Well, it was a pretty amazing year at RiffTrax! So many awesome and historic things happened for the company founded by Michael J. Nelson in 2006. When RiffTrax was first brought into existence, the expectations probably weren’t as lofty as to what the company would eventually become ten years later. Living up to the MST3K standard must have been a daunting task in the beginning, but now the RiffTrax library is larger and far more diverse than the MST3K library. And each year in the company is unique, it tells a story of where the company has been and where it is going, and no other year makes a statement quite like 2016 did.
Every year, the RiffTrax Wiki (aka RiffWiki.net) publish a year in review to document what has happened, take a deeper look at each entry to discover how it ebbs and flows with previous and future releases, and also vote on which riffs made the biggest impact. The votes are in and we are announcing the winners for Riff of the Year, Live Show of the Year and RiffTrax Presents of the Year. If you’re not sure what RiffTrax is, or if you’d like it, then this list is a great place to get started. RiffTrax fans have led the way for you.
2016 Riff of the Year Nominee: Honor and Glory
Bad-movie lovers might put this gem on par with Birdemic and Neil Breen flicks. The whole thing defies comprehension. Human beings got together to make this, and it even has a genuine movie star in it. You know, the guy who played Liu Kang in 1995’s Mortal Kombat is a bit player! There are knife fights involving reporters and daughters of disgraced senators, FBI agents and their weird home lives, and, of course, ninjas. What’s not to love?
2016 Riff of the Year Nominee: Hillbillys in a Haunted House
The fact that human beings got together and made this thing is offensive to one’s soul. But the riff is awesome. This yarn is about a bunch of hicks driving towards country music fame and fortune. That they decide to stop for the night at a haunted house just smacks of the absolute stupidest ideas ever put to film.
2016 RiffTrax Presents of the Year Award Winner: RiffTrax Presents: Flight to Mars
Since they began working as a pair three years ago on King of Kong Island, Matthew J. Elliott and Ian Potter have delivered a string of outstanding performances in the RiffTrax Presents series. At the time it was released, Warning From Space could have been considered the single best RiffTrax Presents title in the history of the brand. Then Flight to Mars came around and it blew everything else out of the water. The movie matched the chemistry of Matthew and Ian perfectly, and the blend of story, personality, aesthetics, pacing and humor is a flawless demonstration of how a riff can transcend its material and become brilliant work of art in its own right.
RiffWiki.net Live Show of the Year: RiffTrax Live: MST3K Reunion Show
They said this was the biggest night in the history of RiffTrax. The State Theater in Minneapolis was sold out, making it the most attended RiffTrax Live event to date. It marked not only the reunion of (most) of the MST3K cast, but also the RiffTrax debuts of Trace Beaulieu, Frank Conniff, Jonah Ray and MST3K creator Joel Hodgson. It was a grand celebration of Mystery Science Theater 3000, but also of RiffTrax itself.
Editor’s Choice 2016 Winner: RiffTrax Live: Mothra
If you ever have the chance to attend the show, take full advantage of it. As a RiffTrax fan, this would be like attending the SuperBowl or WrestleMania. The experience is so much fun that we’ve made this the Editor’s Choice for 2016.
2016 Riff of the Year 3rd place: Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The biggest film of 2015, and possibly one of the greatest films of all time, got the ever-so-rare-anymore MP3 blockbuster commentary, and became an instant RiffTrax essential. The transition from the prequel trilogy to this brave new world created by JJ Abrams, its return to the imagery associated with the original trilogy, and its mass market appeal provided a lot of material for Mike, Kevin and Bill to use. They are also able to point out the movie’s flaws in a way that is funny, but fair and non-derogatory. The moof-milkers who participated in the Riff of the Year competition decided it was good enough to award it the bronze medal for 2016.
2016 Riff of the Year 2nd Place: Samurai Cop
Samurai Cop had been on the cult circuit for a very long time. So many movies with the cult status like this can go for years without being selected by RiffTrax, if they ever even get a riff at all. This is one of the heavyweights, and it was released around the same time the long awaited sequel with Tommy Wiseau taking the place of the legendary Robert Z’Dar, so its timing was absolutely perfect.
Mike, Kevin and Bill make the riff experience very unique, even for those who have seen the movie a thousand times. Bringing something fresh to the movie is so very important, and in this case RiffTrax knocks it out of the park. If not for a certain Christmas clown, it would have won Riff of the Year running.
2016 Riff of the Year Winner: Christmas Circus with Whizzo the Clown!
Imagine, if you will, a clown-man from Kansas City with the most bizarre makeup you’ll ever see on a clown, rambling incoherently for about twenty minutes, then bring several frightened children into his studio, get on a magic carpet and fly to the North Pole to meet Santa. This entry is so strange, it makes Fun in Balloonland and To Catch a Yeti look like typical summer blockbusters. This entry dominated the Riff of the Year competition with nearly 90% of the vote. Congratulations, Whizzo! Now there is somebody associated with Christmas even more terrifying than the Ice Cream Bunny!
Thanks to everybody in the RiffTrax Wiki for another amazing year! Here’s to 2017 and Season 12! You can read the entire year in review on the RiffTrax Wiki.