RiffTrax puts the squeeze on Anaconda

by Mark Burger

‘Twas the night before Halloween, and the perennially irreverent RiffTrax

team is back in action with something special for the holiday “” “RiffTrax Live: Anaconda.”

Fathom Events have re-teamed with RiffTrax and IGN to bring this once-in-a-lifetime laugh riot to cinema audiences around the nation, with the RiffTrax trio, Michael J. Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett, providing live, on-the-spot commentary direct from the Carolina Theatre in Durham.

Quipped Nelson: “Anaconda is a great movie for us and hugely fun to do. It is, after all, indisputably the best digital snake movie of 1997.”

Anaconda also happens to have been a box-office hit, grossing more than $130 million worldwide and spawning (as it were) three sequels and a myriad of slithery knock-offs. What’s more, the original film was produced by Susan Ruskin who is now the dean of the UNCSA School of Filmmaking.

This marks the 13 th “RiffTrax Live” event, and more than 650 theaters nationwide will be hosting the screening on Thursday, Oct. 30 “” including the Brassfield Cinema 10 and Greensboro Grande Stadium 16 in Greensboro, and in Winston-Salem at The Grand 18 Winston-Salem IMAX. There will also be encore screenings on Tuesday, Nov. 4, but at Greensboro Grande and The Grand 18 only.

Anaconda, which is rated PG-13, was a surprise hit for Columbia Pictures in the spring of 1997 despite receiving considerable critical bashing. Roger Ebert, however, gave the film a rave review and even suggested that co-star Jon Voight deserved an Oscar nomination! It’s a “creature-feature” in the classic B-movie style, though graced with then state-of-the-art animatronic and CGI special effects.

The film follows a documentary film crew deep into the heart of the Amazon in search of the legendary Shirishama Indian tribe. What they encounter instead is a 40-foot anaconda with a taste for human flesh and a deranged snake hunter (that would be Mr. Voight) who’s as dangerous, and certainly hammier, than the beast he’s hunting. It’s the scenery he’s got a taste for, and he tears into it with abandon.

It would be safe to say that Anaconda boasts a “once-in-a-lifetime” cast: Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube, Owen Wilson (who’s so annoying he’s bound to buy it), Eric Stoltz (who spends much of the film in bed), Kari Wuhrer and Danny Trejo, who doesn’t last much beyond the opening credits.

“The RiffTrax guys are absolute fanfavorites and downright hysterical,” praised Dan Diamond, Fathom Events’ senior vice president, in an official statement. “If anyone can take Anaconda to another level in movie theaters, it’s Mike, Kevin and Bill!” For 11 years, Nelson, Murphy and Corbett were part of the core team of the cult series “Mystery Science Theatre 3000,” in which the crew of the Satellite of Love “” stranded in outer space “” was forced to watch transmissions of the worst movies ever made on Earth, which they commented upon with ribald wit and addle-brained insight.

Not only did “MST3K” amass a sizable worldwide following, but it also drew attention to scores of movies best forgotten.

During its lengthy run, the series earned two Emmy nominations, both times for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Writing for a Variety or Music Program, and in 1993 it received the prestigious Peabody Award.

With the cancellation of “MST3K” in 1999, after 197 episodes and even a 1995 feature film, the series has lived on in syndication “” as well as in the hearts and minds of its fervent fans the world over.

But in 2006, Nelson reunited with Murphy and Corbett to continue the tradition with “RiffTrax,” a series of downloads presented in the same style as the earlier series, with running commentary. These were followed by a series of live events that proved so popular that the RiffTrax screenings were born. Previous offerings have included Ed Wood’s infamous Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959), the indescribable Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966), George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968), the (sort-of) holiday favorite Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964), Sharknado (2013) and Paul Verhoeven’s 1997 sci-fi blowout Starship Troopers. !


Showtimes are 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 30 and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 4. The Brassfield Cinema is located at 2101 New Garden Road (Greensboro), the Greensboro Grande Stadium 16 at 3205 Northline Ave. (Greensboro) and The Grand 18 Winston-Salem IMAX at 5601 University Parkway (Winston-Salem). Tickets are $11.50 (general admission), $10.50 (senior citizens) and $9.50 (children under 12) at Brassfield; $12.50 (general admission) at Greensboro Grande; $12.50 (general admission) at The Grand 18. Please note: The Nov. 4 encore will be shown at Greensboro Grande and The Grand 18 only. For advance tickets or more information, check out www.