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
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!