By Sugar Ray Dodge, RiffWiki.net Editor-in-Chief
So here we are. The final installment of our four part RiffTrax Starter Kit feature. If you haven't yet, go back and check out the first three installments before finishing this one up, links are right above this. Today, we round up the odds and ends that, in the view of this fan, every RiffTrax viewer should be familiar with. Now that all that is out of the way, onto the funny!
Batman and Robin Serial (2013/2014) - This one is probably the most unique entry in this entire feature. RiffTrax took an entire 14-part serial, with a complete run time of over 4 hours, that took over a year to complete, and knocked it out of the park. And here's the thing that probably made it really difficult to write and perform; all of these things were exactly the same. Opening credits, Batman and Robin, uh, “resolve” the previous cliffhanger, they talk about whatever in the Batwagon, the Wizard's henchmen talk to each other, something really dumb happens, Vicki Vale makes a blank expression, the Wizard fiddles with some nobs, Batman and Robin fall into the cliffhanger trap, and we get a preview of the next episode, who's title will have not a damn thing to do with what actually happens in it. And it's all awesome.
RiffTrax Shorts: SRD's Picks - There are so many awesome RiffTrax Shorts and Collections, it really would be impossible to give them all their due consideration. So, I'm just gonna list my favorites. I have them all in a single file together, playing one right after the other, making it it's own feature length riff.
- Know For Sure
- As We Like It
- You and Your Family
- Snap Out of It
- Shake Hands With Danger
- Drawing for Beginners: The Rectangle
- The Calendar: How to Use It
- Seat Belts: The Life Saving Habit
- Improve Your Pronunciation
- Flying Stewardesses
- One Got Fat
Dirty Dancing (2008) - Since this is a RiffTrax Presents feature, Mike, Kevin and Bill do not appear, but don't worry! The inaugural riff for our friends Cole Stratton and Janet Varney was and remains a homerun. They went on to riff many more 80s Cheese movies, making that it kinda “their thing,” but the original is truly representative of what they are capable of and what you can expect from them in their other riffs.
Jack the Giant Killer (2011) - I have taken to call this one “The Forgotten Live Show.” Lots of fuss is still made about how great Manos was. There was tons of hype surrounding Birdemic, Starship Troopers, Godzilla, The Sharknados, The Room and the upcoming Miami Connection. But this one preceeded all of them, and it set the tone for all the live shows to come. It was a significant departure from the previous live shows in many ways. It was a film that did not already have an avaialble MP3 or VOD commentary. The feel of shows began taking on the feel of the movies featured more than they had before. 2011 was a year when the company seemed to want to redefine itself, and Jack the Giant Killer is representative of this in the live show collection.
Road House (2006) - The very first RiffTrax. Watch it and you'll understand many MANY of the running gags that come later on. (Bloody Mary? Some breakfast?) Mike took this one on alone, as he did often in 2006 before RiffTrax finally found it's identity as a reunion of Mike, Kevin and Bill. While the solo riff is awesome and frequently comes up as a favorite riff of the people we interview, I often encounter people who would like to see this one get the three-riffer treatment, which I would also be in favor of. If only wishing made it so...
Rollergator (2015) - Today is August 31, 2015. Rollergator was released by RiffTrax on August 21, a mere ten days ago. That may seem like I'm jumping the gun on this one and including it as part of the Starter Kit is way too impulsive. I understand why people who haven't seen it would think that, but once you experience it for the first time, trust me, you'll understand. The Rollergator puppet is about ten billion times worse than the puppet in To Catch a Yeti, and the utter WTF WAS THAT FACTOR was dialed up to 11, putting both Yeti AND Fun in Balloon Land to shame. There are also no lights, no microphones, no sets, and really no movie cameras. There's also an unending accoustic guitar soundtrack playing over the entire damn movie, making it impossible to understand the already inaudible dialogue. I haven't heard Mike, Kevin and Bill hold a movie in THIS MUCH DISDAIN since Dark of the Moon.
Star Trek: Phase II (2008) - This mess is nuts. It's two episodes of a Star Trek fan series that actually features George Takei and other Original Series cast members. I personally can't stand the original Star Trek series, I can't get through a single episode. It's just so damn boring and nonsensical. And THIS thing is even worse. Because this was among the first RiffTrax Presents titles, it only features Kevin and Bill, in contrast to the Mike Solo riffs we got early on in RiffTrax history.
Total Riff Off (2014) - From the 2014 Year in Review Feature: “It was an historic moment when Mike, Kevin and Bill returned to cable TV for the first time in almost 15 years on April Fool's Day for (what would turn out to be) the first Total Riff Off special. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but it resulted in the best laughing fit I had had in months while in front of a television that was actually showing a televised broadcast. It turned out to be such a success that National Geographic brought them back for a second special in December, which we'll talk about when we get there. I was a bit put off by the apology bit at the beginning of the episodes, but then again, I wasn't somebody being made fun of. If I were Richard Terry, I probably would have appreciated the whole "hey we just playin' yo" thing before being brutally savaged on national television.”
Trilogy of Errs - Three short films. By themselves these guys ought to be feature length riffs, but they simply aren't long enough, and it's not like Setting Up a Room didn't try! Setting Up a Room is, well, exactly what it sounds like. David & Hazel is a story of a sad sack and his depressing, do-nothing wife having squabbles over the price of meat loaf. For real. And This is Hormel is about the Hormel factory in... wherever the hell the Hormel factory is. Watch out for skinned pigs in this one. I have taken the files of these three shorts, edited them together and got myself a nice little feature length riff that nobody out there has (kinda.) But now I'm imparting this recipe unto you. Get these three and watch them one right after the other. It's a fun way to kill a weeknight.
Warning From Space (2015) - The most recent entry from our good friends Matthew J. Elliott and Ian Potter is a true gem. MJE has been riffing since 2008, churning out classics like the utterly indispensable Horror Express. I would have chosen that one to represent him here, but since he teamed up with Ian Potter in early 2014 for King of Kong Island, it was really nice to hear him play off somebody and change the whole atmosphere of his riffs. They continued to refine their comedic chops as a team in Scared to Death, and when Warning From Space came around, they proved that they had what it took to make the best RiffTrax Presents entry to date. I hear people say that the English humor is lost on the audience, but I honestly have never encountered that. I know a lot of people chafe at the idea of Mike, Kevin and Bill not being around, but you shouldn't let that keep you from enjoying this one.
And that's it. If you have taken the time to watch everything in this entire riff, you should have an idea of what RiffTrax is all about. Thanks for stopping by and we'll see you when it's time for RiffTrax!