Sunday, March 27, 2016

Rifftrax Takes On Samurai Cop, or "When Jennifer Met Mumbles Ape"

A while ago, I reviewed Rifftrax's take on Death Promise, which I thought was the worst martial arts movie ever made.
Then I saw Samurai Cop. 
Clearly I was wrong, but I had no idea how really bad Robert Z'Dar is as Yamashita, a big bulky henchman to some Yakusa guys. I will give him credit for coming up with an interesting way to get rid of a witness by hiding in a hamper pushed by a Christina Hendricks impersonator. For the most part, he looks menacing and shoots anyone who doesn't kill the main hero

Definitely not better is Matt Hatton as Joe Marshall, a San Diego police officer allegedly trained in the martial arts in Japan. It's safe to say we don't see a lot of that skill.

We do see him try to battle Japanese gangsters and flirt well enough to be considered a ladies' man--but only by himself. He also has an African-American partner, which means they were hoping to get the Lethal Weapon crowd. Still, Joe can be described like this (thanks to Bill Corbett):  "He's like a Disney's Tarzan who was badly airbrushed on the side of a van  and came to life." Personally, I'd say he's got less personality than all of Johnny Longtorso's individual parts.

The movie, if you could call it that, is mainly chases, shootouts and confrontations that make no sense. The head Yakusa guy's Japanese accent isn't too convincing, either. At least there's a strange Costa Rican guy as comic relief.
The most far-fetched part is Joe wooing away Yakusa Guy's blonde girlfriend Jennifer. It results in a sex scene even more disturbing than Joe Don Baker trying to be sensual in Mitchell.
By the way, there was a lot of racy stuff cut out from this release, including a rape scene. That's a wise idea, especially for MST fans who know about what had to be cut out of Sidehackers.

The movie ends with the big battle between Yamashita and Joe, supposedly trying to kill each other with big swords, but it's mostly fists and weird faces. It's even worse than the Death Promise finale, including the dumb explanation for the final twist.
I got this because the Nerdist included this in a list of "8 WTF-Worthy Films" that includes Death Bed (about a bed that eats people), Gymkata (which is a common riff by MST3K), Greasy Strangler and Death Spa (not about a spa that eats people).

Now, on to the riffs:

Joe shows up with his partner
I show up to work with a Cher wig and a  baseball cap and you say nothing?

Fujiyama (the boss) yells at Yamashita, "If he's a samurai, who the Hell are you?"
A question that Z'Dar got a lot

A typical fight
I think they made these punching sound effects by slapping a leather couch with a wet ham

Peggy, one of the cops, tries to get another cop named Preacher to have sex with her. He declines
Ah, my wedding night (let's say this time Mike doesn't say it).

There's also riffs on Michael Bay, Comcast, Rock and Roll Nightmare, Safety Woman and The Bachelor.

Samurai Cop is available, along with slightly less inept martial arts movies, at

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Nevada's Hungry Like The Wolf For A Tournament Title

For once, I won't talk about movies or MST3K.
I want to talk about college basketball in Nevada, and how it's getting some national attention.
The University of Nevada Wolf Pack is in the finals of the College Basketball Invitational, which is around "little majors" level in the college basketball world. It's a notch below the NIT, but it gives a nice preview of up-and-coming programs. Nevada will take on Morehead State, located in Kentucky and part of the Ohio Valley Conference. It has a very good record and even better at home.

Because it's been quite a while since I've been in a college basketball playoff game, I took in last week's games against Eastern Washington and Vermont. It's the first time I've done that. After reaching the semis of the Mountain West Tournament, I was hoping Nevada would make a good show. Thanks to Cameron Oliver and Marqueze Coleman, they're doing even better.

The better experience was the game against Vermont in the semifinals. I was actually in the lower students section because it was spring break. It's not every day you can see a college playoff game for ten bucks. This was the view:

It's been quite a while since I sat with students at college games. You can tell who the superfans are by what they wear:

I also learned an interesting tradition: using this hand sign to make sure the Wolf Pack sink those free throws:

Somehow it works when the Pack go to the other basket.

The finals, unlike the NCAA, are bets two out of three. So, even if the Pack don't win Monday night, they have a chance to take it all if they win next Wednesday and Friday. No matter what, it's still history being made in Reno basketball. Maybe the D-League Bighorns can top that by doing well in the playoffs.

Of course, I should give the baseball team a try, since I live a half-mile from the stadium, and soccer is coming up, too. Reno is much more than slot machines, guys.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Rifftrax Hits Kickstarter Goal, But What's Next?

After a little more than four days, Rifftrax has raised 225 thousand dollars in this year's Kickstarter drive. That means we will have the live riff of Time Chasers and the big MST3K reunion with the Mads (Trace Beaulieu and TV's Frank Coniff) and the Ladies' Riffing Tag Team champs, Bridget Nelson and Mary Jo Pehl. All that's left for the fans is begging Joel Hodgson to drop by, along with the new MST3K cast.

Also , there's now the prospect of "stretch goals" which helped Joel raise more than six million dollars for the MST revival. Of course, the extra cash will pay for two more Rifftrax shows. The only question is...what movies should be featured?

In the Kickstarter postings, I suggested two movies, Sharknado 3 and This Island Earth. I thought Mike, Kevin and Bill would have the intestinal fortitude to take on another Sharknado, but they decided they didn't. Too bad, since I had some riffs. The other movie seemed like a great choice, since it would be in honor of the 20th anniversary of the MST3K movie that should have been better if not for the studio and focus groups screwing it up. Actually, the Rifftrax guys actually responded to my request, but said it would be tough to get. Maybe Universal didn't like how the movie was riffed, maybe? Well, they ruined the movie, so Mike should get another shot at it. Besides, he would have gotten to use that Bootsy Collins riff.
Some fans bitter about that could suggest Barb Wire with Pamela Anderson doing her best Rick Blaine impression, but it's possible that could also be out of the reach of Rifftrax. It would be sweet revenge, of course,.

So, if not those movies, what then?
For argument's sake, let's pencil in I Believe in Santa Claus as the December showing, It would be interesting to see the guys take on Santa trying to save a kid's kidnapped parents in "Just Africa", with the help of a good fairy trying to be Celine Dion.
That leaves the October show, which usually means a cheesy horror movie except last year we got Miami Connection.
I was thinking maybe it should consider World Without End, which was riffed during the first live show Joel and the bots did in 1992.

 I also thought about The Day The World Ended, which was used in "MST3K: the Home Game", where people suggested riffs in a chat room (also known as Twitter's grandpa). However, that's a Roger Corman picture, and if we can't get It Conquered The World on DVD, I doubt the crew will be able to riff it live, If it could, we probably won't get the digital download three months later.
If they hope to get a movie that was made by a real studio, but not very well, how about The Happening with Mark Walhberg and Zooey Deschanel. It's been a go-to riff for lots of other Rifftrax movies and shows.

Now, there's the chance making this movie a live show could be more unlikely than getting Terror From the Year 5000 in a future MST3K DVD set. I just hope someting like this will be part of this year's live shows.
At least we have three and a half weeks to speculate and raise more money for this year's Rifftrax shows. We can also use that time to get Joel to come to the reunion. That would make it complete. Adding Felicia Day, Jonah Ray and Patton Oswalt, of course, would be the passing of the torch and make it the greatest live show ever. Fingers crossed!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Rifftrax Kickstarter 2016: Forresters, Nuveena and Time Chasers Live

This is a tough choice for the average American:  how should you spend your upcoming tax refund?
Support a candidate of your choice?
Buy Girl Scout Cookies?
Set a ten dollar bill on fire, which would be the same experience of Batman v Superman, Dawn of Justice without going to see it?

Well, take that ten dollar bill and whatever you set aside from Samoas or Thin Mints or Marco Rubio and give to Rifftrax's Kickstarter campaign today.

What would be the best reason to do so?
The second show on June 28th will feature many alumni from Mystery Science Theater 3000, including the Mads, Trace Beaulieu and TV's Frank Coniff, and Rifftrax's Real Housewives of Riffing, Bridget Nelson and Mary Jo Pehl. It all takes place at the State Theater in Minneapolis, which was the site of a couple of MST3K conventions back in the Comedy Central days.

The gang from the new MST3K (also brought to you by Kickstarter) have been invited, and maybe another familiar face will arrive (coughJOELcough). Besides, if there's ever a time for Kinga Forrester to show up and create the worst-case-scenario for a non-holiday family reunion, this is it. The Rifftrax troika of Mike, Kevin and Bill would welcome such a moment, as do we all.
The reunion apparently will be similar to the last Sketchfest show Rifftrax offered, where they lobbed riffs at terrible educational shorts. The difference is it'll be broadcast live in lots of theaters nationwide, then the public can get its copy by next fall.

Before that, they'll take on an old MST chestnut, Time Chasers, about a couple from Vermont who turn their airplane into a time machine. They don't wind up in a world where Bernie Sanders is president, however. That movie will be shown on May 5th, also in theaters.

The goal this time is 225 thousand dollars, which to some fans seemed a bit high. However, it's raised 167 thousand bucks in the first day, which means this is also going to succeed. The Time Chasers print is in HD, and the producer, David Giancola, is on board with the show. More shows will be scheduled after the first goal is hit.  Maybe we'll get a live version of I Believe in Santa Claus, an example of how France can also made lousy holiday movies.
Come to think of it, there IS a third Sharknado movie, right? Yeah, it's an excuse to see if they come up with riffs that are better than mine, and they definitely will. (UPDATE: it's now a moot point because they've decided not to riff that movie)
More goodies may be available, too, like maybe new mp3 riffs on certain blockbusters (Hello, Gods of Egypt).

Of course, there are bonuses for contributors. It includes downloads of Time Chasers and the MST3K show, t-shirts, autographed stuff, the chance to write a riff, and even get your own jingle thanks to Kevin.

For more info, head to