Riffing in the Modern Day

From the earliest days of moving pictures, there have been hecklers. Those who would yell, snicker, inappropiately comment or just downright laugh at what they were seeing on the screen. What in the modern day, has been dubbed, riffing.

Maybe one of the most famous of these was the premiere of one of the most beloved “bad” movies ever made. “Manos: The Hands of Fate”. After Hal Warren had set up a gala premiere of the movie, complete with local El Paso notables, including the mayor of the city, the audience began throwing derisive comments and snickers at the screen. So much so, that the cast silently hightailed it out of the theater before the movie had even finished running.

Some twenty years later, movie riffing become both a new form of comedy and pop culture entertainment. In 1988, the cult show, “Mystery Science Theater 3000” launched and people would never look at schlock cinema and hecklers the same again. For here, was something that was both highbrow and bathroom, mixed with incisive commentary that gave the viewer a whole new way to look at cinema as a whole.

After MST3K folded, there were a few groups that tried to replicate it, with little success. Around 2004, Mike Nelson of MST3K launched a series of commentary tracks that later would morph into the very successful Rifftrax brand. This was an important time in the history of riffing, as the style of riffing, minus the shadowrama, skits and the like helped inspire many others (including ourselves) to try their hand at the riffing game.

Among the most notable and successful of these projects was Josh Way. Whose large series of shorts made him the best known name in the riffing game, outside of RiffTrax. Many others followed suit and today, there are dozens of riffing projects out there for a customer to choose from. All with their own spin and take on things.

On the other hand, there is one group that is exceptionally notable, for in 2007, they, in a sense, truly brought back the look, feel and vibe of MST3K. That would be Incognito Cinema Warriors (ICWXP). From having a man being imprisoned, (this time in a movie theater during the Zombie Apocolypse), to riffing in a theater with robot friends, to riffing in shadowrama, this group and project brought back the best elements of MST3K, along with some of the sharpest riffing this side of the universe. They also expanded into riffing popular modern games and the results there have been nothing short of spectacular. We highly recommend checking them out and filling your Christmas stocking with their DVD sets.