Rifftrax rules

I have written oft about MST3K and Cinematic Titanic. While doing so I have talked quite a bit about Rifftrax. But I don’t think I have given them the full treatment they deserve. So I am going to review a few Rifftrax that I have seen lately to give you sort of a taste of what Rifftrax is about.

Let’s begin with a brief explanation of what Rifftrax is. Mike Nelson, the host of Mystery Science Theater 3000 for seasons 5-10, saw that with MST3k gone, no one was filling the demand for movie riffing. He was making funny commentary for a company called Legend Films (A company that was releasing old classic films remastered in color.)

The genius hisself Mike Nelson

Mike knew how to riff bad movies, but he also saw all of the big budget Hollywood slush out there that deserved to be lambasted. He knew that he could not put out riffed DVD’s of those films without legally obtaining the rights and the expense to do that would be rediculously high. So instead he came up with the idea of releasing a commentary track in MP3 form that people could play along with the movie. This way you could still get the flavor of MST3K but without the legal mess.

The pros to this method are that Mike is free to riff any movie without limit. Of course to make money, the movies need to be readily available to the public. Also Mike can put out these Rifftrax at his own pace which seems to be every week or two.

In fact, they now have a catalog of over 50 movies completed and the catalog is constantly growing. The films range from the good (Lord of the Rings), to the bad (Patrick Swayze’s Roadhouse), to the ugly (The Starwars Holiday Special). This week they released Plan 9 From Outer Space.

The cons are that he has to convince people that this is easy to do. When I first heard of Rifftrax, I was a bit numb to the idea just because I couldn’t see how I would do it. I don’t really watch movies on my computer much and it sounded like a hastle getting the film and mp3 synched. (By the way it really is pretty easy if you follow their instructions.)

I finally decided to give it a try because of two developments. They came out with a Rifftrax Player, a program that synchs the Rifftrax to the dvd for you, allowing you to pause and rewind without having to resynch anything. Then I read in thier forums how to combine the Rifftrax and the movie and burn your own DVD. From then on I was hooked.

Sometimes Mike riffs the movie by himself, but often times he is accompanied by a guest riffer. Most often this is Kevin Murphy and/or Bill Corbett, the voices of Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot from MST3K. These guys have a great rapport and it translates into hilarious riffing. There have also been a few other guest riffers including Fred Willard and in one of my personal Favorite Rifftrax, Neil Patrick Harris:

The guys have their own Rifftrax Blog where Mike, Kevin, and Bill basically clown around and blog on any topic. They also have a great online community going with forums where you can converse with other fans and enter contests and the like. I recently entered a contest where fans were encouraged to suggest new movies that Rifftrax should do. The only catch was you had to suggest it in Haiku. I won 3rd place with one entry. You can view my entries here.

Let’s review a couple of Rifftrax I recently saw just to give you an idea.

First I’ll start with Top Gun:

Top Gun is considered an 80’s classic by many critics. It never struck a chord with me. Of course I was ten when it came out. The main thing I remembered was how intensely toungey Tom’s kissing was. Ends up I was not the only one. Mike and Bill Corbett were just as repulsed by Tom’s tongue action.

Toungues about to strike.

They had a lot of fun laughing about Tom’s recent craziness and scientology doctrine. The cheesy background music and Kenny Loggins high pitched rock anthems took a beating too. Mrs. Edge watched it with me and we were laughing out loud throughout the movie. Mike and Bill both have a dry tone of voice when riffing and so some of the jokes sneak up on you. Overall it was one of my Favorite Rifftrax.

Now on to the horror remake The Wickerman:

Why is it that the only time Nicholas Cage looks like he isn’t bored out of his mind is when he is in a comedy? Good grief. Adaptation, Weatherman, and now this. Man is he one depressing dude. And man is this one depressing film. There isn’t a single character with a bright future in the entire movie. And the ending is a big freakin’ downer. Thank goodness I had Mike and Kevin Murphy to help me through it.

This is the extent of the facial expressions used in this film

They riff on everything from The slow pace of the movie, to the way Nick’s suitcoat seems to stay pristine despite all he goes through, to the homeliness of the women.


And this is a movie first and foremost about what would happen if your community was run by a bunch of homely women that happenned to be pagans on the side. Scary? Not really. Sleep inducing? Not with Rifftrax around.

You can read my comparison of Rifftrax VS some of the other MST3K based projects out there in my previous article here. There is also a link to show you how to put Rifftrax on your own DVDs. Which in my opinion is totally the way to go. I now have just about every film they have riffed so far, and I am loving every minute of it.

Update 1/23/08
They have just posted the title of the next Rifftrax title to be released on Tuesday 1/29/08 and it is one of the worst films ever made,

I knew this was coming and still my soul hurts.

The cool thing is that this Rifftrax is written entirely by the fans. For the last month fans have been submitting scripts to Riffraff Theatre. They have compiled the jokes and forwarded them to Rifftrax. Now Mike, Bill, and Kevin will be riffing the film with the fans jokes unedited. This should be interesting.