Mystery Science Theater, round two

They’re back. Huzzah.

The former head writer and host of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and his two robot friends heckle on, despite their show’s cancellation in August 1999.

In January 2006, Michael Nelson released his first “Rifftrax,” an audio file of him making fun of the cult classic “Plan 9 from Outer Space.”

More movie riffs quickly followed, and word slowly spread through the MST3K-lovers community. It has received minimal press, but was mentioned on G4’s “Attack of the Show.”

The Rifftrax files are downloadable for a couple of bucks, and they’re played while you watch the movie.

To make sure the movie and the audio file stay in sync, the Rifftrax helper, disembodied voice Disembaudio, will occasionally read out lines of the movie’s dialogue. If the two are in sync, the dialog will match up.

The attraction here is the newness of the movies. MST3K made fun of old, bad B-movies. It was at times too painful to watch, simply because the movie and the commentary were so dated.

Not anymore. Nelson, sometimes accompanied by his former compadres Kevin Murphy (Tom Servo on MST3K) and/or Bill Corbett (Crow on MST3K), make fun of recent bad movies, even some blockbusters, with topical humor.

Some of the movies they’ve riffed include “Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring,” “Daredevil,” “The Grudge,” “Reign of Fire,” “Star Wars: Episode I,” “The Matrix,” “X-Men” and “XXX.”

Last month, the trio promoted their new venture by performing Rifftrax live at the San Francisco Sketchfest comedy festival.

The gang’s dry wit, classic puns and lack of suspension of disbelief are as funny as ever. Although Rifftrax requires a little more preparation than just popping in a DVD, it is well worth it.

There currently are 23 movies in the Rifftrax catalog. New riffs are posted a few times a month. Most of the riffs cost $2.99, but some cost $1.99

In conjunction with Legend Films, Nelson’s commentary was added to certain classic films, which are purchasable as single files. The films are “Reefer Madness,” The Three Stooges in “Swing Parade,” “Plan 9 From Outer Space,” “House on Haunted Hill,” “Night of the Living Dead,” “Carnival of Souls” and “Little Shop of Horrors.”

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