Review: RiffTrax Live – Plan 9 From Outerspace

If making fun of bad movies can be considered an art form, you can definitely consider Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett the Rembrandts of Riffing. They are veterans of the cult classic TV show Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K), and the three have been in the business of laughing at movies for the last two decades.

mikeandthebotsly7MST3K was created by Joel Hodgson and ran from 1988 to 1999, it featured a man and his robot sidekicks who were trapped on a satellite in space by an evil scientist and forced to watch a selection of bad movies, especially (but not initially limited to) science fiction B-movies. To keep sane, the man and his robots provided a running commentary on each film, making fun of its flaws and wisecracking (or “riffing”) their way through each reel in the style of a movie-theater peanut gallery.

Series creator Hodgson originally played the stranded man, Joel Robinson, for five-and-a-half seasons. When Hodgson left in 1993, series head writer Michael J. Nelson replaced him as new B-movie victim Mike Nelson, and continued in the role for the rest of the show’s run.

During its eleven years, 198 episodes and one feature film, MST3K attained critical acclaim. The series won a Peabody Award in 1993, and was nominated for writing Emmys in 1994 and 1995.

When ‘SyFy’ (then the SCI FI Channel) cancelled MST3K in 1999, Nelson, Murphy, and Corbett took some time off for other projects before coming back in 2007 with The Film Crew, a series of Shout! Factory DVDs that mimicked the MST3K model, minus the talking heads. After Shout! stopped distributing the new project, the three established their current home, RiffTrax


They stripped the MST3K concept down to its bare bones, Rifftrax offers downloadable audio files of Nelson, Murphy, Corbett, and occasional guest stars riffing on a wide variety of films, from Twilight to the Star Wars series to classics like Jaws. On August 20, Rifftrax brought its act to the big screen, with a live riffing on Ed Wood’s ‘Plan 9 From Outer Space‘ that was simulcast to movie theaters across the country.

I had the great fortune to attend this event, simulcast into my local theater with a virtual sell-out crowd. That crowd, much like me was in hysterics from the opening introductions to the final bows.

veronica_belmontThis live event started with an introduction from the geek goddess and master of ceremonies (who looked gorgeous up on the big screen and did a great job), Veronica Belmont who introduced Nelson, Murphy and Corbett to rousing applause from both the live audience at the Belcourt Theater in Nashville, Tennessee (where the event was held), as well as the crowd in my local theater and I would assume the other 400+ theaters that Rifftrax Live was broadcast to.

Nelson, Murphy and Corbett then proceeded to Riff on an 11 Minute short film titled ‘Flying Stewardess’ which seemed to be a 20th Century Fox produced 1950’s documentary/training film for American Airlines Stewardesses (flight attendants). You would think a simple short like that may not provide enough material for the guys to ‘Riff’ on, that’s where you would be wrong… it was a riot.

Miss Belmont then returned to the stage to introduce the evening’s musical guest (yes, the show even included a musical guest) and that guest was the incomparable Jonathan Coulton who treated us to performances of ‘The Future Soon’ and ‘Re: Your Brains’ which were both great as always and fun to see Live.

Review Continues After the Jonathan Coulton Videos

After Coulton’s performance, there were a few “commercial breaks” that were done by Richard “Lowtax” Kyanka of, they were funny but not memorable enough that I could tell you exactly what they were and it’s only been a few hours since I saw them, so they weren’t bad but not memorable either, just filler.

Veronica Belmont hit the stage once again to introduce “The Rifftones”, which consisted of the RiffTrax crew and Jonathan Coulton together performing an introductory song to ‘Plan 9 From Outerspace’, titled “Plans One Thru Nine”.

Check it Out –

Once that song concluded, the guys took their seats and the feature began. I was totally expecting them to do a great job and I was worried that I may have set my expectations too high, but they did not disappoint. Not only do I not remember laughing that hard in quite some time, there’s a distinct possibility that if I were to really examine my entire memory bank that I would find that I have never laughed that hard for 2 hours straight in my entire life.

While they have done a ‘Riff’ on Plan 9 From Outer Space before (See Below), I can assure you that nothing could compare to the live experience and if you keep an eye on and they announce another ‘Rifftrax LIVE!’

Once the performance concluded, we were given a special web address and code to obtain some free goodies. Yes, the boys were nice enough to give out freebies to everyone who attended across the country! While we weren’t as lucky as the one fan who won the twitter contest that scored him an ipod touch loaded with rifftrax, we did get an digital photo [see below] of the guys outside the Belcourt Theater in Nashville emblazoned with their signatures (available in both .jpg and .pdf format). In addition to that, we were able to download the mp3 of the plan 9 song , and the “Flying Stewardess” Film+Riff, which we had the option of MP4, MPG, WMV or DIVX files and last but not least, we got some super cool avatars of the Plan 9 characters by Len Peralta from the Jawbone Radio Podcast (sample of the Bela Lugosi avatar below), they are all very well done and a nice addition to the free goodies. You can check out some other cool art by Len at

Click to Embiggen



So, as you may have figured out by now… I had a fantastic time and I can’t wait for the next Rifftrax Live, you can bet I’ll be there and I hope you’ll all go check it out and laugh along with me, whether you’re in my hometown theater or in one of the other 400+ theaters throughout the country, I can guarantee you’ll have a great time!

I give ‘RiffTrax Live – Plan 9 From Outerspace’ 5 out of 5 Stars


Jason Moore
Written by Jason Moore

is a member of the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films and the Founder/Editor In Chief of SciFi Mafia®