Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Rifftrax and MST3K Unite For A Classic Night of Riffing

When Mystery Science Theater 3000 co-creator Joel Hodgson was interviewed by Vulture six years ago, he was asked if there was a possibility he might do something with his former riffing colleagues at Rifftrax. He said that "I think anything’s possible, but I thought it might get confusing to try to merge them together or do crossover projects. I would never rule it out because it’s all kind of the same universe," but he admitted Rifftrax was a different thing.
This past Tuesday at the State Theater in Minneapolis, though, Joel did get together with Rifftrax, along with the former Mads and the new MST3K host to create a very successful night of movie riffing.

It was a good mix of very funny shorts, and the riffing by the casts went smoothly just like it did in the Sketchfest in San Francisco. Joel was joined by Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett, Mary Jo Pehl, Bridget Nelson and Kevin Murphy from Rifftrax, Trace Beaulieu and TV's Frank Conniff (who now have their own movie riffing routine), and new MST3K host Jonah Ray.
The Rifftrax crew took one of its early shorts, Shake Hands With Danger, and The Talking Car, about a kid who is being judged on traffic safety by three a dream. While the crew at Incognito Cinema Warriors XP did a much better job with that short in the DVD, "Bloody Pit of Horror", the Rifftraxers were very funny, too. When the kid sees he's in a dream, Kevin says "Welcome to Antartica's first car show". There's also jokes on '70s cop shows, The Godfather and a certain complaint about the new Ghostbusters movie.
Then Mary Jo and Bridget did their take on "Word To The Wives", a short on how a housewife cons her husband into buying a newer home. The print for the show was actually pretty faded compared to the Rifftrax version, but most of the jokes were still there. I had reviewed this before in my blog on the emergence of the two gals as Rifftrax's Dymanic Duo.
Trace and Frank took on "More Dates For Kay", and they just KILLED here. They commented on how Kay, who looks really plain, got a lot of dates through good grooming and being really helpful. They were mostly puzzled how she got so popular.
Then, the past and the future got their chance, Jonah and Joel riffed on a short that praised barbers and beauticians. They especially noticed how one of the barbers looked like Frankenstein while a pedicurist might have been Annette Funicello. Jonah was very good in his riffs and worked well with Joel. Jonah will do just fine when he's shot into space. Just ask Frank,

Soon, everyone united to riff on a short called "Stamp Day For Superman." It was part Superman episode, part propaganda to get people to buy US Saving Stamps and Savings Bonds. It's really quaint seeing Lois Lane tied to a chair after getting tricked by a robber, but at least she came up with a way to get Superman to help her, The crew got in very funny riffs, especially on Rondo Hatton and someone who hates Spider-Man.

However, that wasn't the end. They did an encore with "At Your Fingertips: Grasses". The crew kept the original riffs but they still paid off even though they were being read by other people. The original version is part of the live Reefer Madness event.
It was a perfect way to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Rifftrax, and launch the new era of Mystery Science Theater 3000. I was hoping Felicia Day and Patton Oswalt would crash the place and let everyone know they were the new sheriffs in town. They might get their chance when Joel is expected to reveal more info on the new MST at Comic-Con in three weeks.

There were the usual jokes in the pre-show slides, including one that claims Minions are shaved Pikachus (but the Minion language isn't quite Japanese). It did include several MST3K songs including two version of the opening theme, A Patrick Swayze Christmas and the Let Me Be Frank About Frank (which was also dedicated to Frank Zappa). That was a nice touch.

The MST3K reunion show will likely be available to the general public sometime this fall. Rifftrax also revealed its next show will be Mothra on August 18th. It's a widescreen print of the story about how some tiny fairies from a mysterious island get kidnapped, and a really big moth gets angry and shoves some cars around in Tokyo.
One more thing: WUCW, which used to be KTMA (the original home for MST3K), was there for a press conference of the cast the day before the show. Here it is:

The reunion show will be repeated on July 12th. More info is available at

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Rifftrax's Dynamic Duo Defies "Gravity"

Last week, Rifftrax released its take on the Oscar-winning sci-fi classic Gravity, with Mary Jo Pehl and Bridget Nelson doing the riffing honors.
I had expected Mary Jo to be stunned that Clooney, as Matt Kowalski, isn't the hero but Sandra Bullock as Ryan Stone is. Actually, they got in a few digs on Clooney, and compared Bullock's dilemmas while trying to get back to Earth to typical life in Minnesota. It was more proof that these two gals just might wind up taking over Rifftrax.

I had hoped to enjoy the riff through the updated Rifftrax Android app, but it still didn't add the riff for that movie or the first episode of Game of Thrones. For now, the best way to enjoy the riff is through the website. I still plan to see both of those features once the riffs are added to my app.

What surprised me is that they sometimes broke into song, and their choices seemed really odd. When Kowalski decides to detach himself from Stone so that she could survive, the girls started singing "My Heart Will Go On". There might be a similarity between that scene and Jack saving Rose in Titanic, but it was unusual. Also, when Stone tried to use the escape pod at the International Space Station but got caught by the debris, Bridget and Mary Jo broke into the theme song for Mary Tyler Moore. To be fair, they were hoping that Stone was "gonna make it after all". They had one more song, and we'll just say it's easy to identify. It also shows they're ready for the Reunion show in a couple of weeks.

More riffs:

Clooney as Kowalski floats into the screen
Looks like they Photoshopped his face into a terrarium

"Half of North America just lost their Facebook"
I hope my mother did

Kowalski tries to help Stone as they're both floating in space
OK, Mary Jo, he looks great but he sorta sounds like Buzz Lightyear

Stone floats around the International Space Station
And she bumps into the cast of Interstellar

She has problems getting away on part of the space station
I wish she had her own Chewbacca

There's also riffs on Uber, Trader Joe's, Carrot Top, Bullock's love life, Hamburger Helper, OK Go and another recent sci-fi movie.

Bridget and Mary Jo's experiences growing up in the Midwest gave the riff on Gravity a unique flavor, It was quite different than how Mary Jo commented on women in space when she took on Doomsday Machine for Cinematic Titanic. The girls also took in a classic example of sexist sci-fi, Catwomen of the Moon, The riff for Gravity, and lots of other movies, are available on the Rifftrax website.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Game of Riffs: You Heckle or You Die (and a look at the updated Rifftrax app)

Seeing the first episode of Game of Thrones with Rifftrax's, uh, opinons serves two purposes. First, you'd be stunned on how much the show and its characters have changed over the years, Second, it's more proof that no one is safe from Rifftrax. They're planning riffs on the first episodes of The Walking Dead and Daredevil later this year

The mp3 riff was released this week for Kickstarter backers and the general public, and was reviewed by several websites who were apparently surprised Rifftrax would go this far. Personally, I have never seen the first episode, "Winter is Coming", but it looked like a completely different show compared to what it is now. For one thing, it had to stick to the book more or less. Still, it's surprising to see people who are now dead or have worse hair (especially House Stark). It's also strange to see a meek Daenerys Targaryen preparing to be Khal Drogo's bride so her pervy brother Viserys can get an army to seize the Iron Throne, Based on the episode alone, no one would guess she'd wind up being Mother of Dragons and Downright Sexy Fireproof Conqueror.

So, let's get to the riffs:

One of the Night's Watch sees a dead Wilding girl
Critics show Pixar how much they didn't like Brave

"I saw the White Walkers"
You mean the old ladies who hang around the pharmacy section at Target?

They find the body of a large direwolf who just gave birth to pups
Looks like Little Red Riding Hood finally had enough

King Robert Baratheon arrives at Winterfell but where's the entrance music?
Where's Ye All Ready For This and Who Let the Direwolves Out?

"A Dothraki wedding without at least three deaths is considered a dull affair"
Oh, like a NASCAR race.

Drogo is about to make Daenerys a woman the only way he knows how
Cinemax is so sleazy
This is HBO
What artistic bravery.

There are also riffs on Game of Thrones in general, Ricky Gervais, another new slogan for Golden Corral, the Beach Boys, the Metrodome, Michael Cera and something Jason Momoa will be doing soon.

To make this review different from others, I'll throw in a quick review of the updated Rifftrax app. Right now, the Android version has been changed to allow people to synch up with their libraries, and buy new mp3 riffs from their phones, However, it also means losing the six Star Wars mp3 riffs people were enjoying for free.The iOS version has not been approved yet, so people can still enjoy those riffs for free through their iPhones and iPads.
However, the one big drawback that the riffs don't start until the dialogue does is still there. That means anyone who sees any of the Star Wars movies will lose several riffs, and hearing the mp3 through the website is the only way to get the complete experience.

Come to think of it, to get the complete experience of having Game of Thrones get the Rifftrax experience, let's add Kevin and Bill singing the "love there" from the show (also known as strange lyrics to the opening theme)

The riff for Game of Thrones can be found at the Rifftrax website. It also has riffs on the first two episodes of Grey's Anatomy with Mike and Bridget Nelson, and Lost and Heroes with Mike.

Meanwhile, tickets for the MST3K Reunion at hundreds of theaters nationwide on June 28th are still available, Just check out the Fathom Events website.