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RiffTrax rings in the holidays

Last year, “RiffTrax Live” gave the gift of the K. Gordon Murray Santa Claus (1959), and the year before they riffed on Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964). But if you think the tenacious triumvirate of Michael J. Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett had exhausted big-screen yuletide disasters, think again …!

This year, the RiffTrax trio takes aim at another holiday “favorite”: Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny (1972), a film about which the website Terrible Movies for Terrible People (http://www.terriblemoviesforterriblepeople.com/) stated: “This is the film Roger Ebert will be forced to watch in Hell. I’ve read fortune cookies that have a better chance of winning an Academy Award. What this movie does accomplish, however, is prove beyond a reasonable doubt that if there is a God, he hates us.”

Have no fear, because RiffTrax will be doing its number on this low-rent, G-rated holiday abomination, which stars Jay Ripley (under the name “Jay Clark”) as Santa Claus, whose sleigh is stranded on a Florida beach on Christmas Eve. Local children attempt to help him get his sleigh started again, but only the “Ice Cream Bunny” (don’t ask) has the power to do so. In order to pass the time – and the film’s running time – Santa regales the children with the tale of Thumbelina.

For years, Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny played kiddie matinees in theaters around the holidays, doubtless infuriating audiences of all ages. If ever a holiday “classic” deserved cat-calls and hooting – RiffTrax-style – this is that movie. (Besides, RiffTrax has already done the other two Santa Claus movies.)

On Dec. 3, NCM Fathom Events once again teams up with RiffTrax and IGN to present RiffTrax Live: Santa Claus and the Ice Cream Bunny, the latest in the ongoing screening series, which will be shown locally in Greensboro at the Cinemark Brassfield Cinema 10 (2101 New Garden Rd.)

and Regal Greensboro Grande Stadium 16 (3205 Northline Ave.), and in Winston-Salem at The Grand 18 Winston-Salem IMAX (5601 University Parkway). The show begins at 8 pm. An encore screening is scheduled for Dec. 13 at the same theaters at 7:30 pm. (See below for details.)

Nelson, Murphy and Corbett have reunited to provide outrageous, ongoing commentary on this holiday monstrosity. For 11 years, the three were part of the core team that brought to life 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 addlebrained insight.

Not only did “MST3K” amass a sizable worldwide following, but it also drew attention to scores of movies best forgotten and in some cases revived interest in them as potential cult classics. 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 received the prestigious Peabody Award.

With the cancellation of “MST3K” in 1999, after 197 episodes and even a feature film released in 1995, the series continues to live on in syndication and on home-video – as well as in the hearts and minds of its fervent fans worldwide.

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 Syfy cult smash Sharknado (2013) and its 2014 sequel, and the giant-snake saga Anaconda. (1997).

This event will be broadcast to more than 670 theaters nationwide via Fathom Events’ Digital Broadcast Network. ‘Tis the season for giving, and RiffTrax is giving the gift of laughter. !

WANNA go?

RiffTrax Live: Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny will be screened 8 pm Thursday, Dec. 3, with an encore screening 7:30 pm Tuesday, Dec. 15. Tickets at Greensboro Grande Stadium 16 are $13.34. Tickets at Brassfield Cinema 10 are $11.50 (general admission), $10.50 (senior citizens) and $9.50 (children under 12). Although both theaters are scheduled to screen the encore, ticket prices have not yet been announced, so it would be best to call the theaters: 844.462.7342 (Greensboro Grande), 336.288.1005 (Brassfield). Ticket prices for The Grand 18 Winston-Salem IMAX have not yet been posted on the theater’s website. (However, previous RiffTrax screenings have been $12.50.) Again, it would be best to call the theater: 336.767.1310.

For advance tickets or more information, you can also visit the official Fathom Events website: www.FathomEvents.com. The official RiffTrax website is http://www.rifftrax.com/.

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