Writer/director Jim Riffel ("Mass of Angels") was reading an article about Steven Spielberg's "War of the Worlds" and was struck by the film's budget - $200,000,000. He decided to challenge the filmmaker by making a film for under $100 that he predicts people will find more entertaining. His film will stream over the Internet from 7/22-29 at Greencine.com (or it can be purchased at amazon.com) and he'd like people to watch it and rate it at www.rottentomatoes.com and www.imdb.com.
So, *is* it more entertaining? Well, it sure has its moments, but the project smells more like a marketing gimmick to me. Firstly, Riffel hasn't really made a film for $99. He's taken "The Brain That Wouldn't Die," a Mystery Science Theater 3000 target, and given it the "What's Up Tiger Lily?" treatment, synching new dialogue and sound effects to the film and occasionally cutting away for 'short films' and other brief video snippets, both new and old (most frequently Merry Melodies cartoons). Some of the dialogue Riffel's come up with is hilarious and he actually has a knack for making fart jokes funny. He's also very talented at synching. Instead of going for the easy laugh of bad dubbing, Riffel frequently convinces that the original actors are speaking his words.
The 'short films' are minimalist riffs on their titles - a man who gets the wrong Chinese takeout order, a guy who realizes his wife's been cheating on him - that are loosely connected to the story they jump out of, but Riffel's other video cutaways are mostly non sequiturs that do nothing but distract. Do we really need to see someone's girlfriend say the word 'legumes' as if it's to be found profoundly funny?
"Night of the Day of the Dawn of the Son of the Bride of the Return of the Revenge of the Terror of the Attack of the Evil, Mutant, Hellbound, Crawling, Flesh-Eating, Zombified, Subhumanoid Living Dead, Part 3" is an amusing little stoner flick, equivalent to a decent 'MSTK3' episode, but despite the problems with Spielberg's latest, it has more entertainment value. Not 200,000 times the entertainment value, perhaps, but that's too lofty a goal. The challenge would have been more effective if Riffel had kept his film within the same genre, even with a much larger budget.
Robin also gives "Night of the Day of the Dawn..." a C+.
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