Riffing on a whole other level
June 24, 2013 10:02 AM   Subscribe

Rifftrax (previous and previously and previouslier) hilariously carries on the tradition of MST3k. And though the premise is much the same as before, the Rifftrax folks have added something new: MP3 Commentaries. Instead of confining themselves to public domain and titles whose rights are easy to procure, they do commentaries on hollywood blockbusters in audio form only. People then can sync them up to their own DVDs of these films and sit back to experience riffing on the likes of Nicholas Cage instead of John Agar. This is great for home viewing, but what about their live shows? Then someone came up with an idea.

A kickstarter campaign was launched earlier this year for procuring the rights to do a one-night-only riff on fan-favorite Twilight. Their goal of $55,000 was far surpassed and they managed to raise over $260,000 in a month's time. Mike, Kevin and Bill thanked fans and told them they would try their best to get Twilight and, if they failed, they'd find another title worthy of the money raised.

Finally, last month, it was announced that there was good news and bad news. The bad news was that the studio turned down their request to do Twilight (though there appears to be some chance they could try again with more success a few years down the road). The good news is that they got permission on something nearly as good: Starship Troopers.

The show is scheduled for August 15th at the Belcourt Theater in Nashville.

Gentlemen, start up your Paul Verhoven jokes!
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI (65 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
But Starship Troopers is great...
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:07 AM on June 24, 2013 [20 favorites]


I once did a live riffing of Starship Troopers with Nick Sagan at the Penguicon science fiction convention and I can confirm from personal experience that it is indeed highly riff-worthy. I can't imagine the Rifftrax dudes won't make people almost vomit from laughing so hard.
posted by jscalzi at 10:10 AM on June 24, 2013 [8 favorites]


Seems kinda bait-and-switchy.
posted by DU at 10:12 AM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


I live in Nashville and I am stoked about this. My Fiance and I love the Belcourt least of all because they typically do a bi-anual Rocky Horror on Halloween and around Easter. Top notch group and a lot of fun.
posted by Twain Device at 10:14 AM on June 24, 2013


Seems kinda bait-and-switchy.

On their Kickstarter they basically said we're going to try our best to get Twilight, but if we can't we'll try to get something else.
posted by starman at 10:15 AM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Weird choice. Starship Troopers is full of cheese, but it's intentional cheese. Most of the riff-worthy stuff is there for a satirical reason, so it's kind of like making fun of Dr. Strangelove because George C. Scott chews all the scenery and General Jack D. Ripper's anti-Commie paranoia is so over-the-top.

This is why I'll always side with the Cinematic Titanic guys over the RiffTrax crew.
posted by Atom Eyes at 10:17 AM on June 24, 2013 [16 favorites]


This is why I'll always side with the Cinematic Titanic guys over the RiffTrax crew.

Everything has to be a conflict, doesn't it?

Seems kinda bait-and-switchy.

We were completely honest about the entire process. There was no bait-and-switch. Summit had no idea of our plans until the Kickstarter happened, and even then the negotiations didn't even start until we had an idea of where our funding was headed.

Summit turned us down, as did several of our second choices. Some movie studios are really protective of their content, and don't want it to be screened in any venue that isn't just a vanilla rebroadcast. That's it.
posted by eriktheweb at 10:24 AM on June 24, 2013 [20 favorites]


As someone who may or may not have an MST3K Moon tattoo.... I am PUMPED for anything they do and donated to the kickstarter.

True, I am bummed by the fact that they couldn't get Twilight, but the studio had a good reason. (They are still making money off the gigantic franchise, etc.) Also they mentioned in their updates that Starship Troupers is actually a big pull because Sony owns the rights.

The Twilight series riffs are AMAZING and my husband and I just finished the 5-movie riff marathon a week or so ago. Definitely worth doing if you were hoping for Twilight.
posted by Crystalinne at 10:25 AM on June 24, 2013


I agree that Starship Troopers is a weird choice for the reasons stated above. Now Starship Troopers 3...
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 10:26 AM on June 24, 2013


They already do live riffs that are simulcast to a bunch of theaters all over the country. Birdemic was pretty recent, I think, and I saw them do Jack the Giant Killer several years ago (it was awesome). If you ever have the chance to go to a theater that does RiffTrax Live, absolutely do it.

On Twilight though.... I downloaded their track for it, and I STILL couldn't make it through more than 20 minutes of the film. So much cringe. Starship Troopers will be a much better live show.
posted by specialagentwebb at 10:26 AM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Like Atom Eyes says, Starship Troopers is such an odd decision. It's already a satire on the level of Robocop. Some people might be tone deaf, but I can't imagine how you're supposed to make fun of something that's already making fun of itself. Riffception here, folks.
posted by Therapeutic Amputations at 10:27 AM on June 24, 2013


NOOOOOOOOOOOO I'm leaving Tennessee on August 5! Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy
posted by WidgetAlley at 10:28 AM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Most of the riff-worthy stuff is there for a satirical reason,

yeah... There's still plenty of stupid non-satirical shit in there.
posted by MartinWisse at 10:29 AM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am sad that Twilight couldn't be done though. Totally understandable however, and we will 100% try to get tickets to see Starship Troopers. We have bought and watched every the Rifftrax for all the Twilight movies (we bought the rifftrax, we borrowed/rented the twlight movies, bleh).

I don't think I've laughed harder as I did during some of the scenes, and it has become a running gag in my family to make the Vulturi noises from time to time.

Pretty much any movie is watchable with MST3K or Rifftrax (If they can make Battlefield Earth watchable, ANYTHING is possible).
posted by Twain Device at 10:29 AM on June 24, 2013


I'm sure the guys realize Starship is intentionally bad and will spin their jokes accordingly. I'm looking forward to this.
Their live Manos was easily the funniest thing I've experience in a movie theater.
posted by starman at 10:34 AM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Rifftrax has also previously done The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark and even Casablanca, so they apparently believe that any film is riffable.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 10:36 AM on June 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


Also for people who are commenting on Troopers being a "strange choice" - yes, the movie is satirical, but that doesn't automatically make it good or unriffable. Plenty of movies have a sense of humor or can be slightly cheeky - as long as they're not hyper-self-aware (see: Birdemic 2: The Resurrection) they can be worthwhile targets. (And as another commenter mentioned, Starship Troopers is way more watchable than Twilight.)

Also, MST3K did a clip of Starship Troopers, and it's pretty hard to believe they would never have done it as part of this "Robot Awards" special if they didn't think it was riffworthy.
posted by eriktheweb at 10:40 AM on June 24, 2013


I mean, very few of the actual jokes in your average riff-off are predicated on the film being accidentally bad. Most of them are just funny lines inserted for the characters to be thinking or whatever.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:40 AM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Everything has to be a conflict, doesn't it?

I still insist that as a surprise intermission-skit kind of deal at some future Rifftrax or Cinematic Titanic live show, the other crew should suddenly invade the venue and they should have a rumble. Probably one hidden behind a screen, with various props and clothes thrown up above it along with chases and reversals of chases around the stage.

And then all sit down together and do the rest of the show.
posted by Drastic at 10:42 AM on June 24, 2013 [8 favorites]


Welcome, Erik!
posted by Navelgazer at 10:44 AM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is why I'll always side with the Cinematic Titanic guys over the RiffTrax crew.

As a counter, I will point to their riffing of The Room, which made the awful movie watchable, and in a good way.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:52 AM on June 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


There was no bait-and-switch. Summit had no idea of our plans until the Kickstarter happened, and even then the negotiations didn't even start until we had an idea of where our funding was headed.

Uh...exactly.
posted by DU at 10:55 AM on June 24, 2013


Awesome! And thanks to this post I just purchased the perfect birthday gift for a friend.
posted by iamkimiam at 11:19 AM on June 24, 2013


Uh.. exactly

As others mentioned above, it was all laid out in plain English in the Kickstarter that Twilight wasn't a "guaranteed get." It was our #1 choice and we tried hard to get it right until the very end.
posted by eriktheweb at 11:20 AM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Welcome, Erik!

Long-time reader, first-time poster.. :) Happy to be here!
posted by eriktheweb at 11:20 AM on June 24, 2013


...the other crew should suddenly invade the venue and they should have a rumble

I'm not saying we HAVEN'T talked about this sort of thing.. we do know how hilarious (and welcomed, I'm sure) a crossover would be.
posted by eriktheweb at 11:22 AM on June 24, 2013


Everything has to be a conflict, doesn't it?

Poorly worded on my part. Didn't intend to spark a Joel v. Mike type debate here. I just meant that I'm more attuned to general tone of the humor from the Cinematic Titanic guys than I am to that of the snarkier, more cynical Rifftrax camp. But I'm always happy to see any MST3K alumni having success.
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:32 AM on June 24, 2013


a Joel v. Mike type debate here

Well but everyone already knows the answer to that one.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:35 AM on June 24, 2013


I just meant that I'm more attuned to general tone of the humor from the Cinematic Titanic guys than I am to that of the snarkier, more cynical Rifftrax camp. But I'm always happy to see any MST3K alumni having success.'

Ditto, here. I'm a bigger Cinematic Titanic fan than Rifftrax (which makes me sadder that Joel and company will soon be retiring). That being said, I cried from laughter when I saw Rifftrax: Birdemic Live last year.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 11:40 AM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Retiring from live shows, that is.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 11:41 AM on June 24, 2013


We took our sitting-and-pointing silhouette photos last Sunday for our MST3K-themed save-the-dates for our wedding, so I think it's safe to say I approve of this! (The wedding ceremony itself, unfortunately, will not be riffed.)
posted by ilana at 11:43 AM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


a Joel v. Mike type debate here

Well but everyone already knows the answer to that one.


Yes. TV's Frank.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:55 AM on June 24, 2013 [8 favorites]


(The wedding ceremony itself, unfortunately, will not be riffed.)

...that you'll be made aware of.
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:57 AM on June 24, 2013


...that you'll be made aware of.

If someone riffs my wedding, I damn well want to be made aware of it...so I can make popcorn and add my own mocking comments to the video later.
posted by ilana at 12:00 PM on June 24, 2013


There's at least one other Rifftrax guy who has posted here on occasion, I forget his username though. Still, I'm all for the invasion of the site by the Hordes Of Snark.

CT is great too, I wish they had the energy/time to do more releases/convention appearances. (I wish I had the money to purchase more of their stuff.)
posted by JHarris at 12:13 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


a Joel v. Mike type debate here

Well but everyone already knows the answer to that one.

Yes. TV's Frank.


You misspelled "Gypsy."
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:14 PM on June 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


It's Paul Verhoeven and he has a fairly spectacular body of work, Starship Troopers included.

This is a bad idea executed by bad people possessing not a fraction of the artful, playful creativity that Verhoeven has in his left pinky toe.
posted by item at 12:14 PM on June 24, 2013


Starship Troopers is a strange choice only if you think what Rifftrax does is "making fun of bad movies" (and, presumably, that Starship Troopers isn't one). That's a handy elevator pitch, but it's actually a very reductive definition of the style of comedy practiced by MST3K and its successors and followers. I'd say it's more like a verbalization of the stream of consciousness provoked by the experience of watching the movie. What lends itself to riffing are movies that are extreme in some way, and badness is simply the most common way. There's no lack of extreme in Starship Troopers.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 12:18 PM on June 24, 2013 [7 favorites]


(my previous comment may or may not have been 'intentionally bad')
posted by item at 12:18 PM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


DO YOU WANT TO KNOW MORE?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:19 PM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yes. TV's Frank.
Holla!
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:29 PM on June 24, 2013


There's no lack of extreme in Starship Troopers.

That is 100% true.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 12:39 PM on June 24, 2013


At least.
posted by mountmccabe at 12:46 PM on June 24, 2013


Starship troopers is an amazing choice! I had such a hard time keeping myself from making jokey comments when I saw it in the theatre. Yes, it is satire, but there are so many weird and hilarious things happening on screen - usually away from the main focus of the film. Like, 2 characters will be having a dramatic conversation, but the people standing behind them will be pulling the most hysterical faces! Heaps of comedy gold throughout.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 12:49 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why do they need special permission to show Twilight? To be able to advertise it? It doesn't seem like showing a movie and then talking over it would require special rights. They can't make due with whatever the cheap theatres use for the dollar showings of old movies?
posted by ODiV at 12:52 PM on June 24, 2013


Also, having seen Twilight with the Rifftrack, I would much rather see pretty much anything else. I doubt that anything could make that movie watchable.
posted by ODiV at 12:54 PM on June 24, 2013


item: "This is a bad idea executed by bad people possessing not a fraction of the artful, playful creativity that Verhoeven has in his left pinky toe."

Most incorrect statement I've seen in months.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:59 PM on June 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


And I read MetaTalk, for goodness sake.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:09 PM on June 24, 2013 [7 favorites]


There's at least one other Rifftrax guy who has posted here on occasion, I forget his username though.

That would be Mefi's own JoeGoblin, also known as Rifftrax's Connor.
posted by ShutterBun at 1:28 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why do they need special permission to show Twilight? To be able to advertise it? It doesn't seem like showing a movie and then talking over it would require special rights. They can't make due with whatever the cheap theatres use for the dollar showings of old movies?

Among other things, exhibitors really have no good incentive to antagonize distributors like that.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:01 PM on June 24, 2013


Rifftrax really ought to be a line of cheap and cheesy (using synth instead of guitar wherever possible) cover versions of the rhythm parts of famous songs for practicing your guitar soloing skills.
posted by straight at 4:26 PM on June 24, 2013


This is why I'll always side with the Cinematic Titanic guys over the RiffTrax crew.

Can't we just get Beyond Joel v. Mike?
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:31 PM on June 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


Atom Eyes: "This is why I'll always side with the Cinematic Titanic guys over the RiffTrax crew."

Yeah, I've always been partial to Joel over Mike. Although I did love MST3K after Joel left, it was never quite the same. I've seen Rifftrax live for Manos, and it was excellent, so nothing against Mike. But the Cinematic Titanic crew includes Crow, Tom Servo and TV's Frank with Joel, and for me that's MSK3K. Well, it's the guys who played them, Trace Beaulieu, J. Elvis Weinstein and Frank Conniff, but still, it's the voices ...
posted by krinklyfig at 5:38 PM on June 24, 2013


I wish they could have secured Twilight, although I think they could mine some great material with ST. I prefer low-budget movies for this kind of fodder, but they could have a field day with either of these choices.
posted by krinklyfig at 5:41 PM on June 24, 2013


Pope Guilty: " Can't we just get Beyond Joel v. Mike?"

Since they each have their respective crews doing the same sort of thing, it's hard to see how. But I don't see that as a bad thing. I like the fact that it's still going on today, and that it's expanded to live shows. We just have more options now, including Joel or Mike, and they're not restricted by the demands of cable schedules or networks anymore. I am partial to Joel, but I enjoy both crews' efforts.
posted by krinklyfig at 5:48 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why do they need special permission to show Twilight? To be able to advertise it? It doesn't seem like showing a movie and then talking over it would require special rights. They can't make due with whatever the cheap theatres use for the dollar showings of old movies?

It's all the same thing. To show a movie, theaters (more specifically, the distributors that the theaters have contracts with) must acquire exhibition rights to actually show the movie. Even if it's just one, cheap theater. The Alamo Drafthouse, with whom Sony has had experience licensing Starship Troopers for movie nights, also must get exhibition rights to the movies they show. It's just how things work.

Likewise, a license is what RiffTrax (and the distributor for our live shows, NCM Fathom) requires in order to show a movie in theaters that isn't in the public domain. A lot of studios, who own the movie and therefore are the people we need to go to in order to obtain the rights, seem to be fond of responding with, "You're doing something other than 'just showing the movie?' Thanks but no thanks."

While being turned down by some studios was a bummer, we have to give kudos to Sony for being really into the entire idea. They seem like they're pretty cool to work with (they even suggested a bunch of titles), and hopefully it will be a really fun arrangement going forward.
posted by eriktheweb at 5:57 PM on June 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Why do they need special permission to show Twilight?

Unlike the MP3s, a live performance involves a showing of Twilight, which is more obviously a derivative work. Plus, movies tend to be licensed for specific uses these days (hence the legal text on DVDs saying they're for private viewing only). Getting the studio's permission for explicit mockery of their special snowflake sparkly vampire movie is probably impossible. (On preview, what eriktheweb said.)

Can't we just get Beyond Joel v. Mike?

OMG REVERSE THUNDERDOME
posted by JHarris at 7:36 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


A lot of studios, who own the movie and therefore are the people we need to go to in order to obtain the rights, seem to be fond of responding with, "You're doing something other than 'just showing the movie?' Thanks but no thanks."

Yeah, I guess I just figured you could get the rights through an established theatre's distribution chain. But as Navelgazer says, they likely wouldn't want to annoy the rights holders.

Getting the studio's permission for explicit mockery of their special snowflake sparkly vampire movie is probably impossible.

I don't think you need their permission for the explicit mockery though. Just the showing, which presumably happens all the time.

Find a theatre that plans on shutting down soon anyway? :)
posted by ODiV at 8:08 PM on June 24, 2013


eriktheweb: "Welcome, Erik!

Long-time reader, first-time poster.. :) Happy to be here!
"

Just the way so many of us started. Howdy!
posted by Samizdata at 8:31 PM on June 24, 2013


Find a theatre that plans on shutting down soon anyway? :)

Keep in mind that their live shows such as this one are broadcast live via satellite (of love) to several hundred theaters nationwide, so clearing the rights is obviously mandatory.

One question I might as well ask here, while we have the Riffers' attention: will the guys be returning to Comi-Con this year?

Also: will get another installment of the Saga of Norman at the show?

"Aaaugh..."
posted by ShutterBun at 9:49 PM on June 24, 2013


Oh, duh, yeah. broadcasting is a whole different ballgame. That makes sense then.

I really should get more Rifftrax.
posted by ODiV at 10:02 PM on June 24, 2013


In related news, "Weird Al" Yankovic to do parody of "Skullcrusher Mountain" by Jonathan Coulton.
posted by Legomancer at 5:27 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


@ShutterBun: Probably no Comic-Con this year, I'm afraid. :(

But a Norman short (his origin story!) is one of the Kickstarter rewards. I'm not sure if it's something we'll sell as a normal short on the site, but here's hoping!
posted by eriktheweb at 1:55 PM on June 25, 2013


Tickets are available!

U.S.: http://fathomevents.com/#!starship-troopers

Canada: http://www.cineplex.com/Movies/MovieDetails/Rifftrax-Live--Starship-Troopers.aspx?date=2013-08-15
posted by eriktheweb at 9:56 PM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nice!

Though it looks like the one theater in Manhattan is already sold out.
posted by mountmccabe at 5:00 AM on June 29, 2013


« Older Samuel Leech, R.N., fought in the battle between t...  |  "Meanwhile, the Ruffs are wond... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments