The Arts

RIFFTRAX GIVES THE RIFF GIFT

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For the last few years, “RiffTrax Live” has been giving the gift of laughter during the holiday season, presenting its big-screen “riffs” on such yuletide non-classics as the Mexican-made Santa Claus (1959) and the immortal Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny (1972).

This year, however, the RiffTrax team is bringing twice the fun and merriment with the “RiffTrax Holiday Special Double Feature,” coming to more than 600 cinema screens nationwide on Thursday, Dec. 1 – including the Cinemark Brassfield Cinema 10 (2101 New Garden Road) and Regal Greensboro Grande Stadium 16 (3205 Northline Ave.) in Greensboro.

Reteaming once more with Fathom Events, the RiffTrax Holiday Special Double Feature is an almost four-hour comedy extravaganza boasting two of the most popular RiffTrax holiday events of seasons past: The unforgettable 1964 sci-fi Christmas comedy Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (originally screened in 2013), plus RiffTrax Live: Christmas Shorts-stravaganza (originally screened in 2009), in which the RiffTrax trio (Michael J. Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett) were joined by special guest, Grammy Award-winning “Weird Al” Yankovic.

That’s not all. As a special gift to RiffTrax fans, audiences will be treated to the most-requested bonus short, Parade of Aquatic Champions, as well as Michael, Kevin and Bill offering their irreverent commentary on holiday family photos submitted by fans.

In an official statement, Nelson said: “Come on, we know you don’t like roasted chestnuts – nobody does, they’re gross – so why not make our RiffTrax Special Holiday Double Feature your new Christmas tradition? Santa Claus Conquers the Martians and a Christmas Shorts-stravaganza, plus all-new riffing on yours and our Christmas photos is just what the Santa ordered.”

Added John Rubey, CEO of Fathom Events: “The RiffTrax crew always delivers literal laugh-out-loud content that has audiences coming back event after event, and their Holiday Special Double Feature is certain to make this the funniest time of year.”

This event marks the latest reunion of Nelson, Murphy and Corbett, as they provide outrageous, ongoing commentary these holiday monstrosities. 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 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 10 years ago, 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 Sharknado extravaganzas, and many more. Since 2009, there have been almost two dozen “RiffTrax Live” screenings – and so long as there are bad movies to be ridiculed and mocked, there’s no end in sight!

Mark Burger can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92.

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