I was never much a fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (or MST3K as it’s known by its fans), because I just didn’t want to suffer through really old movies. However, I loved the concept behind the idea, where basically an additional added commentary or making up some added dialogue to scenes in movies could make for a fun evening. However, for a relatively low budget comedy show that relies on movies to make the effect work, the only way it could be achieved was through licensing very cheap movies, hence the reliance on older than dirt, long forgotten movies no one could give a rats ass about.
The comedy writing team behind Mystery Science Theatre 3000 consisting of Michael J. Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett, have reformed and now thanks to the Internet, are now no longer limited to shitty old movies with dirt cheap licensing fees. They can now put their attention on big budget Hollywood epics that recently got released on DVD, or really, the types of movies you’re more likely to want to watch anyway.
How do they get around the licensing issue and be able to provide you what they call “Rifftrax” for Hollywood blockbuster films? Well that’s where the beauty of the Internet comes in. You buy the comedy tracks which they call “Rifftrax” separately from the films. This means they can sell you the Rifftrax for a couple of bucks because they don’t have to pay the licensing fee. Although you do have to supply the movie yourself. In most cases this isn’t a problem because you probably already own the DVD, so all you need to do is put it in the DVD player, and follow the audio instructions on how to sync the Rifftrax to the playback of your DVD and you’re all set. If you don’t already own the movie, then all you need to do is either rent it from somewhere like Netflix or buy a copy of the DVD from somewhere like Amazon.
The idea is bloody brilliant in my opinion. Because what they are selling you is an MP3 recording of their comedy only, this gives them the freedom to do currently popular movies released on DVD, such as the latest Batman movie, “The Dark Knight” as well as beloved films both new and relatively old like Harry Potter series of films, the original Star Wars trilogy, and even a few of the Star Trek films. They even do current television shows like “Heroes” and “Lost.” Let’s face it, no studio would license their current movies for the purpose of being made fun of, and if they did, they’d charge an insanely high licensing fee which would make this a very cost prohibitive venture. Why do you think the television version of MST3K always had crappy old movies instead “The Matrix”?
It’s like getting a bootleg commentary track that’s intentionally made to be funny, except its all perfectly legal because it comes separate from the film. This also makes it cheap entertainment, where you spend a couple of bucks for the Rifftrax and its up to you if you buy the movie or just rent it.
Additionally the site allows users to create their own commentary tracks for films and post them on the site for sale. They call these particular fan made versions “iTrax” and in exchange for the hosting and selling of the iTrax they split the money made from each sale 50-50. So it makes the library of riffed films virtually unlimited, because if there isn’t one already for a movie you want to see a Rifftrax recording for, you can make your own and sell it on the site and make some money from it. This would be a perfect opportunity for say former ABBAMAIL website owner, Graeme Read, to record a scathing iTrax commentary track for “ABBA: The Movie” with his unique sense of humor.
Check it out as their website includes sample clips, and the Rifftrax are so reasonably priced, it’s well worth getting one for a current movie you love to try it out. I bet you’ll be back for more after your first one. Check it out here at Rifftrax.com.
Their tagline truly says all you need to know – RiffTrax – We don’t make movies, we make fun of them!