The Rifftrax train continues to mirthfully chug right along, and now they're bringing their video content to bigger screens. Previously available as video-on-demand titles or download files, Rifftrax video offerings are now seeing the first wave of titles to be released on DVD. The effort started with their first collection of shorts, which has now been expanded to an additional volume. The two volumes collect a wide assortment of the entries from their web site, as well as a few extras.
For those who might not be as familiar with the shorts, here's some background. Back in their previous incarnation as the hosts for Mystery Science Theater 3000, Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy (Tom Servo) and Bill Corbett (Crow, during the Sci-Fi Channel years) would often find themselves watching short, mostly educational films before their feature movie would begin. These "shorts" helped pad broadcast times when dealing with shorter films, and also hearkened back to the golden age of drive-ins when cartoons, newsreels or other shorter material would be shown before and in between features.
The shorts riffed here are now mostly or all in the public domain. And they're also particularly awful, veiled propaganda films from their sponsored companies. In other words, a winning combination to receive the heckling that only the Rifftrax guys can dish out.
The Shorts - Volume One
Buying Food - It's not as easy as you think.
It Must Be The Neighbors - A street-ful of neighbors don't want to admit that their yards are filthy, until their kids finally shame them into being responsible adults.
Patriotism - Bob Crane shows a group of kids what patriotism is all about (...), which incidentally involves just about anything you care to think up.
Down And Out - The world's clumsiest, most inobservant man demonstrates why he should never be hired for any job, anywhere.
Skipper Learns A Lesson - A belligerent, racist dog eventually learns to suppress his hate long enough to play with the other dogs.
The Trouble With Women - Women, Sheesh! I mean, really, what's their deal?
Right Or Wrong - A delinquent little brat finally gets hauled off to the slammer for not actually doing that much.
Drugs Are Like That - You know when you're watching two kids babble on incoherently about nothing? Drugs are like that.
Shake Hands With Danger - Regardless of the title, this film actually doesn't want you to shake hands with danger.
The Shorts - Volume Two
One Got Fat - It isn't actually about getting fat, but rather monkey-children riding around recklessly on their bikes. Okay, one of them actually is kind of fat...
Lunchroom Manners - Kids take it upon themselves to keep things civil in the lunchroom.
Each Child Is Different - But each child is equally screwed up.
Why Doesn't Cathy Eat Breakfast? / Petaluma Chicken - A double feature! Cathy doesn't eat breakfast and no ones knows why (and she won't say)! The brave, comely lasses of Petaluma build a bigger, better omelet!
Act Your Age - A boy builds complicated charts and graphs in an attempt to figure out his age. The janitor looks on with bemusement.
Safety: Harm Hides At Home - The main harm hiding in this short is the school crossing guard who becomes a "safety super hero" and randomly shows up in kids homes. Creepy crossing guards hide at home.
Coffee House Rendezvous - Coffee is the new swinging drink that all the hep cats are digging. Use it to caffeinate your next folk music night at church.
Are You Popular? - I think we both know the answer to that. Go and hide your shame.
Good Health Practices - Two kids with no parents showcase their new, healthy, kids-only utopia.
Video / Audio
Let's be clear, the video on this release looks downright awful. But to be even more clear, that's part of the charm. These are old educational films with all the sweeping grandeur and clarity you remember from the barely functional classroom film projector of your youth. There are often more scratches and debris marks on the film than there are people. Film breaks are common, and therapeutic. Out of sync audio disconnects you even further from reality, and warbly monophonic sound thankfully muffles the inane dialogue.