RiffTrax is not an acquired taste. If you’re not immediately laughing, you should probably move on.
If you don’t like references, especially of the obscure variety, and you think all kinds of creativity should be revered, no matter how bad, you probably won’t like RiffTrax.
Keep Rolling! recommends starting with a decently produced movie. That way, you’ll be able to concentrate on the riffs and not the poor film making. Watching the movie’s trailer on the RiffTrax website will give you a good indication as to its production quality.
With that in mind, you might check out Miami Connection, Honor and Glory, or Future Zone. Those movies are relatively well-made and possess decent sound.
Once you get a feel for RiffTrax’s pacing, you can move on to poorly made films like Samurai Cop, Birdemic, and “Manos” The Hands of Fate.
If you can stomach those abominations, then you can test your mettle with the soul-crushingly awful The Guy From Harlem, Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny, and Fun in Balloon Land. Even for the most ardent RiffTrax fans, those movies are hard to watch.
All RiffTrax products are funny, but a full-length movie riffed by Mike Nelson, Bill Corbet, and Kevin Murphy is the best place to start.
There are four main types of RiffTrax products…
RiffTrax Movies: Movies with riffs. The riffs are like the audio commentary found on DVDs and Blu-rays. These are usually B-movies (or worse) available in public domain.
Shorts: Short films with riffs. These short films are usually educational.
Just the Jokes: Riffs only. Using the RiffTrax app, you add “Just the Jokes” to your copy of the movie. “Just the Jokes” are usually for major Hollywood films like Batman v. Superman, Twilight, and The Hunger Games.
RiffTrax Live: A live RiffTrax show, riffed in front of an audience, usually containing one short and one full-length movie. Some shows have multiple shorts, guests, and/or special performances.
Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy are your main riffers. Some movies are released with riffs from other funny people.
It will be clearly stated when an offering features riffers other than Nelson, Corbett, and Murphy; you’ll usually find “RiffTrax Presents” somewhere in the title.
If a RiffTrax product doesn’t indicate whose riffing, assume it’s Nelson, Corbett, and Murphy.
Although everyone has a different idea of what constitutes a bad movie, the answer is no. It is safe to say, however, none of the movies they’ve riffed (excluding movies for “Just the Jokes”) are great. Still, the overwhelming majority of movies you’ll find on RiffTrax are clunkers.
Nonetheless, Carnival of Souls, House on Haunted Hill, and Fist of Fury are pretty good flicks with decent reviews. Some of the so-called “bad” movies have considerable charm. In this category you’ll find Miami Connection, Space Mutiny, and Time Chasers.
Regardless of the film you watch, be prepared for bad writing, directing, and acting… and editing… and lighting… and sound design… and makeup… and costumes. There’s a few other things most RiffTrax movies have in common.
First and foremost is uneven pacing. These movies can drag and they are experts at wasting time. Get ready to see a lot of needless driving and parking.