RiffTrax Presents Night of the Shorts IV: Riffizens on Patrol – RiffTrax Trip Report

Rifftrax Shorts SFSketchfest

It’s the time of the year when SFSketchfest puts on a bazillion awesome shows that would break my budget for life if I went to all of them. So instead I just go to the ones I can afford, and it seems every year the main one is the latest RiffTrax live riffing. This year is no different, as RiffTrax Presents Night of the Shorts IV: Riffizens on Patrol became the show to go see live.

As usual for a Night of the Shorts spot, we got a collection of “educational” films, of which the educational value is suspect at best, and non-existent for most. Several of the shorts are available for purchase off the RiffTrax site, though at least two are not available in any form yet. Seeing the live riffs adds an extra sense of enjoyment, as you are in a crowded theater full of energy (the wonderful Castro Theater) and the energy feeds the performers, who give it their all. Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett were joined by several guest riffers, though they did brave two of the shorts on their lonesome. So let’s dig in…

Welcome Home Norman – People will remember this short from the Manos RiffTrax Live (which was also replaying in theaters nationwide that day!), as Norman is a guy who can’t understand parking, parking lots, or putting suitcases in the trunk. What he can understand is giving a sigh that emotes the complete destroying of all happiness in the world.

Perc! Pop! Sprinkle! (w/ Guest Riffers Cole Stratton and Janet Varney) – A confusing short about teaching children body movement or something, by having them imitate random household appliances. And various different kinds of lawn sprinklers. The scenes of the children “moving” have a weird interpretive dance feel, and it’s obvious that most of this film’s budget when to whatever drugs the director was on.

Choking: To Save a Life (w/ Guest Riffer Kevin McDonald) – A very overly-explaining film about choking, complete with long demonstrations of man on man Heimlich and back-slapping. And then man on boy. Very, very long. Almost as if there was a different, hidden message for this short. Highlight was the Orson Welles character who stopped eating due to the narrator continually talking about how dangerous choking is.

More Dangerous Than Dynamite (w/ Guest Riffer Adam Savage) – When I first saw this short at the Reefer Madness Live Show, I couldn’t believe that people once used gasoline to clean clothes at home. But it happened enough the dry cleaning industry teamed up with the government of California to make propaganda films to scare people into knocking it off. It’s even more surreal seeing it again on the big screen, with Mythbusters and explosives expert Adam Savage also incredibly confused that gas was used in such a way.

Cooking Terms – Women, don’t know nothing about words, even words from fancy books like recipe books. Cooking Terms will teach those women the important words like “boil” and “brown” so they can get back to what they do best, making cake for lunch.

A clown makeup short that I can’t remember the name of (w/ Guest Riffer Kristen Schaal) – Who wants to watch a short where a talking mirror convinces a sad mime and some ICP acolytes that being a clown isn’t what’s down in modern America? Well, too bad, because that’s what this is! If you enjoy children in freaking clown makeup acting like hooligans, then you will love whatever the name of this short was. As it doesn’t seem to be for sale, perhaps we are all saved from the clown invasion.

At Your Fingertips: Cylinders (w/ Guest Riffer Paul F. Tompkins) – At Your Fingertips is the greatest series of films that were ever made, so it’s fitting that we watch as children construct garbage from old oatmeal canisters and toilet paper tubes. Worth watching for the ridiculous zebra and the robot torture.

Another fun year with some fun shorts, in a packed house. Mike’s return after a two year absence was also welcome. I am looking forward to next year already.

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Written by Tars Tarkas

Tars Tarkas

Runs this joint!

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