The Magic of Rifftrax

Remember the old TV show Mystery Science Theater 3000?  If you’re a nerd like me, Sunday mornings were filled with horrible old movies dubbed over with comments by an eclectic cast of characters.  And if you’ve never experienced the show, that’s all it is.  They showed a really old horrible B movie, and have rotating characters you see sitting in a theater at the bottom of the screen that make comments as the movie is playing.   Basically, they are those annoying people in the theater that think they’re witty and won’t shut up when you go to the movies.  Except these guys were hilarious.  They knew a lot about film and were able to make movies like Danger! Death Ray much more entertaining than they rightfully should have been.  The funny part is, the production value was so low they could only afford films that the copyright had run out on or a had a cheap enough copyright they could afford (hence the old school B movies).  It still has a huge underground following and the DVDs are a must have for any geek collection.  It ran from 1988-1999, was nominated for 2 Emmys, and even won a Peabody Award.  But, alas, all things must come to an end, and Mystery Science Theater 3000 was no exception.  New episodes were discontinued, and we were left with the same old reruns.  But in death comes life.  And Rifftrax was born.  It started with co-creator of MST3000 Michael J. Nelson producing solo riffs for new releases by himself to see how it would be received.  After he found out the demand was huge for his product, he brought in fellow MST3000 creators Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett to be a part of the action.  The three of them now have an extensive collection of riffs for numerous movies, along with pulling in guest riffers such as Weird Al, Fred Willard, NPH, and Joel McHale.  Rifftrax focuses on new releases, but also attacks classics as well.  With Rifftrax, the trio no longer has to focus on the horrible movies of the past, and can now focus on any movie they deem riffable.

*Example of the old MST3000 set up*

So how does it work?  You go on the website, find the movie you want the riff for, download it, and then play it from your computer with any speakers you have.  It works best if you have audio speakers you can plug directly into your computer because burning it to a disc won’t fit most movies and you want the riff to be loud enough.  They also provide a voice that chimes in every now and then to keep your movie synced, so it will say a line in the movie that should match up with the dialogue on-screen perfectly.  If it’s too fast or two slow, you just pause the respective audio a few seconds and let it catch up with the other.  And then you laugh.  The list of movies that you can download Rifftrax for is ever-growing, containing movies from Paranormal Activity, to Clash of the Titans, to Jurassic Park, to classics like Casablanca.  Nothing is sacred, and these guys come up with some seriously creative jokes.  It’s simple, it’s easy, and it’s well worth it.  At prices averaging $2.99 to $3.99, they aren’t that expensive and once you download you have the file forever.  Well worth the investment.

As a frequent user of Rifftrax, let me just run down a list of my Top 5 Rifftrax to date:
1) Twilight
2) Twilight: New Moon
3) Predator
4) 300
5) Batman and Robin

Yes, Rifftrax was able to make the Twilight series watchable.  Honest to god.  I was crying the entire time, and not just at the god awful excuse for a movie that Twilight is.   But on the other hand, I love Predator more than any other action film in the world, but I still find them making fun of it completely hilarious.  Like I said, they don’t just make fun of horrible movies.  They make well made movies hilarious just as easily.  As their motto says “We don’t make movies…we make them funny.”  And that is no lie.  Be sure to head over to and view the library and try it for your self.  My recommendation to you.  Also look for live Rifftrax events at participating AMC theaters, and enjoy the Rifftrax with a theater full of fans.


About Matt Donato

I love all things film. I'll watch any genre, any actor, at any time. This whole film critic thing is a passionate hobby for now which I'm balancing with working in the business world, but hey, someday, who knows?
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