Case Number 16383: Small Claims Court

RIFFTRAX SHORTS: VOLUME 2

Legend Films // 2009 // 110 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Dylan Charles (Retired) // May 15th, 2009

The Charge

Nine Hilarious Shorts...over 110 Minutes of Fun!

The Case

With the cancellation of Mystery Science Theater 3000 there was a void. No longer was there anyone standing guard over humanity, protecting us from the truly terrible films with witty remarks and sharp jests. As with all good things, it had come to an end and the world was a darker place for it. As we stood together in somber silence, shaken by the gloomy twilight that had befallen us, Mike Nelson, the former head writer and host, stood up and said he would not go gentle into that dark night. Wherever there was a horrible Roger Corman film, he'd be there. Wherever there was a truly wretched educational short from the 1950's, he'd be there. Wherever there was a cop beatin' up a guy...well, he probably wouldn't be there. Mr. Nelson created RiffTrax, a series of audio commentaries for blockbuster monsters and little terrors alike. After a while his brothers-in-arms from the old days, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy, once again took up the cause alongside him. Which brings us to this DVD release: a compilation of nine shorts they have lambasted to death.

The shorts include:

* "One Got Fat": A chilling tale of bicycle safety and horrific man-apes.

* "Lunchroom Manners": Mr. Bungle's terrifying indictment of lunchroom behavior.

* "Each Child is Different": The shockingly maudlin expose of a modern elementary class.

* "Why Doesn't Cathy Eat Breakfast?" & "Petaluma Chicken": The short that dares ask Cathy, "Why do you hate the most important meal of the day?" Discuss.

* "Act Your Age": The damning report about the emotional maturity of high school students that scandalized a nation.

* "Harm Hides at Home": See the Safety Woman battle the dangers that exist in all our homes and reel off a surprising number of child mortality statistics!

* "Coffee House Rendezvous": The coffee house craze was sweeping the nation in the 1960's and this short examines why and what YOU can do to stop it.

* "Are You Popular?": No.

* "Good Health Practices": Writhe in discomfort as the narrator talks at length about good toilet behavior!

Unlike most RiffTrax, which are just commentaries for which you have to provide the movies, this DVD includes both the shorts and the tracks. Each short is around 10 minutes in length, the perfect length for those of us who have the attention span of a bewildered fruit fly or just can't find the time to sit still for a feature length Rifftrack. RiffTrax? What in the holy Hell is the singular form of "RiffTrax?"

The shorts span the ages, plucked from several different decades, allowing us to see the full, disturbing array of man's inability to make a decent short film that advises us on how to properly wash our hands. It's a broad spectrum of weird, providing just a little taste of the crazy that people have been up to over the years, each with their own peculiar qualities and flavors.

"One Got Fat" is perhaps the most disturbing of them all, with a group of children wearing unsettling monkey masks demonstrating what NOT to do while riding a bike. Each one is brutally killed through their own stupidity and it's a little creepy how gleefully the filmmakers realized each of their deaths. No goofy sound effects can cover up the fact that a steamroller just ran over a small child.

Taking second place for the bizzarro award is "Harm Hides at Home," where space aliens give a woman powers and a groovy costume to protect children from the common dangers at home. Freelance architect by day, creepy, home invading superhero by night.

Mr. Nelson, Mr. Corbett, and Mr. Murphy are just as funny as they were back on Mystery Science Theater 3000. They're sharp and on their game, although in some cases, not even their riffs can stifle the abysmal awfulness of the shorts. "Every Child is Different" is so grim, so depressing, it takes all of their powers just to keep the audience from sinking into a suicidal depression. Thankfully, due to their very nature, if you're not digging a particular short, there's another one just around the corner.

They've also been very generous with the sheer number of shorts. I bought a copy of MST3K shorts a long while ago (on tape, if you can believe that), which had a paltry six shorts on it. Nine shorts will be more than enough to satisfy your appetite for quality riffing. If you're still hungry though, they've included a coupon, which will allow you to download the RiffTrax for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets for free.

This is a great offering from the guys at RiffTrax. It has plenty to watch, with a great deal of variety and humor. It's almost as though MST3K were back on the air. If you're a fan of their old show or have laughed at a RiffTrax (Rifftrack) in the past, then buy this as soon as you can.

The Verdict

Not guilty! Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, Bill Corbett are commended for their courageous battle against the evils of cinema.

Review content copyright © 2009 Dylan Charles; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 95

Perp Profile
Studio: Legend Films
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)

Subtitles:
* None

Running Time: 110 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* None

Accomplices
* IMDb: One Got Fat
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0316351/combined

* IMDb: Lunchroom Manners
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0333842/combined

* IMDb: Act Your Age
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0257361/combined

* IMDb: Are You Popular?
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0252238/combined

* Official Site
http://www.rifftrax.com