Friday, October 28, 2016

Rifftrax Gets Lost In The Carnival of Souls.

Could adding a little color in a classic horror movie make it funnier and spookier?

Rifftrax tried that with the House of Haunted Hill movie in a live show six years ago, which also included a witch concerned about getting your money's worth at the supermarket.

This past Thursday, Rifftrax observed Halloween with another colorized horror classic, Carnival of Souls. This was a complete remake of the original riff, still available on the website or Yahoo View. It was much livelier than the original, and also better than Mothra last August.

They story is basically an extended Twilight Zone episode. A woman rides with her girlfriends in a drag race but their car falls into the river. She seems to be the only survivor. She moves to Utah to be a church organist, but is followed by a ghoulish zombie. She's also strangely drawn to a deserted bathhouse (the former Saltair Pavilion outside Salt Lake City), where ghouls also dance. It slowly dawns on her on what really happened at that accident.

It's an odd movie that has plenty of fans, and some say it may have influenced Night of the Living Dead. Still, you have to notice Candace Hilligoss' slightly mistimed responses to seeing the zombies coming to get her. The head ghoul, by the way, is director Herk Harvey (who the Rifftrax crew wonders what it was like to have first name that's also the sound of throwing up). He also directed a lot of education shorts for Centron, especially Shake Hands With Danger.

The new set of riffs were pretty good, although they had some standard riffs about Golden Corral and Nick Nolte. The gang were helped by the fact this was a familiar movie, and it helped them make the most of it. The colorized print was also better than I expected. It wasn't exactly Technicolor, but it seemed very natural, even the ghouls.

Naturally, I list some of the riffs. I saw the first version along with this one, So, let's compare riffs in certain scenes.

Mary seems to have survived the crash,

Then:  A date with Mickey Rourke mercifully comes to an end
Now:  Did we win the race? I knew that listening to Pat Boone would lead to this

She crashes on the road to avoid the head ghoul

Then: She managed to get into a single-car accident in Utah? That's Kelsey Grammer-level talent.
Now:  Maybe cars are not the mobile transportation for you

Linden (Sidney Berger) just happens to come by as she's taking a bath

Then:  A young Bill Clinton follows his instincts
Now:  The Blair Witch got him, followed by "Name's Norman Bates. You mind getting back to the shower?"
The relationship between Mary and Linden is really strange. Romance just doesn't bloom between those two. Mold, maybe, but not love. He looks like an greasier version of Peter Campbell from Mad Men. 

Then there's this picture:

Then:  The four people would go on to found Kraftwerk
Now:  They don't get how skinny dipping works.

That was kind of disappointing because Rifftrax used that picture for a riff contest, and the top three entries were better. The winning entry was "Brent Spiner's Dead Celebrity Pool Party", although "Prequel to Eight Heads in a Duffle Bag" had more zing.

There also a couple of good zingers. As Mary enters Utah, Kevin says "Welcome to Utah. Have you considered Colorado instead?"
Then there's a scene when Linden doesn't have fun at a bar with her. "You don't like to dance and you don't like to drink" inspires the riff "You're in the right state, honey".

There's also riffs on Shake Hands With Danger, Setting Up A Room, Dr. Phibes, Terry Gross, Birdemic, Amazon and Back to the Future.

There's an article in the Cincinnati City Press that questions why  Rifftrax would take on a horror classic. For the record, Kevin explains he doesn't think the movie's that good. Besides, the gang has battled Starship Troopers (an alleged classic satire) and Anaconda live, and lots of good movies thanks to mp3 riffs. This is hardly a big deal.

The show started with two shorts. One was "Masks of Grass," which seems to be the sequel to "At Your Fingertips: Grasses." Kinds make weird masks with grasses, and it almost turns into the sequel to Lord of the Flies. The other is "Dirt Witch Cleans Up" from the "Joy of Living"series. Apparently a witch decides to make other people dirty, including a pig farmer ("It's Mumford and Son's dad) and a painter with pink paint ("Must be working on John Mellencamp's house"). However, a little kid sets the witch straight and bathes her.

At least the witch doesn't melt from the water, like another witch we know. What's even more bizarre is what the witch looks like after getting clean. Ten bucks says she's not the same witch at the start of the movie. It's a weird way to get kids to keep clean.

Rifftrax has plenty of stuff to see as we head to November. It just released riffs on the first episodes of The Walking Dead and Netflix's Daredevil, and Jurassic World is coming next month. It will also have a special holiday show December first where they show Santa Claus Conquers the Martians and the live holiday shorts festival (including Weird Al talking about pork and that Rudolph short). They also plan to make fun of Christmas photos that fans sent them. Maybe they'll also riff on them on social media.
On that note, I plan to look at which Rifftrax holiday events are the best, and could be paired together. That'll come soon.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

It's Nice To Be A Battleground State

When I lived in California, I didn't go to big political events when presidential campaigns rolled around. While the Golden State had the most electoral votes, who it chose was usually a foregone conclusion. That's why in Sacramento there weren't too many big visits from TV stars or major political officials hoping to get our votes,

Now that I'm in Nevada, everyone wants its six votes, which is why people like President Obama, VP nominee Mike Pence and comic Patton Oswalt are dropping by Reno to get our attention.

I was happy to see Senator Bernie Sanders at University of Nevada give a boilerplate speech for Hillary Clinton. It's the usual talking points, with a copy of the Democratic platform that hopefully will see the light of day. He attracted a lot of people and students. I'll also say the Dems really care if you show up or not. They actually called me on my cell while I was across the street from the event.
I even got a nice close-up picture of Sanders...

There was also a brief speech from ex-Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, who's slightly ahead of Congressman Joe Heck in the Senate race. She also gave a boilerplate speech, although a couple of supporters said "What the Heck?" It's amazing if the annoying tsunami of Senate TV ads, the Democrats never used that slogan in their ads.

I like it better when celebrity surrogates for Hilary Clinton show up, like Jennifer Garner and Patton Oswalt. Hopefully another one will show in the next two weeks. Since Clinton and Trump want Nevada's six electoral votes, it might be possible. It's nice to get that much attention.