· RiffTrax: Maniac (2011) (Legend Films)
The Short Version:
The Slightly-Elongated Version: One of the truly admirable aspects about these two MST offshoots is that it finally gives us the chance to see some of our most-requested bad movies receive their just desserts. Brides Of Blood? Check. Santa And The Ice Cream Bunny? [shudders] Oh, yeah. But what about Dwaine Esper’s controversial 1934 mess-terpiece, Maniac? Well, it’s time to pay the piper, Dwaine. One of the original gangsters of the exploitation genre, Dwaine A. Esper made this incredibly off-the-wall horror film before the Hayes Code seized power in Hollywood, and, as such, contains several shots that were decidedly shocking for their day and that still are able to give us a jolt or two. The film features an ex-vaudeville performer that assumes the identity of a mad scientist, only to go crazy himself! Speaking of crazy, this movie is just that — and so are the actors. Mike, Bill and Kevin sit through this one like the brave, demented cine-soldiers that they are. In addition to having the option of watching the movie sans the heckling trio, a bonus featurette of Mike, Kevin and Bill interacting with the crowd and ridiculing a short (“Buying Food,” also available on the DVD collection, The Best Of RiffTrax Shorts, Volume One) live at Comic-Con 2010.
· RiffTrax: Shortstoberfest (2010) (Legend Films)
The Short Version: Eight educational shorts get schooled.
The Slightly-Elongated Version: Once more, the boys at RiffTrax have amassed several shorts from yesteryear that were manufactured with edification in mind. Needless to say, these shorts didn’t quite succeed — but they have found a new life with Mike, Kevin and Bill. Included with this release are Back To School With Joan Miller (which could also be titled “The Plaid/Gingham Fashion Show Nightmare”), Call It Free (a look at how cars work from a sexist male viewpoint), Little Lost Scent (wherein a poor little skunk has to find his way home), An Aquarium In Action (which takes place in a classroom, interestingly enough), Drawing For Beginners: The Rectangle (seriously), Families: Food And Eating (witness how people in three different countries prepare dinner), Beginning Responsibility: Taking Care Of Your Own Things (the highlight of the disc for me, with a weird, spectacled and cross-eyed kid the guys refer to as a “young Ira Glass” whose creepy toys come to life to teach him responsibility), and Geography Of Your Community (in case you slept through that class in grade school). A bonus item includes an alternate intro for the latter short.