The two things Judge Erich Asperschlager fears most are snakes and bad movies.
Our reviews of Cinematic Titanic Live: Danger On Tiki Island (published June 25th, 2010), Cinematic Titanic Live: East Meets Watts (published May 6th, 2010), Cinematic Titanic Live: The Alien Factor (published April 23rd, 2010), Cinematic Titanic Live: War of the Insects (published December 28th, 2011), Cinematic Titanic: Blood Of The Vampires (published April 21st, 2010), Cinematic Titanic: Doomsday Machine (published August 20th, 2008), Cinematic Titanic: Frankenstein's Castle Of Freaks (published April 23rd, 2010), Cinematic Titanic: Legacy Of Blood (published April 29th, 2010), Cinematic Titanic: Santa Claus Conquers The Martians (published May 7th, 2010), Cinematic Titanic: The Oozing Skull (published August 20th, 2008), and Cinematic Titanic: The Wasp Woman (published May 7th, 2010) are also available.
As DVD Verdict's (current) resident Mystery Science Theater 3000 reviewer, I've watched a lot of riffed movies. I can't get enough. I look forward to each Shout! Factory box set like it was a chocolate-dipped pony hand delivered by Santa himself. The same is true of the MST3K alums' more recent projects. In the 13 years since the show's untimely end, the mad geniuses who created Mystery Science Theater 3000 have carried the riffing torch, embracing modern distribution methods like downloads, uploads, and Digital Versatile Discs (which the kids call "dee-vee-dees"). When Joel Hodgson and pals launched Cinematic Titanic in 2007, I expected good things. Some of my favorite comedians doing that voodoo that they done so well? Yes, please! I expected them to put out great material. They have. What I didn't expect was for them to take movie riffing to a whole new level. They've done that, too.
Like many fickle fans, I greeted Cinematic Titanic's early live DVDs with a reluctant enthusiasm. Nice of them to release a home video version of their stage show for those of us who couldn't attend in person, but where was the next real release? Over time, it became clear that the Titans were no longer interested in non-live DVDs. "But what about the Time Tube?" we asked. "There is no Time Tube," they replied, "and there never was!" Amid grumbling and anonymous Internet snark, they soldiered on, adding more shows to their calendar and live DVDs to their catalog.
Over time, something happened. The more live material they put out, the more I enjoyed it. The harder I laughed. The more I couldn't possibly imagine going back to the Tupperware vacuum of in-studio discs that sealed in the laughs but kept out the love. I still haven't had the opportunity to see Cinematic Titanic in person, but these DVDs make me feel like I have.
After a year-and-a-half hiatus, Cinematic Titanic returns to DVD with the 1976 stinker Rattlers ("a sans serif production!"). Made in the middle of the killer animal horror boom, the movie is about murderous rattlesnakes terrorizing the Nevada desert ("CSI: Middle of Nowhere")—with victims that include two young boys ("I'm confused. Which one is Goofus and which one is Gallant?"), a woman taking a bath ("Oh no! She can't get out of the tub! It's a PG movie!"), and soldiers driving a jeep that doesn't have snakebite-proof tires.
The psycho snakes are the byproduct of a mysterious canister buried in the abandoned mineshaft where the rattlers live. To solve the mystery, the local sheriff calls in a misogynist snake expert and a feminist photographer ("See, I can slow down the movie with meaningless walking scenes as good as any man.") who totally end up doing it. They put the boink-a-thon on hold long enough to uncover an illegal army biowarfare program, tangle with a mess o' snakes, and get caught in a shootout with a crazed military official ("He's got grenades!" "Aw, who doesn't steal office supplies when they're fired?").
Rattlers is a terrible movie in the best way possible. The Titans are in fine form, and the crowd is primed to laugh at everything—even things that aren't jokes, like a random guy in a tank top, a hospital patient reading Playboy, or Frank's off-the-cuff pandering to MSTies who remember the line "Watch out for snakes!" The combined energy on and off the stage bolsters the funny, and makes for one heckuva good time.
Cinematic Titanic: Rattlers is in line with past DVD releases. The 2.0 Stereo audio is a clean mix of movie, jokes, and audience appreciation. Visually, Rattlers looks like the crummy movie it is, framed by well-lit riffers on either side. It's a good-looking DVD that captures the feeling of being in the theater. Also in line with past discs are the disc's simplistic menus and a lack of extras besides trailers for other Cinematic Titanic releases.
If you like your movies riffed, there have never been more ways to scratch that itch (medical note: if you experience itching for more than a week, please see your doctor). Cinematic Titanic is the best. I'm sorry I ever doubted their decision to focus on live DVDs. The Titans understand that comedy is best enjoyed with a crowd. If you can't go to the theater in person, releases like Rattlers bring the live Cinematic Titanic experience to you. This simple shift in focus makes all the difference, and evolves the MST3K formula along with its fans. The future is now. Next stop, holo-riffing and hover-quips!
The movie is poison. The antidote is hilarity! Not guilty!
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