The Rifftrax motto is: "We don't make movies...we make them funny!" And that they do! Rifftrax is helmed by three men whom all worked on the long running comedy series "Mystery Science Theater 3000". They are: Mike Nelson, MST3K head writer, character actor (he played the infamous "Torgo" several times) and the second host when he original host Joel Hodgson chose to leave the series during season five. Kevin Murphy, also a mainstay of MST3K (he played the second Tom Servo and Professor Bobo on the series) and Bill Corbett (who portrayed both Crow T. Robot and the Observer) rounds out the trio.
The three men had polished their wit and performances not only on MST3K but also on the short lived DVD only series "The Film Crew". The latter was somewhat of a misfire, as they only produced four DVD offerings. The crew seem more at ease with this venture than they did as "The Film Crew (while working at Legends Films, Mike Nelson provided hilarious solo comedy soundtracks for many well known horror films. These included: "Carnival Of Souls", "The House On Haunted Hill", "Night Of The Living Dead" and "Little Shop Of Horrors". Some of these would get a redo when Rifftrax was formed). These DVD soundtracks proved to be a big hit with the audience, thereby allowing Nelson to hire more "riffers" for subsequent movies. This is when Murphy and Corbett joined Rifftrax (there have been several "guest riffers" over the years. These include Neil Patrick Harris, Fred Willard and even "Weird Al" Yankovic! Two other ex-MST3K alumni have done riffing for Rifftrax. Both Mary Jo Pehl and Bridgette Nelson, Mike Nelson's wife worked on a project for the company).
YouTube features several "Best Of" Rifftrax videos on their site. These are essentially clips of the episode in question. They are meant to make you want to watch the entire movie. There are other "Riffers" on YouTube, of course. The concept of heckling bad movies or pretentious and officious old PSAs from early in the previous century is not only fun for the riffer but fun for the viewers as well. Fun With Shorts (done by Josh Way, who has contributed to RiffTrax before) is a well known example, as is "IRiff"(a division of RiffTrax itself ), "Soiled Shortz" and "That Guy Riffs". Even YouTube personalities known for doing shows covering other topics than riffing (such as The Cinema Snob, and Lewis "Linkara" Lovhaug) have posted riffing videos. The concept of Rifftrax, MST3K, Cinematic Titanic and all of the rest is a brilliant one. Who hasn't had the desire to heckle a bad movie sometime in their lives? They probably have had that desire MANY times in their lives!
Like the aforementioned Cinematic Titanic, the RiffTrax crew have done many live stage performances. They sit at the ready, with microphones in hand and riff a short subject or two that is broadcast on a hug theater sized screen. San Diego Comic Con is one of the venues in which they do live performances. RiffTrax has even riffed on more recent movies such as "Starship Troopers", "Sharknado" and "Godzilla". But, I prefer when they use the more vintage films to riff upon. My particular favorites -- "East Meets Watts", "The Sword And The Sorcerer", "That Guy From Harlem" and "Death Promise". Those are amongst my favorites but you can get laughs from most of the RiffTrax offerings.
If you like MST3K and Cinematic Titanic, you will also like the Rifftrax crew! So, Happy 10th Anniversary to RiffTrax! Some movie really DO have it coming! It's time for RIFFTRAX!!