There isn’t much that can make a Nerdic Viking drop a nearly-full flagon of mead, but this morning my mead ended up all over the floor and the goats got the shock of their lives as I whooped and hollered in response to the most exciting tweet I have ever seen:
If I’m honest, I’m still waiting for my adrenaline levels to return to normal, but let me try to explain why this is so damned special to me as best I can.
You might have heard me talk about RiffTrax on the podcast before, and while I know that it’s not very well-known here in the UK, I just can’t help myself because I’m such a huge fan.
For me, it all started way back in 1994 while on holiday in Florida. I happened to flip through the channels in my hotel room and came across a TV show called Mystery Science Theater 3000 which was showing an episode called ‘The Starfighters’. It involved the aforementioned terrible movie from 1964 (which is really nothing more than a feature-length advert for the US Air Force), but with the addition of a bloke and two robots in silhouetted cinema seats at the bottom of the screen, who hurled jokes at the film as it played. And it was freaking hilarious!
When I got home I managed to get hold of more and more episodes on video, thanks to the kindness of fellow MiSTies (Mystery Science Theater 3000 fans) who were willing to ship the tapes to the UK for me, because this was way before the internet as we know it today.
Two years later, I went to the ‘MST3K ConventioCon Expofestorama 2: Electric Bugaloo’ in Minneapolis, and two years after that I was lucky enough to get to go on a tour of the studios. They were fantastic, and they even let us try on some of the costumes and sit in with Brad Keely, the sound editor, while they filmed episode 901, ‘The Projected Man’.
MST3K (as it came to be shortened to) did eventually make it to the UK when it was picked up by the Sci-Fi Channel (now SyFy), but it was shown so late at night over here that only insomniacs or vampires would have found it.
During its run until its cancellation in 1999 the show gained a well-earned cult status, but from its ashes rose RiffTrax, and this marvellous creation is still going strong to this day. Now owned by Michael J. Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy (who played Mike Nelson, Crow T. Robot and Tom Servo in MST3K), the beauty of RiffTrax is that they can make MP3 riff files to play alongside much more popular films without the need for licencing, so if you’ve ever wanted to watch any of the Harry Potter, Star Wars, Marvel or Batman movies with three guys who’ll have you laughing your socks off all the way through, you are covered, my friends.
You’ll hear riffs like this from ‘Harry Potter and the Order of The Phoenix’:
Sirius: “We think Voldemort may be after something, something he didn’t have before.”
RiffTrax: “A nose?”
Or this from the safety short ‘Shake Hands With Danger’:
Song: “Shake hands with danger, meet a guy who oughta know, I used to laugh at safety, now they call me Three-Fingered Joe.”
RiffTrax: “Which is odd because I lost both muh arms.”
During the past twelve years, their catalogue on their website at rifftrax.com has become incredibly extensive, and alongside the MP3s, it now includes VODs of the obligatory bad movies, short films (such as old information and safety films) and guests including the fabulously funny Brit-Riffers Matthew J. Elliott and Ian Potter. I love those guys, and their ‘niche Brit-Riff’ references to things like ‘Hi-De-Hi’, ‘Doctor Who’ and ‘On the Buses’ make me (as a UK fan) feel just that bit special!
In addition, they have quite a few downloads of the ‘RiffTrax Live!’ shows which are broadcast to cinemas all over the USA from the Belcourt Theatre in Nashville, Tennessee.
And this brings us back to the source of my excitement.
Until now, it wasn’t possible to see the live shows if you were outside the USA due to the restricted licensing, and while some of the shows have been added to the website for everyone to download, it’s just not the same as actually being there, you know?
ONLY NOW, FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER, WE CAN BE!
RiffTrax have announced that Mike, Kevin and Bill will be in London on 15th February 2018 at the Prince Charles Cinema in Leicester Place for one night only, riffing ‘Plan 9 From Outer Space’ at 6.30pm and ‘Samurai Cop’ at 9.00pm. For the record, ‘Samurai Cop’ is one of my absolute favourites so it can’t be missed!
Now, I know that as British people we have a tendency to get a little bit miffed when people talk through movies, and I do have a few friends who don’t quite get it. That’s understandable, we don’t all have the same tastes in comedy. But trust me, if you’re up for something different and unlike anything you’ve seen in the UK before, RiffTrax is it. Give it a chance and book your tickets here, and maybe we can persuade the guys that they need to come to the UK more often!
Now please excuse me while I go and lay down before my heart explodes…