The End and Beyond - Part 4
2010 was ushered in with the New Year's Eve live Cinematic Titanic show at the Keswick Theatre in Pennsylvania. The last few years had seen an ever increasing wealth of output from not only CT, but also the guys at RiffTrax. And to top it off great DVD sets of MST episodes continued to be released on a regular basis. If any fans thought that the bubble was about to burst they didn't have to wait long too long to learn that the fun was to continue.
The Cinematic Titanic live tour continued in February with stops at San Francisco Sketchfest on 2/2/10, where they riffed Danger on Tiki Island at the Castro Theater then they performed double features at the Royal Oak Music Theatre in Royal Oak, MI on 2/19 and Turner Hall in Milwaukee, WI. Both nights they riffed War of the Insects and Samson and the Seven Miracles of the World. (I attended the shows in Royal Oak and posted a write up with a few pictures here.)
The second live Cinematic Titanic DVD was released on 2/23/10 this time for the film The Alien Factor. (This was recorded at the Largo at the Coronet in Los Angeles, CA back on 10/28/09.)
On 2/25 we learned that the documentary Santa Claus Conquers the Devil on the MST3K DVD set XVI was nominated for the Rondo Award for Best DVD Extra Feature.
Tom Servo and Crow showed up in a web comic called Recalled Robots by Tim Rickard on 2/26/10.
With fairly little publicity a RiffTrax double feature DVD came out on 3/2. Best of RiffTrax Shorts Volume 1 was paired with the riff of Night of the Living Dead.
On 3/5 Tom Servo showed up in another web comic. This time on a movie poster created by Joshway for strewthcomics.com.
Then on 3/6 Cinematic Titanic performed their greatest riffs at Twentywonder in Culver City, CA, a new gathering of performers similar to the Superballs put on by Joel and Jim Hodgson. Proceeds from Twentywonder were donated to the Downs Syndrome Association of Los Angeles.
Paul and Storm posted Paul's 40th Birthday Video on 3/8. The semi-biographical tribute featured clips by many "friends" including Bill Corbett. The end of the video featured a lengthy performance by the United Servo Academy Liturgical Ensemble. In other words, a multi-layered Kevin offering a Latin homage to Paul entitled CANTICVM PRO PAVLVS.
MST3K DVD set XVII came out on 3/16/10. This set included The Crawling Eye (101), The Beatniks (415), The Final Sacrifice (910) and Blood Waters of Dr Z (1005). Along with the usual trailers, promos and mini posters other bonus features included an intro to The Crawling Eye by Joel, the Crow vs. Crow panel from Dragon*Con 2009, MST Hour host segments for The Beatniks and an interview with Zap Rowsdower himself, Bruce Mitchell. There is also an Easter egg on the Beatniks disk of the live performance of Mike and the bots singing The Greatest Frank of All at the 1994 Conventio-Con. Frank's interpretive dance to the tune is also included. (on the Beatniks disk go to the extra features. Highlight the option for the MST Hour segments and press the left arrow. You should see that the EXTRA title is now clickable and will lead to the clip.)
On 3/17 to celebrate St Patrick's Day the folks at RiffTrax released a DVD of their Christmas Shorts-Stravaganza that was performed live in San Diego on 12/16/09 and broadcast to theaters across the country via satellite.
RiffTrax had two more on-line events over the next couple weeks. On 3/29 RiffTrax presented a streaming webcast of their panel discussion filmed at ComicCon 2009. Veronica Belmont hosted, the short Shake Hands With Danger was riffed live and the audience was asked to make suggestions for an upcoming riff (which turned out to be Dragon Wars: D-War).
Then on 4/1/10 RiffTrax invited fans to "break the server" by watching a new short called Mr. Moto Takes a Walk. This was not a live riff, but rather a trial of their method to deliver riffs via the internet without the previous problems with freeze ups and crashes. The event went off fairly well with minimal issues. Viewers that paid the 25 cent fee to attend were given free RiffTrax wallpaper of the dynamic trio (as seen below).
On 4/5/10 artist Len Peralta dedicated the 5th in his series of Geek A Week cards to the folks at RiffTrax.
The Cinematic Titanic crew were featured on Countdown with Keith Olbermann on 4/14/10. Keith is a long time MSTie and mentioned that he was one of the first to publish a story about the fledgling MST3K. Although the entire CT gang attended the taping only Trace, Joel and Josh appeared on the show.
CT 2010 Live Tour continued with an east coast swing through the Calvin Theater in Northampton, MA on 4/15, the McCarter Theater in Princeton, NJ on 4/16 and culminating at the Nokia Theater in Time Square, New York City, NY on 4/17. Danger on Tiki Island was shown in Northampton and New York City. A fan vote selected War of the Insects for viewing in Princeton. Also, about this time fan got to see a 2010 Tour poster designed by Len Peralta. (The following pictures, only slightly morphed by me, of the very cool marquee outside the Nokia were provided by Cheryl Bird.)
All of the various members of Cinematic Titanic and RiffTrax continued to make appearances and participate in events across the entertainment world. On 5/1 Josh, Kevin and Bill (along with Jonathan Coulton, Doc Hamer, Paul & Storm and others) formed a group called Help Aid and provided the song Some Kind of Charity (or Something) for Red Nose Net. Frank appeared at the stand up comedy event Comics and Comics at Meltdown Comics on Sunset Blvd in Hollywood on 5/7.
RiffTrax released two new collections of shorts on 5/25. Shorts-A-Poppin' and RiffTrax Plays With Their Shorts each contained an alternate riff of part of a short.
Fans were offered a chance to vote for the movie that the RiffTrax guys would perform at a summer 2010 live event. Voting started on 5/27 for either Reefer Madness or Jack the Giant Killer. Jack was the overwhelming winner, but we soon learned that issues with the rights to the film would prevent it's use. Therefore, Reefer Madness it is!
On 5/29/10 Frank co-hosted the live show Tomorrow! with Ron Lynch at the Steve Allen Theater. Also in June an animated Frank appeared in a 22 minute short called I Confess by Andy Haskins and Paul Kozlowski.
w00tstock, billed as 3 Hours of Geeks and Music, took place on 6/6/10 at the Park West in Chicago (w00tstock 2.2) with an encore performance at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis (w00tstock 2.3) on 6/7. Kevin, Bill and Trace all participated along with celebrities Adam Savage, Will Wheaton and Paul & Storm. Trace offered readings from his upcoming book Silly Rhymes for Belligerent Children with illustrations supplied by Len Peralta. Bill and Kevin performed their song Plans 1-8, It's A Trap (joined by Paul & Storm) and a generic National Anthem (joined by all the performers). Both evenings Trace was appropriately clad in a Star Trek shirt and for some reason he decided to don a kilt for the performance of the National Anthem in Minneapolis.
Cinematic Titanic released their next DVD on 6/15. This time we received the live riff of Danger on Tiki Island (aka Brides of Blood (1968)). There was also an 18 minute "Between the Riffs" documentary that featured interviews of the entire CT cast. As with the earlier live DVD releases this movie was filmed at the Largo in Los Angeles on 10/26/09.
In early 2010 the crew from Cinematic Titanic toured the offices of MAD magazine. Their visit was commemorated in the August issue which hit the news stands around 6/24.
On 7/1/10 Cinematic Titanic continued their live tour with a stop in Ann Arbor, MI. That first night they held a panel discussion with a Q&A session covering topics from their early days in stand up comedy to upcoming DVD releases. Then on 7/2 they performed live riffs of East Meets Watts and the first public riffing of The Oozing Skull (this was the first movie they riffed live back in December 2007, but that was a special showing at ILM). (I was in attendance both nights and have posted a report of the event here.)
Earlier in the day on 7/2 RiffTrax held their own live event. Bacon-cam was a one hour broadcast of...well, the folks at RiffTrax cooking and discussing bacon. Over 400 on-line viewers watched them cook a pound each of a slab of Hungarian Kolozsvari smoked bacon, a good utility Farmer John's bacon and a griddle full of Petit Jean Ozark Hickory Smoked bacon. Related topics of discussion included bacon with coffee and with whiskey, Mike's hair for some reason and eventually bacon grease shots. Bridget also showed up with festive 4th of July bacon infused cupcakes. (Sorry Bridget. That's the only screen grab I got of you.) A Sausage-cam event was also held later in the day. (I was unable to attend this impromptu sausage fest since I was on my way to the CT shows in Ann Arbor. If anyone has any pictures to help me document the event please email them to me. Thanks.)
Another RiffTrax live broadcast was held on 7/9. This time the featured event was the RiffTrax Office Shuffleboard Tournament where members of the staff competed in a double elimination competition. Although Sarah "the Red" Vanderbush was the odds on favorite, Sean "Beard Guy" Thomason fought his way to the final only to lose to Mike. The running commentary centered around shuffleboard table wax, beer and spilled beer. There were also an alarming number of Justin Bieber sightings.
Frank and Josh appeared on This Week in Comedy on 7/11/10, a live podcast hosted by comedian Ed Crasnick. Along with the interview a few clips were shown from Prince of Space, East Meets Watts and from CT's recent appearance on Countdown with Keith Olbermann. Josh and Frank explained that the riffing of a bad movie is a collaboration with it, not an attack on it. The movie feeds them straight lines via their dubious dialogue, scenery and costumes and the riffers try to make something entertaining out of something that originally wasn't. Well said.
Also, on 7/13 MST3K DVD set XVIII hit shelves in stores. The set includes the episodes Lost Continent (208) with an introduction by Frank, Crash of Moons (417), The Beast of Yucca Flats (621) and Jack Frost (813) introduced by Kevin. There were also original trailers, Crash of Moons MST Hour wraps and a new documentaries No Dialogue Necessary: Making The Beast of Yucca Flats and Coleman Francis: The Cinematic Poet of Parking.
RiffTrax conducted another test of their new video equipment on 7/16. Another shuffleboard tournament was broadcast from "RiffTrax Central" hosted by Mike, Kevin and Bill. The trial was followed by a brief Q&A session.
Mike, Kevin and Bill next showed up at San Diego Comic Con. Mike, Bill and Kevin joined the w00tstock 2.4 gang on 7/22 and performed a live riff of Lunchroom Manners. On 7/23 RiffTrax held a panel hosted by Veronica Belmont where they performed a live riff of the short Buying Food. Just as at SDCC 2009 the fans in attendance were able to help select some movies for future riffing including The Last Airbender and Clash of the Titans (although not specifically choosing which version). (Thanks to Joseph Wright for providing the following picture of the guys.)
On 8/1 Len Peralta issued card #22 of his Geek-A-Week set. This time it featured Cinematic Titanic.
Cinematic Titanic performed War of the Insects live at the Castro Theater in San Francisco on 8/3 as part of Sketchfest. They were honored to be invited to tour Pixar Studios the next day and perform a live riff of Danger on Tiki Island at Pixar's theater. As it turns out many of the fine folks at Pixar are huge MST3K fans and even have a weekly airing of an episode.
The first episode of a new web series on the site Funny or Die debuted on 8/13. Les Chats features performances by Frank Conniff and Eddie Pepitone, among others, and is written and directed by Laura Kightlinger. In this episode we hear to gents talking about what men always talk about at the office.
Throughout August media attention for an upcoming RiffTrax Live! event was in full swing. On 8/13 the RiffTrax guys themselves posted a promo especially for their facebook fans. (I of course was already waiting in anticipation with my ticket in hand.)
RiffTrax Live! presented Reefer Madness on 8/19/10 live at the Center for the Arts in Escondido, CA and broadcast via satellite to approximately 450 theaters across the country. The evening featured three new extremely creepy shorts: More Dangerous Than Dynamite (1941) with a poor woman bursting into animated flames, At Your Fingertips - Grasses (1970's) teaching us all about the many uses of grass, and Frozen Frolics (1930) a bizarre Van Beuren Studios cartoon that included a cat-or-doggish creature rummaging through the pockets of his recently deceased friend for cash. Two new short films by Rich "Lowtax" Kyanka and his 5-year old daughter Lauren were shown (The Story of the Fairy Mermaid and The Story of the Glitter Doll). Then came the featured riff of the Legend Films colorized version of Reefer Madness (1936). This riff included eight lines contributed by on-line fans, who received brief mention in the shows closing credits. There was also an iPad with engraved artwork by Ethan Nicolle (Axe Cop) given away. Free digital goodies included a new autographed photo of the guys, an mp3 of Reefer Boy by the RiffTones, a downloadable copy of the Dynamite short and new avatars of the Reefer Madness cast created by Len Peralta. An encore presentation was shown on 8/24.
When Dragon*Con 2010 took place in Atlanta, GA from 9/3-6/10 it turned out to be an MST/CT/RT festival. Joel, Trace, Josh, Kevin, Frank, Mary Jo, Bill and Prop Diva Beez McKeever were all in attendance and showed up at numerous events throughout the weekend. Bill held a panel where he discussed his screenplay about a screenwriter who is writing a screenplay about a "screenwriter by day/ assassin by night." He was joined by Trace who helped read the story to the crowd. Trace was then joined by the gang for his own panel where each did a reading from Trace's hot off the presses book Silly Rhymes for Belligerent Children. The book's illustrator Len Peralta was also in attendance. Trace and Beez joined Darkstar creator J. Allen Williams and co-star Clive Robertson to discuss the long awaited and much anticipated release of their interactive movie (that's J. Allen with Beez pictured below). The Cinematic Titanic team had a panel where they screened East Meets Watts and fielded questions late into Friday night. Then EVERYONE joined in for an MST3K panel Saturday morning. Saturday night the gang participated in something called Nuts on the Road: The Quiz Show along with Mythbuster Adam Savage, Doc Hammer, Jackson Publick and others. This was a strange contest with various groups competing in debates, sing-a-longs and other humorous activities. Sunday featured a Tom Servo vs. Tom Servo face off with Josh and Kevin. Kevin brought the actual "I HATE TOM SERVO'S NEW VOICE" banner we have heard about all these years. That was followed by a Meet the Mads panel discussing the history and evolution of the various mad scientists on MST3K. There was also a "RiffTrax Live...sort of" presented by Kevin and Bill where they showed a variety of RiffTrax promos and a pre-recorded riff of the bizarre short At Your Fingertips" Grass. Finally, Frank was part of a group that presented So You Want to be a Screenwriter. Whew! Many of the events were moderated by Ken Plume (who is seen in a couple of the following pictures) and some were filmed for inclusion on future Shout! Factory DVD releases. While in Atlanta the Cinematic Titanic crew was even interviewed by CNN's Ann Hoevel. I also included a picture of MSTie Kevin Coppa and his excellent SOL desk and bots.
On 9/14/2010 the independent film Triptosane was released. The movie delved into the effects of psychedelic drugs on the human mind and featured Trace Beaulieu as the voice of SYD the computer.
RiffTrax added literally hundreds of new items to their store on 9/23/10 including many new riffed movie posters, t-shirts and device skins for your iPod nano, iPod Touch and iPhone 3G. There is even an option to create your own artwork. Also, Trace's book Silly Rhymes for Belligerent Children was officially available for purchase on it's own website starting 10/4/10.
Cinematic Titanic's fall tour continued with a stop at the Lisner Auditorium on George Washington University campus on 10/15 with a viewing of War of the Insects followed by a visit to the University of Rhode Island's Edwards Auditorium to present Samson and the 7 Miracles of the World on 10/16.
As election time drew near Frank showed up 10/19 on msnbc's Countdown responding to Glenn Beck's offer for food insurance. Then on 10/22 NPR's On the Media hosts Brooke Gladstone and Bob Garfield utilized a familiar visual format during their political discussion.
On 10/28/10 RiffTrax Live presented the Halloween treat House on Haunted Hill. The show was performed live at the Belcourt Theater in Nashville, TN and, as with previous shows, was broadcast via satellite to over 500 theaters across the country. Prior to the show the audience was treated to various movie facts and trivia, but this time there were also Halloween Tips and Friday the 13th Facts from Wikipedia. There were also two RiffTrax promos featuring members of the RT crew (one with Conor Lastowka and Bill and another with Sean Thomason, Sarah Vanderbush and a group of guys named Bob RiffTrax). When the RiffTrax gang took the stage they were (somewhat) appropriately costumed for the event. Kevin as Medusa, Bill as a sexy kitten and even though Mike didn't wear a costume he did let his hair grow out. The evening included two very bizarre shorts, Magical Disappearing Money (1972) with it's spend-thrift grocery witch, and Paper and I where a young boy is seduced to the dark side by an animate paper bag. The crew was joined by Paul F. Tompkins of Mr. Show fame for this second short. Paul also explained why no one really likes to see scary films (because they're scary) and how being basically cheap prevents ghosts and ghouls from surprising you in the bathroom (excuse me). The Legend colorized version of House on Haunted Hill was riffed to the enjoyment of fans nationwide. During the feature film Kevin was unceremoniously fired for poor riffing only to be (briefly) replaced by Mr. Tompkins, who did not fair much better. Free goodies for attendees included an autographed photo, the Money short, an mp3 of the song The Party at the House on Haunted Hill and some Len Peralta avatars.
On 11/29 Cinematic Titanic performed their first live riffing of the movie Rattlers at the Wilbur Theatre in Boston. On 10/31 Bill and Kevin (as Will Wheaton) hosted a special Halloween w00tstock 2.8, also at the Wilbur Theater. They performed a live riff of At Your Fingertips: Grasses and sang Plans 1-8, Sparkly Vampires (with Paul & Storm) and their National Anthem (again with the entire cast for the evening, although this show featured Adam Savage in a wookie costume).
Mary Jo participated in w00tstock 2.9 at the Paramount Theatre in Austin, TX on 11/2.
As previously announced the much anticipated interactive movie Darkstar became available on 11/5/10. Other merchandise made available included such items as soundtrack CDs, t-shirts, books, signed photos and a collection of everything sold together in a Captain's Box.
The MST3K DVD set XIX was issued by Shout! Factory on 11/9/10. This set included the episodes Robot Monster (107), Bride of the Monster (423), Devil Doll (818) and Devil Fish (911). Extras included more intros, interviews, trailers and lobby posters along with a documentary about Ed Wood called Citizen Wood: Making the Bride, Unmasking the Legend. Joel recorded a short bit about inventing the invention exchange. Fans also enjoyed a collectible Gypsy to go along with the previously released Crow and Servo. (An Easter Egg on the Devil Doll disk showed Joel discussing the origin of Movie Sign. It could be reached by highlighting Extras, hitting the left arrow and hitting Enter once the light on the button panel turns orange.)
On 11/11 Mike and some other guy (maybe Conor) announced the upcoming RiffTrax of The Last Airbender and Twilight Eclipse and promised more news would be forthcoming. In order to peak fan's interest they repeatedly showed a clip of a dog humping a child.
As November continued Cinematic Titanic had performances on 11/13 at the Family Arena in St Charles, MO and on 11/27 at the Victoria Theater in Newark, NJ. Meanwhile on 11/25 Shout! Factory thrilled fans with the announcement that they had secured to the rights to all five Gamera movies riffed on MST3K and was preparing to release them in 2011 as one 5-disk set. They also stated plans for rereleasing some DVDs that had been put out by Rhino, although now they would most likely include a number of extras. On 11/26 RiffTrax released a DVD of Maniac that included an extra of their appearance at the 2010 San Diego Comic Con.
Bill Corbett's new play Super-Powered Revenge Christmas #1 had a run at the Minneapolis Theater Garage from 12/2-12/18.
On 12/3 RiffTrax attempted a live announcement of their upcoming Christmas Live on-line event, but due to overloaded server issues most fans were not able to see them. They announced that they would be performing Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny on 12/16, but as a result of the technical difficulties the live event was cancelled and the movie was released as a video on demand offering on 12/17.
Frank had another appearance on Countdown with Keith Olbermann on 12/14 discussing the war on Christmas.
The JoCoCruise aboard the Holland America MS Eurodam left Ft Lauderdale, FL on 1/2/2011. Before returning on 1/8 the Jonathan Coulton led cruise would make stops in the Bahamas, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. The days would be filled with a variety of shows, gaming events and concerts. One of the highlights was the Wednesday 1/5 evening when Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett performed live riffs of Shake Hands With Danger, Drawing For Beginners: Rectangles (with Peter Sagal) and At Your Fingertips: Grasses (joined by John Hodgman). They were joined by a number of the other performers to sing songs including the Admiral Akbar inspired It's A Trap, Sparkly Vampires and a wonderful rendition of the United Servo Academy Men's Chorus (left to right, Kevin, Jonathan, Paul (of Paul & Storm), Molly Lewis, Bill, Mike Phirman and Storm (of Paul & Storm)). Bill hosted a late night Drama Club where he joined Peter Sagal to perform his play Game Theory and then put on his own play My Monster with co-writer Joseph Scrimshaw (see fuzzy picture below). They also joined other performers during their acts including the trips finale, a rousing version of Sloop John B with the whole cast.
Not to be left out, on 1/13 Mike announced that RiffTrax had hired a new consultant affectionately known as the Pooping Monkey.
On 1/20/11 Bill and Kevin performed at San Francisco Sketchfest. Their show was called RiffTrax Presents: Night of Shorts and the show was made up of the guys being joined by different performers for each short. The line up started with Bill and Kevin performing Buying Food on their own followed by Lunchroom Manners (with Maria Bamford), Drugs Are Like That (Cole Stratton and Janet Varney), Drawing for Beginners: The Rectangle (just Bill and Kevin again), Shake Hands With Danger (Adam Savage) and finally At Your Fingertips: Grasses (Paul F. Tompkins).
(back: Varney, Stratton, Savage and Kevin; front: Bamford, Tompkins and Bill)
Two new RiffTrax DVDs came out on 1/25, namely Order in the Shorts and Shortstoberfest. These were followed on 2/15 by two single MST3K DVDs by Shout! Factory. They released Beginning of the End and Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed Up Zombies. There were no extras on either DVD.
Meanwhile, the Cinematic Titanic Live tour was continuing. Shows were performed at Capitol Center for the Performing Arts in Concord, NH on 1/29, the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee, WI on 2/18 and 19 and a double feature at the Royal Oak Music Theater in Royal Oak, MI on 2/26. (I was at the Royal Oak show and my write can been read here.) Next they would appear at the Mesa, AZ Arts Center on 3/12.
Two more DVDs came out on 3/8/11. First was the RiffTrax holiday treat Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny. MST3K DVD set XX came out the same day and included Project Moonbase (109), Master Ninja I (322), Master Ninja II (324) and The Magic Voyage of Sinbad (505). This set included an intro to 505 by Trace along with the MST Hour wraps for that episode, a short feature called Exploring the Look of MST3K with Director of Photography Jeff Stonehouse, an interview with Master Ninja guest star Bill McKinney and the Servo (Josh) vs. Servo (Kevin) panel from Dragon*Con 2010. Also there were the traditional trailers and lobby cards, but this time if you ordered directly from Shout! you received a free MST planet stress ball.
Some interesting MST tributes happened over the next few weeks. On 3/19 a book was released called In the Peanut Gallery with Mystery Science Theater 3000: Essays on Film, Fandom, Technology and the Culture of Riffing. The collection of essays was assembled by Robert Weiner and Shelley Barba. For one day only on 3/30 TeeFury.com offered an MST inspired t-shirt that expanded substantially on the shadowrama concept. Then on 4/1 a Seattle based troupe called Puppet This performed the play Manos the Hands of Felt.
Joel participated in a tribute to television pioneer Ernie Kovacs on 4/12 as part of a panel discussion held at the Paley Center for Media in New York City. The event was called It's Been Real: The Life and Legacy of Ernie Kovacs. (First photo: Joel with Robert Smigel. Second photo: L to R: Ben Model, Joel, Robert Smigel, Jolene Brand Schlatter, George Schlatter and moderator Keith Olbermann)
Cinematic Titanic's live tour continued 4/15 at the Community Theatre in Morristown, NJ and 4/16 at the McCarter Theater in Princeton, NJ. Mary Jo helped out with Master Pancake performance of The Sound of Music on 4/30 at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. CT was back on 5/6 for a double feature at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco.
Seth McFarlane gave a nod to MST3K in an episode of The Cleveland Show that debuted on FOX on 5/15. Cleveland Jr. attends a Sci-Fi convention wearing a blue jumpsuit with a familiar looking patch and a gumball shaped bot on his shoulder.
RiffTrax released their last two live shows on DVD on 5/17/11. The discs of Reefer Madness (filmed in San Diego on 8/19/10) and House on Haunted Hill (filmed in Nashville on 10/28/10) were welcomed by fans, who were beginning to wonder when they would see the light of day.
On 6/9 Mary Jo debuted her updated website and began to blog on opensalon.com. Later that month Shout! Select issued two more MST3K DVDs. Gunslinger (511) and Hamlet (1004) became available on 6/21/11.
Both of the people that went to see the Cameron Diaz comedy Bad Teacher when it was released on 6/25 noticed our own Josh Weinstein in a cameo playing bass as part of Dave Gruber Allen's band. On 6/28 Frank appeared in another Andy Haskins/ Paul Kozlowski animated short this time called Grief.
The Hodgson brothers hosted another edition of Twenty Wonder, their annual fund raiser for Downs Syndrome in LA. There was a fairly large number of performers at the event.
Frank made an appearance on political humor show The Young Turks with David Pore on 7/12.
7/19/11 saw the release of two more RiffTrax shorts compilation DVDs, Olde Tyme Shorts Roundup and Shorts To-Go.
RiffTrax celebrated their 5th anniversary on 7/20/11. They made their annual appearance at San Diego Comic Con from 7/21 to 7/24. Along with a number of autograph signing sessions they also appeared at w00tstock 3.0 on 7/21 at the Balboa Theatre where they performed At Your Fingertips: Grasses. This event was hosted by the original w00tstock founders Adam Savage, Wil Wheaton and Paul & Storm. The always popular RiffTrax panel occurred 7/22 and featured a live riff of the short County Fair, a Q&A sessions and the audience was asked to help suggest an upcoming riff. This year they selected Logan's Run. Finally, on 7/23 the guys participated in the decidedly adult themed live podcast for Nerdist.com. (l to r, Matt Mira, Jonah Ray (both from Nerdist), Kevin Pereira (G4), Mike, Bill, Kevin and host Chris Hardwick (also from Nerdist).)
Futurama offered to put your head in a jar and on 7/26 Frank took them up on it. As someone on Facebook mentioned it's a good likeness, but we miss the spit curl.
8/2/11 saw the Shout! Factory release of DVD set XXI: MST3K vs. Gamera. Many fans thought the day would never come that we would see these releases based on the difficulty gaining rights to the movies and the none to warm reception the episodes received by Sandy Frank. Apparently money won out and this set included all five episodes featuring the giant flying turtle, Gamera (302), Gamera vs. Barugon (304), Gamera vs. Gaos (308), Gamera vs. Guiron (312) and Gamera vs. Zigra (316). The set was put out in a special collectors tin along with lobby posters, documentaries, interviews, including one with the Chiodo Brothers, MST Hour wraps and the original Japanese trailers.
Also on 8/2 the long awaited Bluray editions of the RiffTrax Live! shows of Reefer Madness and House on Haunted Hill finally were released (after being announced on 5/17 and 7/19).
Frank appeared in episode 21 of the Mental Health Happy Hour on 8/12/11. The podcast is hosted by long time Dinner and a Movie host Paul Gilmartin. Throughout the darkly humorous conversation they divulged a number of personal phobia, fears and had discussions about difficult periods in their lives.
Two more Shout! Select episodes came out on 8/16, namely The Unearthly (320) and Red Zone Cuba (619).
The next RiffTrax Live! event was held 8/17/11. The guys were performing live from the Belcourt Theater in Nashville, TN again as the show was broadcast via satellite across the country. The evening started with updated movie facts and jokes pertinent to the upcoming movie (my personal favorite was "Real Life Giant Killers: Congestive Heart Failure - Andre the Giant." Sad really). Fathom Entertainment decided to jack up the crowd by airing some promos for other live events they are producing such as operas, live concerts and boxing. The RiffTrax show itself began with another odd short called What is Nothing? (1973), followed by two well received shorts from 5 (or 6) year old Lauren Kyanka about The Greatest Superhero (Doorknob) and Jesus-based A Pretty Love Story. The featured attraction was strange Jack the Giant Killer (1962) with its somewhat disturbing claymation creatures.
On 8/19 Bill and Kevin appeared on 7 Live in San Francisco hosted by Brian Copeland promoting their appearance at Sketchfest the following day. This time their show was called Night of Shorts II: Electric Riffaloo and as in January they were joined by a number of other performers. The line up included County Fair (riffed by Kevin and Bill), Act Your Age (joined by Chris Hardwick), Paper and I (with Bob Odenkirk), The Calendar: How to Use It (Cole Stratton and Janet Varney), Flying Stewardess (Bill and Kevin alone again), At Your Fingertips: Boxes (Adam Savage) and Tooth Truth with Harv and Marv (Andy Richter).
Also on 8/19 artist Richard Sargent posted a piece called Where's Wall·E? featuring dozens of robots, including one from our favorite show. Of course I mean 70's TV robot Twiki (who you'll find standing next to Tom Servo). Sargent also created a numbered version to help people try to figure out who is included in the drawing. (I also left these in a very large format for you to enjoy.)
Bill, Trace and Frank attended Dragon*Con 2011 in Atlanta starting 9/2/11. Among the events they participated in were a Geek-A-Week Podcast Reunion (pictured below), Down in Deep 13 panel, Celebrity Quiz-a-Tron 2000, RiffTrax is Five Years Old and the Gonzo Quiz Show III: Beyond Thunderquiz. At the same time Mike was appearing on a podcast of Radio Dead Air hosted by Lewis Lovhaug and Lindsay Ellis.
Mike released a short promo on 9/9 for an upcoming RiffTrax short called Setting up a Room. This was somewhat of a cautionary way of easing viewers into the mind numbing tedium of the short. Fellow RiffTrakers Conor and Sean assisted.
On 9/13/11 Shout! Factory released a 2-disk Manos Special Edition DVD set. Included were the original and MST versions of the movie and a variety of extras including Group Therapy with Joel, Trace, Frank and Mary Jo discussing their memories of the episode, Parts 1 and 2 of the Chevrolet sales short Hired!, Jam Handy to the Rescue, the MST Hour wraps, My (Educational) Short Life featuring Joel and the making of documentary Hotel Torgo.
Cinematic Titanic kicked off their Fall/Winter tour with three shows at the Parkway Theater in Minneapolis on 9/15-17/11. Doomsday Machine, War of the Insects and Rattlers were presented with the last two being filmed for release on DVD. The group picture is from their appearance on CBS Minnesota morning television on 9/15. I was able to attend the shows and you can read my write up of the event here.
At about this same time the Cinematic Titanic group posed for some new publicity shots. The third picture below is obviously from their first group of publicity shots back in 2007, but I had never seen it until now because I think its kinda cool.
Mary Jo's book Employee of the Month and Other Big Deals was released on 10/7/11. This is a collect of some old and new stories created over the last few years by Mary Jo. It is published by CreateSpace.
RiffTrax decided that 10/14 was a good date for their next live on-line Bacon Cam event. The office gang evaluated Niman Ranch, Nueske's, Kovozsvari Hungarian smoked (slab) and Big Bad Breakfast Bacon. Other casual conversation included discussing "toe beer" that includes an actual human toe and eating live shrimp. This was the first in a series of on-line events over the next couple months to further test the on-line capabilities of the RiffTrax equipment.
Two more Shout! Select MST3K DVDs came out on 10/16. The episodes released were The Atomic Brain (518) and Touch of Satan (908).
On 10/21 RiffTrax performed a 10 minute riff of The Sons Of Hercules, which would be their next VOD riff available on 11/1/11. On 10/22 Joel appeared at the Reel Dakota Film Festival at the Belbas Theater in Sioux Falls, SD. He hosted a viewing of Manos: The Hands of Fate. That same day Mary Jo performed a riff of the perennial favorite Halloween with Master Pancake Theater in Austin, TX.
RiffTrax held an on-line Halloween double feature on 10/28. Introducing their RiffTrax TV format we saw a brief intro by Mike and Conor (as a not so traditional Halloween ghost) followed by the short Magical Disappearing Money, a Best of RiffTrax compilation, the riff of the film Maniac, another short The Creeps Machine and finally the riff of Night of the Living Dead.
Bill began a run of his new play Cinemadness on 11/5 at the Bryant Lake Bowl's Cabaret Theater in South Minneapolis. Joseph Scrimshaw again collaborated on the performances. The show on 11/12 was joined by Kevin and on 11/19 by Trace.
The next RiffTrax on-line event was something called a Vodka Smackdown. It was originally scheduled for 10/21, but was moved to 11/8. They apparently needed a rehearsal on 11/7 (as seen in the picture below).
The Vodka Smackdown itself consisted of the RiffTrax guys blind taste testing seven vodkas and attempting to place them in order of price based only on taste. Apparently this would some how show if quality and price corresponded. (More likely just a fun excuse to drink lots of vodka.) Before the taste test we saw a brief preview of the next riff of Warriors of the Wasteland. The vodkas evaluated were Absolut, Belvidere, Gordon's, Gran Legacy, Smirnoff, Ketel One and Grey Goose. Due to the unusual rating system I'm not sure who actually "won" the contest. Next we saw a preview for Transformers Dark of the Moon where Bill apparently lost his mind. This was followed by a live riff of the bizarre 1970's short Magic Sneakers. Overall the guys held up pretty well.
Joel appeared on Fox 11 Good Day Wisconsin on 11/11/11 to discuss the upcoming Cinematic Titanic shows at the Meyer Theatre in Green Bay, WI. Joel mentioned that he had worked at WLUK while in high school when he helped out by painting sets for a Muscular Dystrophy telethon. He had also performed his magic act at a WLUK Christmas party. About this same time presidential candidates began revving up their campaigns, including the candidate in the ad on the right below. (I'm not sure who created this, but if you would contact me I'd be glad to give you credit.)
On 11/12 Frank made an appearance on the on-line series Space Hospital (Series 2, Log 9 Ghost in the Ointment) as President Magnavision. He would appear as the same character again on 11/29 (Series 2, Log 10.5 Son of Savior Machine Part 2).
Trace and Bill were guest judges at Power Point Karaoke on 11/29 at the Bryant Lake Bowl, South Minneapolis.
12/2/11 saw the release of Cinematic Titanic's War of the Insects DVD recorded live at the Parkway Theater. The disk included promos for the other recent DVD releases. On 12/6 Shout! Factory put out the MST3K DVD set XXII including episodes Time of the Apes (306), Mighty Jack (314), The Violent Years (610) and The Brute Man (702). As usual there were lots of fun extras including an intro to 702 by Mary Jo and intros to 306 and 314 by Japanese film fan August Ragone, archival interviews of Delores Fuller and Kathy Wood, a documentary on actor Rondo Hatton and the making of The Brute Man and the 1997 Sci-Fi Channel's Making of MST3K special.
Frank and Trace joined comedian Dana Gould at the Siff Cinema Uptown on 12/8 for a performance utilizing the Ed Wood film Plan 9 From Outer Space. Then on 12/15 RiffTrax put out their live riff of Plan 9 on Bluray.
RiffTrax held a special live on-line presentation of Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny - Extended Edition. There was a short preview of an upcoming riff of Magic Christmas Tree followed by the live main event. Actually the scenes added back in were mostly ear-piercing songs from the Thumbelina section of the movie. Finally, they announced the Mendoza family had won a contest by sending in their letter to the Ice Cream Bunny. Their request was that the RiffTrax guys come to their house and riff Hallmark movies. I can't confirm whether that happened or not.
12/19 saw Frank make another appearance on Countdown with Keith Olbermann. This time he gave his expert opinion on happenings in North Korea after the death of their leader Kim Jong-il. That same day an article was posted on the Art of the Title site specifically regarding MST3K. It can be read at http://www.artofthetitle.com/2011/12/19/mystery-science-theater-3000/. On 12/21 Mary Jo and Trace appeared at the Wilde Roast Cafe in Minneapolis for an "evening of conversation and commiseration."
Christmas with RiffTrax became available on 12/20/11. The show included a gift exchange with Bill receiving BASH! (1965 Milton Bradley), Mike getting Battlewagon (1963 Deluxe) and Kevin now owns a game called Tight Squeeze (1970 Mattel). This was followed by a clip from the Joe DiMaggio Show (1950) and the Warner Brothers/ Merry Melodies short The Shanty Where Santy Claus Lives (1933), featuring some ethnically suspect toys. Finally we were treated to the odd 1964 holiday film called Magic Christmas Tree, unlikely to become a seasonal favorite to anyone.
12/23 saw the emergence of RiffTrax riffing on some cut scenes from the video game Gears of War 3.
Mary Jo's play based on a true story Man Saved By Condiments began a run on 12/26 presented by Theatre Arlo at the Bryant Lake Bowl in Minneapolis. The play was directed by Bill Stiteler and featured actor Tim Uren.
12/28 saw the end of an auction on eBay for a partial burned brick. The brick was posted by author Tony Trombo who picked it up on a site while doing research for his book Manos: The Locations of Fate that was released earlier in December 2011. Yes, the brick is from the El Paso home of the Master. Tony wanted a minimum of $500, but no one bid.