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Josh Enjoys Rifftrax Live: Reefer Madness!

I’ve written before about Rifftrax, the on-line enterprise from Michael J. Nelson, Bill Corbett, and Kevin Murphy (formerly of Mystery Science Theatre 3000).  Rifftrax continues the familiar MST3K model of making fun of terrible movies, via downloadable podcasts that you can play along with DVDs of the films being riffed.  It’s a clever concept, and I’ve found the hit-miss ratio of the tracks to be very high.

Last year the Rifftrax gang broadcast a live riff of the sci-fi classic-in-its-awfulness Plan 9 From Outer Space to theatres nationwide, and I was lucky enough to catch the showing at a theatre here in Boston.  It was a hoot, and I guess successful enough that the Rifftrax team is continuing to occasionally broadcast live shows.  I missed the show in the spring, but I was able to attend Thursday night’s screening of a riff on Reefer Madness, the 1936 anti-marijuana (or marihuana, as it’s spelled in the film) screed.

As always, Nelson, Corbett, and Murphy did not disappoint — the event was hilarious.

The evening began with the screening of two old shorts.  As they always do, Nelson, Corbett and Murphy made jokes over the broadcast.  (Usually we’d see the film shown in the main part of the screen, with the heads of the 3 Rifftrax members in little boxes on the right-hand side.)  The first short dealt with the epidemic that was apparently sweeping the nation back in the ’30s of housewives washing their laundry in gasoline (you read that right) and then blowing themselves up.  According to this film, that’s a bad thing.  The second short was from the ’70s, and dealt with all the sorts of fun art projects one could make from grass (the stuff that grows in your lawn, not marihuana).  This second short was the highlight of the event for me — the short was absurd all on its own, and the riffs were priceless.  I was practically crying from laughter.

After two quick animated shorts by Rich “Lowtax” Kyanka of Something Awful, we were treated to our third short of the evening — an acid-trip of a black-and-white animated cartoon from the ’30s.  Despite being titled as an Aesop’s Fable, the cartoon depicted a menagerie of bizarre animals living in the North Pole skating through the snow, getting haircuts, and bouncing happily… then fighting with one another and eating one another.  So weird.

Then we got to the main event: Reefer Madness.  Made back in 1936, the film is an absolutely loony look at how marijuana would destroy teenagers, turning them into manic, wild-eyed murders.  The whole thing seems to have been made by a bunch of adults who had … [continued]

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Another Chance to see Rifftrax Live: Plan 9 From Outer Space!

September 24th, 2009

At the end of August, I wrote a piece about an amazing event that I had the pleasure of seeing at my local movie theatre: Rifftrax Live: Plan 9 From Outer Space. (Did you miss what I wrote?  Check out my description of this phenomenal event here.)

Apparently the event was so popular they have scheduled an encore re-broadcast of the entire evening in 285 movie theatres around the country on Thursday, October 8th at 7:30 PM EST.

This is a fantastic opportunity to enjoy former Mystery Science Theatre 3000 members Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett as they have their way with what is often referred to as the worst movie ever made: Ed Wood’s infamous Plan 9 From Outer Space.

You can find out more information about the event, and purchase tickets, by clicking here.  What are you waiting for?  I almost want to go see the show again!… [continued]

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Josh takes in Rifftrax Live: Plan 9 From Outer Space!

I just got back from a spectacular evening — seeing the Rifftrax gang live (just not exactly in-person) riffing on what they described as “the Citizen Kane of bad movies,” Plan 9 From Outer Space!

I was overjoyed when I discovered Rifftrax a few years back.  Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett, and Kevin Murphy, three of the masterminds behind the later years of Mystery Science Theatre 3000, had again teamed up to make fun of terrible movies.  At Rifftrax.com one can download feature-length commentary tracks to play along with movies you own or rent on DVD, in which Mike and the gang make glorious sport of the film being played.  I’ve downloaded quite a few Rifftrax over the past few years, and they are every bit as entertaining as the best MST3K episodes.

Tonight, the Rifftrax gang performed a live riff in Nashville Tennessee to one of the most well-known awful movies of all-time: Plan 9 From Outer Space.  The performance was broadcast live to movie theatres across the US, and I was lucky enough to take in the show at a theatre here in Boston.  It was fantastic!

The event started promptly at 8 PM (and bonus points for that, by the way).  After introducing themselves, the Rifftrax crew kicked the evening off by riffing on an old short from the 1950’s called (as I recall) Flying Stewardesses.  It’s not, as the gang is quick to point out, a documentary about stewardesses gifted with the ability of flight — rather, it’s a pretty quaint little piece about the training that women must go through to become what we’d now call flight attendants.  The guys were in top form, and their riffs on this short were hilarious.

This was followed by a little time-filling.  Jonathan Coulton (you can find out more about him here) came on and played two amusing songs, which were funny, but not nearly as hilarious as when the cameras broadcasting the event would capture Nashville audience members rapturously mouthing the lyrics along with Mr. Coulton.  There were also some amusing fake ads (created by Richard “Lowtax” Kyanka — I don’t know what that “Lowtax” nickname means, but he created the Something Awful humor site).  All of this stuff was cute, but I started to get a bit antsy for the main event to begin.

But once it did — yowza!  Plan 9 From Outer Space is every bit as catastrophically terrible as you might expect.  (I hadn’t watched the whole film through, start-to-finish, since college.)  It’s so bad that it’s quite unintentionally hilarious to watch all on its own, without any sort of Rifftrax commentary.  Going in, I was a little worried, in … [continued]