Thursday, August 25, 2011

Rifftrax Live: Jack The Giant Killer (1962)

Seen: At Regal Fenway Cinema in Boston, via live simulcast.

I watch Mystery Science Theater 3000 fairly regularly but I never blog about it because I wouldn't count it as watching the full movie, since there are dudes talking over it the whole time and they're edited for length. I've been to a few of the live broadcast Rifftrax performances as well but never thought to post about it here. TODAY THAT ALL CHANGES.

I love me some goofy irreverent commentating and I really love me some ridiculously bad movies, so the MST3K crew has always been a good fit for me. When a few of the main cast members/writers moved on to create Rifftrax, which takes away the robots and updates the film choices to mainstream new releases and popular crowd-pleasers of the past few decades, I was definitely on board. How else could I slog through the Twilight movies?

A few times a year the Rifftrax gang performs audio commentary at a big theater in Nashville, streaming it live in movie theaters across the country. They play shorts and sometimes there's music or comedy performances, and it's just a fun time overall to share the experience with a big room of like-minded geeks. This time around they showed Jack The Giant Killer, a silly and not very well-thought-out Adventures of Sinbad knockoff directed by Nathan Juran. A princess lady who wears quite a lot of make-up is abducted by a giant controlled by an evilly-bearded sorcerer who wants the crown. She is saved by the lowly but hunky peasant Jack, who becomes her protector as various fantastical traps are sprung for them.

This movie is just a real mess, and ripe for sarcastic commentary. The story doesn't make any sense, the script is cheesy as hell, the outfits look like leftover Halloween costumes at Party Box, the effects are laughably low-budget, and there's a weird amount of ethnic stereotyping. I would never put down any animator because I know the work is grueling, but yeesh the stop-motion creatures in this were definitely... rushed into production? It just doesn't look good. But really, most of the comedy stems from the awful dialogue and over the top performances.

It's certainly not the worst thing- in many ways it's a mildly distracting, very dated family film- and it's not at all bad by MST3K standards. What made Jack the Giant Killer a unique experience were the live performances, enthusiastic audience, extremely odd preceding short, and overall zaniness that Mike, Bill, and Kevin can always provide. Just remember, kids: Seize the bone.


  1. Saw it last week! Nothing like watching it in a crowd.

  2. I was just watching old MST3K episodes on google video last week...this means I must check this out!

  3. Alex: Awesome! It's always so fun!

    Alexa: MST3K is all I've ever used google video for haha. It's just the most entertaining show, never fails to cheer me up!

  4. I heard that they're remaking that one I can't remember who's in it.

  5. One of my favorite really-bad-monsters film, and I knew that as a child when I first saw it. Still, what a great cast with Torin Thatcher and little Walter Burke as the villains, and frequent classic screen-goddess Anna Lee in a small role.

    THE GIANT CLAW (1957) will always get my vote for Most-est Stupidest Goofiest Monster Ever, but JACK's got a couple of also-ran's that at least puts it in this category.