By Sugar Ray Dodge, RiffWiki.net Editor-in-Chief
The Apple (2013) – 2013 saw quite a few above average riffs, and if the wiki had existed back then, I'm sure this would have gotten my personal vote for Riff of the Year. It is one of the very few live action musical films to never be performed on stage, and for good reason. The muddled metaphors about God, Satan, materialism and spirituality are anything but poignant and inspiring. In fact they are downright crude and disturbing. RiffTrax doesn't often venture into the land of religion and politics, but when they do they make not only the right decisions in movie selection, but in writing as well. The riff can be universally consumed and enjoyed by everybody and not make any group of people feel insulted and unwelcome, which speaks to their professionalism as performers and the respect they have for their audience, things that are sorely lacking in the entertainment industry as a whole these days.
Buffalo Rider (2011) – At first glance, it looks like an extended educational short about nature and such, but then it takes a much more horrifying turn when you realize that they literally mean it when they say "Buffalo Rider." Who in their right mind would ride a buffalo of their own free will, let alone do so in a way where it wouldn't buck you off and trample you to death. That's why God invented horses! But I'll be damned if somebody not only tried, but put the result on film and showed it to everybody!
Casablanca (2009) – 2009 saw RiffTrax try a lot of different things after hitting the Blockbuster MP3s hard for almost three years. It was the year of Planet of Dinosaurs and Voodoo Man, which were the first two really experimental VOD titles in the vein of MST3K. It was the year of The Room, which became a cornerstone of the catalog. But it was also the year they tried their hand at riffing one of the best movies of all time. Casablanca is often cited as the best movie of all time, and Mike, Kevin and Bill wanted to test their creative limits by applying the same rules to a masterpiece as they would to Transformers. And the result was something that was a bit different, but very entertaining and fulfilling. It's definitely an entry every fan should have in their library.
Cool as Ice (2013) – In early 2013, we had been eyeball deep in VODs for about a year and a half. And we had gotten some excellent, oddball gems like The Guy From Harlem. Entries had seemed to be focused on MST3K type films, ones you had never really heard of before. But then, out of nowhere, we got two VODs that changed the course of the RiffTrax creative direction for the next two years. The first was McBain, a Christopher Walken movie which was probably most well known for inspiring the Simpsons character. The second, and more important, was Cool as Ice, a movie anybody born in the early 1980s knows about and is regarded as what turned Vanilla Ice into a living joke. The fact that RiffTrax now had the ability to get the rights to films like these and release them as VODs created an excitement in the fanbase and ushered in a sort of second Golden Age for RiffTrax throughout 2013 and 2014.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2008) – It was my intention to put this into the "Essentials" category, but the format dictates only 10 entries each, and sadly, Harry and pals had to take a step down. There are 7, count them 7, Harry Potter riffs, and there's one more on the way, which makes it one of the most defining series of the entire RiffTrax catalog. They could have stopped after this one and it would have been all gravy, but they kept at it and every single HP riff is a solid winner. I chose this one because I think it represents Mike, Kevin and Bill at their best while being imprisoned at Hogwarts, and trust me, it's a keeper.
Sharknado (2014) – From our 2014 Year in Review: "I'll admit, going into this one, I was very skeptical. I hadn't seen Sharknado before and I didn't want to. I felt it was one of those "bad on purpose" kinds of movies, and when that happens things just get elevated to a whole new level of bad. But I was wrong… upon watching it I realized that NOBODY sets out to make something THAT STUPID! And it was the absolute best movie to start the [2014 RiffTrax Live] season with. Mike, Kevin, Bill and the guys were at the top of their game that night, recording more LOLs than Starship Troopers had a year prior, and that's quite an achievement."
Super Mario Bros. (2014) – Video game movies RARELY work. Most of them are bad, some are VERY bad, but only TWO can be truly considered in the ranks of worst movies ever. One is Mortal Kombat Annihilation (which I hope I never have to see again for as long as I live, riff or no riff), and the other is Super Mario Bros. It cast off so much of the imagery that made the games historic and beloved, and replaced it with subject matter that is wholly inappropriate for a kids movie. People had been clamoring for this riff for years, and the VOD release in 2014 more than made it worth the wait. If it weren't for Fun in Balloonland, it would have won 2014 Riff of the Year running away.
Titanic (2009) – This is one of the more underrated RiffTrax entries, and I think that's a damn shame, because it really is one of the best. Part of the reason is that, hey, it's Titanic and who wants to watch that if they don't have to? Another part is that it's very long. But if you can get past that, and you should, this really is not only Mike, Kevin and Bill and their performing best, but the entire writing staff at their best as well. It's not easy to write a close to 4 hour riff and still keep things energetic, especially with all the icy death all around. But they did it and I think it's about time we polished this gem off and display it on the same level as some of the more celebrated riffs.
Transformers (2007) – When RiffTrax riffed entire movie series, none of those series, Twilight included, could come close to having the utter contempt you can tell Mike, Kevin and Bill have for Transformers. It defines the 2000s decade worst indulgences into CGI monstrosity, bad dialogue, disgusting innuendo, horrendous acting and the destruction of a once proud media franchise. The movie insults the intelligence of anybody who dares watch it. You can cut Mike, Kevin and Bill's disdain for the series with a butter knife, if that weren't an impractical metaphor. And it makes it one of the funniest damn riffs out there. While my personal favorite is Dark of the Moon, it might be good for newcomers to start off with the original.
The Wizard of Oz (2014) – I love this story about this riff, as told by Conor Lastowka in our 2014 interview with him. "[A]t the beginning of  we were all on a phone call, trying to figure out what movies to do next. Bill mentioned that he thought The Wizard of Oz might be a good idea. I’m not sure how this had never come up before, but immediately it was like “Of course we should do that, that would be really fun and tons of people would want to see that.” So we got a copy, started working on it a few days later, and it was probably up on the site within two or three weeks."Check it our here!