Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Cinematic Titanic Live

“Watch her chew the scenery with just her eyes.”

And then, much to my amazement, not really believing such a thing was possible, the Filipino actress on the screen from 1966 playing a Mexican woman from the 1920’s did just that: chewed the scenery with just her eyes.

That was just one of an evening’s worth of hysterical “riffs” from the crew of Cinematic Titanic on the movie Blood of the Vampires that I witnessed live at the Marines Memorial Theater Friday night.

Cinematic Titanic is the current movie-riffing project from the original MST3K (Mystery Science Theater 3000 for you ignorant philistines) cast and other alumni: Joel Hodgson (Joel Robinson, Seasons 0-5), Trace Beaulieu (Crow T. Robot, Seasons 0-7 & the Movie), J. Elvis Weinstein (Tom Servo Seasons 0-1), Frank Conniff (TV’s Frank, Seasons 2-6), and Mary Jo Pehl (Pearl Forrester, Seasons 6-10). A clip from MST3K:

I spent all day Friday on the edge of my seat at work unable to concentrate on much of anything in anticipation of going to the show. I discovered MST3K about a season or two before it went off the air, but managed to see just about every episode from the Sci-Fi channel days before it went off the air for good. Yes, it’s just a bunch of comedians making fun of a bad movie. I’ll admit, I channel surfed past it for years (it was hard not to as it once made up something like 25% of The Comedy Channel’s programming) before I finally lingered long enough on it to get hooked. The problem is, when they’re off, they’re really off, but when they’re on, they’ll leave you tears.

I arrived at the theater early to pick up my ticket form will-call only to find Joel and Trace standing behind a table setting up DVD’s for sale. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t have anything prepared to ask them. My improv skill suddenly left me as I stood there a quivering jelly mass of fandom. Fortunately Joel said “hello” and reached out to shake my hand. I stumbled through some small talk and numbly purchased a DVD copy of the Cinematic Titanic riff on Frankenstein’s Castle of Freaks. Why? Because I had to.

They stayed in the lobby all the way until curtain, patiently shaking hands and talking to fans. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a geekier group of people in my life, and I used to work Renaissance Faire. The show itself was hysterical, bring-tears-to-my-eyes funny and I floated home on an adrenaline cloud.

They will be playing in Boston, Cleveland, Austin, and Seattle in the coming weeks. I highly recommend seeing them live… because the next night I popped in the DVD and within 20 minutes I was surfing the net not paying any attention to it and within an hour I had turned it off. I don’t think I’ll bother shelling out the money ($15 online or $25 at the show?!?) for another one any time soon.

However, while I was surfing the internet instead of watching the DVD, I came across RiffTrax, which is the current movie riffing project by the show’s terminal cast: Mike Nelson (Mike Nelson, Season 5-10), Bill Corbett (Crow T. Robot, Seasons 8-10), and Kevin Murphy (Tom Servo, Seasons 2 – 10). Only they just post the audio track of their riff for download for a much more reasonable $2-$3. Then you rent the movie on your own (if you don’t already own it), sync them up, and away you go! This allows them to riff on any movie (as they don’t have to worry about rights issues) including new releases like Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull or classics like Star Wars. I’ll be trying one of those out soon, myself.

After all, I always preferred Mike to Joel anyway (now who’s the philistine?).

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In 1789, the governor of Australia granted land and some animals to James Ruse in an experiment to see how long it would take him to support himself. Within 15 months he had become self sufficient. The area is still known as Experiment Farm. This is my Experiment Farm to see how long it will take me to support myself by writing.