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A Giant night at the movies, with comedic commentary from the Rifftrax crew

by Mark Burger

At the movies, silence is golden. Not this time. Not this movie.

Fathom Events and Rifftrax have joined again forces to present Rifftrax Live: Jack the Giant Killer, a special one-night-only event that will take place Wednesday, Aug. 17 at Regal Greensboro Grande Stadium 16 (3205 Northline Ave., Greensboro).

This is no ordinary screening, however, as thanks to the magic of technology (and the Digital Broadcast Network), it will be “hosted” by Michael J. Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett, all three fondly remembered for their work on the ever-popular comedy series “Mystery Science Theatre 3000,” which ran 11 seasons, was twice Emmy-nominated for writing, earned four CableACE nomination as (Best) Comedy Series, and in 1994 won the prestigious Peabody Award.

Although “Mystery Science Theatre 3000” is officially “retired,” you just can’t keep a good team — and an irrepressible and irreverent one, to boot — down for long. Rifftrax is something of a “spin-off” of “MST3K,” featuring the three veterans, whose patented putdowns and wisecracks continue to entertain fans around the world.

For this event, Nelson, Murphy and Corbett will take the stage in Nashville, providing an outrageous running commentary during the film, a juvenile 1962 fantasy starring Kerwin Mathews (The 7th Voyage of Sinbad) in the title role, a true-blue hero battling a succession of perils including vicious Vikings, ghastly ghouls, giant monsters and the sinister sorcerer

Pendragon (played by Torin Thatcher, who played essentially the same role opposite Mathews in 7 th Voyage of Sinbad!). The director was Nathan Juran, who also directed 7 th Voyage of Sinbad. But unlike that film, Jack the Giant Killer doesn’t boast the specialeffects wizardry of Ray Harryhausen. And, oh, it shows… or doesn’t show, as the case may be. Jack be nimble and Jack be quick, but can Jack overcome a low budget and a lame script?

With Rifftrax, however, the worse the better! “Being able to riff Jack the Giant Killer live is a dream come true for us,” said Nelson, creator of RiffTrax creator and former host of MST3K. “Yes, it’s got a lot of eye candy: Stop-motion giants, an evil sorcerer with an awesome beard and as a main character, a dog that’s actually a Viking. Mostly, though, we’re excited to introduce the concept of the ‘leprechaun in a jar’ to the wider viewing public.”

Audiences at the screening will also receive free digital goodies including a downloadable short film, avatars, and a digital photo of Nelson, Murphy and Corbett, all of which can be accessed via a URL address that will be shown onscreen after the screening.

This event will be broadcast to over 500 theaters nationwide, and is the latest in a series of successful live Rifftrax events, including previous theatrical screenings of Plan 9 from Outer Space, widely (and fondly) “renowned” as perhaps the worst movie ever made; the cautionary ’30s classic Reefer Madness; and the original Vincent Price favorite House on Haunted Hill. Showtime is 8 p.m. Tickets are $12.50 each and are available at the theater box-office or on-line at www.FathomEvents.com. Reservations are suggested. For more information about Rifftrax, visit the official website: www.rifftrax.com.

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