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Rifftrax Live: Anaconda

Fathom Events // Unrated // October 30, 2014
List Price: Unknown [Buy now and save at Fathomevents]

Review by John Sinnott | posted November 5, 2014 | E-mail the Author
The Rifftrax crew, in conjunction with Fathom Events, invaded theaters once again on October 30th (with a replay on November 4th, the screening I attended) for their send up of the cheesy 1997 horror film Anaconda. It was a good choice for a pre-Halloween broadcast and a lot of fun was had by all who attended.

For those who haven't run across Rifftrax before, the group consists of Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett, and Kevin Murphy (all alumni of Mystery Science Theater 3000). They create commentary tracks to movies, both big-budget Hollywood specials and B-grade schlock that are available for purchase through their web site, The running discussion at our house is which is better, classic MST3K or Rifftrax, and the latter is a slight favorite.

As with all Rifftrax Live events, this one started off with some great pre-show slides accompanied by some humorous songs (think Weird Al). The slides poked fun at upcoming films ("Movie Mistakes: Optimism for Ghostbusters 3"), threw in some highbrow references ("Little Known Fact: Poet T. S. Eliot's full name is Taylor Swift Eliot"), and tied in pop culture ("Movie Quotes: 'Snakes... why did it have to be snakes?' - The Anaconda special effects team"). One slide in particular really got my area of the theater laughing with an obscure Rifftrax reference: "The new TV series Gotham explores the childhood of that city's most beloved hero - Gabe." (If you don't get it, to download Rifftrax's version the first chapter of the 1949 serial Batman and Robin. You really should, it's the best thing they've done, and that's saying a lot.)

The show started promptly with the three stars taking the stage and bantering a little. This actually created one of the funniest moments of the evening, when Bill Corbett, while naming the stars of the film, accidentally listed Jennifer Lawrence instead of Jennifer Lopez. The other two tease him mercilessly. It was unscripted and hilarious.

Before the main film there were a couple of shorts, an Encyclopedia Britannica film entitled Halloween Party, and a sample for their upcoming National Geographic Channel special Man Vs. Monster. The first was an odd duck, involving a family that created a last minute costume for the son... he went as a "Lady Scarecrow." It was amusing. The second short didn't leave me as impresses as I was hoping. It involved a man talking to a lady in a third world country who had been bitten by an unknown creature while fishing in a muddy river. They mainly made fun of the purple prose the host was spouting, but didn't really come up with great lines.

That changed when the main event started. They skewer Anaconda this time, a 1997 flick that has some solid credentials. It was co-written by Jim Cash (who also penned Top Gun, Legal Eagles, and Dick Tracy) and Hans Bauer (who helped with the script to Titan A.E.) and featured an all-star cast including Jennifer Lopez, rapper Ice Cube, Academy Award winner Jon Voight, Eric Stoltz, and Owen Wilson. It also had a $45 Million budget with some state of the art (at the time) special effects, so you can't blame the results on not having enough resources.

The guys started in with some great jokes right away. "Oh no, somehow taking a boat load of MTV rejects down the Amazon turned out terribly bad." They poked fun at the cast ("Say what you will about Jon Voight, but he produced a top-notch daughter"), and threw out some good jokes that you had to think about for a second to get, which is always appealing. One of my favorites happened while the screen was filled with lush jungle growth: "Upton Sinclair, you out there?"

It was mainly the cast that the brunt of the jokes though. They described Vincent Castellanos' character Mateo as "Gilligan's methy cousin" and when one of the cast picks up a gun and tries to be menacing "oh cute, they're trying to make Owen Wilson look tough!" can be heard.

There were a lot of other great riffs (one more that I want to get in: when they decide against using the route that Jon Voight suggests, someone says "Good call, not taking river advice from the guy who was in Deliverance.") Watching Mike, Bill, and Kevin mercilessly riff on a bad film like this is great, but watching it with an appreciative crowd is much better. If you've never attended a Rifftrax:Live event, you should really make a point of doing so... they're all great. Highly Recommended.

Make sure you mark your calendar for the next Rifftrax: Live event. The 1959s film Santa Claus (the one made in Mexico and dubbed by K. Gordon Murray) will be showing at selected theaters on December 4th. Based on the short preview they gave, it promises to be a hilarious evening.



Highly Recommended

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