Rifftrax, in association with Fathom Events, held another live
broadcast one week before Halloween. In honor of the season, they
riffed the zombie classic Night of
the Living Dead. Like always, the crew did a great job flinging
jokes at a solid pace through the entire film. It wasn't just a rehash
of their earlier release... they came up with a new script for the live
event and it was hilarious.
For those not in the know, the Rifftrax crew is a trio of Mystery Science Theater 3000
alumni: Michael J. Nelson (head writer and host), Kevin Murphy (Tom
Servo) and Bill Corbett (Crow T. Robot). They joined together to create
a great series of downloadable audio tracks that could be played along
with a film on DVD and featured the crew's signature barbed jokes and
obscure pop references. Every one that I've heard is very funny and
harkens back to the best days of MST3K.
Occasionally they will broadcast a live show to theaters across the
country, billed as Rifftrax: Live.
This is my favorite way to experience a film that they skewer. Watching
at home is fine, but there's no comparison to seeing them on the big
screen with an appreciative audience full of fans.
The jokes start right as soon as patrons walk into the theater. Instead
of the usual elevator music and slide show or ads, Rifftrax makes their
own pre-show entertainment. The slides range from amusing to hilarious
and their original songs are great. This time the show featured a
series of movie quotes ("Whoa, Wilford Brimley is in this?!" - Anyone
seeing John Carpenter's The Thing
for the first time. ), announcements of upcoming films ("Coming next
Halloween: Freddie vs. Jason vs. Milo vs. Otis") and interesting trivia
("Pennywise from It: scariest clown every... except for the ones in
Congress.") They're pretty funny and serve to warm the audience up
The live broadcast started right on time and the first item on the
agenda was a short: Norman Gives a
Speech. A few of the other Norman films have been riffed at the
earlier live events, and if you've seen one of those you'll know what
to expect: one weird short that lends itself perfectly to the Rifftrax
style. These inexplicable movies revolve around a man (who never talks,
just sighs and grunts) who lives a horrible life where nothing goes
right. They are not funny, they're not dramatic, and there's not a
morality lesson. The reason they were made is a mystery. This time
Norman, "the man Eeyore the Donkey called the most miserable son of a
bitch ever" is ordered by his boss to prepare a 10-minute speech at the
last minute. In typical fashion it's a disaster. As Mike comments
"Norman's entire life is like the 'before' part of an infomercial."
After Norman messes up, the main event starts: George Romero's Night of the Living Dead. They came
up with a very nice looking print (my main fear was that they'd use one
of the washed out scratchy prints that are in wide circulation) with
great contrast and detail. The movie is a classic, but whether you've
seen it before or not (and judging from the reaction of so people in
the audience at the end, a lot of them had not seen it) the riffed
version was hilarious: "It reminds me of 'Pride and Prejudice and
Zombies' without the 'Pride and Prejudice.'"
As you'd expect for Rifftrax, there were a lot of pop culture
references thrown in both old (when the zombies first start appearing:
"Wait a minute... isn't that Bernie from 'Weekend at...' fame?") and
new (when a group of zombies are eating: "A logical end to the Honey
Boo Boo saga.") Several jokes got huge laughs, with one of the biggest
occurring when the African-American hero, Ben, first arrives at the
house that's being besieged by the undead: "Young President Obama!
Thank God you're here!"
The Rifftrax crew hit another home run with this hilarious and
entertaining show. It comes Highly
Recommended. If you missed it, mark your calendar for December
5th. They'll be doing another live event, this time riffing that
classic holiday film Santa Claus vs. the Martians.