RiffTrax roasts Mothra

by Mark Burger

Having recently shared the “Mystery Science Theatre 3000” reunion show on the big screen, the intrepid “RiffTrax” trio of Michael J. Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett return for yet another evening of RiffTrax revelry this Thursday with “RiffTrax Live: Mothra,” in which they lend their estimable riffing expertise to the classic Japanese monster movie.

The event, which marks the latest (but hardly the last) collaboration between Fathom Events and RiffTrax, will be broadcast live from the Belcourt Theatre in Nashville, TN, and screened in more than 550 cinemas across the nation, with a special encore screening scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 23.

“RiffTrax Live: Mothra” will be shown at four theaters in the Piedmont Triad: Cinemark Brassfield 10 (2101 New Garden Road), Regal Greensboro Grande Stadium 16 (3205 Northline Ave.) and Southern Theatres The Grand 12 – Four Seasons Station (2700 Vanstory St.) in Greensboro, and Southern Theatres The Grand 18 Winston-Salem IMAX.

“Coming off the success of the MST3K reunion event, interest in RiffTrax’s live events is at an all-time high,” according to John Rubey, CEO of Fathom Events. “Those that came out for the reunion and new fans nationwide are in for another treat with Mothra.”

Japan’s Toho Studios, which hit paydirt with the back-to-back giant-monster blockbusters Godzilla (1954) and Rodan (1956), scored again with the 1961 release of Mothra, in which a group of explorers arrive on the mysterious Infant Island and discover a pair of tiny twins, played by the Japanese singing duo known as “The Peanuts” (Emi and Yumi Ito).

The natives simply want to be left in peace, but when the twins are abducted and taken to the mainland, the island’s resident god – you can guess who (and what) that is – is none too happy, and follows them to Japan, bringing untold destruction in its wake.

Mothra, which was released in the US in 1962, became yet another Toho windfall, and the Mothra character reappeared in several subsequent movies, often alongside Godzilla, Rodan and Ghidorah (the Three-Headed Monster), yet more often than not Mothra was portrayed in heroic terms, its appetite for destruction constantly fueled by the avarice and ignorance of man.

Undoubtedly, the “RiffTrax” team will emphasize the subtleties and nuances of the storyline during their ongoing commentary – when they’re not making fun of it, of course. And, let’s face it, the film’s English dubbing is in for a drubbing, too!

For 11 years, Nelson, Murphy and Corbett 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 addle-brained 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 the first sequel, the yuletide “favorites” Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964) and Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny (1971), and the giant-snake saga Anaconda (1997) – and there’s plenty more on the horizon. As long as bad movies are made, RiffTrax awaits …

“Mothra has always been on our ‘we have to do this’ list,” explained Nelson in an official statement, “so I’m excited we finally got out hands on it. Aside from my being a fan of giant larvae, the movie itself is so goofy and really fun to look at. It’s perfect for us.” !

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RiffTrax Live: Mothra will be screened 8 pm Thursday, with an encore screening 7:30 pm Tuesday, Aug. 23. 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). Tickets at The Grand 12 – Four Seasons Station and The Grand 18 Winston-Salem IMAX are $14. For advance tickets or more information, visit the official Fathom Events website: www.FathomEvents. com. The official RiffTrax website is http://www.