Friday, August 21, 2009

The Not-Too-Distant Future

So, my work at FringeNYC allows me to get cheap tickets to participating shows and I had planned to take advantage of that last night, but the show I planned to see sold out.

So instead, I went to Rifftrax Live.

For the uninitiated, Rifftrax is what some of the boys from Mystery Science Theater 3000 are doing now. They make mocking audio commentaries of many modern movies that you can download for a couple bucks and play on an iPod with speakers along with the movie.

Last night, at Rifftrax Live, they did a live riff of the infamous Plan 9 From Outer Space. The guys were on stage live at a movie theater in Nashville and satellites broadcast it to other theaters around the country.

I was racing and I was late because I had to run there from my show. But I made it time to grab a huge Diet Coke and catch most of it. Apparently I missed some Rifftrax-style premovie trivia flashcards that parodied the type of movie trivia you see before the all the previews and commercials at a regular movie. Now, when I got into the theater, it was packed. I inquired about a few single empty seats, since I was solo, but they were all taken so I took a seat on the floor with a bunch of other people. After about 5 minutes, a manager came in and told us we couldn't sit on the floor and we should go to the other theater showing the same show. Way to manage your seating Union Square Regal Cinemas! But anyway, no biggie.

There were some cute bits before the show. They riffed a short called "Flying Stewardess." They brought out Jonathan Coulton to do a couple of songs, including "Re: Your Brains." The crowd was really rude at this point because some of the louder, more obnoxious jerks were heckling through his songs, claiming no one knew who he was and laughing when the broadcast showed fans in Nashville singing along, as I sat there fuming thinking "Dude, people KNOW who Jonathan Couton is! STFU!" They showed a couple mock-commercials (made by the guy who created Something Awful) from mock sponsors, one for a flour and grain expo featuring a very EXTREME announcer and lots of screaming and explosions, and the other for Berry Watch, a security service that monitors and protects the fresh berries in your house :) And the Riffers came out and sang a little song they wrote about Plans 1-8, featuring Mike Nelson on nose flute. And then, MOVIESIGN! (Wait, I'm not supposed to say that now that it's Rifftrax. Nevermind.)

That movie is so, SO bad. Shots cut together that are supposed to be happening at the same time, one in daylight and one at night. Replacing Bela Lugosi in some of the shots with an actor covering his face with his cape. The doorway that gets reused in half a dozen different locations. The terrible writing and acting. The non-special effects. I think my favorite bad part is the graveyard set on a soundstage that is completely unconvincing as a real location. 

The riff was great, from the beginning when they joked about how even the opening title music hurt to the end when Bill Corbett exclaimed "I never laughed at vitamins!" There were parts of it I was laughing so hard I had to make myself laugh silently because I was laughing long after the joke (particularly when the pilot says he saw a flying saucer and his wife said "You mean from 'up there'?" and one of the riffers said "No, from up my ass!") I also loved the way they reacted every time the detective cop carelessly waved his gun around. 

It was nostalgic for me. My dad introduced me to Plan 9, pointing out all the places it was bad before I knew MST3K even existed. He was also a big MST3K fan once he discovered it. The humor was right up his alley, but I think he also appreciated the homemade aspect of it. The people who weren't with me, my dad, and also my fiance who had to work, lent a certain tone to the night, but I had a good time in spite of it (and in spite of the loud, misogynistic jerk next to me who almost got a diet coke bath several times).

So thanks, Rifftrax, for a great evening. I hope you do one again soon, so I can bring my man with me next time. And if anyone from there is reading, PLEASE release last night's riff for purchase on your website, I'd definitely buy it!  

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