Rifftrax Live: Plan 9 From Outer Space

On those rare occasions when you can afford to go to the cinema these days, you probably notice that your local movie emporium is trying to use its space to help make ends meet. That’s the reason behind the big “live event” push that rarely interests you. Stuff like “Extreme Knitting XIV” or “Pinewood Derby Death Race” or “Yanni One Night Only Live in Digital 3-D.” But every now and then, they manage to catch the attention and imagination of the populace.

Thus: Rifftrax Live. Not content to stream content to your computer, they decided to broadcast a live riff session from Nashville, where they tackled the legendary Plan 9 From Outer Space. They were joined by musical guest Jonathan Coulton and also had additional material from Something Awful’s Rich “Lowtax” Kyanka with the whole shebang emceed by Veronica Belmont.

The first question is: well, I have the DVD of Rifftrax attacking Plan 9…why would I go see a lot of the same content on the big screen? And that’s really a matter of personal taste, honestly. If you, like me, find that there are certain comedic routines that you can enjoy repeatedly (Steven Wright’s I Have a Pony, for example), then you won’t care. And really, there’s other newness there to make you happy. The opening short was a brand new addition to Rifftrax’s list of victims, “Flying Stewardess.” And when I tell you it’s a black and white short about the training and life of a 1950s stewardess, then you can pretty much imagine for yourself where the guys went with it. Coulton was there to entertain–and then joined the Rifftrax’s opening band, The Rifftones (sort of like The Folksmen and Spinal Tap but really terribly obvious) for a song about the feature film. Two short video pieces were provided by Kyanka, the best of them a promo for the “Flour and Grain Expo.” Insane and brilliant.

As for the main event, the riff attack on Plan 9, it was fun. There’s something about the ability of the guys to add call backs and new material in with the tried and true stuff and something about being able to hear a misread line that its own brand of funny. The one thing I would say is that–not to sound like a cinematic purist prick or anything, especially about an Ed Wood film–but I wish they had stuck with the original black and white version. Yes, Legend does a great job of colorizing films and yes, it’s probably the best way to make the film appeal to the greatest number of people, but that’s just my thing. Not that a colorized shiny purple alien outfit isn’t funny on the screen–because it is.

There were a couple of slight technical glitches–three or four times, the picture went out and took a second to come back–but it’s a digital feed and we were having rain. It just throws the rhythm when you get smacked with a blank screen, but it seemed to clear up before the main event. Also, they would sometimes switch to the picture on the right hand side of the screen, with the three riffers vertically stacked on the left. I actually like this and would suggest they keep that up the whole time–after all, we’re not there to see the movie, we’re there to see the guys do their thing–and how they’re physically reacting to what’s going on is part of the show.

Was it worth checking out? Definitely. While I’m sure the best seats in the house were in Nashville last night, it was still a good time to see the guys do their thing. And I would go check out whatever the next live simulcast event is. You probably should too.

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