Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Freaks and Geeks In Other Space

After Netflix made a big splash with its Daredevil series last weekend, Yahoo Screen just presented an eight-part sci-fi comedy called Other Space. It's a great sitcom about a crew that's way over its head dealing with traveling in an alternate universe.

Some people may see hints of Quark and Red Dwarf in this, but it's in its own universe built by Paul Feig, who brought us Freaks and Geeks, Bridesmaids and soon Spy. It also includes two MST3K alumni, Joel Hodgson and Trace Beaulieu, who also worked with Feig.

The story involves a UMP ship in 2105, staffed by people who have even less experience than the red shirts on Star Trek. Stewart Lipinski (Karan Soni) is chosen as captain, but his sister Karen (Bess Rous) is second in command, and not happy about it. He chooses his ex-babysitter Mike Newman (Eugene Cordero) as 3rd in command and his crush Tina (Milana Vaytrub) as navigator. His science officer Kent Woolworth (Neil Casey) seems to play the Spock role, and has a couple of secrets.

Joel plays Zalian Fletcher, a burned out engineer who used to be a legend in the UMP. He's joined by Art, voiced by Beaulieu in the same way he talked like Dr. Forrester on MST3K. The ship's computer is Natasha, played by Conor Leslie. The computer was actually built for blackjack, and dresses like she's still working at a casino. It's a bit of a callback to Holly, the computer on Red Dwarf.

The first episode introduces everyone, and it's confusing after the ship gets sucked into the alternate universe. The second episode is better, when they deal with an invader. It develops into a spoof of The Thing, which the crew wondering who is the alien. Thing is, there is an alien, but that person isn't the threat. How it's resolved is pretty clever. It also includes a video hosted by Rifftrax fave Janet Varney.
I liked Soni as Stewart because he is trying to deal with a tough situation, made even tougher because his sister is there. Casey is also a hoot as Kent, a guy who isn't what he seems, but his story makes you feel for him. It's also great how Joel portrays Zalian as what Joel Robinson would have become if he spent too many years at Gizmonic.
UPDATE:  saw the rest of the season, and it has really good comments on whether rules on harassment still apply in a different universe. It also shows some interesting pairings, including Tina and Mike, and reveals how the ship was originally used.

All eight episodes are available at Yahoo Screen

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Easter at Rifftrax: Santa Without Any Bunnies

While people were waiting for the Easter Bunny this past weekend, a lot of people decided to have Christmas early with Santa Claus,

Rifftrax released the live version of Santa Claus last Friday, which was surprisingly early since it was just four months after it aired. This could wind up being the definitive riff of this odd holiday classic, which shows Santa battling a devil to just to make sure a poor little girl gets a doll.

I have already reviewed the live version, and it looks like the sound mixing emphasized the movie over the laughter from the audience in Nashville, TN. The quality of the movie print was excellent, though, with the original Spanish credits. This is the complete version, with Merlin taking way too much time helping Santa get ready, and the shirtless Keymaker (a little something for the ladies).

Before that, there was a non-Christmas short called "Sugar and Spice", where kids learn to make things out of sugar..then eat them.

My previous review compared riffs at certain parts of the movie, but this time we'll just add a couple more to look for.

Santa's parade of nations starts with Africa, which of course is a stereotype. For this, we should compare the original with the new riff
MST;  Ted Danson's Comedy School
Rifftrax:  A Governor George Wallace Christmas

Pitch recruits three mean boys....
Bill Corbett:  You want us to smuggle drugs up our where?

We see Lupita enjoying a puppet show
Mike Nelson:  Lupita grew up to be every single member of Menudo

Lupita's dream where she's surrounded by evil Raggedy Anitas:
Kevin Murphy:  This is the dancing equivalent to the last sketch on Saturday Night Live

When Santa's about to take off, Bill thinks he sees something:
Is that a disassembled Bender?

There's also riffs on Reservior Dogs, Krampus, Toy Story, Nyquil, and Amy Winehouse.

If you must think Santa should be part of Easter with a bunny, then get Night of the Lepus, Consider it the worst case scenario of Here Comes Peter Cottontail. I have a review of that as well.

Now that Rifftrax has wrapped up 2014, and presented all the mp3 riffs and VOD events, it's now getting ready for "The Crappening", also knows as the movies it will show in theaters. The first one will be "The Room" on May sixth. Tickets are still available through Fathom Events,

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Rifftrax Shines A Light On A Hideous Sun Demon

When Incognito Cinema Warriors XP released its first DVD thanks to a prehistoric method called MySpace, it included the trailer for its next possible target, er, feature called The Hideous Sun Demon, about a guy mutated by radiation. When he steps out into sunlight, he turns into the Creature From The Black Lagoon's brother-in-law. It's supposed to suggest the radiation made him evolve in reverse, although that was illustrated better by Devo and Idiocracy.

Sadly, ICWXP never got the chance, but Rifftrax did. It's interesting this movie was produced and directed by budding movie mogul Robert Clarke after he saw another B-movie.  He's also the star as Gil, the scientist who was exposed to radiation because the toy train transporting the material broke down. Yes, really.

It's described as a variation of the Wolfman story, but it's mostly about a guy who loves booze, picks up a really sexy piano player with a mobster boyfriend, and goes nuts even if he's not a demon. His scientist friends are of no help, claiming they can help him until they can't.
What's also notable is the sound mixing where we can't tell what the actors are saying, and the fake night scenes that clearly show the sun. The soundtrack was also recycled by Night of the Living Dead.
In fact, the whole movie was recycled when it was redubbed and edited in 1983, with Clarke's co-operation. Here's proof:

It makes you wonder what's better, riffing or redubbing.

Here's some images:

The "before" and "after" photos of Gil

Gil with Trudy (Nan Peterson), the pianist and prototype for Kate Upton 

Trudy realizing who she slept with last night

Gil getting so desperate, he hides in a shack where a little girl has her tea parties with one doll

Now some of the riffs:

Two doctors and a lab assistant discuss how Gil didn't seem to be harmed after being exposed to radioactive material for six minutes
Kevin Murphy:  I'm guessing, any minute now, boom, extra eye.

Dr. Buckell implies Gil was nursing a hangover because he mixed "whiskey and science"
Mike Nelson:  Oh, come on. Winston Churchill won World War II with a hangover.

Gil turns into the demon for the first time
"Oh, no, it can't be"
Mike:  I've turned into Mickey Rourke.

Trudy sings while "playing" the piano
Bill Corbett:  It looks like she's playing but she's actually kneading bread down there.

Gil turns into the demon after he wakes up from his "dry shameful '50s sex" with Trudy
Bill:  He's late for being Bossk in The Empire Strikes Back

When the police arrive, Gil tries to drive away, and runs over a cop, 
Kevin: I was only 523 months from retirement.

For some reason, Gil's pants are wet when he transforms for the last time
Kevin: Sun so bright, trousers so damp.

Aside from the clip, there's also riffs on YouTube, Broadchurch, Top Gear, James Brown, Ren and Stimpy, Tommy Wiseau, The Fifth Dimension and (again) Nick Nolte.

You can order Hideous Sun Demon, and other Rifftrax movies at rifftrax.com