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