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Reefer Madness!

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Reefer Madness!

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Tonight nekouken and L and I went to see the theatre broadcast of the Rifftrax crew doing Reefer Madness.

I am sure I've seen Reefer Madness, aka Tell Your Children", but I remember that only as a bare fact - "I have watched Reefer Madness" - while knowing nothing about that viewing other than that it occurred. It was probably with Buddy. Maybe I fell asleep. In any case, watching it tonight was like the first time ever.

This is the third Rifftrax movie I've seen in a movie theatre. Plan 9 From Outer Space was fairly excellent, but the Christmas one gave me severe Weird Al interruptus and an odd jangly feeling, like they were off for parts of it, and ended on a sour note with a severely flopped sketch. I know I am not the only one who had that response, either. When Reefer Madness was starting up, I was figuring that if this one gave me a similar feeling, I would probably stay home the next time they hit the movie house.

My concerns were baseless. The guys really delivered on Reefer Madness. There were no stunt guests this time, but there were two short cartoons made by a collaboration of the creator of Something Awful with his five year old daughter, one about a mermaid/monster/I forget what all, the other about a sparkle doll and a rabbit. I think they need to team up with Axe Cop.

There were also three actual shorts that were riffed. They were amazing. The names aren't up on the site yet, so I don't have them, but I can describe the shorts:

  • There was one about the danger of washing your clothes with gasoline at home (really!) as opposed to the supreme safeness of letting your laundry catch fire at Reputable Dry Cleaning Company instead. It had one of the most astonishing special effects I've ever seen. I know that as audiences get more sophisticated and technology advances, the effects that worked in yesteryear look amateurish to later viewers, so with that in mind, I tried to imagine that people at the time would have believed that effect was actual flames... but I just... couldn't. It was awesome.

  • There was a cartoon from ago. I can't remember the title of that one either, but it was labelled as an Aesop's Fable, similar in style to this one I found from the same group of cartoons. It was about a variety of anthropomorphic cat-dog beasts and their antics at the North Pole. The Rifftrax treatment was on point as much as ever, but this cartoon struck me unpleasantly. If you give cartoons a moment's serious thought, a lot of them exhibit behaviour with questionable ethics and motives, but this one struck me as grimmer than most. One character collapsed from exposure and exhaustion, and another character, instead feeling any grief when he thought his companion was dead, went through his pockets to take his money, stuck a cross in the snow above the head and then started eating his shoes. Then the fallen revived, and the other guy quickly put the money and shoe, sans toe, back where they came from and swooped the grave marker back into his pocket. There's a disconnect for me when a kid's cartoon displays an emotionless acceptance of the destitution of the Depression-era hobo lifestyle. I laughed at the riffs, but that dissonance has stuck with me. After a little internet hunting, I could not find the exact short, but I did find some general info (ganked by Answers.com from Wikipedia): "Cartoonist Paul Terry began his own series, called Aesop's Film Fables in 1921 but by the time this was taken over by Van Beuren Studios in 1928 the story lines had little connection with any fable of Aesop's." Indeed.

  • There was also a short about the non-madness-inducing kind of grass. It was... ok, you know that joke people used to make about majoring in underwater basket weaving? If that were a real major, this video would have been used in a 101 level class. It asked, and then refused to answer, the question of whether corn is a grass (the answer is, "Except for farmers and taxonomers, no one cares, we just keep eating it.") It also featured children making a series of crafts, including fancy headdresses, braided ear hangings and a construction paper mask to which dried grasses were glued that I'm going to refer to collectively as fantasticrapwear.


What can you say about a twenty-five-year-old girl who died Reefer Madness? Not much, really., but the ludicrosity of the movie has been amply described by others before me. I might try pot if the smoke came out all different colors like that, though.

So yeah. Rifftrax will be live-broadcasting House on Haunted Hill on October 28th. We should all go, and we should wear fantasticrapwear when we do. It will double as costume and tribute.

Also, I think this Fathom Events thing that they are using seems like a really neat way to revitalize movie theatre usage by actually making things BE events at all.
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