Cinematic Titanic // 2010 // 88 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Michael Rubino (Retired) // June 25th, 2010
"Welcome to the Villa of the Damned, by Marriott!"
There are a million things that can go wrong when you go to the theater. The popcorn could be stale. You could ruin a shoe by stepping in a puddle of syrup that used to be a soft drink. Your date could fall asleep. You could get shot. All bad things, but by far the worst thing that could happen is you sit next to someone who insists on making fun of the movie. Sure this yokel might think he's hilarious, and so may his half-wit friends...but he's not. No one is paying to hear his below-Jay-Leno level of humor. He's not a professional.
Cinematic Titanic are professionals. They've been riffing on movies since the days of Mystery Science Theater 3000, and they've got it down to an art form. More recently, they've expanded beyond the studio, touring the country and playing in some pretty big theaters. Danger on Tiki Island is another in a slew of live performances, taped and released on DVD so everyone can feel like they're sitting in a theater with a bunch of wisenheimers.
Watching a live taping of the show, as opposed to CT's more polished studio efforts, takes a bit of getting used to. The episode begins with creator Joel Hodgson introducing the familiar cast: Trace Beaulieu, Frank Conniff, Mary Jo Pehl, and J. Elvis Weinstein. Once they take to the pedestals flanking the stage, the movie grows to fill the center of your screen. It's a clever set up, and the fact that you can see the riffers, in full light, adds to the experience. I was distracted at first by the odd combination of audio sources: the film's audio sounds like it's a direct transfer for clarity's sake, but the cast's audio is sourced from the microphones. It's not a bad thing, it just requires a little more concentration.
Technical junk aside, this is another hilarious installment by the veteran Titans. Danger on Tiki Island (aka Brides of Blood) is a slow, confusing monster movie about a native island in the Pacific that was doused with radiation from nuke tests. An American scientist, his sleazy wife, and a Peace Corps volunteer go to study the island, and find themselves mixed up in a living forest, a mansion of midgets, virgin sacrifices, and a "trash bag monster." As far as the jokes go, it's a slow start for the gang but they hit a great rhythm by the second act. While everyone has some hilarious riffs, J. Elvis really steals the show with his constant dead-pan criticism of the film's actors (if you want to call them that).
One of the cooler aspects of the live show is the new element of an audience. The riffers sometimes play to the crowd (especially Conniff), even if that means going off-book or stepping on each other's lines; there's a great energy in the room. I especially appreciated the gaps in the riffing, when the audience would just earnestly laugh at the movie without the Titans needing to say anything.
The Danger on Tiki Island disc also comes with a mini-documentary called "Between the Riffs." If you've seen any of the special features or documentaries on MST3k before, then you're probably familiar with the cast. The doc sits them all down and let's them talk about their experiences together, their work habits, and their interaction with fans. There's also some audience interviews thrown in for good measure.
I wouldn't go so far as to say this is the best episode from Cinematic Titanic, and I'm not fully sold that the live episodes are better than the studio ones; however, their wit and riffing prowess is undeniable and anything this group puts out is a joy to watch. For fans of the series, I can fully recommend Danger on Tiki Island.
Review content copyright © 2010 Michael Rubino; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Cinematic Titanic
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 88 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated