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RiffTrax: Ghosthouse and Christmas With RiffTrax: Santa’s Village Of Madness DVD Reviews

RiffTrax- Ghosthouse DVD  Christmas With RiffTrax- Santa's Village Of Madness DVD

“Ghosthouse” and “Santa’s Village of Madness” are two hilarious new RiffTrax DVD releases.

Previously released as a VOD, “Christmas with RiffTrax: Santa’s Village of Madness” is a collection of three K. Gordon Murray shorts that are edited together from footage of the Mexican “Santa Claus” film (from “Mystery Science Theater 3000”) and footage shot at the Santa’s Village theme parks. As an added bonus, Mike, Bill, and Kevin provide wraparound discussions about X-Mas and some of the material included in the shorts (like Merlin’s song).

The three shorts are crazy and not so Christmasy public domain turkeys titled “Santa’s Enchanted Village,” “Santa Claus and His Helpers” and “Santa’s Magic Kingdom.” The bizarre ‘Enchanted’ revolves around a wolf (with an ulcer) trying to get a skunk employee back to work at Santa’s workshop. This is a top tier short due to the RiffTrax gang’s uproarious jokes about the accordion music and Santa’s non-stop laughing (you’ll see). ‘Helpers’ is arguably the weirdest short of the bunch (which is saying a lot) as it delves into Santa and Merlin’s working relationship, the 5th Dimension invention, and feuds between the wolf, the skunk, and Puss in Boots. I don’t want to give away the best bits here, but let’s just say Merlin’s song and the feud scene are hands down the funniest parts of the entire disc. ‘Kingdom’ is the weakest of the three (which is also saying a lot). The short starts off with Santa giving viewers a tour of the village, but, out of nowhere, a subplot involving a destructive ogre comes into play at the end. Naturally, Mike, Bill, and Kevin have plenty to say during this one and their comments prove to be the right antidote to the insanity on-screen.

The other brand new DVD release is an 80’s “horror” flick titled “Ghosthouse.” This fan favorite VOD involves a killer clown doll, a dead child, a haunted house, tranquilizers, ham radios, a group of friends camping, a man named Pepe, and a lot of murders. From a filmmaking perspective, the movie is an absolute disaster. There’s continuity issues galore, atrocious dialogue, maddening sound f/x, robotic acting across the board, a plethora of idiotic character actions, a nonsensical story, an obnoxiously catchy soundtrack, and an ending that makes no sense. Thankfully, all of this makes for perfect riffing material for the trio of comedians.

While Mike, Bill, and Kevin have encountered plenty of bad movies over the years, there are some movies that just serve up the perfect opportunity for jokes scene after scene after scene. “Ghosthouse” is one of those movies. Between the chili talk and the random Simon Le Bon reference to the Jim Dalin character and the age old question of the popularity of Kelly LeBrock and Kim Basinger on Denver, the movie never ceases to offer up head scratching and unintentionally comedic moments. Add in plenty of great pop culture references (including a grin inducing one for “The House That Drips Blood On Alex”) and you’re in for a good (albeit puzzling) time.


In terms of picture quality, no one should expect any crystal clear transfers here. “Ghosthouse” looks decent enough while all of the shorts on ‘Madness’ look like they have aged quite a bit with visibly faded colors.

As far as the audio quality goes, “Ghosthouse” sounds a bit too low at times (aside from the maddening music and “sound f/x”) while the ‘Madness’ shorts vary in quality. Despite the fact that the shorts are actually quite lively with all of the shouting and laughing going on in them, the dialogue sounds very muffled at times.

“Ghosthouse” Extras:
* The ability to play “Ghosthouse” with or without the RiffTrax commentary.

“Santa’s Village of Madness”
* 4 bonus shorts titled “What’s Happening?,” “Let’s Pretend: Magic Sneakers,” “Join Hands, Let Go!,” and “Aesop’s Sound Fables: Frozen Frolics.” ‘Happening’ is comprised of a bizarre assortment of random segments of children playing. One assumes this was meant to be a classroom exercise in description, but who knows. Regardless of what it’s all about, there are some memorable jokes about a tiny Al Pacino and, of course, the “What’s Happening?” theme song. Next up is the equally baffling ‘Magic Shoes’ which features a filthy child (with magic shoes) being chased by a caped David Spade looking creature of some short. Maybe I was just too focused on the on-screen weirdness, but none of the jokes really stood out to me on this one. “Join Hands, Let Go!” showcases a group of children holding hands, singing and running around town while a goofy mustached actor (playing multiple characters) gets in various hijinks. This is easily the best of the bonus shorts thanks to the ketchup, child demons, RiffTrax songs, and “Killdozer” jokes. Last, but not least, is “Aesop’s Sound Fables: Frozen Frolics.” The short, which was featured on the “RiffTrax Live: Reefer Madness” release, is a demented cartoon filled with violence, singing animals, and dancing animals. It has absolutely zero to do with “Aesop’s Fables” which is what makes it perfect for riffing. Between the Beatles and Michael Vick jokes, this one is good for a few laughs.

Overall Thoughts: RiffTrax fans can’t ask for a better year end gift than with the release of 2 new “WONDERFUL!” RiffTrax DVDs. Hopefully, more DVDs will follow sooner rather than later.

December 8, 2013 - Posted by | DVD review | , , , ,

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