October seems to be our month for live shows. Last year Shaun and I left our six-week-old in the care of my parents and went to see Pomplamoose. (I called home only half a dozen times.) The year before that, we saw RiffTrax Live! House on Haunted Hill at the movie theater. This year, we got another sitter and saw the live riffing of Birdemic: Shock & Terror.
If you’ve not heard of RiffTrax, it’s like the old Mystery Science Theater 3000 television show. It should be, it’s the same cast. The live shows are done in Tennessee and then broadcast – some might say simulcast but I think that’s a weird word – to theaters across the country. It costs only a couple bucks more than a regular movie ticket and I think it’s a fun way to spend an evening.
If you have not heard of RiffTrax then you probably haven’t heard of Birdemic: Shock & Terror, which is a modern day Plan 9 from Outer Space: A truly terrible movie with a script, special effects and sound editing that seem to have been done by a third grader. For instance, in one scene early in the movie, the male lead tells the female lead she looks familiar, and they establish that they went to the same high school. The very next line, he asks if she is “from around here.”
I have to say I’m always a little bit shocked when I go to these live events affiliated with MST3K. The audience tends to have that Simpsons’ Comic Book Guy look about them, and that’s when I remember what a deeply sarcastic form of humor I enjoy. I suppose there is a certain mean-spiritedness in making fun of another’s personal work of art. But you have to ask yourself how such a comically bad movie as Birdemic got made in the first place. If I was making a movie and it was turning out like Birdemic, I’d have several people along the way slapping me in the face, telling me to shape up.
For a sampling of the ridiculousness that is Birdemic and the RiffTrax brand of sarcasm, go to the RiffTrax website and check it out. If you care to watch the whole hilarious riff, the movie is available through Netflix Watch Instantly.
I was planning to add a note here about the core RiffTrax team. They are Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett, and they were also the main ensemble in the last few years of MST3k. I like this ensemble the best and think they are the funniest, and that might be because they were the cast I saw first. Anyway, turns out I’ve already said all that, so I won’t repeat myself. Well okay, just a little. Kevin Murphy, who played Tom Servo on MST3K, wrote a book called A Year at the Movies. He decided to go to different theaters across the country and sees a new film every day for an entire year. It’s a fantastic book and if you like movies, you should read it. It’s less about the movies he watches and more about the movie-going experience.