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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Satire > Sports > Filmmaking > Camp > RiffTrax (Legend Films DVD singles/Maniac/Santa...Ice Cream Bunny.../Comedy/Spoof)

RiffTrax (Legend Films DVD singles)


Picture: B-     Sound: B-      Extras: B+     Episodes: B+



“The Stars of Mystery Science Theater 3000 Bring You: RiffTrax”--that’s the tag line on the DVD snapper covers for the RiffTrax series.  RiffTrax marks the third incarnation for the wacky crew of film cut-ups from the Minnesota--MIke Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett.  In MST3K they played Mike and the ‘Bots, a crew of well-meaning wise crackers stranded on a satellite and forced to watch bad movies.  In The Film Crew they played a group of wise-crackers paid to provide commentaries on bad movies by an eccentric millionaire.  Now in RiffTrax they’re just playing themselves, a trio of wise-crackers determined to keep a good thing going.  And boy do they ever!


RiffTrax: Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny.  This drug-induced fever dream of a flick was tailor made for the Rifftrax crew, and cinematic madness served up by it gets knocked out of the park by the guys.  Imagine a possibly drunken Santa on a beach in sunny Florida trying to get his sleigh moving.  Add in dozens of bewildered children, kooks in costumes, and a six foot bunny in an antique roadster. Yes, that’s comic gold for our faithful trio.


RiffTrax: Shortstoberfest.  The shorts always provided some of the best laughs on the original MST3K show, and this disc features them exclusively.  They’re all great, but “Back to School With Joan Miller” offers up a fashion show from hell that is not to be missed.  Both this short and “Call it Free” feature some excellent post-feminist humor from the guys, who take particular pleasure in pointing out the absurb chauvinism of the time in which they were made. 


RiffTrax: Order in the Shorts. Another brilliant collection of shorts features a monkey on a leash learning the alphabet, the horrors of teen drug use, and powerful effects of thrift gone awry! 


RiffTrax: Maniac. A feature film so insane (and inane) it must be seen to be believed, but only through the protective lens of RiffTrax!  A mad scientist gets murdered, and the man who killed him takes his place and authors even crazier experiments.  Horrible dialogue, poor editing, bad effects, and a mostly misogynistic plot make this the film equivalent of a pinata for the lads, as they tear into it like lions after fresh meat.


Although it does not have newness or charm of MST3K, the RiffTrax series has a lot going for it.  It’s contemporary, so the political and current events humor possesses an immediacy that older episodes of MST3K do not.  It’s raunchier, but not overly so.  The guys can use a bit of blue language here and there, and the films can contain nudity or weird violence.  The guys also seem really into the whole thing, because this is there core competency, it’s what they do best. 


Extras on the discs include a very cool sequence from the San Diego Comic Con where they let an audience of fans help them pick a movie to riff.  Fans can also go online and download a riff track for a contemporary film  for free.  This allows the crew to riff on popular (but deserving) movies like Titanic and others like it.  Nothing will ever replace MST3K, but RiffTrax certainly helps to fill the void!



-   Scott Pyle


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