Mystery Science Theater 3000 Turkey Day offerings

27-Nov-13 2:19 PM by
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It is a good time to be a fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000. The television show spent ten years lampooning some of the worst films ever created, and this week, 25 years after the show's debut, the comedy just keeps on coming.

If you didn't catch this show during its decade on the air, or you're missing your favorite episodes, Shout! Factory has you covered. All this month, they've been celebrating the show's 25th anniversary with daily sales on select DVD sets. But why settle for one a day? This Thursday and Friday, ALL previous sales will return simultaneously. Engorge yourself with your favorite box sets at

There are still more box sets to come, with the 25th Anniversary Edition having been released just yesterday, and another box set — the show's 29th! — announced as coming next year, containing some of the best episodes ever.

Want to watch MST3K show live like it's 1988? A tradition long gone from our world returns this Thanksgiving, thanks to show founder Joel Hodgson. The MST3K Turkey Day Marathon is back, with six favorite episodes airing starting at noon ET, again at

Reruns are great — but what about the future? After MST3K concluded its run, its hosts continued the comedy with two similar troupes: Cinematic Titanic, hosted by Joel Hodgson, and RiffTrax, spearheaded by Michael J. Nelson.

Cinematic Titanic focused on DVDs and live tours and will be concluding their farewell tour next month. I caught them on all three of their visits to Boston, most recently on November 2, when they subjected their audience to a terrible movie, The Doll Squad. Hodgson engaged in Q&A with the audience, but more impressively, he yesterday conducted a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" (AMA). Generations of fans paid tribute and got sincere, thorough answers to their questions about the past, present, and future of Hodgson's comedy exploits.
Meanwhile, RiffTrax continues to publish audio commentary MP3s to accompany your favorite blockbuster films, from Starship Troopers to Twilight. Their next live event is a holiday riffing of Santa Claus Conquers the Martians on December 5 at 8 PM ET. Tickets are now on sale, and these events have been known to sell out, so get yours today!

This holiday season, I am thankful for the talented artists who have brought so much laughter into my home, and the many friends with whom I've shared those experiences. We have movie sign!!

UPDATE (2-Dec-13): Missed the Turkey Day Marathon? Here are all the original host segments featuring show creator Joel Hodgson:

(Hat tip to Annie Lynsen and Annie Lynsen)

RiffTrax Starship Troopers gets my name wrong

20-Aug-13 1:45 PM by
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RiffTrax, the comedy troupe composed of Mystery Science Theater 3000 alumni, earlier this year conducted their first Kickstarter. The plan was to raise enough funds to secure the rights for a one-night live riffing of Twilight. Having heard their MP3 riffs of this film, I was all in. The Twilight studio proved enthusiastic to work with RiffTrax but felt the timing wasn't right to dilute their sparkly vampire brand, so the comedy team moved onto their second choice: Starship Troopers.

Starship Troopers
Prepare for an explosion of funny.

The show was last Thursday, which I attended with my middle brother Dan and dozens of friends from the local Meetup group. I encouraged everyone to wait after the movie, as my Kickstarter pledge had earned my name an inclusion in the credits. Dan, in anticipation of seeing my name on the silver screen, pulled out his iPhone and started recording the credit sequence.

It didn't turn out quite how we expected.

How "Ken Gagné" became "Ken GagnŽ", I'll never know. But that'll teach me to be all fancy with my foreign accent marks.

Thanks for the riff, guys! An encore performance will occur on Thursday, September 12, at 7:30 PM. On August 30, tickets will go on sale for their next original live show: Night of the Living Dead!

UPDATE (5-Dec-13): Bill Corbett (aka Crow T. Robot) balanced the scales when he got my name right in the first 30 seconds of this Kickstarter thank-you video:

UPDATE (20-Dec-13): RiffTrax offered an official apology as a comment on the above Vimeo video.

Bill Corbett's Super-Powered Revenge Christmas

30-Mar-12 10:12 AM by
Filed under Potpourri; 1 comment.

Bill Corbett (whose birthday is today — happy birthday, Bill!) is a writer who knows no bounds: his comedic stylings have defined both RiffTrax and MST3K; the best parts of the Eddie Murphy film Meet Dave were his work; he even contributed to the animated short Max the Hero.

Television, film, live performances, animation — what remains? A graphic novel, of course! And that's exactly what Corbett has envisioned with his Kickstarter project for SUPER-POWERED REVENGE CHRISTMAS!.

The artwork will be drawn by Len Peralta, who formerly did the Geek a Week trading cards.

Kickstarter is a crowdsourcing platform that solicits pledges from the mass market to fund a project. This approach allows artists like Corbett to retain control of their creative vision without sacrificing it to meet the demands of a publisher. Perhaps that is why the final book will be made available as an e-book only and not in a dead trees edition printed for $100-level donors only. The project has until April 28th to raise a minimum of $23,000, or else no money is collected and the project doesn't happen, so pledge at least $15 to guarantee your copy of the finished novel this Thanksgiving!

RiffTrax Shines on Twilight

30-Jun-10 12:29 PM by
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Today is the premiere of Eclipse, the third film in The Twilight Saga, a cinematic adaptation of Stephenie Meyer's series of romantic vampire novels. The movies have been lambasted by many men and fantasy enthusiasts for defanging vampires and for wooden acting, and today's release will likely send such critics scurrying before stampedes of fanatic women and "Twilight moms".

Breaking that stereotype, I find myself eager for this latest release. Sparkly vampires aside, these movies have incredible potential that few filmgoers recognize. Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner have not created an epic romantic tale that casts them as romantic role models for teenagers everywhere. No — what they've done is play the straight man to enterprising comedians. Thank goodness for RiffTrax, the satirical commentary provided by the geniuses behind MST3K, for completing this partnership.

Although the riffers' access to Eclipse will likely be delayed until the home video release sometime in November or December, the first two films in the franchise have already provided the team with comedic fodder. It's the only way I've allowed myself to be exposed to the films, and everyone in the audience, including fans of the books, found it to be a roaringly good time. So while you're waiting to bring Eclipse home, don't be shy about being seen with Twilight:

or New Moon — currently available with the previous riff for $2 off!

Although the Twilight series has recently popularized vampires, these demonic creatures have long been enjoying a slow but steady resurgence, as evidenced by pre-Twilight television shows such as True Blood. Their current form — less depraved murderers and more hot, cursed dudes — can perhaps be traced back to the Sarah Michelle Gellar vehicle Buffy the Vampire Slayer, albeit with a much stronger female protagonist than Bella. What if that heroine and Twilight's hero were paired? Likely Ms. Meyer's franchise would meet an abrupt end:

Similar to the upcoming Harry Potter finale, the fourth and final Twilight book will be split into two films, meaning we can expect two more years of hilarious spoofs. May the sun never set on such ripe opportunities!

RiffTrax Live's Holiday Shorts

14-Nov-09 11:48 AM by
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In August, RiffTrax brought their Mystery Science Theater 3000-style humor to the big screen with RiffTrax Live, in which their mercilessly mocking of Plan 9 From Outer Space was streamed to theaters nationwide. Unlike their webcasts, which often buckled under unexpected popularity, the theatrical experience was nearly flawless — and apparently a financial success, given their rerun of the same show (obviously no longer live) two months later.

Now, RiffTrax, with guest star Weird Al Yankovic, is getting into the spirit of the season with a reprise that puts various holiday specials under the scrutiny. RiffTrax Live Christmas Shorts will perform the evening of Wednesday, December 16th, with a recorded repeat the following night. Judging from the trailer, the lineup appears it may be a mix of both new material and old, such as the public domain short "A Visit to Santa":

I ordered my tickets at $11 each, which is pretty standard for a moviegoing experience nowadays. RiffTrax offers a better value for the money than any other film, though, as the two-hour showing sends you home with a code good for the download of a RiffTones holiday song, two of the evening's shorts, an autographed photo of the riffers, and a holiday desktop wallpaper.

So get into the holiday spirit with this family-friendly evening of comedy!

RiffTrax Brings Plan 9 to Earth

31-Jul-09 3:22 PM by
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RiffTrax, the comedic commetaries provided by the geniuses behind Mystery Science Theater 3000, continues to expand its empire. In addition to the occasional live shows, they've lately taken to Internet streaming performances, though more often than not, the demand for these videos is great enough to crash their servers, resulting in refunds.

Undeterred, the team is combining the best of the online and live venues to offer a live performance streamed to 400 theaters around the country. On August 20th at 8 PM, Plan 9 From Outer Space will experience a nationwide crucifixion as Mike, Bill, and Kevin. Whether this is the same script used on their DVD edition of this movie is undetermined, but the fact that the downloadable (and more affordable) MP3 is "temporarily unavailable" is telling. However, "All event attendees will receive FREE exclusive digital goodies including a never before seen downloadable short, an autographed digital photo of the guys and a song by the RiffTones! A URL and code will be revealed on-screen at the end of the event." Maybe the digital version of the movie they just saw will be among the grab bag?

If you never saw This Island Earth, the only MST3K to have debuted in theaters, here's your chance to witness the best brains' glorious return to the silver screen!

RiffTrax on TRON: It's Hard to Overstate My Satisfaction

22-May-09 1:03 PM by
Filed under Films; 1 comment.

I love TRON. I love RiffTrax. Combine the two, and I'm in heaven.

I was witness to this union five years ago at a now-defunct local arthouse cinema, when comedian Chris Hanel and his troupe arrived for a live riffing of the film, MST3K-style. Just a few years later, RiffTrax was born, and then iRiffs, allowing independent parties to publish their riffs. So Hanel & Co. dusted off their script, brought it up to date, and published the first TRON iRiff:

If there's one thing I love as much as movies, it's video games. well before I actually played the Xbox 360 game Portal, I was enamoured with its end credits song, masterfully written by Jonathan Coulton. It's an admiration I share with Bill Corbett, who actually performed on stage with Jonathan, Paul, and Storm one lucky night last year.

That talent was recently reunited when Bill invited the musicians to the RiffTrax studios:

The end product of this grueling training: yet another riff on TRON!

I'm such a fan of Jonathan Coulton and his many varied works that I was a bit surprised to not find his RiffTrax sample as amusing as Hanel's iRiff — but it's hard to judge a 90-minute project on just a two-minute cut. One can never have too much TRON paraphernalia, so both groups will be getting my financial endorsement, regardless. Look for the final release of the Coulton riff on May 26.

(Hat tip to Satellite News)

Why So Serious?

10-Dec-08 2:50 PM by
Filed under Films, Humor; 3 comments.

Yesterday saw the DVD release of The Dark Knight, Batman's last cinematic manifestation. Like no one else I know, I chose not to partake of its theatrical debut, and it's not high on my home theater's priority list.

But I am always ready and eager to mock anything this popular. Courtesy RiffTrax comes this exclusive audio from a rather revealing deleted scene:

The clip is a promotion for their RiffTrax of The Dark Knight:

Despite these parodies, I actually am a fan of the Gotham Knight. I count the original Michael Keaton film, Mask of the Phantasm, and Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker all among my personal library, and I am eager to add the complete animated series to my collection. If you want to read about some superheroes I actually could do without, check out IGN's top ten list, "Worst Comic Book Heroes on Film". I wholeheartedly concur with such choices as Spawn, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and <shudder> Daredevil. Sigh. Why can't all superhero movies be super?