If you’ve ever found yourself watching a horrible movie and thought “Hey, whatever happened to those Mystery Science Theater 3000 guys?” then you’ve clearly never tried using a search engine to find out. Had you done so, you probably would have stumbled across their website, RiffTrax, where you can download their commentary on all sorts of movies, from Sleepaway Camp to The Phantom Menance, and listen to them merrily mock the cinema.
The Best of RiffTrax Shorts Volume 1, available now on DVD, has the gang riffing on 9 shorts covering a variety of subjects. The gang is compromised of Michael J. Nelson, Bill Corbett, and Kevin Murphy, but since you can’t see them, all you hear is Mike, Crow and Tom Servo – which is awesome! The shorts they have their razor sharp wit set upon are: Buying Food, It Must be the Neighbors, Patriotism, Down and Out, Skipper Learns a Lesson, The Trouble With Women, Right or Wrong, Drugs Are Like That, and Shake Hands with Danger. They all are vintage public service type messages lasting around 10 minutes a piece and they’d probably be laugh worthy by themselves, but why waste the brain power to think about when the RiffTrax guys have already recorded their commentary? Buying Food warns you of the dangers of impulse buying, Patriotism instructs you that anything you do, including painting a fence, makes you a patriot, while The Trouble With Women is, you guessed it, about sexism. My favorite is probably Skipper Learns a Lesson, a story about a bigotted dog learning to accept other dogs and humans regardless of their age, sex, size, or shape. Yes, it’s told through the eyes of the dog as he learns his lesson. Shake Hands with Danger is also really funny and deals with the dangers of the construction workplace.
Shake Hands with Danger has never been released before and features CGI animated characters on screen, representing the guys as they make comments on the film. It doesn’t seem necessary, nor is it executed all that well. In the future, I’d say save the few bucks and not include CGI characters. If anything, just do the old MST3K method of putting silhouettes in front of the screen. It’s funny enough just hearing the guys and watching these outdated shorts. The video quality is awesome – in that it’s so old. The footage is clearly dated, presented in 4×3 and covered in scratches. But that just adds to the experience of watching these ancient clips.
If you’re a fan of MST3K, then you’ll definitely be in love with this release. For anyone who ever worked in the service industry and had to sit through some crappy PSA type presentation, it’s nice to see someone take it to ‘em. Payback for all those hours watching terrible videos. Like I mentioned, there are 9 shorts so there is plenty of film to see and fun to have. The total run time of the disc is over 100 minutes and you can either watch all 9 in a row or spread them out as nice little intermission videos. A funny collection that is a definite must own for big MST3K fans and something that’s funny enough to entertain those who’ve never even heard of the show. The Best of RiffTrax would make the perfect “party disc” to play in the background – it doesn’t demand your attention and will always make you laugh when you take the time to listen.
Check ‘em out at: http://www.rifftrax.com