Thursday, November 25, 2010

Two Film Crew DVDs- Hollywood after Dark and Killers From Space

As the MST3 week winds down and we continue to digest our turkey it’s time to turn our attention to the first post MST3K project to get a DVD release, the Film Crew

Film Crew was a project that was put together by Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett who went on to do Riff Trax. The four DVDs are somewhere between the full on MST3k series and the sparse Riff Trax dvds which, outside of the live shows, are simply the film with riffing. Where the series had an ongoing plot and characters, the Film Crew had the boys sitting around in jump suits waiting for their assignment. They then would get a call from their boss Bob Honcho and watch a movie and provide commentary.

Only four DVDs of The Film Crew were released. I’m kind of not surprised since the two that I’ve seen so far (I do have all four) have the feel of an attempt at something rather than a fully formed idea. Think a TV pilot rather than a full on series. Actually the commentary part works, it's just the wrap around stuff that kind of falls flat.

Looking at the two programs I’ve seen, and will be talking about momentarily, it’s easy to see how this and Riff Trax are intertwined since the two projects feel related and both suffer from an unevenness that the original MST3K never really had and that Cinematic Titanic seems to have completely avoided except in their first offering.

In coming up with this week of madness I was torn about how to represent the Mike Nelson post MST3K material. Yes there is a huge amount of material under the Riff Trax banner, unfortunately much of it is only sporadically funny. I was considering doing one of the live DVDs, I was actually going to do the Christmas Shorts show, but thought that would be better closer to Christmas. In looking at the other DVDs they have put out, I found that most of the ones I’ve seen have not been things I would really recommend except to a fan. As some one at my day job said, as much as they like when Riff Trax hits, they aren’t all that good over all and they watch the DVDs looking for the big laughs that make it all worth it. (I would add there is a reason that people have taken their riffing and chopped it down to the best parts on you tube.).

The film Crew DVDs are more consistent. Even when the riffing isn’t up to manic highs it’s still funny enough that after trying one disc which was great and one that was so so I went back and got the remaining two. I have all of the Riff Trax DVDs and I have no idea why, well actually because some are good (though I keep wondering why I keep buying them).

Hollywood After Dark
The film itself is probably best known for the Rue McClanahan topless scene. The film is a sober look at life in and around Hollywood. This film also seems to be the first film in the series. The boys explain that their job is to provide commentary tracks for films that don't have them. They work for Bob Honcho at Shout Factory who assigns them this film to comment on.

The plot of the film has Rue coming to Hollywood to be a dancer and ends up a stripper. In the meanwhile a guy who runs a junkyard is forced to help in a heist. He falls for Rue and goes along with the robbery in the hope to make enough money to take Rue away.

The comments here come fast and furious and often hit the mark. Its nice to hear the boys busting on a movie without the restraints of television. The comments are decidedly off color, and if you're only used to the MST3K riffs this can cause you to be taken aback. The film also has lots of stripping, which is to be expected with a film set in a strip club.

As funny as the riffing is it's kind of undercut by the seriousness of the film. Certainly it makes the film better, I can't imagine watching it without it, but there is something about the bleak seriousness that puts a slight damper on things.

Regardless I like the DVD a great deal. re-watching it for this post I was amused enough that I failed to take any notes on what I was seeing. The only comment I remembered was that "Henry Kissenger was enjoying it" which is apropos of nothing but sums it up nicely.

Killers From Space
Peter Graves tries to thwart an alien invasion ping pong ball eyed baddies in body stockings. The plan is to take over the world with the help of stock footage monsters. The film itself is an enjoyably bad film that is bound to produce giggles under the best of circumstances. However in the hands of Mike, Bill and Kevin, the film is even funnier

Certainly its the best of the post MST3K riffed films that the boys have turned out. Okay maybe some of the shorts are funnier, but it's easily the best film over say ten minutes. If you want to know why I bought all the Film Crew and Riff Trax DVDs it was to get another film that equaled this in hilarity. Everything comes together to make a perfectly riffed film. Almost every line of dialog and action is a launching pad for silliness.

Remember at the top I mentioned how the DVDs had the feeling of being TV show pilot? This is the place where it's really apparent. The lead in bits have Bob Honcho telling the boys that he's in the hospital which leads into a long joke that has the punch line Peter Graves. It's not a funny joke and it's so weak when compared to the writing of the riffs. It's easy to see why the format was pitched and the whole thing became Riff Trax.

I really like this a great deal. It's made me laugh everytime I've seen it. Certainly its better than a biography of Loretta Switt. If you're going to watch one Film Crew disc, this is the one.

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