RIFFTRAX LIVE – KRULL / 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY [Special Event]: Science Fiction … Double Feature!

“El Sacerdote” J.L. Caraballo Twitter @captzaff007

Good evening, geeks and geekettes. Summer is winding down, and while the nights are beginning to get ever so slightly longer than usual, that doesn’t mean that there’s any less to look forward to in the coming weeks. And for those knowing where to look, summer isn’t over yet. Case in point: this past week in New York City we had two pop culture events take place–with another on the way this week as well.

While one is a high-profile revisit to one of the greatest movies ever made, the other is big-screen riff of one of the movies made in the 1980’s. Let’s take a look at that one first…

Rifftrax Live: Krull (1983)

This past Thursday, Aug. 23, the tried-and-trusted RiffTrax crew — Michael Nelson, Bill Corbett, and Kevin Murphy — showcased their last show of 2018: director Peter Yates‘ 1983 sci-fantasy “epic”, Krull. I had never seen the featured film before, and as such had no notions of deep love or respect for the film. Although, I suppose if you’re going to see a movie like this for the first time, why NOT have it be on the big-screen? Beginning, as the best movies do, with voiceover, the film stars Ken Marshall as Colwyn, a prince on the planet Krull, set to marry Princess Lyssa (Lysette Anthony), thus united two feuding families against the prophesied Beast…who is set to arrive in his spaceship/mountain/castle? Look, I’m one for a good yarn now and again, but this was some of the silliest shit I’d seen (despite the effects…particularly David Battely‘s Ergo transformations into various animals…including an adorable hound), and the RiffTrax crew had plenty of material with which to work.

“Ow! My wrist! And also my fingers!”

Set to save his planet, Colwyn is saved by Seer (John Welsh), and set off to find the mystal weapon, the wildly ineffective, cumbersome Glaive; along the way teaming up with Freddie Jones‘ Ynyr and his marauding bandits. Everything that doesn’t involve the special effects was some of the silliest shit I’d ever seen (and that includes a young Robbie Coltrane’s dubbed voice). Remarking on the fact that the name “Krull” appears maybe two or three times in the film, despite it being the title, the riffers would constantly introduce each character by calling them, “Krull”; during a slow-paced fight scene, Bill Corbett found the perfect moment to exclaim, “Have a SEAT!” right as a chair was thrown against a wall; and, in the joke that had both the biggest laughs and the loudest groans, during the climax, inside the Beast’s cavernous hideout that just went on for-fucking-ever, Bill once again had a great one, “This movie spends more time in caves than a Thai soccer team…what? They got out. It’s fine.” And, of course, during the death of the villainous Beast, Mike threw in this memorable one, “He died as he lived: far enough away from the camera that you can’t tell how crappy his costume looks.”

“I can’t wait to be in a better movie. No, not him, the star. ME, the background guy.”

While the movie was fun, and the jokes came at a lightning pace, more than one technical issue cropped up during the live broadcast; twice in the third act, with about 30 minutes left to go, the signal cut out, leaving a black movie screen. The signal came back in several seconds later, but sadly later in the scene; a second instance of signal cutout prompted some pixelated frames, before the film continued with no further issues. Given that the track record for the live shows are pretty on-par, these slight snafus, though rare, do mess with the flow of the night.

Bill Corbett, Kevin Murphy, and Michael Nelson

That being said, for it being the first time my girlfriend and I ever saw Krull, we could not have been in better company for it. Sadly, this being the culmination of a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign, this is the last Rifftrax Live event of 2018, and (most likely due to rights issues), this live event will not be up for download on the RiffTrax site in the future (most of their live shows wind up available for future purchase). Hopefully 2019 has a few more shows in store, and hopefully the upcoming the in-production 12th season of Mystery Science Theater keeps those eager for more riffs…like myself…satisfied. 4/5 Hovering Glaives.

2001: A Space Odyssey (70mm) (1968)

Holy crap, there is nothing quite like seeing this, Stanley Kubrick‘s masterpiece, on a full-sized IMAX screen, surrounded by awed film fans. We all know the plot: a mysterious signal at the outskirts of Jupiter has prompted the crew of the Discovery to an interplanetary trip, where the crew, Dave Bowman (Keir Dullea) and Frank Poole (Gary Lockwood) must contend with HAL-9000, the shipboard computer who becomes homicidal. That’s the easiest, simplest way to describe the plot, but, by now, we should know how insanely influential and iconic 2001 truly is, not just on genre filmmaking, but on the filmmaking process and film history itself.

Presented in a un-restored print, curated by Christopher Nolan himself, there was little more immersive than watching this on the largest possible indoor screen. The colors were slightly muted than in the latest transfers, and the sound mixing was noticeably mono; several scenes (particularly “The Dawn Of Man” opening sequence) had particularly noticeable grain and hairs in the gates; that did little to diminish the power of the docking sequences, nor of the space-walk sequence featuring Frank’s last moments.

I was a natural fan of the film before when I watched it on DVD (and a later run at the IFC center…wherein I wound up falling asleep…what?! It was midnight! And I had a super long day at work!), but there is an added power to seeing the Star Gate sequence, and the few minutes leading up to it, on a 70 foot screen. The sloping steps; the seats full of faces pondering up ahead; the bated breaths; the ever-so-slight hints of reefer wafting up from somewhere below; it all was perfect. The film is playing in a restored, remastered print in most regular theatersl the IMAX theaters in New York City, Toronto, San Francisco, and Los Angeles are presenting the 70mm Unrestored print until this Saturday, September 1st.

This would be quite the time to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the release of one of the greatest movies ever made (a movie, I swear, is so perfect and profound that I have trouble believing anyone actually made it; rather, I also imagine it appearing on screens already fully formed), but this will also be a great way to kick off the long Labor Day weekend. 50/5 Pod Bay Doors.

-J.L. Caraballo

Enjoy your long weekend, geeks and geekettes! 

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