon Rider who flies better than he does. She is Valka (Cate Blanchett), who had been caring for dragons for years. She also has a very special connection to Hiccup, and this link will reveal exactly what it is.
Soon, there's a major showdown between Drago and Hiccup, with a result that changes everything. Consider it an "Empire Strikes Back" moment. Some may be puzzled about what happens afterwards, but just realize why it happened.

Dean DeBlois is back as director and writer for the sequel. He's hoping for a trilogy for Hiccup and Toothless, and the story certainly reflects that. In the first movie, Hiccup tried to show that people and dragons could live together through trust. The sequel breaks that trust, and upsets the balance, in an unexpected way. It's restored through another major change, especially in Toothless.

Of course, Gobbler (Craig Ferguson) is also back as comic relief. He also explains why he never got married, kind of. Some people may pick up on why. In the Sacramento showing, people laughed at the first part of his joke, but didn't quite hear the rest of it. Someone will, and that will lead to the usual reactions.
The animation style has also jumped in a big way compared to the first movie. The texture of the dragons' skins is more detailed, while their flying is smoother. Valka's refuge is also incredible, and not just because of the dragons.

How To Train Your Dragon 2 is a fine follow-up to the first movie, and sets up a lot of possibilities for the final part of the trilogy. It is certain to show Hiccup as the leader of Berk, eager to see what else exists in the world, and whether the dragons can still be part of it.

Finally, here's the first five minutes of the movie: