Like many geeks in the 90s, I tuned in to Mystery Science Theater 3000 for a great time making fun of crappy movies. If you have never seen an episode, I strongly suggest you check them out. Head on over to MST3K.com to check out classic clips from the show or you can check out some full episodes on Hulu–also, a lot of episodes are available for streaming on Netflix.
One of the most wanted/talked about things with MST3K, though, was that it was always old movies or really crappy B-Movies–sometimes both. As fun as it is to watch a movie you may have never seen before, we always wanted to see them rip on the latest movies–many of which deserved their taunting. Sadly, the show never had the budget to do anything so ambitious. Since the show was cancelled in 1999–mainly due to the complications and expenses this type of show requires–many fans have wanted more. The Sci Fi Channel aired reruns of the show for quite a few years–all the way to early 2004, if memory serves.
Their idea is simple: If it costs too much to license a movie and toss a commentary audio track on the disc, just make the audio track and have people play it through their MP3 player along side the movie. Synchronization is handled in a couple of ways, first: you are given instructions on when to pause and re-start the MP3 and then a fictional character named DisembAudio will occasionally speak a line in exact synchronization with the movie. This lets you be sure that you remain in sync throughout the movie.
As of this writing, RiffTrax boasts a catalog of 114 Feature-length riffs as well as over 170 public domain shorts and what they call “RiffTrax Presents” which are riffs in which Mike Nelson is not one of the riffers. They also have a dozen songs and, recently, have been able to offer a selection of DVDs and Video on Demand titles that have the riff audio either baked in or accessible from the DVD menu.
Their Feature-length catalog is mostly newer movies and is being added to all the time. My personal favorite so far has been Eragon if only for the sheer fact that they make the movie watchable. And it doesn’t have to be a bad movie for them to make a good riff, either. At this point, I feel like I should mention that the riffs themselves are usually about PG-13, so I don’t necessarily recommend watching most of them with your younger children. However, we have never had an issue with it and I really only mention it because I live in Utah and some people aren’t always PG-13 friendly. My advice, though? Stroll on down to their website and pick one up for your next movie night, you won’t regret it!