This week we are interviewing Gary and Erin Wickering, the creators and hosts of Hor-RIFF-ic Productions, one of the bigger presences in the world of iRiffing. Hor-RIFF-ic specializes in horror films so the rest of us don't have to, something we are certainly all grateful for.
RiffWiki: It's become cliché for me to state that these interviews always seem to begin with "How did you first discover MST3K," so I'll go ahead and forgo that acknowledgment and just ask the damn question. Do you recall how you first became aware of MST3K?Gary: I remember catching it on Scifi back in the day. The first one I ever saw was Teenage Strangler. The joke “I feel very much for this pole” had me rolling. So I asked my sister to tape them since I didn’t get cable at my parent’s house. I’ve been a fan ever since; to the point of collecting every episode I could get my hands on.
Erin: My very first exposure was watching the Turkey Day marathons at my grandma’s house after Thanksgiving dinner as a kid. I was reintroduced to it as an adult by watching The Movie with Gary. We then proceeded to rent all of the VHS episodes they had at our local Hollywood Video (am I dating myself here?), and our obsession grew from there.
RiffWiki: Same question, only with RiffTrax.
Gary: I believe it was shared on one of the MSTIE fan pages I used to frequent. When I found out it existed I couldn’t believe it!
Erin: Gary told me about it, probably shortly after the above thing happened. The first one we watched was Roadhouse.
RiffWiki: What was it that first prompted you to try your hand at iRiffing?Gary: Besides being unbelievably funny? Let me think. Well when I saw iRiffs and the opportunity for the site to sell my tracks I decided we had to give it a try. We didn’t jump in immediately, we came up with our group idea then tried riffing to see if we could really do it. And YES FOR THE RECORD: Erin came up with our name.
Erin: Because if you had seen the excited look on Gary’s face when he told me about it, you couldn’t have said no either. We’d been riffing bad movies in our living room already for years, so the idea that other people might want to listen to us seemed so crazy that it just might work.
RiffWiki: So much can be said about the benefits of iRiffing, but I think one of its more important functions is to fill in the gaps left by RiffTrax and other riffing shows leave behind. Looking over your Riffography, I gotta say that there's a lot of really obvious stuff that for whatever reason, nobody else has decided to do, such as Dracula, Children of the Corn, Season of the Witch, etc. How do you go about selecting what movies you want to riff?Gary: What I wanted to be was an R rated MST3K. The best example of that is horror movies. Almost always filled with plot holes, continuity issues, horrible dialog and bad characters it just seemed perfect for us. Us also being insane horror fans might have had something to do with it. We have tried to mix well known horror icons with B horror such as The Stuff and Frogs being riffed alongside Dracula and Poltergeist. We chose most of the movies we riff in the first few month we started riffing. Having over 400 movies to choose from we narrowed it down to those that we think are good riffing fodder with not to intense gore and enough going on to play against.
Erin: I think there is a very delicate balance to a good riff-able movie, and it can be especially challenging with horror movies. It’s got to be bad, but not so bad that it’s too painful to watch even with a riff. It’s got to have enough going on that you have stuff to talk about. And it’s got to take itself seriously; movies that already make fun of themselves don’t tend to work very well. Plus, we do really love all the moves we riff (you know, until we’ve watched them 600 times and can’t bear to look at them any more by the time we put our track out.)
RiffWiki: Lets talk about Friday the 13th, because it arguably is the cornerstone of your "riffing legacy," a term that everybody will use eventually, trust me. Did you initially plan to make it such a huge part of your library, or did it just kind of happen? Was it just the number of movies in the series or something else?Gary: Oh god. I don’t know what we were thinking but being our legacy wasn’t our initial thought. As my character is a struggling slasher it made sense to play that up with the greatest slasher franchise in history and that’s F13. The sequels kept getting dumber and dumber so they just kept falling into the queue as well as fans requesting we hurry up and riff another. In the end I’m happy about tackling it, but I’m pretty tired of making jokes about the same score and basic characters. But being legends ain’t easy!
Erin: The first one seemed like such a perfect way to start our riffing careers. I don’t think it was too long before we realized/decided that the rest of the franchise was going to follow. I have a real love/hate relationship with the Friday movies. Some of them have been a lot of fun, and some have been painful as hell.
RiffWiki: Are there any of your entries that you feel are a bit underrated? So much of the spotlight is put on Friday the 13th, do you ever feel that "Gosh, I sure wish X-Riff would get more love from the audience than it does?"Gary: Of course I love all our riffs but there are a few that I thought we did some pretty great work on but just never took off. My Bloody Valentine (original) was one that we did early on that had a lot of Canada jokes because of the film’s original setting. Frogs is one of the most ridiculous movies we ever riffed and we really skewered it good!
Erin: I love The Stuff. That movie is just so ridiculous that it should be required watching for any bad movie buff.
RiffWiki: There have been whispery and not-so-whispery suggestions that Hor-RIFF-ic and Ronin Fox Trax should do a crossover riff for Freddy vs. Jason. Can you share any details as to when this may or may not happen and how you guys might go about doing it?
Gary: I don’t want to speak for Ronin Fox but it is something we assume will happen eventually. Once we catch up (since there are more Fridays than Nightmares), we’ll reach out and talk to him to get something officially going. It’s possible we could each riff the scene our killer is featured in, coming together at the end to combine our effort for the film climax. Or maybe we’ll both release tracks for double the fun. I really couldn’t say at this point.
Erin: We still have several movies left in our franchise, so it’s still in the future a bit, but we’ll figure out a way to make it happen when the time comes. We definitely want to.
RiffWiki: Staying largely inside the horror genre is one of the staples of Hor-RIFF-ic, hence its name. Not that I'm suggesting you SHOULD, but have you guys ever considered stepping out of the genre for a movie or two? If so, what flicks do you think would mesh well with the rest of your library?Gary: I have thought of that in fact. We even came up with an alternate group name and were going thru the early stages but it just never took off with all the demand for new Hor-RIFF-ic tracks. I always wanted to riff the crazy sci-fi movies of the 60’s and 70’s like Logan’s Run, Soylent Green, Westworld, etc. I still think it sounds like fun so who knows?
Erin: I feel like our fans would skewer us if we did a non-horror movie, so if we did it, it would have to be with some kind of alter-alter-ego. I wouldn’t mind doing some kind of cheesy 90s movie, like Hackers.
RiffWiki: And this IS just blatant HEY YOU GUYS SHOULD RIFF THIS MOVIE on my part, but have you guys ever considered riffing The Shining? Some (and by some, I mean I) would consider that to be the Holy Grail of horror riffing, given its history and divided legacy between Kubrick and Stephen King.
Gary: It has been brought up before but I don’t see it happening anytime soon. That movie has a lot going for it for sure, but it is also LONG. Poltergeist was the longest we’ve riffed so far and it was a challenge to keep the energy up the whole time. It also has the same problem of another movie that is on our shortlist, Phantasm, in that it has extended periods of no action/voice/music where we just have to fill.
Erin: What he said.
RiffWiki: When you consider how many people actually try it, then consider how many of those are actually any good at it, anybody who takes up iRiffing has to be doing it out of love for the medium. How much would you say that movie riffing (MST3K/RiffTrax, Hor-RIFF-ic or otherwise) has impacted your life as a whole?
Gary: It has impacted me pretty extensively I’d say. I’d always had a sarcastic style of humor that frankly got me beat up a few times when the kids I was making fun of weren’t smart enough to either get the joke, or make a comeback. Finding MST3K was a real eye opener for me when I was young that I wasn’t alone. Hor-RIFF-ic Productions is probably an equally large part of my life. During a period where my wife and I were struggling as a young couple trying to find our way, it was a creative outlet that let us escape all the normal everyday problems and pretend to be famous riffers like our idols.
Erin: You are so right about people doing it out of love for the medium. Riffing is hard, don’t let anybody tell you different. Riffing has become a major part of our everyday lives, I think. We riff everything… movies, tv, each other, our pets, people on the street, whatever.
RiffWiki: I'm gonna ask you to make some "picks" here. 3 of your own riffs, 3 full length RiffTrax, and 3 iRiffs other than your own.Gary: Well, I’d say... Rifftrax: Birdemic - so mad they got to this one before us. House on Haunted Hill - REALLY mad they got to this one before us. Plan 9 From Outer Space - wasn’t going to riff this one, I’m just mad now. iRiffs: Van Helsing – Quiptracks – consistently funny group. Ronin Fox Trax – Masters of The Universe - perfect film for riffing. Cinester Theater – Total Recall – oh, these crazy kids. Hor-RIFF-ic Riffs: Friday the 13th (remastered) – we redid our first track so it’s up to our better riffing standards. Halloween III – Oh god, it’s just….it’s a train wreck of a movie and we couldn’t look away. FROGS – it’s fucking frogs! Come on!
Erin: Rifftrax – Birdemic, Starship Troopers, Plan 9. iRiffs – Ronin Fox’s Masters of the Universe, One Man Band’s Ice Pirates, does the first half of IT by Cinester Theater count? Ours – The Stuff, Halloween III, My Bloody Valentine
Gary: I would say Sharktopus, as long as they riff it with us. That’s a coming together of epic proportions.
RiffWiki: And lastly, if you could choose one movie for Mike, Kevin and Bill to riff that they have not yet, which would it be and why?
Erin: They did Troll 2, I’d like to see them do Troll. This movie is plenty bad on its own, but gets overshadowed by its even more terrible “sequel”, and I don’t think a lot of people have even seen it.