It’s been more than 10 years since "Mystery Science Theater 3000" faded from TV, but the spirit of that legendary cable TV hit lives on both online and in live shows, thanks to Rifftrax.
MST3K alums Michael J. Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett offer mockery tracks for many of Hollywood’s recent flops – as well as downloadable movies on demand of films that would have (maybe should have) otherwise been forgotten.
The trop will next take to the stage for their latest coast-to-coast live show next Thursday with a Halloween special highlighted by one of the worst films of the last few years, “Birdemic, Shock and Terror.”
Thanks to Fathom Events, the Rifftrax live riff of the absurd, ornithological horror jaunt will beam across the country to countless movie theaters – offering old MST3K fans everywhere a chance to endure the bizarre global warming cautionary tale of pissed off eagles avenging a wounded Mother Earth via dime store CGI.
According to Nelson, he and his two fellow riffers have a soft spot for the well-intended, but completely inept “Birdemic.”
“It’s hard not to be charmed by (Director James Nguyen),” Nelson said. “He’s so earnest, but somehow it hasn’t really occurred to him how his film was really received. I don’t know if he realizes audiences are laughing at him. But it doesn’t seem to bother him one or way or the other because there is a big response to his film.”
Nelson added that his two decades spent riffing on bad movies fostered an odd preference for modest budget messes like “Birdemic” or “The Room.”
“I think it might make me more angry to sit through the huge Hollywood blockbusters we riff,” he added. “With unlimited budgets, and with so much work poured into them, to see how cynical and soulless many of them are – I’d rather sit through a “Birdemic” than any of the “Transformers” movies.”
Nelson expressed more than a little confusion as to how so many of those mega-Hollywood efforts turn out so clunky. He cited “The Happening” as a prime example, allowing this reporter to commiserate with him briefly.
Like “Birdemic,” M. Night Shyamalan’s spectacularly bad effort also takes on global warming – with irritated plants going out of their way to drive humans to suicide. “The Happening” is so illogical, so incoherent and so poorly acted, the audience is left to wonder how it managed to reach theaters in that condition.
In effect, you can forgive the people behind “Birdemic.” They had a smaller budget and limited skill to call on during production. “The Happening” had unlimited money and an army of skilled professionals – leaving behind a bird dropping no one can forgive.
But I digress.
"People have been burned too many times in theaters," Nelson said. "So, I’m feeling a little bit of optimism that movie fans are rejecting the same old films that Hollywood is telling them to like.’
“I have no problem with big blockbusters. If they’re done well, I enjoy them. But, the formula is so tired that they’re rarely done well anymore."
Fortunately, audiences across the country will see movie riffing done well on Oct. 25 when Rifftrax goes to the birds. (Sorry.)