If you saw the living dead shuffling around Downtown Nashville on Oct. 24, it probably wasn't a drunk tourist who wandered away from Lower Broadway, but a fan of RiffTrax getting into the Halloween spirit for a RiffTrax Live presentation of Night of the Living Dead at the Belcourt Theater.
After spending the last year saving The Belcourt from giant alien bugs, fending off marauding birds with coat hangers, and warning people away from Torgo's Pizza, Mystery Science Theater 3000 alumni Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett, and Kevin Murphy were well prepared for the zombie apocalypse and where better to start than with the granddaddy of the zombie movie genre, George Romero's classic "Night of the Living Dead?"
As with every RiffTrax Live show, the live show sold out in a ridiculously short amount of time so many fans had to content themselves with catching the show via Fathom Events simulcast at the Opry Mills 21, Green Hills 16, or one of the other theaters across the United States and Canada that carried the show.
But before taking on the living dead, the guys brought back a character who makes the walking dead look downright lively; Norman, who is rapidly becoming a RiffTrax fan favorite, was brought back for his third RiffTrax Live short, "Norman Gives a Speech." If you've seen either of the other two Norman shorts, you know what to expect here as Norman tries to do things and fails miserably at all of them. Mike even led the live audience, and by proxy audiences in theaters across North America, through Norman's infamous sigh.
After Norman failed to give his speech, it was on to "Night of the Living Dead." While rightfully considered a classic in the horror genre, it is at its essence a very cheap movie with some very bad acting. The guys hit all of the predictable jokes, commenting on the wooden acting and odd jump cuts, but also managed to get in some great running lines about the sheer volume of carpentry in the movie. They also got some topical jabs in at Miley Cyrus, Nancy Grace, and Bill O'Reilly among others.
The catchphrase on RiffTrax's website is "Your favorite movies... made funny!" and that's a promise they have consistently delivered on with their RiffTrax Live performances. The Belcourt makes a perfect venue for their shows and the simulcasts are extremely well done.
If you missed out on seeing RiffTrax Live doing "Night of the Living Dead", you can shift holidays and catch up with the guys on Dec. 5 as they re-riff another Mystery Science Theater 3000 favorite "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians." Tickets to the live show at the Belcourt go on sale Oct. 25 at 10 a.m. and are sure to sell out not long after so get them early or check the RiffTrax website for the Fathom Events simulcast pre-sale dates.