The most difficult thing the Cinematic Titanic crew needs to do is to latch onto a movie that is so bad mocking it becomes easy, but not so bad that the overall awfulness envelops their jokes. That was the problem with the crew’s prior riff-spin on War of the Insects. I’m pleased to say that is not the case with Rattlers. I will say, however, the DVD experience is not as good as the live experience.
Los Cinco Titanic brought their presentation of Rattlers to Morristown, New Jersey’s Mayo Center for the Arts in 2011. That performance is not the one seen on this disc but the jokes are scripted. It is the same performance in most ways, excepting the circumstances that no two audiences are the same and laughing along with a real audience works differently than with one on your television screen.
But that is getting ahead of ourselves. Rattlers originally arrived in the 1970s in the wake of the massive success of Jaws, and the basic premise for both is roughly the same — a town full of naifs is beset by a killing force of nature, and an outsider is called upon to make it right. From there on the differences are as stark as the million dollar budget Steven Spielberg had at his disposal versus the ten dollars and change spent on Rattlers. Instead of vacationers and New England’s most colorful in Jaws‘ Amity, our film is loaded to the rafters with trailer park goobers and cliches all talking straight at the camera (for crying out loud, I learned the over-the-shoulder camera setup in High School, people!)
Jaws also had an engaging leading man playing someone who is ill-equipped to deal with a deadly force of nature, yet must for the greater good. Rattlers has someone with standard ’70s helmet-hair who is also a bit of a smarty-pants type. Jaws had, at times, a sense of humor where Rattlers is as serious as a heart attack, and thus cannot be taken seriously at all, which makes it perfect for Cinematic Titanic. The team of Joel Hodgson, Trace Beaulieu, Mary Jo Pehl, J. Elvis Weinstein and, yes, home video’s Frank Conniff have worked together for many years so you can expect they will be at the top of their game(s).
They are, but it is the little things that differentiate the live experience from the video, and the region-specific jokes that singled out Snooki Polizzi and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie had more bite (pardon the pun) in my state than it did where the video was finally recorded. Plus, being in an audience and actively participating simply feels more engaged that watching the TV, but having said these, Rattlers is one of the best of the recent Cinematic Titanic offerings (still not up to the bar set on East Vs. Watts). You will get some good laughs from the presentation and this disc would be excellent at parties. My only qualifier is that if you have the chance to see the group live, you really should.
Cinematic Titanic LIVE: Rattlers can be purchased from Amazon.com.