12/29/10

Do You Guys See It Too?

I'm tripping pretty hard right now...Welcome, won't you?

A new Rifftrax short was released last night. I think it was, anyway. I'm currently held upright by a cocktail of caffeine and cold medicine, so I'm not the most reliable arbiter of reality vs. fantasy right now. The graphic provided seems to depict an egg in a bow tie next to an egg in an apron, leading me to believe that this may be some sort of hallucinatory residual of last night's fever dream. If it is, I apologize for wasting your time. If it isn't, please head down to the Rifftrax site and check out Courtesy: A Good Eggsample.

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12/28/10

It Would Have Been an A-List Title in the Mid-Nineties

Meet the crew.Welcome, won't you?

A mild flu made this Christmas fairly mellow, as everyone just sort of hung around the house lightly coughing and playing with their new toys. This block of unexpected free time has worked in your favor, producing this review for Darkstar: The Interactive Movie. Long story short: fun game, old technology.

Please note that the review has been moved to the Miscellaneous One-Offs section.

Also, a certain Mr. Wade has asked me to point you towards his site, where he creates and sells old-fashioned illustrations based on MST3K films. The posters advertising the Great Vorelli are particularly enticing.

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12/22/10

I Should Have Waited Until Today

I'm wondering how they eat and breathe and other science facts.Welcome, won't you?

Those of you who failed to act on my earlier tip are now being rewarded for your forbearance. Strategy First's current sale eclipses their old one in terms of discount. From now until January fourth of next year, the coupon code "STRATEGYGAMER" will knock 50% off the price of any title in their inventory. That'll net you Darkstar for about fifteen bucks.

Should you buy Darkstar? The holiday season makes many demands on my time, so I probably won't finish it for another few weeks. But, since I seem to be shilling it every few days anyway, I suppose I ought to give you my impressions thus far. Check them out after the cut.

Pre-review based on two to three hours in the game:

It's a slow-paced adventure game in the style of Myst, set on a drifting starship. The story hook is trite (the main character has amnesia; we've never seen that before) but once you get into it, it’s absorbingly told. Clive Robertson performs player avatar John O’Neill like someone who’s been asleep for years and can’t quite wake up all the way, which is about as engaging as it sounds. All the other major parts have been cast with MST3K alumni, though, and these people are highly entertaining. The best so far includes Frank Conniff as SIMON the robot, who tends to show up and help you with puzzles after you’ve already solved them. Also, Trace Beaulieu as the missing first mate, who’s either your best friend or worst enemy, depending on how you interpret the clues thus far. J. Elvis Weinstein shows up in archive footage as the captain of a previous expedition, meeting certain doom with admirable nonchalant professionalism.

Puzzles are occasionally obtuse but always logical. Example: use of a scanner will show you which buttons on the security keypad opened it previously, but you have to trial-and-error your way through various combinations of them before you stumble on the right code by accident. The ship’s interfaces aren’t needlessly elaborate. Once you figure out which button does what, programming the systems to do what you want them to do is fairly straightforward. I like the fact that once you’ve found a switch (not always an easy task) often all you have to do is flip it.

Art design is gorgeous, well-detailed and full of objects you can interact with. I sometimes find myself wondering why a starship would need marble columns, original works of art with display lighting, sumptuous chaise lounges, wooden chests with puzzle locks, twisting secret passages and so forth, but hey, it makes for a fascinating exploration experience. In an adventure game that’s more important than realism.

Unfortunately, this beautiful game is rendered by ancient, wheezing technology that crashes at least once an hour, resizing my desktop to 1024x768 every time. The user interface is ugly, sluggish, unintuitive and in all other ways horrible. The icon for moving forward is the same as the one for interacting with objects, which makes the genre-required pixel-hunting more difficult than it needs to be. I figured out the interface after a while, but it remains inelegant and cumbersome, like trying to drive a luxury sedan with a hand crank instead of a steering wheel.

I find this extremely odd. Why is manipulating the spaceship easier and more fun than manipulating the person who’s manipulating the spaceship?

Bottom line: Beautiful, well-designed, old-school adventure game buried under obsolete technology and a bad user interface. So-so performance by the lead. Great performances from the supporting cast.

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12/21/10

RVOD147 Courtesy Counts a Lot!

(1976, Educational/Short/Animation/Children, color)

Riffers:

Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy

Good! Fresh nightmare fuel. I was running kinda low.

Rating: ***1/2

In a Nutshell:


Oddly animated creatures demonstrate the value of courtesy.

Summary:

Never forget!Kids queue up in a public building of some sort (school? museum? superior court?) waiting for their turn at a hand-cranked nickelodeon. The kid in front cranks away, taking his own sweet time until a larger boy becomes impatient and pulls him away from the viewer. They do not appear to have adult supervision of any kind, so no one does it anything about it. The bully puts his face to the viewer and starts a-crankin’

Roll the opening credits, accompanied by a tuneless courtesy-themed song that will be repeated many, many times. What should you do when your hot air balloon crashes into palm tree and you’re rescued by a cartoon giraffe? Thank it politely, of course. “Who forgot?” a chorus of children sing, “I did not! Courtesy counts a lot!” What should you do if you’re hunting butterflies deep in the trackless jungle, and you accidentally whack a rival lepidopterist with your net? Apologize immediately, of course. “Who forgot? I did not!” the children sing. What should you do if you’re a clown, so absorbed in your clown magazine that you ignore the terrified stampede of jungle animals going the other way, walking right into the chest-high toe of a fearsome giant? Say, “Please excuse me,” of course. The children repeat their all-too-familiar chorus. What should you do if you’re at a psychedelic concert of rose-colored anthropomorphic feline jazz musicians, and you’re really diggin’ the scene and groovin’ to the sound, baby, flailing around with your arms and legs until you accidentally punch a fellow concert-goer in the face, causing a humorous timpani sound effect? What’s that, child chorus? There’s a courteous, tension-resolving remark for this situation as well? You don’t say.

The bully looks up from the viewer, which has been occupying for nearly the entire running time of this eleven-minute short. Remembering the lessons of the child chorus in the nickelodeon, he apologizes to the patient but irritated crowd of children behind him. They forgive him instantly.

Thoughts:

I know I’ve missed a couple of the hypothetical situations in the summary above. I seem to recall something about a kid watching opera on TV while apologizing to a fly. And wasn’t there something about a fight between a cloud and the sun? And some sort of witch maybe? It made no sense at all, which is probably why it mostly fell out of my memory. But if that’s the reason, why do I remember any of this animated nonsense barrage?

I’ll give it this much though, the short gets its message across. “Who forgot? I did not! Courtesy counts a lot!” It counts so much that it absolves all guilt, averting any consequences and obviating the need to take responsibility for one’s actions. Those animated kids probably could have gotten away with bank robbery if they’d said “Please excuse me” after swiping the contents of the vault and shooting three tellers in the head. Someone probably should have mentioned that this only works for very minor infractions. You also have to be adorable and under ten.

A few favorite comments: While children turn the nickelodeon crank, Mike says, “Kids line up for archival footage of the 1889 World’s Fair.” When the title pops up during the opening credits, Kevin says, “Our court-ordered follow-up to ‘Might Makes Right.’” When a sympathetic cloud extinguishes the sun and comes down to rain on a flower at close range, Bill shouts, “Cloud urine!” The short is bizarre but at least it’s focused. A well-timed bit of riffing helps too.

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Holiday Rifftrax Review Extravaganza

By 'All New' they mean 'Mostly Old'.Welcome, won't you?

I have watched Santa Claus' Punch and Judy (review here), and, uh... The generation that gives us such a hard time about our popular entertainment being vulgar and violent has skeletons in its closet like you wouldn't believe.

I have watched Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny (review here), and it seems my previous statement declaring The 'Star Wars' Holiday Special "the funniest Rifftrax recorded" was somewhat premature. I don't know what it is about inept and vividly strange Christmas specials that brings out the best in them, but I'm glad it does. If you haven't seen this already, you need to drop what you're doing and buy it right now.

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12/17/10

Santa vs. Bunny vs. Punch vs. Judy

This poster has higher production values than the film itself.Welcome, won't you?

Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny has been released. Grab it here. In preparation for viewing I've been practicing my suspension of disbelief all day. Fearing that this would not be enough, I've also been suspending my expectations of quality, as well as my desire for traditional narrative. Sometime tonight I'll find out if I should have been suspending more.

Edit: If giant Floridian lagomorphs don't pack enough punch for you in the holiday cheer department, Rifftrax has also released Santa Claus' Punch and Judy, a heartwarming Christmas tale about disturbing puppets that beat each other over the head. Grab it here.

Also, Darkstar has finished downloading. So far I've only fiddled with the settings and, uh, am I wrong, or is the resolution really fixed at 1024x768? What is this, 1999? More later.

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12/14/10

Darkstar Coupon Code

I'm wondering how they eat and breathe and other science facts.Welcome, won't you?

Everything at StrategyFirst.com is 20% off if you use the coupon code "GAMER" at checkout. This brings the price of Darkstar down to twenty three dollars and change. I've purchased my copy, and will be downloading/installing it tonight. I'll start plugging my way through it in a couple of days, when I'm finished with Fable III.

Update 12/15/10 with gratuitous Star Wars quote: "Look at the size of that thing." Be warned, the Strategy First download of Darkstar is divided into twenty-two 640MB chunks. I could probably order a physical copy and receive it in the mail before it finishes downloading.

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12/13/10

RVOD146 Basic Job Skills: Handling Daily Problems

(1970s, Educational/Short, color)

Riffers:

Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy

Here are the documents instructing you to f--- off.

Rating: ***

In a Nutshell:


People with problems at work should just solve them already.

Summary:

My workplace needs more explosive switchboxes.The main narrator—the overnarrator, if you will—introduces us to three sub-narrators, including the X-Ray technician, the restaurant manager and the construction foreman. These three Zen masters of the workplace go about their daily jobs shaking their heads at their hapless coworkers, who just can’t handle the pressure.

The groovy mediators of conflict take their various charges aside and dispense subtle advice. Previously fractured relationships are mended over cafeteria food, bowling and large shapeless piles of wood. Instead of flipping out, disgruntled employees talk to their managers and coworkers, who make everything better. Suddenly, the nurse can get her medicine cabinet filled on time, the junior cook actually gets to cook, and the angry supervisor stops being so angry. Oh, and the bookkeeper who’s so mad about being made a cashier learns to swallow her pride and do it anyway.

Thoughts:

To my mind, the angry supervisor bit best represents the short as a whole. To wit, “If your supervisor is being mean to you, he should probably be nicer.” Like the rest of the advice dispensed, it’s both basically true and entirely unhelpful. The problem lies in the way it tends to see workplaces as kindergartens, i.e. most problems can be solved with a hug and an apology, while the stickier issues can easily be taken to the nearest adult, er, supervisor for correction.

In a real world workplace, everyone’s an adult. This includes supervisors, who are just other adults, possessing the same basic attributes as their subordinates. Far from being easygoing and malleable like children, it turns out adults are prickly, stubborn creatures who know that you don’t know more than they do. Working with them is easiest when you find out where the prickles are and learn to work around them.

A few favorite comments: While motionless people are wheeled through the hospital, Bill identifies one as “another corpse for the grinder.” After describing a lengthy conflict resolution process Kevin, adds, “Then you fight with quarterstaffs.” When we meet the heavily mustached lead chef, Mike asks, “Shouldn’t he be dodging barrels thrown by a monkey?” It’s a heavily idealized short and a decent commentary, worth a look.

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12/9/10

Team Harpo

When did people start confusing 'sexy' with 'bored'?Welcome, won't you?

The Twilight Saga continues to wreak a bloody swath of destruction across the hearts of teenaged females and people of similar temperament. I'd call The Twilight Saga: Eclipse the best of the series thus far, but it would be a ridiculous statement, like talking up my favorite root canal. It implies quality, when all I'm doing is measuring the movies' relative levels of unpleasantness. The Rifftrax is good. Above average, even. At times it's a pity you have to watch the movie while listening to it. Review here.

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12/8/10

RVOD145 The Being On Time Game

(1970s-ish, Educational/Short, color)

Riffers:

Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy

He has the attention span of a goldfish who lives in a bowl of cheap tequila.

Rating: **1/2

In a Nutshell:


The avuncular Mr. Mack returns to teach little Cindy how to be on time.

Summary:

My androgynous partner is always late.Camp Counselor calls everyone away from the playground to begin the three-legged race, but Cindy figures she can get just a few more swings in before it starts. Naturally, she’s late, leaving her partner high and dry. Later, her mother sends her down to visit Mr. Mack at his shop. She skips there in slow motion, arriving fully ten minutes after five o’clock.

The couplet-spewing Mr. Mack scolds her with many, many variations on the hurry/worry rhyme scheme. He goes over such object lessons as the girl who was late for her own counting contest, and the boy who rushed out to meet his friends on the basketball court, forgetting the ball. Also, what would happen if her dad refused to wake up until he had only five minutes to get to work? Why, he’d eat, dress and bath in hilarious fast motion, still arriving far too late to satisfy his huge, stogie-smoking boss.

To prevent such mishaps, Cindy needs to plan ahead, getting things ready when necessary and starting early where possible. If unforeseen circumstances prevent punctuality, she should have her mother call ahead to let the appropriate parties know.

Thoughts:

The Being On Time Game puts forward the radical notion that if you have to go to that one place to do that one thing, when the time comes perhaps you should not go to that other place and do that other thing instead. It ain’t brain surgery. That’s probably a good thing, as neither Cindy nor Mr. Mack look like brain surgeons.

A few favorite comments: When Cindy refuses to join the race immediately, Bill says, “I’m not getting off this swing until I determine my own gender.” A close-up of a clock in Mr. Mack’s insanely decorated workshop gets us Kevin’s best stoner impersonation, “Time... whoa...” At one point Mike notes, “It’s hard to be on time when you travel solely by slow-motion skipping.” The short has sound, if a bit basic advice, but the rhymes are horrible and that kid always looks like she’s about to fall asleep. It’s dull, is what I’m saying, and the best the riffers can do is make it less dull.

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12/7/10

Boom

A boomer booming boomily.Welcome, won't you?

Unto the Least of These has been released to the general public. If you didn't get it as part of last Friday's live online preview, you can pick it up here. I did attend on Friday, so I've already got one. Here's the review. Wild booming chickens, everyone!

Also, I'm about halfway through a viewing of The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. I'll post a review either Thursday or Monday. For right know, I'll just say that I've spent about a third of the time laughing, a third of the time cringing, and the final third doing both at once.

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RVOD144 Courtesy: A Good Eggsample

(1976, Educational/Short/Children/Animation, color)

Riffers:

Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy

Thanks again for the really imaginative name!

Rating: ***

In a Nutshell:


Depicts sentient, stop-motion eggs in bowties.

Summary:

Eggbert and his mom.  I'm guessing mom's name is Egglentine.Like a good little egg, sentient egg Eggbert collects the paper from the front lawn and returns it to his egg mother in front of their egg-shaped house before heading off to egg-shaped school in an egg carton school bus.

Sentient egg classmate Benedict, however, is not a good little egg. He shoves others out of the way to cut into line and won’t move over to let people sit by him on the bus. At school he lingers outside after the outdoor flag ceremony and doesn’t make into class in time for the indoor flag ceremony. At recess he steals balls, pushes people out of the way to run up the slide...

He falls off the slide, and runny egg white starts to ooze. The other egg children can only stand around and mock him, glad that the bully has finally gotten his comeuppance. Eggbert, however, gathers him up and takes him to the nurse. After school, Benedict emerges with a bandage over his crack. He tries to cut into the bus line, but Eggbert glares harder than any eyeless object has a right to glare. Chastened, Benedict goes to the back of the line. On the bus, he moves over to let Eggbert sit beside him.

Thoughts:

How about that playground accident? Despite the oddity of this absurdly egg-centric world and the meandering nature of the short, the filmmakers do a halfway decent job establishing the sentient stop-motion eggs as analogs of human beings. So watching one lose that much fluid at once is kind of disturbing. Courtesy is that important, folks! Be nice to people, or no one will help while you’re bleeding your guts out.

A few favorite comments: As Eggbert strolls quietly down the street, Kevin gives him an inner monologue. “Which came first?” he asks, “the chicken or the me?” While multiple flag ceremonies drag on, Mike urges the students, “Remember the egg martyrs who died in the mess kits at Normandy!” Bill notes the odd, noodling music with, “Soundtrack by a ferret on a Casio.” Throughout, the riffers imagine the whole short as a work of Batman villain Egghead. The short is bright, colorful, bizarre, and, sadly, mostly empty. The riffers fill the spaces where they can, and the result is reasonably amusing.

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12/6/10

Live Show Cancelled

This poster has higher production values than the film itself.Welcome, won't you?

Looks like the Rifftrax Online Live show scheduled for next Thursday has been cancelled, and considering their server capacity/popularity ratio, that's probably for the best. Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny is still on though, to be released as a VOD on December 17th, 2010. I'm looking forward to a hallucinogenic yet lag-free experience.

Also, it looks like Unto the Least of These hasn't been released to anyone but the people who showed up for last Friday's live pre-show, so I'll hold off until its public release before posting a review.

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12/3/10

Team Mustache Dad

A match made in heaven.Welcome, won't you?

The live online announcement/short is over. Traffic has once again all but annihilated the Rifftrax servers, but when I finally managed to load the right page, performance was smooth. The Rifftrax online experience appears to be teetering right on the brink of "functional". One would hope they've got a plan in place to handle the extra bandwidth strain a prime time audience will bring to bear.

Anyway, a disheveled Mike kicked things off by promoting the newly released The Twilight Saga: Eclipse commentary (grab it here) as well as the newly released Maniac DVD (review here). Then he announced the subject of the upcoming live show: Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny (imdb here). A montage of scenes culled from that film followed, and believe me, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians looks lucid and high-budget by comparison. Then a break, and then the short: Unto the Least of These, which, as you might have guessed, is about wild chicken conservation. A downloadable version ought to become available just as soon as the main Rifftrax site recovers.

Once again: the commentary for The Twilight Saga: Eclipse is available now, and tickets for the live online riffing of Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny on December 16, 2010 at 6:00 p.m. PST ought to be available shortly.

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It's a Busy Day at Rifftrax

Rifftrax Live Online: Underestimating it's own popularity since 2008.Welcome, won't you?

Rifftrax's live online preview short happens at 1:00 p.m. today. Get your ticket now, if you haven't already. There'll be an announcement about the 16th's live show, and sometime today the Eclipse commentary ought to be out too. I'll post again later after the 1 p.m. event.

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12/2/10

RVOD143 Santa Claus' Punch and Judy

(1948, Holiday/Children, b&w)

Riffers:

Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy

Santa: Giving the gift of domestic violence for Christmas.

Rating: ***

In a Nutshell:


Santa just loves him some good old fashioned racist, misogynist puppetry.

Summary:

Giving the gift of puppet hate crimes in miniature.Poorly recorded children approach Santa one at a time to petition him for gifts. Santa complies with each request, and in some cases gives even more. One misguided youth, for instance, wants a toy Punch and Judy show. Santa gives him one, and then waves his arms to conjure a full-sized puppet theater into the room. Out pop Punch and Judy!

Punch and Judy are a pair of hideous European hand puppets who beat each other with a stick. This is their only means of communication. Other puppet characters are brought in to liven the proceedings. (Only two are on stage at any given time, for obvious reasons.) Punch and a cat beat each other with a stick. Punch and a monkey beat each other with a stick. Punch narrowly avoids being eaten by an alligator, which then beats him with a stick. Two nameless blackface puppets beat each other with a stick. Judy comes back at the end to raise the olive branch of peace and open lines of communication, fostering mutual understanding and appreciation to begin their relationship anew... Oh wait. My mistake. She beats him with a stick.

Thoughts:

Yes, this is a real still from the real movie.  Your jaw should be hanging open right now.  I know mine was.Did children actually like this? With no context or consequences attached to the violence and a lack of alternative entertainments, I’m sure many did, but I would note Kevin’s comment partway through the show: “I hear kids squealing, but I see kids sitting quietly.”

There are many possible nits to pick here, but I probably won’t get to any of them. Why speak of mere nits when there’s an elephant in the room? Of course the violence depicted against blacks and women is nothing short of reprehensible, even when partially obscured by puppet avatars. As metaphorical elephants go, this one is so large even the filmmakers of 1948 seem to sense its shape. I think they’re attempting to get around it by directing the violence almost entirely at Punch, while the blacks only beat up each other. Not that this helps any. The next time some curmudgeonly relative moans about how movies and videogames are so much more violent these days, I think I’ll mention Punch and Judy.

Much of the commentary’s humor has to do with the inappropriateness of the subject matter. Kevin starts us off by calling it, “Sequel to the Ice Cream Bunny’s Amos and Andy.” Bill feigns shock when the black puppets appear. “Minstrel puppet shows are for Easter!” he objects. When Santa magically dismisses them, Mike provides the incantation: “Back to the level of Hell where you reside, suffering the torments that fuel your violent rage.” It’s a good commentary coupled with a well-performed puppet show, but the uncomfortable subject matter both fuels the humor and overshadows it. It’s worth a look if you’re not easily offended.

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RVOD142 Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny

Reviewed in the regular Rifftrax section.

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11/29/10

Calendar Knuckles

So, the calendar presenter that's blue on top and yellow on the bottom is racist against the presenter that's yellow on top and blue on the bottom?Welcome, won't you?

Here's my review of the Rifftrax for The Calendar: How to Use It, the short so remedial, its target audience hasn't been born yet. I've added it to my imaginary Top Ten Shorts list, alongside such greats as One Got Fat, Drugs are Like That and an undetermined number of others. Grab it here, if you haven't already.

Also, Strategy First appears to have gotten its act together and dropped Darkstar's price to a more reasonable $29.99, matching the cost of a boxed copy from the Darkstar Store.

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11/24/10

I Hope They've Upgraded to Fire-Proof Servers

Rifftrax Live Online: Underestimating it's own popularity since 2008.Welcome, won't you?

On December 16, 2010 at 6 p.m. PST, Rifftrax is jumping back into the world of live internet broadcasts for their 2010 Christmas show. Unfortunately, I won't be able to watch it, as it has been scheduled on a work day during my commute home. I'll happily attend the live riffing of the show's short subject, which one can attend online for only 99 cents on Friday, December 3 at 1 p.m. The title of the movie they're going to mock on the 16th will be announced at that preview. Get all the details here.

Also, I'm hosting Thanksgiving for my family this year, and thus will be unavailable to the internet until next Monday, which is the earliest the review of The Calendar: How to Use It can be posted. I've already watched it though, and it's one of their best.

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11/23/10

Let That Be Your Last Battlefield

So, the calendar presenter that's blue on top and yellow on the bottom is racist against the presenter that's yellow on top and blue on the bottom?Welcome, won't you?

Rifftrax wonders if you know what day it is. If not, their latest short, The Calendar: How to Use It ought to clear things up for you right away. Or maybe they just wanted to subject us to more aimless folk guitar. Grab it here.

Also, it looks like Darkstar is finally available as a download from Strategy First. Currently, they're charging $39.99, $10 more than what you'd pay for a physical copy from the official Darkstar Store. I've only found one review online thus far, and it's pretty glowing. Of course the reviewer's a die-hard MST3K fan. As far as I can tell, we're the only people Darkstar has been marketed to. I don't pay full price for games on general principle, so I won't be reviewing it until someone has a sale.

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11/18/10

(Oh Please Let This Be) The Last Shyamalan Film

AKA The Thing With Two HeadsWelcome, won't you?

My review of the riff for Shyamalan's latest crime against moviegoers has been posted. The riff is pretty funny, but the movie, well... It's common among creative types to look at a someone else's work and say to yourself, "I could have done that," as if even a bad movie didn't require huge amounts of work and a great deal of skill. In the case of The Last Airbender, though, it might actually be true. Hell, given $150 million and a crew of professionals, my six-year-old daughter could have come up with something more interesting, probably with ponies in it.

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11/17/10

RVOD141 Unto the Least of These

(1970s-ish, Educational/Short, color)

Riffers:

Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy

The most effective method, according to our consultant Wile E. Coyote.

Rating: ***

In a Nutshell
:

Texas conservationists go to way too much effort to rescue wild chickens.

Summary:

Booming all over the place.Wild prairie chickens boom their way through the booming outskirts of Houston. Planes boom to and from their destinations at the local airport, located right in the middle of the chickens’ traditional booming grounds. (Yes, the narrator really talks like that.) Lacking even the most basic of survival instincts, this ultrarare breed of poultry refuses to flee—more than just an annoyance, as chickens and jet engines in close proximity tend to destroy one another. There is only one possible solution: attach a huge net to the front of a helicopter and scoop up the errant birds one by one. The chickens get packed into lasagna boxes and airlifted to a storm-devastated bit of countryside that no one else seems to want. Because of St. Matthew, I guess.

Thoughts:

The lasagna boxes show that at least someone was thinking frugally, but I bet I could have saved the state at least five million more dollars by swapping the helicopter and private plane for a dart gun and pickup truck, respectively. The fuel costs for this operation alone must have been staggering.

Except for the odd bit of “booming” nonsense, the short starts off pretty boring. I got kind of antsy after the first few minutes content-free narration, but then they bolted an enormous butterfly net to the front of a helicopter, and I couldn’t stop laughing. Seriously? A state agency spent taxpayer money to do this? Guys, I work for a state agency, and uh, wow... I’ve never been in a position to do something like this, but let’s say I did. Let’s say I had access to state funds, a reasonable amount of authority, a lack of immediate supervision and a directive to save some wild chickens. Now let’s say I went on to spend even more state money to make a film obliquely extolling my Rube Goldberg-esque plan as the will of the Almighty. I would get called into someone’s office. I would have some splainin’ to do.

A few favorite comments: While the net/helicopter combo zooms just a few feet off the ground, Kevin says, “I’m pretty sure a cartoon dog catcher could do this in less time.” The narrator reveals that the relocation area has been devastated by several consecutive natural disasters, and Bill adds, “It’s not a plan we’ve thought through. At all. At any phase.” When the narrator warns that these chickens might become extinct by the year 2000, Mike adds, “Don’t get your hopes up; they’re not.” It’s a dull, dry, staid little short, depicting serious men doing things that must have seemed like a good idea to their five-year-old children at the time. With the commentary, it thankfully ends up with more hilarity than boredom.

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11/16/10

Time to Bend Some Air

Mr. Shyamalan wants our air to get bent.Welcome, won't you?

As predicted, a riff for The Last Airbender has been released. So has the movie, by the way, but that's not nearly as worthy of celebration. I'll be watching it tonight, no thanks to Blockbuster, which apparently doesn't get movies on their release dates anymore. Grab it here.

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11/15/10

Hail Hubcap, Full of Grace

And here I thought the Wachowskis had cornered the American Market on tedious fantasy kung fu.Welcome, won't you?

I'm away from my computer for two seconds... er, four days, and the internet happens without me. I'd be upset if the issue wasn't so trivial.

Anyway, here's the rundown:

1) Here's my review of Values: Understanding Ourselves, a short that, ironically, doesn't appear to understand itself.

2) This Youtube video outlines the Rifftrax Master Plan through early December. Release day riffs for The Last Airbender (November 16, 2010) and Twilight: Eclipse (December 4, 2010). More big announcements for December have been hinted at... Well, you probably ought to just watch it yourself. That date for The Last Airbender release is tomorrow, by the way.

3) Strategy First finally has a passing mention of Darkstar on one of its revolving ads. For right now, it's listed as "Coming Soon".

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11/9/10

Did Someone Forget to Tell Strategy First?

What, no token Asian?Welcome, won't you?

It's Tuesday, which means Rifftrax has a new short. This one's Values: Understanding Ourselves. Naturally, it's about hubcaps. Grab it here.

Also, is it just me, or is Darkstar not actually out yet? They've got their own store that will probably take your money, and perhaps, maybe, possibly, just maybe send you a box with two DVDs in it someday. I'd try it myself, but seeing as how no one else on the web has acknowledged their existence, not even their publisher, I can't quite bring myself to pursue the experiment that far. I'd love to be wrong about this. Somebody please tell me if I am.

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11/8/10

Rifftrax Video On Demand 131 to 140

RVOD131 Seven Little Ducks

RVOD132 Cops: Who Needs Them?

RVOD133 You Can Do Something About Acne

RVOD134 Safe Living at School

RVOD135 Behavior of Domestic-Pigs in a semi-natural Pig-Park

RVOD136 Monkey See, Monkey Do: Verbs

RVOD137 Don't Be a Bloody Idiot

RVOD138 Magical Disappearing Money

RVOD139 Values: Understanding Ourselves

RVOD140 The Calendar: How to Use It

There are four really awesome shorts in this section: You Can Do Something About Acne contains the reassurance of the title and squirm-inducing biological facts, but no actual advice. The insanely capitalized and punctuated Behavior of Domestic-Pigs in a semi-natural Pig-Park is also insanely narrated in an only partially intelligible Scottish accent. Magical Disappearing Money offers terrified shoppers upon the altar of the bemused and careless Grocery Witch. The Calendar: How to Use It, doesn't think you know what numbers are. All of the above are kind of insane even without riffing, which leads me to believe that short selection is getting a little better down there at Rifftrax.

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11/5/10

Now Available, I Guess

The classic 'we bad' pose.Welcome, won't you?

Darkstar's out today, but as far as I can tell, the only place to order it is from the Darkstar store. I guess the download's supposed to be available from Strategy First, but thus far their site has no mention of it.

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11/4/10

Vote Christine O'Donnell!

Christine O'Donnell was Delaware's Republican candidate for the Senate in 2010.  In an interview she said she'd briefly practiced witchcraft as a rebellious teenager.Welcome, won't you?

Magical Disappearing Money has magic (of a sort) and peripherally discusses the subject of money, but the only thing that overtly and permanently disappears is a rather surprised milkman. Accurate titles have never been the strong point of any of these shorts, however, and this title's own failure to mention breaded zucchini and floral print capes do not prevent the short from being one of the funniest they've done. Review here.

Also: Darkstar is scheduled for release tomorrow, but I'll probably hold off until it goes on sale. They make me wait, I make them wait.

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11/2/10

Next Halloween I'm Dressing Up as Breaded Zucchini

Moments after accidentally consigning an unlucky milkman to the fires of hell.Welcome, won't you?

I know you've all been clamoring to know what I thought of last Thursday's Rifftrax Live show. (In case you're wondering, the sound of my readers clamoring is all but indistinguishable from the soft chirp of crickets.) Clamor no more. The event report has been posted here.

In related news, a studio version of the first (and funniest) short from that show has been released. If you haven't gotten it already as part of your Rifftrax Live show goodies, go ahead and pick up Magical Disappearing Money and join the Grocery Witch in the fires of powdered milk hell. Grab it here.

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11/1/10

RVOD140 The Calendar: How to Use It

(1970s-ish, Educational/Short, color)

Riffers:

Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy

Thirty days hath September / I’m someone you want to dismember...

Rating: ****

In a Nutshell:


Oddly dressed calendar models teach youngsters how read the date.

Summary:

While reading a calendar, please remember to breath.A little girl shows up a day late to her friend’s birthday party. Embarrassed, she goes home and sits on her bed staring at the calendar. The lustrously-clothed calendar models spring to life and explain how to tell what day it is using common abbreviations, a previously unknown system of counting known as “numbers,” and a confusing, knuckle-based mnemonic device. They vanish at odd intervals to make room for a sleeveless rocker, who strums arbitrary notes on his electric guitar while repeating the models’ instructions in song.

Thoughts:

A word about the calendar rocker’s calendar songs: they are calendar tuneless. I mean, you may have calendar thought that the songs calendar from Monkey See Monkey Do: Verbs were tuneless, but calendar believe me, you calendar ain’t heard nothin’ yet. After sitting through the calendar songs in this calendar short, you still won’t have heard anything.

Beyond that, The Calendar: How to Use It is an odd little film with no real target audience, as surely a brain that needs instruction this basic also lacks the capacity to imbue sounds and images with meaning. Add this to its unabashedly awful soundtrack and relentless cheerfulness and you’ve got a film made in riffer heaven.

Given such low-hanging fruit, the riffers could have phoned in just about anything and made it funny. Fortunately, they appear to have found the rich source material inspiring. A few favorite comments: When the really, really white calendar people appear, offering to teach the time-ignorant child the wonders of calendars, Mike says, “But first, we’ll make you a lettuce and mayonnaise sandwich on wonderbread!” When the calendar rocker appears for the musical recap, Bill says, “This guy could easily win a Make Everyone Hate You contest.” As the songs and instruction grow more annoying and remedial with every word, Kevin complains, “He is actually pushing information out of my head.” At one point, the models attempt some of the stupidest wordplay ever conceived, causing all three riffer’s heads to explode. An unnamed third party appears to announce the Rifftrax’s cancellation due to mass death, but fortunately they get better less than a minute later. This one goes on the “Riffs Absolutely Everyone Must See” pile.

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10/28/10

Don't Be an Australian Benny Hill Impersonator

Don't miss tonight's performance either.Welcome, won't you?

A review for the confrontational camping safety short Don't Be a Bloody Idiot has been posted. Enjoy! Hopefully while preparing to watch the Rifftrax Live broadcast of House on Haunted Hill in your local theater tonight. (Tickets available here, if you don't already have one.)

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10/27/10

Rifftrax Live Tomorrow

I hope they don't hand out loaded guns and then lock the doors.Welcome, won't you?

A review for Don't Be a Bloody Idiot will be posted tomorrow. Also happening tomorrow: Rifftrax's live broadcast of House on Haunted Hill. Find tickets and locations here. I'll be watching from San Rafael.

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10/26/10

Not Sure Why It's a Meme

SpartaaaaArgos!Welcome, won't you?

"Release the Kraken!" Liam cried in the deep, portentous voice that made him a star. Yes, it was silly, but not any sillier than the rest of the movie. If anything, Neeson's delivery made it more dignified than most of the other lines, reduced as they were to incomprehensible mush by Sam Worthington's emotionless growl.

Anyway, the commentary's good, but Clash of the Titans itself is duller than drying paint. Review here.

Also, if you thought that pig short's title was delicious wait'll you see today's offering. Don't Be a Bloody Idiot comes to us through Rifftrax by way of Australia, where it's apparently kosher for educational films to swear at their students right in the title. I'm looking forward to it. Grab it here.

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10/23/10

Serving All Your Kraken-Releasing Needs

A single glance at this jpeg will turn you to stone.Welcome, won't you?

The Rifftrax commentary for the new version Clash of the Titans was released yesterday, but I was too busy enjoying Carpeting Adventures in the Rain(tm) to note this. Hell, I didn't even get to Parent-Teacher conferences like I was supposed to. But I guess it's better to release the Kraken a day late than not at all. Grab the commentary here. Review to come.

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10/22/10

RVOD139 Values: Understanding Ourselves

(1970s-ish, Educational/Short, color)

Riffers:

Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy

How come dogs only talk to me?

Rating: ***

In a Nutshell:


Three kids wander around; one is driven to madness by a discarded hubcap.

Summary:

The One Hubcap, which drives its users to madness.Three small boys wander a neighborhood, jumping off walls and teasing girls, their arms around one another at all times. A narrator tells us about their different (read: all but identical) family situations, then touches on the story of Aladdin. Soon after, the boys find a hubcap in a vacant lot. They stick their tongues out at it for hours, eventually deciding that it’s a magic hubcap, capable of granting wishes. The Hispanic boy rubs it with feverish desperation, wishing to be someone else. He stops after several minutes, finally deciding that it’s okay to be himself after all. The Caucasian and African American boys decline their turns at rubbing. Whether they reached the same epiphany as their friend or were just sort of freaked out by his brief lapse into hubcap-polishing lunacy is a question that remains unanswered.

Thoughts:

Good short full of good points. I feel like it really helped me understand those boys better, you know, as people. I never actually thought about it before, but polishing a hubcap with your sleeve really is a revealing experience. It’s a pastime that generates moments of pure insight into the meaning of life. When it’s just you and your greasy, distorted reflection, you better believe your skill at introspective rubbing is the only thing that can tell you whether you’re a boy or a man. That’s the way I see it, anyway. I could be wrong. And if I am, then the short is nonsense with no point to it at all.

A few favorite comments: When the boys can’t stop showing the hubcap their tongues, Mike says, “It’s practically begging us to lick it.” When the narrator calls the hubcap a “magic mirror”, Kevin notes that it’s “a magic mirror, splattered with mud and old motor oil.” While the boys obsess over their discovery, Bill wants to know, “Had they not invented toys yet when this was filmed?” The short’s basically just a big block of unconnected assertions, and the riffers do a decent job pointing this out.

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10/21/10

DOING!

Don't know what to say / The monkeys won't DO...Welcome, won't you?

Rifftrax's latest short Monkey See, Monkey Do: Verbs has monkeys in it. And verbs. And a guitar. That's about it, really. Hope you like monkeys. Review here.

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10/19/10

RE: Teats

The monkey's name is 'Verbs'?Welcome, won't you?

Behavior of Domestic-Pigs in a semi-natural Pig Park is simple enough in idea and execution, yet somehow reaches almost One Got Fat-levels of weirdness. I heartily recommend it, with the warning that it contains teats and distended porcine reproductive orifices. Review here.

Also on the animal short front, Rifftrax has released the simian grammar film, Monkey See, Monkey Do: Verbs. Grab it here.

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10/15/10

Release the Hyphens!

A single glance at this jpeg will turn you to stone.Welcome, won't you?

Lots of things to discuss today.

1) Here's the Safe Living at School review, the safety short for clumsy, drum-headed children everywhere.

2) The title alone is an English major's nightmare. Rifftrax's newest short is Behavior of Domestic-Pigs in a semi-natural Pig-Park. What other grammatical horrors are in store? Let's all watch and find out.

3) The next full-length Rifftrax will the this year's remake of Clash of the Titans. I haven't seen it yet, but I understand that, at some point, Liam Neeson shouts something silly. Featuring Mike, Kevin and Bill. To be released on October 22, 2010.

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10/14/10

RVOD138 Magical Disappearing Money

(1972, Educational/Short, color)

Riffers:

Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy

Join me in the abyss of savings!

Rating: ****

In a Nutshell:


Only buy food in its basest, most unvarnished form.

Summary:

Christine O'Donnell was Delaware's Republican candidate for the Senate in 2010.  In an interview she said she'd briefly practiced witchcraft as a rebellious teenager.Shoppers wander the grocery store selecting their favorite processed foods while an invisible woman in a hideous dress shakes her head and clucks with disapproval. Finally, she can stand it no longer. She whirls her muumuu’s cape and wags a finger, causing a child to crash his cart into a large display of generic laundry detergent. This somehow makes her visible to the shoppers. They gather round while she conjures herself a podium.

There’s a lot of finger wagging coupled with cheap special effects, peripherally involving an undernourished kitten and the consignment of a milkman to hell. The bulk of her act, however, consists of breaking down the shoppers’ prospective processed food purchases into their component ingredients. The child’s pre-sweetened cereal would be cheaper if his mom bought unsweetened and then added her own sugar. Head-ball lady would be better served with plain rice than the seasoned boxed kind. Muttonchop man should just buy fresh zucchini instead of that frozen, breaded stuff. And so on.

The shoppers nod their heads in general agreement. The floral-print grocery witch wags a finger and disappears, reconstructing the generic laundry detergent tower in her place. Fearing her whimsical, scatterbrained wrath, the shoppers return their overly extravagant purchases to the shelf, swapping them out for cheaper, plainer fare.

Thoughts:

How to describe the Grocery Witch? Let’s just say that if Mr. B Natural got really high and dressed like a 1950s Chesterfield, you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference. Strangely, I actually find myself agreeing with her shopping suggestions quite a bit, if not for the reasons she gives. I buy component ingredients because I love to cook, and food always tastes better when it’s been hand-prepared by someone who knows what they’re doing. It follows that we disagree on the subject of powdered milk, which is really friggin’ nasty. If you can't cook, or you don’t have the time and inclination, you'd be better off ignoring her.

A few favorite comments: When the title appears, Kevin subtitles it, “The story of the trillion-dollar stimulus package.” When the witch declares quick oats much too expensive, Bill adds, “Satan’s oats only cost your soul.” As the shoppers come round to the witch’s way of thinking, Mike invites them to “spread [her] dark gospel across the land.” Throughout, the witch has a habit of suddenly popping into frame at odd intervals, provoking deep-throated exclamations like, “Obey me!” and “I’ll drag you to hell!” when she appears. Kevin's parting shot, "Vote Christine O'Donnell!" is hilarious, even if, no one will remember what that means a year from now. It’s a very strange short, expertly mocked, and the riffers punch up its oddity and abruptness at just the right places.

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Rifftrax Live, October 28, 2010 (Broadcast from Nashville, Viewed from San Rafael)

The sight of Bill's tail is now burned into my memory forever.Getting to the show was far less eventful than it’s been in the past. I bought dinner, drove south, took a book for the half-hour I’d wait at the theater, etc. The pre-show slides were a nice way to pass the time when I finished my book; the one about Frankenstein being the name of the mad doctor not the—WHO THE HELL CARES! was my favorite. The cheesy infomercial-style advertisements for Rifftrax.com were pretty funny too. I think I’ll adopt “Hi, I’m Bob Rifftrax” as my new catch-phrase.

The show began with just a little patter this time, enough to give us their names and to make fun of each other’s half-assed Halloween costumes. Bill showed everyone his tail, provoking groans of disgust from his co-riffers. The shorts began.

First up: Magical Disappearing Money, an insane little short about an overexpressive woman dressed like my great-grandma’s sofa. She stalks a grocery store shaking her head with disgust at each unnecessary purchase. Finally, she waves her magic wand, forcing a child to knock over a laundry detergent display. Thereafter, she turns expensive processed foods into their cheap component ingredients for stupefied crowd.

Moments after accidentally consigning an unlucky milkman to the fires of hell.Comedian Paul F. Tompkins came out to join them, stopping the show for several minutes to do a very funny bit about his crippling fear of bathroom mirrors. Then he joined the Big Three to riff another short whose name escapes at the moment. It involved a possessed paper bag that abducted small children from their beds to witness the death and torment of his tree of origin in a paper mill. I’m sure it was meant as a whimsical journey of learning, but the end result was pure, unadulterated nightmare fuel. Of course the riffers—all four of them—pointed this out.

A word about Mr. Tompkins: Having missed the Reefer Madness show, I can’t speak with complete authority on the subject, but as far as I can tell, he’s the best guest they’ve had in a live show thus far. His comedy routine was hilarious and didn’t overstay its welcome. His riffing was pitch perfect and different enough to have its own style. (This may be more personal preference than anything. All my favorite guest riffers sound distinct from the others.) Hopefully he’ll appear in a full-length Rifftrax someday. Mr. Tompkins also appeared briefly during the featured riff, when Kevin made a particularly awful joke and was ejected from the stage by Mike and Bill. He started recycling riffs they’d done earlier in the film, and they swapped him back out for Kevin.

Which brings us to House on Haunted Hill. I’ve already reviewed it twice, so I won’t bore you with another summary. The commentary subtly improves every time they riff it, but in my mind, that’s not enough to justify yet a third treatment. Don’t get me wrong, it was funny as hell, but I’d gladly pay double for a live show that wasn’t built around yet another retread.

And, uh, that’s about all, really. The movie wound to its ridiculous, non-haunted finale, the riffers took their bows and I went home.

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10/13/10

Jaws Ay, Ay, Ay

The 'D' stands for 'Deathly Boring'.Welcome, won't you?

I was going to call Jaws 3 (formerly Jaws 3D) the dullest horror film ever made. But then I remembered Dark Water, a commentary for which is also available from Rifftrax Presents. So Jaws 3 is only the second most boring horror film I've ever seen. High praise indeed. Commentary's decent, though. Review here.

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10/12/10

Grade Schools Are Pits of Disease and Pestilence

An unholy amalgamation of Macaulay Culkin and Emo Phillips.Welcome, won't you?

A Jaws 3 review is in process. In the meantime, head back on down to Rifftrax, where the short film du jour teaches us Safe Living at School, a subject that doesn't get nearly enough class time at Hogwarts. Grab it here.

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10/11/10

RVOD137 Don't Be a Bloody Idiot

(1978, Educational/Short, color-ish)

Riffers:

Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy

Your tax dollars: searching for middle-aged fur trappers who are too drunk to move.

Rating: ***

In a Nutshell:


Make sure you’re prepared before you go walking about the bush.

Summary:

Don't be an Australian Benny Hill impersonator either.A bearded Australian (dubbed “Crocodile Brigham Young” by Kevin) points a shotgun at us and warns us all not to be bloody idiots. He quickly touches on the subject of shotgun safety before introducing us to three parties of outdoorsmen. Party One is a cartoonishly oafish couple who speed about the landscape in fast motion like Benny Hill. They fumble a barbeque and some folding chairs into the back of their station wagon and head into the wilderness. Party Two is just one guy on a hunting expedition, dropped off by his friends in the middle of nowhere to shoot at unspecified wildlife. Party Three is a group of four. They carefully plan their route ahead of time, packing all the necessary gear for staying out of doors overnight. They let the local police department know where they’re going on their way out of town.

Bearded Bruce McGunhappy narrates us through all of the above, plus their packing lists and some observations on what they’re doing right or wrong. That night it rains. The broadly played bumbling couple just wandered into the bush at random. They weren’t planning to be out overnight, but now they’re lost and can’t start a fire because they don’t have the right gear. The hunter didn’t take proper note of his position, so he’s lost too, but he’s got the equipment to start a fire and conserve his body heat. The hikers have wet weather gear, fire starters and tents, which they have the good sense to pitch on high ground. Of course they know exactly where they are, and hike right back to civilization the next day, making sure to let the cops know they’re back. The shooter survives his night out, finds a landmark, and returns to civilization as well. The designated Bloody Idiot couple remains thoroughly lost and unprepared. Fortunately, a nosy neighbor alerted the authorities of their absence and rescue efforts are underway as the short ends.

Thoughts:

The short is straightforward and fairly clear, if a bit overzealous. I’m all for being prepared, but hauling five tons of gear and informing the local authorities of my probable whereabouts at all times seems kind of excessive. But then, I’m not one for knocking about in the uncharted Tasmanian bush. I prefer to limit my wilderness experiences to the tamer “Carry a Map and Stay on the Trail” school of outdoorsmanship.

A few favorite comments: The short opens with the camera looking down a shotgun barrel, and Bill says, “Stop threatening me you Aussie lunatic.” After a little more abuse from the narrator, Kevin says, “I suppose it’s too much to ask that he gets mauled by a wallaby?” When the narrator asks what you should do when you’re lost, Mike suggests, “Give serious thought to the possibility that the world might be better off without you.” The fact that the short was made in a time and place where “bush” meant “wilderness” instead of “pubic hair” lends itself to jokes as well. It’s an often staid and sometimes oddly confrontational short whose regional quirks lend themselves well to mockery, and the riffers do a decent job of it.

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10/8/10

This Time It's Not Yet Personal

They're so happy about their imminent deaths.Welcome, won't you?

The Cole Stratton/Janet Varney Rifftrax Presents commentary for Jaws 3 is out. Grab it here.

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10/7/10

Sebum!

The views and opinions expressed by this short do not necessarily reflect those of the ACNE corporation.Welcome, won't you?

Sebum. It's all over you. It's inside you. And it's disgusting. Learn absolutely nothing about what you can do about sebum (and, by extension, acne), in You Can Do Something About Acne. Review here.

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10/5/10

Call Your Local Congressman Today!

But, without acne, where would Wile E. Coyote get all his stuff?Welcome, won't you?

It's Tuesday, and that means a new Rifftrax short. Today's offering is You Can Do Something About Acne. Maybe form an acne committee, or join an acne focus group. Perform dangerous, flamboyant stunts to raise acne awareness. Incite a rampaging vigilante mob and eradicate acne from our streets. Grab the short here.

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10/4/10

The House on Rifftrax Hill

I challenge the reader to work the phrase 'In partnership with Chud.com' into casual conversation some time today.Welcome, won't you?

Rifftrax once again spreads laughter and joy to children everywhere on October 28, 2010, when they perform a live broadcast riff of The House on Haunted Hill. This is not new news. The link to the place where you can buy tickets is, though. Go here.

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10/3/10

RVOD136 Monkey See, Monkey Do: Verbs

(1971, Educational/Short/Children, color)

Riffers:

Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy

Stop saying it like that, you warpo.

Rating: ***

In a Nutshell:


Monkeys and aimless folk guitar, with just a tiny bit of grammar.

Summary:

The Howler Monkey saw the best minds of his generation destroyed by... Well, you know the rest.Look at the monkeys. What are the monkeys DOING? Isn’t it amazing what all those monkeys can DO? Let’s watch them SWIM, SIT, SCRATCH and BITE. Now let’s sit in silence through similar footage while you (presumably the kids in class) think of words for what the monkeys are DOING yourself. Now let’s repeat the first section, this time as a rambling, pointless folk song.

Thoughts:

Yeah, it’s dumb, meandering, mostly pointless and vaguely obscene (DOING!), but I’ll be danged if the monkeys aren’t cute, and at least it gets across what a verb is. That last point alone puts it head and shoulders above most of the other grammar shorts I’ve seen via Rifftrax.

The material isn’t coherent enough to inspire much beyond your garden variety “monkeys throw poop” jokes, so the riffers frequently have to strike out on their own. Mike works in a Road House reference. Bill works in a Star Wars Holiday Special reference. Kevin works in an Alan Ginsberg reference. Kevin sums the whole thing up with my favorite comment near the short’s end, “I’m starting to think this movie was based on a drunken bet.” It captures the essence of what this short is—a more-or-less random set of images, words and music, aimed at children, likely by someone with an altered consciousness. The end result isn’t entirely hilarious, but somehow the riffers make it work.

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10/1/10

The "D" Has Long Since Slunk Away From the Title In Shame

They're so happy about their imminent deaths.Welcome, won't you?

I just got back from sailing the San Francisco Bay with a bunch of fifth graders, and boy are my arms tired. That sentence, while true, makes no sense as a joke, but ought to reveal a lot about my current state of exhaustion. Fortunately, my father has never offended a powerful shark dynasty (as far as I know), so the event was entirely marine predator-free.

See what I did there? I shouldn't be as proud of that segue as I am; I suspect I'll regret it after a good night's sleep. In any case, Janet Varney and Cole Stratton will delve back into their beloved 1980s for the next Rifftrax Presents, Jaws 3. To be released October 8, 2010.

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9/30/10

RVOD135 Behavior of Domestic-Pigs in a semi-natural Pig-Park

(1970s-ish, Educational/Short, color)

Riffers:

Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy

Just cut it out and be bacon, would you please?

Rating: ****

In a Nutshell:


Graphic Scottish pig husbandry.

Summary:

Parturition!Apparently pigs are best kept in herds, enclosed in large fields like sheep or cattle. A man with a thick Scottish brogue instructs us in the ways of these semi-wild pigs, going over mating habits, nesting habits, nurturing habits, etc. Birth (“parturition”), suckling and fights among males for dominance are graphically depicted.

Thoughts:

The summary above can’t begin to convey how weird this short is. We’re used to the rambling, unstructured style of the seventies and the oddly pointless tone of nature shorts by now, but when you put those together and then add the thick brogue, odd vocabulary and squirting porcine fluids, you’ve got a whole new level of surreal.

A few favorite comments: When the narrator addresses suckling, Bill says, “Well, at least now the word ‘teats’ is in play.” He then says this word at every opportunity for several minutes, ending with a horrified shriek when a hand reaches into frame to squeeze sow milk at the camera. When the narrator notes how piglets respond to threats, Mike says, “Threats With Erect Heads is the name of my vinyl punk cover band.” Near the end, Kevin notes the short’s Shyamalan-esque twist. “They were bacon this whole time!” he says. It’s not the strangest thing Rifftrax has ever shown me, but it’s pretty close, and the riffers take full advantage.

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