RiffWiki.net 2014 Year in Review - By Sugar Ray Dodge, RiffWiki Editor-in-Chief
Well, 2014 is gone and 2015 is upon us. It was a great year for RiffTrax, so we here at the RiffWiki would like to take a brief look back at all the great movies and memories before dive headlong into the future. We will also be recognizing the best of the best by handing out digital medals to the riffs chosen by the readers and denizens of RiffWiki.net!
The Wizard of Oz – From our interview with RiffTrax writer Conor Lastowka: "[O]ne of the great things about RiffTrax [is] as an independent company, we can do whatever the hell we want. We can adjust if something great comes up, we don’t have to worry about a script getting held up by standards and practices, we just make what we want and then put it up for people to watch. My favorite example is a recent one, at the beginning of the year 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.”
And what a great way to start off the year. It's one of those "oh, duh! They should have done this a long time ago" things, but then you realized that YOU hadn't thought of it either and that it came at just the right time. Dorothy and her friends faired pretty well in our riff of the year competition, finishing fourth overall.
King of Kong Island – We didn't have very many RiffTrax Presents entries this year. Actually, only two. That's not a complaint or anything, just an observation. But the two we did get were outstanding. King of Kong Island was significant because it introduced new riffer, Ian Potter. And no, not THAT kind of Potter! Feel shame for even thinking of making that joke, then Avada Kedavra yourself for good measure! That's what I did. ANYWAY! This addition raised RiffTrax Presents veteran Matthew J. Elliott already very lofty game, making it a can't-miss entry in the RTP collection. And for a movie that has no king, no kong and really no island, you'll want them with you to protect you from Burt's charming, whimsical performance as the world's dullest Doc Savage knockoff.
Night of the Lepus – I had never even heard of this movie before the riff was announced, and apparently I was the only one who hadn't. A few days before it was released, we played a 20 questions game in the RiffTrax forum to guess what it would be. I can't remember why or what movie I thought it was, but for some reason I was convinced that the movie in question would end up being some John Carradine movie I had recently seen or had been made aware of. When it was correctly guessed, I Googled Night of the Lepus. I am not lying to you when I say that I refused to believe such a movie could possibly be real. I really thought the rest of the forum members were playing an elaborate joke on me. But as the day went on, it became apparent that they had not in fact made the whole thing up. Somebody actually made a movie about GIANT KILLER RABBITS! …AND had DeForrest Kelley and whats-her-name from Psycho in it! But I am glad that it did end up being real, because the riff was a ton of fun and a great follow up to The Wizard of Oz and strengthened RT's momentum into the first months of 2014.
Cyborg Cop II – Oh man! I've been SO WAITING for the sequel to Cyborg Cop, but this movie was such a let down. It didn't even have David Carradine and his killer glove buddy in it! What the hell is the point if they don't bring back the bes—Wait, I'm being issued a correction. …OH! Apparently the movie I'm thinking is called Future Force and it DOES have a sequel called Future Zone. My bad. So, has anybody even seen Cyborg Cop 1, let alone know what's supposed to be happening in Cyborg Cop 2? No? Crap.
Super Mario Bros. – This is another from the "long time coming" pile. It has been among the most requested almost since RiffTrax has been in existence, and we know jokes have been recorded for it as early as 2012, but for whatever reason, we never got it in the heyday of MP3 commentaries. My guess would be that not enough people owned the DVD to make the MP3 release worth releasing, but, again, that's pure speculation. In any case, it doesn't matter anymore. We finally have it in VOD form, which makes it worth the wait and then some.
Had it not been for [SPOILERS REDACTED, DAMN YOU!], this would have won Riff of the Year going away. Instead, it will have to settle for the silver medal. Let us all rise while the anthem of the Koopa Kingdom plays.
Terror at Tenkiller – I consider this the first of three in a trilogy of OMG GIRLS GETTIN' KILLED riffs of 2014. And right out of the gate you get a sense of what this thing is gonna be like. An incredibly horrific and uncomfortable murder scene of a defenseless woman for literally no reason. Now I'm not against murder in movies per se, and not even against the murder of women in movies. I just don't feeling that I may actually be watching a for-real snuff film. It's also helpful to maybe have your first character actually deserve (at least within the morality of movies) to die. But no. Brutal, senseless murder right out of the gate. The riff was decent, there was certainly nothing wrong with the jokes at all. That being said, the following two movies in the trilogy built upon what was learned in T@TK, not only making those riffs better than they would have been, but also raising the value of THIS riff in the RiffTrax catalog as a whole.
Total Riff Off – 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.
And wouldn't you know it, people liked it SO much that it took the bronze in our Riff of the Year contest. Best. Return. To TV. Ever.
Fist of Fury – In 2013, RiffTrax shocked it's audience by releasing two unexpected and relatively well-known cult movies in VOD format, McBain and Cool as Ice. This marked a departure from VODs that were in the public domain and more in the style of MST3K flicks and towards more contemporary and recognizable titles. This was surprising because RiffTrax is, at it's core, a small business without the massive resources of a big studio. Obtaining the rights to directly sell downloadable versions of cult movies still under copyright didn't seem to be in their budget until then. Since McBain and Cool as Ice, however, we have been getting a steady stream of full movies with recognizable titles, and syncing riffs to DVDs is becoming more and more of an anachronism as the months and years go by. I can only attribute this phenomenon to the growing popularity of RiffTrax and the willingness on their part to take financial risks in order to improve their product.
Fast forward to 2014. Fist of Fury, probably the most well known and celebrated cult movie RiffTrax has released in full on VOD. A month earlier I was surprised to get Super Mario Bros, but that was more of a surprise of glee that we had finally gotten something we had been clamoring for for years. This was more of a surprise because of the weight of credibility the movie brings with it. If they can get Fist of Fury, honestly, there probably aren't any cult movies they can't get eventually, which means as the years go on, we can expect the quality of the VOD titles that come our way to only go higher and higher.
Sisters of Death – This is the second the OMG GIRLS GETTIN' KILLED trilogy of 2014. This one was pretty terrific, and I think the RiffTrax staff member known as Thrashalla has the most relevant opinion when it comes to this one. Said he: "I'm not usually one to give opinions on riffs, but this one is, seriously, one of my favorites. Speaking purely as a fan, this one feels like a classic to me." You really can't get a better endorsement than that as far as I'm concerned, so if you haven't checked it out yet and are on the fence about it, do yourself a favor and give it a looksee. But as great as this and T@TK are, the best was saved for last…
Attack of the Puppet People – This prequel to Honey, I Shrunk the Kids left a lot to be desired. There was no attack and no puppet people. To be fair, though, it DID have puppets, peoples and (mild) attacks, but that wasn't what was billed, dammit! This movie's deception title is akin to ordering a Quarter Pounder at McDonald's and then having the cashier throw all the separate ingredients at your face one at a time. The next Attack of the Puppet People better actually have some damn Attacking Puppet People or I'm taking my complaints straight to the management! …oh, the riff? Oh yeah, super funny. It's an underrated gem that you should definitely check out if you haven't already.
I'm suddenly hungry for some reason. Time for lunch...