Movie Reviews

Published on October 29th, 2017 | by Michael Newman

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RiffTrax Live Presents Night of the Living Dead

One of my late night guilty pleasures during college was to turn on Mystery Science Theater 3000.  The premise of the show revolves around a human test subject being imprisoned on an alien vessel with only the robots he built to help keep his sanity while being forced to watch B-rated movies.  During each episode the trio spends the entirety of the film making wise cracking comments and astute observations based on the characters and plot of each film.  Ranging from horror to science fiction, there was always a bit of variety in the B-movies that were covered in each episode.

RiffTrax does away with the aliens and the robots, but not the humor and B-rated (and the occasional Hollywood blockbuster) films to keep the laughs rolling in.  The RiffTrax team members include Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy, the former stars of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and per their website tagline “it’s like watching a movie with your funniest friends!”.  They sit on a stage (without their robotic personas) and provide live colorful commentary on the chosen film.  This is then played across multiple theaters around the country.

I had the opportunity this week to spend it “Live” with the RiffTrax team as we watched the classic George Romero film Night of the Living Dead.  This was an encore presentation originally performed in 2013 and was brought back for a one-night event, screened across the country on October 25th.   For those who have never had the pleasure to experience the classic film, you won’t get any spoilers from me.  I will say however, that for a horror and genre defining film there were no shortage of laughs, or blatantly obvious plot points that the RiffTrax team did not miss the opportunity to exploit.

The presentation is masterfully done with a mix of full screen movie shots, split screen with the movie and commentators, and the occasional pan out to live audience where the show is being performed.  Surprisingly, I didn’t find any of these views particularly distracting, and I was able to concentrate on the film, laugh at the witty banter, and absolutely enjoy myself.

For fans of Mystery Science Theater 3000, spending an evening with the RiffTrax team is a no brainer.  There is something amazing about sitting back in a theater and watching this performance on the big screen.  If you are a fan of classic or B-rated movies, and enjoy listening to folks rip them apart, then this is also for you.  For everyone else, I think you should at least give this a shot.  While it may not be for everyone, I think there are a lot of folks out there who will find something to enjoy.

4.5 out of 5 stars

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