DVD review: MST3K crew returns with RiffTrax PD DVDs–OMG!

You’ve gotta give the old Mystery Science Theater 3000 crew this: an “A” for amazing creativity. Not only have they morphed the MST template into several forms since the show wound down in 1999, from the Film Crew to RiffTrax and things in between, but now they’ve spun it out again by giving the online RiffTrax format its own DVD sideline.

Of course, they couldn’t have done so by using beloved RiffTrax titles such as Star Wars or Jaws, for the same reason that, necessity being invention’s momma, they birthed RiffTrax in the first place: movie rights. They cost too much. RiffTrax works because you don’t need the expensive rights to Star Wars to synch the caustic comic comments of Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett to your own video version of the film, thus giving it a yummy MST flavor with the caramel nuggets of nyuk nyuk put-downs.

But if you’re gona unleash your manic merriment on screen along with the original movie, as RiffTrax does today with 10 debut DVD titles, you’ve gotta go the tried and true old MST way from the early days: use flicks which are PD, or public domain, and have no rights for sale.

That’s why this initial batch of RiffTrax DVDs from Legend Films includes such familiar chestnuts as the original House on Haunted Hill, Night of the Living Dead, Reefer Madness and Carnival of Souls. Heck, while flying solo, Mike already has done these in his Hart Sharp Video releases of a few years ago, but why bicker over a bevy of barbs? And besides, those movies were available for free to our merry band of quipsters who, being good ecologists, have recycled them again. (Sounds like a Yogi-ism.)

Indeed, those hoary horrors and others are now getting triple-barreled salvos from all three MST alums for $9.95 a pop on DVD, or about $5 more than you’d pay for a RiffTrax download when you have to supply the movie yourself. (And BTW, the new DVD titles are offered via NetFlix, too.)

Either way, it’s well worth it. I mean, if you love mocking movies as I do, and you revere the sharp talents of Mike and company, then how can you resist having an MST-style experience all over again, with the exceptions of not having silhouetted critics at the bottom of the screen, or brief “host segments” during intermissions?

So far I’ve screened several of the new RiffTrax spins (which were released already as downloads via its own website) and can attest that the boys are in fine form. Especially enjoyable are the two collections of quaint educational shorts, given the fact that these — unlike, say, Reefer Madness — are such fresh targets for teasing tirades. Also, Shorts Vol. 2 has the most bizarre “kids in ape costumes” featurette you’ll ever see. If The Wizard of Oz’s flying monkeys disturbed you as a kid,  then you haven’t seen anything yet!

So sit back, buckle up and prepare for a riotous ride guided by our old friends. They’ve clearly proven that you can go home again, especially when that home is as spacious and open to revels in ridicule as the original concept of our most beloved cowtown puppet show, little ol’ Mystery Science Theater 3000.

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One Response to “DVD review: MST3K crew returns with RiffTrax PD DVDs–OMG!”

  1. Valentine Honnette Says:

    Great article! I bet a lot of work went into this post.

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