MST3K Reunion Show – RiffTrax Live Trip Report

RiffTrax is ten years old, and to celebrate they put together their latest RiffTrax Live event packed to the gills with most of the cast of MST3K, leading to an amazing entry of RiffTrax Live. Not only do we get Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett, but they are joined by Mary Jo Pehl, Bridget Jones Nelson, Trace Beaulieu, Frank Conniff, Joel Hodgson, and newcomer Jonah Ray, making this the largest collection of MST3K alums performing at the same time ever! Some of it even helped erase the bad taste that was left in the mouths after the MST3K revival Kickstarter that came as news for practically everyone in the original cast except Joel, but mostly it was just a hilarious time that was one of the best RiffTrax Live events ever!

From the start there were MST3K songs during the preshow slides (usually it’s a mix of funny songs from various artists), and the large volume of slides referenced a lot of RiffTrax episodes over the years including things like Setting Up A Room, Manos, and Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny. There were even references to a some of the RiffTrax VODs I haven’t even had time to watch, which shows not only how behind I am on RiffTrax watching but also how familiar I am with bad cinema that I recognized what they were from. That’s a weird thing to be happening, but it is.

To start, each group of riffers got their own short, followed by the megariffing session where everyone came out. Mike, Keven, and Bill started things off with a ridiculous mess of a car safety short – A Talking Car, about a careless child brought before a tribunal of talking cars, one of which seems to want to feel that kids blood ground beneath its tires. Luckily for the kid, the two cooler-headed cars prevailed and we aren’t witnesses to child murder. Not that I would have been sad had this annoying child been destroyed. The kid is accompanied in the dream car tribunal by his loyal dog (it is unclear if the dog is also dreaming this), and the dog will growl and bare its teeth practically every time the old cranky car that wants the kid dead talks. Later the trio also tackled Shake Hands With Danger, a ridiculously gorey safety short that I saw them do live years ago and it was just as hilarious this time out.

Bridget Nelson and Mary Jo Pehl paired up for a short about the kitchen of the future in a modern home, and how you women can conspire to teach your husband to buy you a new kitchen. Which in this case meant buy a new house with a new kitchen inside it! It featured Darren McGavin (best known to modern eyes as the dad from A Christmas Story) as the husband, and of course there were plenty of references to that as well as other good lines. Mary Jo and Bridget have become a regular team at RiffTrax with their own series of shorts that focus more on the types of films they’d make the girls watch in home ec back in the 1950s.

Frank Conniff and Trace Beaulieu were up with More Dates for Kay, which I think is supposed to be a followup to the MST3Ked short What To Do On a Date. A hapless young lady who mopes around at home complaining that she doesn’t have a boyfriend gets a talking too from her older (married!) sister, who talks about her friend Kay (why this married, older woman is friends with a high schooler is not addressed!) The advice switches from basically go out and have fun and meet people and be friendly to the bizarre like do favors and pretend to be interested in every random boy that comes along in the off chance one asks you out. Also, the sister is totally not approving of Kay’s calling of boys. Frank and Trace straddle the border of working dirty with some of their lines (the short makes it soooooooooooo easy to turn everything sexual it’s crazy!) and Mike, Kevin, and Bill even joke about how Frank is dying to go blue but can’t. Probably the best riff of the night.

Jonah Ray and Joel Hodgson come out for Americans At Work: Barbers, an AFL-CIO joint about how barbers and hairdressers are totally valuable workers, and also women take forever to look good. There was a hilarious running gag with a hairdresser who looked like Frankenstein that just got funnier and funnier. Jonah did well and showed he’ll do a good job as the new MST3K host, despite a line flub that got its own riff by Joel.

Then it was time, the Riff-a-palooza! Everyone came out for a special short with the 1950s Superman selling saving stamps to young children! Shockingly, though we finally got Joel and Mike riffing at the same time (and everyone else!), this wasn’t as good as I thought it would be, because the short itself was pretty darn tepid. Far too talky and not enough cheesy. Luckily, they seemed to pick up on this while putting the show together because we got a second short that was also riffed by everyone, and it was a recurring favorite: At Your Fingertips: Grass! That short is so awesome it alone is worth the price of admission, even with a lot of repeated lines. And now we can finally find out if corn is grass or not!

Before I got I want to also mention there was a ten years of RiffTrax highlight video that was great and hopefully shows up online somewhere (and also reminded me there are a few of the mp3 riffs I haven’t watched yet, either!) Overall, this show ruled, the non-Superman shorts were largely amazing, and it was great seeing the old gang back together, even in a new together form. Hopefully this leads to more collaboration between the groups with more RiffTrax and more guest spots on the new MST3K. If you are someone how is more cautious with what you spend your money on but are a nominal fan of MST3K, it is well worth your dollars to go either see the rebroadcast or get the VOD when it is released.

Disclosure: I donated to the Kickstarter for this RiffTrax.

MST3K riffrax  reunion postcard

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Posted by Tars Tarkas - July 10, 2016 at 12:28 am

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Broken Promise betrays on Lifetime!

Broken Promise Lifetime

You can’t get more evil than a man standing around drinking a Big Gulp!


Broken Promise tells of a love story of a young couple who accidentally murder someone while doing a home invasion, the guy takes the rap and believes the girl when she says she’ll wait for him. Ha! Of course she’s married with a family of her own when he gets out and wants to rekindle things, which is inconvenient for everyone. Lifetime hijinks ensue, but since the woman isn’t as innocent as usual, maybe she’ll not get out of this unscathed? We shall see…

High school couple Mina and Reese break into a mansion for a night of rebellion, but their evening takes a dark turn when the mansion’s owner appears with a gun, and ends up accidentally killed at the hands of the teens. Twenty years later, Mina lives a perfect suburban life with her husband and teen daughter, while Reese, who took the fall for the crime, has spent the past two decades in a state penitentiary. Now he is up for parole, and upon release, goes straight to find Mina ready to make up for lost time and have the perfect family he thinks is rightfully his.

Broken Promise stars Ashley Scott, Louis Mandylor, Lauren York, Nick Baillie, Kinga Philipps, Angeline Appel, and Mickey River. It’s directed by Nadeem Soumah (6 Ways to Die) and written by Steven Palmer Peterson (Presumed Dead in Paradise)

Broken Promise premieres Sunday, July 10th on Lifetime!

via Lifetime

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Posted by Tars Tarkas - July 8, 2016 at 8:25 pm

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Hidden Truth uncovers the secrets on Lifetime!

Hidden Truth Lifetime

Oh, Chad, you pick the most romantic spots for murder!


Murder in a small town where people immediately declare someone the town hates as guilty while a lone hero uncovers the truth and finds the real killer may be a cliche, but it is usually a good time as the mystery is figuring out which one of the town jerks is a killer, and will it even matter if they are exposed? Hidden Truth is the latest Lifetime incarnation of this tale, and because I’m familiar enough with the director’s work it already shows some promise, and maybe even some nice Lifetime twists.

After a teenage girl is found murdered in a California town, a young woman is forced to prove her brother is innocent of the crime, discovering a disturbing dark side to the community and the hidden identity of the killer.

Hidden Truth stars Diana Hopper, Sarah Lind, Shawn Christian, Heidi Fielek, Brendan McCarthy, and Brittany Underwood. It is directed by Steven R. Monroe (Online Abduction, Wyvern) and written by Richard O. Lowry (By Appointment Only)

Hidden Truth premieres Saturday, July 9th on Lifetime!

via Lifetime

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Posted by Tars Tarkas -  at 6:26 pm

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The Assassin (Review)


The Assassin

aka 刺客聶隱娘 aka Nie yin niang
Assassin
2015
Written by Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Chu Tien-wen, Hsieh Hai-Meng, and Zhong Acheng
Based on a story by Pei Xing
Directed by Hou Hsiao-Hsien

Assassin
The Assassin is a great film that will bore the living crap out a whole bunch of people thinking they’re going to see something that it’s not. It’s one of those films that makes me feel like a bad movie review website guy because it should be a film I’m jazzed for, but I just don’t really have strong feelings for it. I’ve even seen some of director Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s other work, thanks to a particularly well-stocked Blockbuster that had Millennium Mambo (great!) and Flowers of Shanghai (greater!). This was before I moved to an area with great independent video stores, and also way before movies became easy to find on the internet, but that’s a whole different topic! But that meant The Assassin should have been right up my alley. And yet, I never really connected with it.

The Assassin has beautiful cinematography, some of the best I’ve seen in a long time. If anything the cinematography is too beautiful, every shot of the landscape looks out of a storybook, it’s a wonder how anything was ever done in 9th century China as everywhere people looked they would just see beautiful landscapes and spend all their time admiring them. The plot is steeped in historical characters as the story is literally dropped in the middle of actual history. I don’t know if Shu Qi’s character actually existed, but much of the rest of the characters are actual historical figures. Historical spoiler alert, Tian Xing, the guy who is exiled, will eventually have Tian Ji’an’s job. If anything, The Assassin got me to read up more on Chinese history, something I hadn’t done as much as I would have liked before.
Assassin
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - July 5, 2016 at 10:52 am

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Honeymoon From Hell is a Lifetime travel nightmare!

Just when you thought you were done with being Newlywed and Dead, suddenly the Honeymoon From Hell starts! This time, it isn’t because of a marriage to a mystery person, but because of a random stalker terrorizer who will probably turn out to have a connection to one of the newlyweds. So maybe it is a marriage to a mystery person after all! We shall see! My advice is not to get stranded at a bed and breakfast during a hurricane. It’s called The Weather Channel, people. Use it!

Actually it is a ghost story movie, because Honeymoon From Hell was originally called The Legend of Alice Flagg, based on the actual ghost story tales of Alice Flagg! Finally, it isn’t the internet or evil people that are the enemy, but dead evil people!

While honeymooning in South Carolina, Julia and Rivers McCoy are terrorized by an unknown assailant when they are stranded at a bed & breakfast during a hurricane. Are they victims of an elaborate prank, or is someone—some thing—after them?

Honeymoon From Hell stars Lexi Giovagnoli (12 Dog Days Till Christmas), Adam Hagenbuch (The Brittany Murphy Story), Catherine Hicks (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home), Cameron Richardson (Alvin and the Chipmunks), Christian Brunetti (Obamaland), and Ciara Flynn (Online Abduction). It’s directed by Jake Helgren (Varsity Blood) and written by Ralph McCloud (producer on A Dogwalker’s Christmas Tale) and Jake Helgren.

Honeymoon From Hell has been rescheduled to Saturday, July 16th on Lifetime!

via Lifetime

Honeymoon From Hell Lifetime Alice Flagg

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Posted by Tars Tarkas - July 1, 2016 at 10:17 pm

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Newlywed and Dead betrays vows on Lifetime!

Newlywed and Dead Lifetime

Stop marrying people who have huge paintings of the spouses they murdered, people!


Lifetime returns to the bottomless well of stories about people who marry people without knowing who they really are with Newlywed and Dead, as yet another naive young woman marries a guy who turns out to be a crazed murderer. Whoops! At least her movie’s title rhymes! When will women learn that all men are evil and they should stay away from all men forever? Also all women are evil, so stay away from them as well. Basically, become a hermit, it’s the Lifetime way!

Young newlywed Kristin begins to doubt her husband Jay’s love when his aunt and rival is found murdered. Kristin starts to investigate the death, and Jay’s checkered past, only to become his next target.

Newlywed and Dead stars Shenae Grimes-Beech (90210), Samantha Ferris (The Gourmet Detective: A Healthy Place to Die), Venus Terzo (Baby Sellers), Brent Stait (Final Destination 5), Lindsay Navarro (Girl Fight), and Laci J. Mailey (Falling Skies). It’s directed by Penelope Buitenhuis (Not With My Daughter) and written by Linda J. Cowgill (Opposing Force) and Rhys Davies (There’s Always Two)

Newlywed and Dead premieres Saturday, July 2nd on Lifetime!

via Lifetime

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Posted by Tars Tarkas -  at 7:29 pm

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