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Saturday, August 20, 2016


The other night I went to see the latest edition of RiffTrax Live, in which they riffed on the classic Japanese monster film, Mothra.

After doing a little research, I was surprised to learn that Mothra appeared in many, many films, including several Godzilla films as well as several sequels, including three editions of The Rebirth of Mothra. This one, though, is the first, released in 1961. It is an example of Kaiju, which means monster, which of course was very popular in Japan at that time.

Now, I don't think of moths as particular destructive, except to clothing, but Mothra does some serious damage, To summarize the plot, some scientists visit an island in the "radioactive" zone (it's clear that Kaiju were a response to the atomic bomb dropping on Japan, giving the national psyche a scar) in the Pacific. They find two identical small women, about a foot high. A ruthless businessman (I'm not sure why he is with the party) kidnaps them and wants to put them in a show (they sing and dance). This enrages the natives of the island, who hatch a giant egg.

The larvae of Mothra then swims across the sea to Japan, makes a cocoon on a giant tower, and turns into a giant moth (no amount of missiles or any other projectiles does the larvae any damage). Once as a moth, Mothra wreaks havoc, mostly by the flapping of its wings, which blows around cars (of the Matchbox variety) and knocks buildings over. The good guys, led by a Lou Costello-like reporter and a linguistics professor, save the twins, and give them back to Mothra, and all is well, except for the giant clean-up to come.

The RiffTrax guys had some great lines of course. Upon the giant moth flying over the city, we hear "Quick, build a giant cedar chest!" Two particularly vicious, and possibly libelous lines, or when the oily businessman captures the two extremely petite Asian girls and we hear, "Do you know how much Woody Allen will pay for this?" Later, a sign reading "Secret Fairy Cruise" compels the line, "Travolta and Cruise are starting a cruise line?"

Sometimes it's hard to goof on a movie like this because it's funny enough already, with the ridiculous special effects and hammy acting, so at times the riffers let the movie speak for itself. I was waiting for a line on how the editor of the paper looked like a fish, and then near the end I got my wish, when we hear as a non sequitor, "I'm two-thirds catfish."

Before the film was a short featuring Soapy, a giant bar of soap that visits a boy in the night, like one of Scrooge's ghosts, to talk about the importance of cleanliness. Again, these hygiene films from the '50s are funny enough on their own, but RiffTrax gives them that special oomph.

After the film, which was at Sam's Town casino, my companions and I were just in time for the show at Mystic Falls, the atrium inside the hotel. It's a faux mountain scene, with animatronic animals, a fountain, and lasers. At show time, a wolf with red eyes comes out of his lair to oversee the proceedings, which includes a tribute to Dale Earnhardt, which kind of comes out of left field. The whole thing was completely cheesy and thus perfect for Las Vegas.

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