thegrudgerifftraxFrom the stars of cult hit Mystery Science Theater 3000 comes RiffTrax, audio commentaries you can play along with your favorite, or least favorite, blockbuster and/or B-grade films. As RiffTrax claims: “We don’t make movies, we make movies funny.” In this weekly series, we will be reviewing their Geek Speak-friendly offerings, in order of publication. This week:

The Grudge (2004)
Riffed by: Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy
Release Date: November 10, 2006

FROM RIFFTRAX.COM

The scariest thing to come out of Japan since Pink Lady, The Grudge tells the story of a young woman who travels to Japan with her underwear-sniffing boyfriend and soon finds herself in the clutches of an evil curse (as if having an underwear-sniffing boyfriend wasn’t bad enough).

Bill Pullman co-stars, sort of, in that he speaks several lines of dialogue. In contrast to a high body count slasher film, The Grudge is infused with a suffocating sense of dread, very much like an average episode of According to Jim. Kevin Murphy and Mike Nelson settle their own grudge in this not-to-be-missed RiffTrax.

THE RIFF

Sarah Michelle Gellar stars as exchange student Karen Davis in this Tokyo-set Hollywood version of Ju-on, and it is very slow, and also very creepy. Mike and Kevin have a good time pointing out the glacial build up of many of the scenes, calling the film “anxiety” rather than horror, and stereotyping the hell out of the Japanese, but good-naturedly. At least for the most part.

HIGHLIGHTS

[Blue skies]
RIFF: Folks, the weather in Tokyo today is uneasy, with creepy music coming out of the southeast and eerie levels hovering at sixty-five percent. There’s a strong chance of evening terror.

[Karen walks very slowly to the door]
RIFF: [announcer voice] Please join us next winter for The Grudge 2: She Enters the House.

[Police investigate in the house.]
RIFF: To the attic to search for for the body! Or at least a sweet crate of vintage vinyl.

[Karen can’t explain the spectral apparition she saw]
DOUG: It’s okay, Karen.
RIFF: [as Doug] I support your vagueness.

[Detective Nakagawa puts in a video tape to play]
RIFF: Great, now he’ll be dead in seven days.

[Karen sees several photos with the same Japanese girl in the background]
RIFF: What’s this Japanese girl doing here in Japan?

DETECTIVE NAKAGAWA: I’m sorry. [Bows]
RIFF: [as Nakagawa] Please look at my head.

[Peter lowly investigates the creepy house]
RIFF: Thrill, as Bill Pullman looks at a room!

[Karen goes to identify her dead boyfriend]
RIFF: Japan’s generous medical benefits will allow her to get a free replacement Doug.

RUNNING GAGS

Buffy.
Japanese food.
Japanese culture.
Japanese pop culture.
The Grudge is a person.

ENOUGH ALREADY!

Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddie Prinze, Jr. are married.
Mocking dementia patients. Just, no.
SMG was in Scooby-Doo. Okay!

SCATALOGICAL INDEX

Medium-to-High.

GROANS

The Japanese accents. Pretty wrong, guys.

[A shot of spilled ramen]
RIFF: If that was a painting, it would be a spill life.

Puns can be fun. This isn’t one of them.

OBSCURE REFERENCES

mrsrossseinfeld[Yoko is worried about her patient, the elderly Emma]
RIFF: Don’t worry, Yoko. She hasn’t been the same since her daughter died from licking all of those poisoned envelopes.

Good eye! Emma is played by Grace Zabriskie, who also played the mother of Susan Cooper, George Costanza’s fiance in Seinfeld, who died after he bought cheap envelopes for their wedding invitations.

elaine[Karen approaches sliding glass doors]
RIFF: [slowly] Must resist temptation to bang on glass and yell “Elaine!”

This is a scene from The Graduate, when Benjamin (Dustin Hoffman) is trying to stop his ex-girlfriend Elaine (Katharine Ross) from marrying another man.

the_hair_bear_bunch[A ghostly, tentacle-y apparition appears]
RIFF: No, it’s the Hair Bear Bunch!

It was not the Hair Bear Bunch.

mcq[Kevin, trying to identify an actor from Lost] RIFF 1: Is he the cop? The cop that no one can stop?
RIFF 2: No, that’s McQ.

Detective Lieutenant Lon “McQ” McHugh was played by John Wayne in the 1972 film McQ, which dealt with police corruption. The film’s tagline is “The cop that no one can stop. Even the cops.”

morris[There is a cat in the house.]
RIFF: It’s Morris the Cat’s deadbeat brother.

Morris the Cat is the mascot for 9Lives brand cat food.

johncoffey[Surveillance camera screens show interference]
RIFF: They just electrocuted John Coffey.

John Coffey, played by Michael Clarke Duncan, is an imposing but gentle prison inmate with healing powers in The Green Mile (1999).

sidneyprescott[After being chased by a ghost, Susan’s phone rings]
RIFF: If he’s calling for Sidney, hang up.

Sidney Prescott, played by Neve Campbell, is the much-beset heroine of the Scream movies. She is always getting calls from serial killers.

DETECTIVE: One more question.

RIFF: Did you ever pick your feet in Poughkeepsie?

fibbermcgeeandmolly[Peter approaches a bloodsoaked door] RIFF: Don’t open that closet door, McGee.

Fibber McGee and Molly was an American radio comedy series that ran from 1935 to 1959. The title characters were created and portrayed by Jim and Marian Jordan, a real-life husband and wife team who had been working in radio since the 1920s. Their hall closet was always full to bursting, and whenever it was opened everything would spill out (audio only) to general hilarity.

(MIKE: That’s a really recent reference, Kevin. What are you, ninety-five years old?)

RIFFTRAX IN-JOKES

Not really, but Mike does reference Ian Shrager hotels again.

OBLIGATORY STAR TREK AND/OR WARS REFERENCES

No, actually.

VERDICT

B+. This film is indeed terrible, and the riff makes it actually bearable to watch, even if you are not a fan of the genre. Or probably even more so if you are.

PURCHASE INFORMATION

Audio Download

NOTES

At one point, Kevin claims one of the characters is a “better Flash than Ben Affleck.” Ben Affleck was Daredevil! Just because they both have red costumes…

NEXT WEEK: The Fellowship of the Ring!

About the author

RACHEL HYLAND

Rachel Hyland is Editor-in-Chief of Geek Speak Magazine and, she is pretty sure, the one true queen of Fantastica, raised in obscurity to protect her from the dark lord Sinisterium. If you see her magic sword, get in touch via twitter: @rachyland or Instagram: @rachelseesdeadpeople. The fate of the many worlds may just depend upon it.