Someone wiser than me said, “Pay for experiences not things.” I love movies. But I love the experience of going to the theater just as much, if not more. I think there’s a communal experience to watching in the dark with friends and strangers. Plus, the lack of temptations to look at other screens, flip to another channel, check on the game, or even just get up and go get another beer goes towards a greater enjoyment of the film. I like the laser focus I can get in a theater compared to my movie ADD at home.
For years, my Mystery Science Theater 3000 watching was a home only experience. Starting in 2009, Michael J. Nelson, Bill Corbett, and Kevin Murphy brought Rifftrax to the theaters as special-engagement showings. Since then, eighteen films have graced our theaters thanks to the folks at Fathom Events. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing a majority of them, and I can’t preach enough about the experience.
I can’t even tell you specific jokes from each film. The experience isn’t any particular line. It’s the sheer pleasure I get from sitting with a group of people that more often than not get the same pop-culture references that I do. The jokes fly fast and often without further explanation much like they did in the MST3K show. You get them or you don’t and even if you don’t, things move quickly. There are in-jokes that are paid off if you’ve attended multiple shows. It’s that insider feel that keeps bringing folks back to the shows.
I recently attended Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny. The 1972 film is perfect fodder for Rifftrax. There are incredibly odd settings of Santa and his sleigh on a beach in Florida, zoo animals, bad acting children, and a long movie within the movie of Jack and the Beanstalk. The film isn’t much of a challenge to make fun of but the crew excels where they always do – drawing connections and seeing things that the average viewer would on the first viewing. The crew has not lost any momentum. I found this to be just as fresh they were back in 2009.
My quick top five Rifftrax film experiences . . .
5.) Reefer Madness – The film is a cult classic without any commentary. So adding funny lines sometimes covered funny lines below it.
4.) Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny – The “Santa’s Enchanted Village” short beforehand was the equal if not superior portion of the program. The program has a variety that not all of the Rifftrax have had.
3.) Sharknado – This was a quick turnaround from the TV airing to the Rifftrax but it works. The addition of more current references and actors made this one of my favorites.
2.) Night of the Living Dead – This was a great excuse to make fun of every zombie movie and TV show that was popular at the time.
1. Manos: The Hands of Fate – This had been one of my favorite episodes of the MST3K show and I was nervous about this “new version”. It turned out that this was one of the best ever. All new jokes proved that this film is a deep mine for jokes that just keeps delivering.
The next two Thursdays you can go see Starship Troopers and The Room as a Best-Of showing this month. I recommend you meet up with all your hipster and humorous friends for a trip to the theaters. It’s an experience that far outweighs your Apple Watch from Christmas.