Monday, May 30, 2016

Rifftrax Meets Catwomen of the Moon Without Julie Newmar or Michelle Pfeiffer



Science Fiction movies presented movie fans with incredible predictions of what life will be like in the 21st Century with moon bases, flying cars and TV's that fit in your pocket. (Guess which one wound up coming true).
However, they also provide guys with way too much reassurance that they'll always be superior to women. Movies like Queen of Outer Space, Devil Girl From Mars or the Rocky Jones movies feature brave and macho astronauts who land on a planet ruled by women who seem superior. Of course, to preserve the Movie Status Quo, the macho astronauts either defeat the alien women or take them back to Earth to turn them into the Housewives of Tomorrow.

Fans of Mystery Science Theater 3000 know this genre all too well, and now it's Rifftrax's turn with Catwomen of the Moon. Mary Jo Pehl and Bridget Nelson are the lucky (?) riffers who are taking on this movie, possibly to prepare them to riff on Gravity, the absolute opposite of this film. It's also one of the shortest features at 63 minutes. Thanks to a holiday discount, and an extra two-dollar discount, I decided to check it out.



A crew led by Laird (Sonny Tufts) heads to the Moon. The ship features office chairs with casters and a desk, and hammocks that are supposed to be beds. A female navigator named Helen (Marie Windsor) starts to act strangely. She even suggests where they should land on the Moon, even though it's on the Dark Side. Once the crew gets there, they discover the Catwomen who apparently want to get to Earth to stay alive...and maybe take it over, too. They also had telepathic powers that influenced Helen even before the launch. Yes, folks, the movie is suggesting whatever's happening is her fault.
Still, another of the Catwomen falls for one of the other guys and actually feels torn about the whole plot. Eventually, the Earthlings win, but how it's done is treated as an afterthought.
There's even an attempt at a romantic subplot between Kip and Helen, and how their "love" is used to snap her out of the spell of the Catwomen. It would have been cooler if Helen wound up being a Catwoman while one of them sides with the men, but that would have involved thought. This movie is a classic example of the They Just Didn't Care School of Film.



As I said before, fans of MST3K are quite familiar with sexist sci-fi. Project Moonbase featured a female pilot who outranked her fellow male astronaut on a mission to orbit the moon. She thinks they should try to land, but she gets shot down because she's a girl. When they do land because of a stowaway who tries to sabotage the mission, she not only has to marry the guy but he's promoted to Brigadier General. The movie, of course, also makes sure she's really incompetent. No wonder Servo is disgusted at the end.
Then there's Fire Maidens of Outer Space. Another group of brave men land on a newly-discovered moon. It turns out the moon is a male fantasy with sexy women who dance but really belong in a Hercules movie. The only two threats occur when one of the girls is chosen for sacrifice, and a furry monster appears for 20 seconds to be killed. It ends with one of the women coming back to Earth, no doubt to become a Housewife of Tomorrow.
Sharp-eyed fans also recognize Helen as Marie Windsor, who played Josie in Swamp Diamonds. She was the one was "doing a nickle at UPS" with Beverly Garland.

This time, though, we have two smart and witty women who rip this piece of futuristic chauvinism a new one. So, riffing time:

Catwomen of the Moon
Single and Loving It

One of the crew wears a hazmat suit to try to resolve a major problem:
This is what it's like when you have to clear your junior high boy's bedroom. (The description is even funnier).

Then he comes out
Try new Man in a Can.

They head to the cave that Helen led them to...somehow. "Exactly as I dreamed, or did I? Maybe this is the dream"
Elaine May in Inception,

Helen wonders why the guys think the aliens are automatically evil. "Why can't we expect love and friendship instead of death?"
We're Americans.

One of the guys stares at one of the Catwomen
Acting or coma?

There's also riffs on Elton John, Grazing In The Grass, Tang, Peyton Place, HDTV, Catholic schools and City Limits (mainly who's in it).

If you'd like to see this "movie" and other Rifftrax selections, visit the website at rifftrax.com. It includes the mp3 riff of Glitter, aka Mariah Carey's version of A Star Is Born.  She and Bridget will be part of the MST3K Reunion from Minneapolis. Tickets to the broadcast on June 28th are available at the Fathom Events website.


Saturday, May 28, 2016

HBO's Godfather Epic: Is It a Better Way to See Godfather 1 and 2?


Last January, HBO showed a restored version of The Godfather and The Godfather Part II, but not as two different movies.
It turned both movies into a seven-hour epic, showing the history of the Corleone crime family from 1901 to 1959. This meant parts of Godfather II with Robert De Niro were moved to the front, followed by the remainder of the two movies,. There's also lots of deleted scenes that added depth to the story, and proof that anyone who crosses a Corleone does so at his peril.

I finally got a chance to see the mega-movie last week, and it was amazing. I usually saw both Godfather movies on AMC, and seeing them back to back usually takes ten hours including commericals. Seeing HBO's uncut and commercial-free version was much better. It still took more more than two days because I had to pause to check if the Sharks were heading to the Stanley Cup or the Warriors will blow a chance to defend their NBA title just like 1976.

Seeing The Godfather Epic in one seven-hour chunk, which is a perfect size for veteran Netflix bingers, is quite an experience, especially with the extra scenes. The story flows very well, although the segues from one crisis to another in the final hour are a bit abrupt. That's because the secret to Godfather II's success is how the stories of Young Vito and Michael Corleone mirror each other, the past creating the future. Taking Vito's scenes out of that movie changes it a lot.

What HBO did is not new, though...


NBC also re-edited both movies into a mini-series that lasted for four nights. However, it's not the complete version because foul language and violent scenes had to be left out. With HBO, it has the whole story, blood, profanity and all.

The deleted scenes also add some insight about what happens when you make a Corleone mad. For example, remember when Michael's first wife was killed by a car bomb in Italy? It looked like the guy who did it got away, but he didn't. For Vito, he not only got Don Ciccio, the man who had his parents killed, he killed the guy who told Vito's home town to turn him over to Ciccio when he was nine, Now that is a grudge,

If given a choice, I'd prefer to see Godfather and Godfather II in their original forms, because I am used to that after seeing them several times. However, I still refuse to see Godfather III unless there is new CGI technology that replaces Sofia Coppola with Winona Ryder...or even Shailene Woodley.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

And Here's The Pitch: Pro Soccer Arrives In Reno


I've been watching pro soccer since 1974, when San Jose got its first pro team with the Earthquakes. I was also there when MLS began with its first game at Spartan Stadium.

So, when Sacramento Republic scheduled a friendly with the U-21 squad from Liverpool at the Reno Aces Ballpark, now Greater Nevada Field, I decided to check it out. It was an OK game, highlighted by a last-second goal by Republic to salvage a 2-2 tie.
It was also pretty cold for a late May evening, too, as fans were also keeping an eye on NBA and Stanley Cup games. That's why I wore two scarves and a Kashima Antlers (J-League) coat along with an old Liverpool replica jersey. Still, there was plenty of excitement among local soccer fans. There should be even more when Republic has another match in Reno against SLC Real Monarchs.

Anyway, here's some of the pictures I took


This is the pitch they installed over the baseball field. They did a pretty good job here. It's an improvement over the old days when people just drew the field lines over the field and didn't cover the dirt with grass. By the way, I was able to see the game from under the scoreboard. It was technically a "standing room only" spot, but I got a great look of the action.
Now, some of the action:


Already there's a fan group called the Battle Born Brigade. Here's one of the guys...


The logo is three B's joined together like the pre-1976 NBC logo. They had an alternate logo based on Borussia Dortmund. Here's a better picture from their Facebook page:



The big news was that the new team, Reno 1868 FC was about to unveil a new logo for their uniforms. They had lots of shirts ready to go, but also covered and guarded by a couple of clerks.


Then, the new logo was unveiled...


It's based on the natural beauty of northern Nevada, especially the Sierra Nevada and the Truckee River.
It didn't take long for fans to get their hands on the new scarves and shirts. Jerseys will be coming later.


Overall, it was a good start to Reno getting in tune with soccer after embracing Triple A Baseball and having a great time with Nevada winning the College Basketball Invitational. The only suggestion is that they renovate the scoreboard to handle soccer as well as baseball, People could see the action thanks to the big screen, but it would be better to have the score and timing on the scoreboard. Still, it;s early, and the first official game is a long way off. They'll get another dress rehearsal in a couple of weeks, and make more preparations before Reno becomes the Biggest Little Soccer City.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Rifftrax Takes On Star Wars VII, Pleases Fans and Unfans Alike




It's been four and a half months since Star Wars returned to theaters. There are those who were thrilled when the Force Awakened after more than a decade, and those who didn't because they thought it was doing the first movie again (so did Creed, and no one complained about that).
It didn't matter, because it was a major hit, and made the new generation of the saga a new thing to anticipate just before Christmas. Kind of like Harry Potter.

Rifftrax's take on TFA is sure to please people who enjoyed and didn't enjoy this movie. There are lots of comments about Kylo Ren's mask, old vets returning and the story itself. This is bound to be Rifftrax's biggest seller because it is that funny. It's a fine kickoff to this year's big events, which will include Time Chasers and the big MST3K reunion.

I'm smart enough to not mention the riffs when certain people make their first appearance, especially Han Solo and C-3PO. There's plenty of riffs anyway, aside from the You Tube clip above.

The first shot of the Stormtroopers
99 bottles of beer on the wall...

Rey boards her transport
Mysterious floating electric razor, how's it going?

Heading to Maz Kenata's place, described as "Hogwarts Technical College". How they describe her is not that much better.

A robot contacts the Resistance
If two Radio Shacks had sex, this robot would be the baby

Kylo Ren meets Rey for the first time: "The girl I've heard so much about"
You are Ariana Grande, right?

There's the final fight, but the Rifftrax crew complain "Peter Griffin's chicken fights are shorter than this"

There's also riffs on Aaron Spelling, eharmony, another new slogan for Golden Corral, Pablo Sandoval, Fuller House and (surprisingly) Time Chasers.

The riff is available here at rifftrax.com. This is the start of an ambitious movie riff schedule connected with the successful Kickstarter campaign. Mary Jo Pehl and Bridget Nelson, for example, will have their take on Gravity. It'll be interesting what happens when Mary Jo figures out George Clooney is not the hero here. There's also riffs coming on Jurassic World (imagine what they'll do to Claire and Owen's first scene together) and their first Rifftraxed movie, Road House, If the TFA riff ears enough money, maybe they'll afford the rights to riff this movie live in theaters. That would be the best anniversary present Rifftrax and its fans can get.