30 Dec

Cinematic Titanic: East Meets Watts Review

Posted by Bryan White | Wednesday December 30, 2009 | Reviews

Cinematic Titanic hit the road earlier this year and took their show to theaters across the country. I nearly got a chance to take one in at the Somerville Theater just outside of Boston but was furious when I went to buy tickets and found out that ticket pricing was on par with buying a Cadillac Escalade. Complaints about the ridiculously high price of seating at the CT forums wasn’t received particularly well as I discovered that many of the nerds who whore those boards were not just seeing the show in their local theaters, they were following the troupe around like they were The Dead or something. So this new release from the Cinematic Titanic crew, East Meets Watts, at least gives you a look at the live show from the comfort of your own home where you’re free to carry out your old MST3K rituals in relative privacy. East Meets Watts is a sort of Cinematic Titanic live album. It’s not clear where the show is being recorded but I’d like to see more of these live shows on disc. A lot more, actually.

The film, like you care, is a mashup of popular exploitation themes from the time. It’s half martial arts movie, half blaxploitation and I’m at a loss to explain it. Larry Chin jumps ship in San Francisco looking for his brother and on his way to Los Angeles, he winds up handcuffed to street tough brother, Stud Brown. They become fast friends, do a lot of walking, running and hopping into the beds of moving trucks and at some point Larry finds his brother and tangles with a dirty cop who has a disproportionately hot wife and a gang of thugs whose leader rides a cheap motorcycle. It’s an Al Adamson flick, if that means anything to you (it does to me) and it’s a real piece of garbage packed with suspiciously vacant sets and a scene where Stud Brown woos his mute girly subject with an impromptu song that is nothing short of squirmworthy.

This is a first for Cinematic Titanic and hopefully the beginning of a new format because, quite frankly, this live presentation is a much more functional version of the show. Gone, for this release, is the silhouette which runs along the sides of the screen, replaced by the actual lit faces of the crew whose riffs, in the live arena, have a new kind of energy to them that seems much more vital and lively than the recorded studio versions. Player reactions to the funny riffs are left intact and even the few flubbed lines from Joel, Frank and Mary Jo are funny enough to fit in with the overall vision. It has a great rhythm and among the available Cinematic Titanic releases, this is easily the funniest. What we have here is something akin to MSTie classics like The Amazing Colossal Man and Manos The Hands of Fate. Previous CT releases have warranted laughs but not one of them has had me wiping tears from my eyes as East Meets Watts did. It’s such a dog and the material is easy riffing for Trace, Joel and company. The movie’s jokes write themselves and the gang spares no opportunity.

In summary, were the Cinematic Titanic crew to replace the existing format of the silhouette with the interim breaktime gags with this live presentation, it would elevate the overall quality of the product. East Meets Watts is extremely funny from start to finish, the best of the bunch, by far. Cinematic Titanic, please, please, please release more live riffing! If you promise to do this, I will stop publicly bitching about your ticket prices.

6 Comments 

  1. December 30, 2009 1:58 pm

    Pete

    Great write up! Man, it seems like forever since the last dvd/eztakes release from CT and I’m lovin’ the latest one. Not all of us can just run out and buy tickets when they come to town so it’s been a bit disappointing waiting for these releases. Yeah, I’m sure it’s mo money for them doing live shows, but lets get a reasonable amount of shows available to buy/download.

    At least I can count on Rifftrax to push out a few shorts during these CT dry spells.

  2. December 31, 2009 8:59 am

    David Markham

    I couldn’t disagree more. The original format for Cinematic Titanic feels like a real produced product to me. It has character, it has the depth of a running storyline (even if it’s a relatively low-key one). The openings and breaks are what keep CT from being like Rifftrax, just a bunch of people making fun of a movie, which has little appeal to me, even when it makes me laugh.

    The comparison to a live album is correct. But as much as I enjoy a good live album, that doesn’t mean I want artists to abandon the studio, where the real magic is made.

  3. December 31, 2009 11:19 am

    Gary Bowden

    I love this new release by CT.It seems more fun and relaxed and not stiff like the studio versions,even though I like them as well.Frankly,the storyline with the studio version is neither here nor there for me when it’s all about the movie anyway.This is not MST3K.Whatever they choose to do either way,I’ll still buy the dvd’s.Plain and simple.I do feel that Wasp Woman could benefit being in front of a live audience,since there were a few good jokes,but not enough..Also,I hope if they continue to do live dvd’s,they need to include the opening acts(Gruber/Josh/Frank)and the entire Q&A with Joel.That would be nice.Looking forward to future dvd’s,no matter if it’s live or studio.I was going to say Memorex,but decided not to..Good job CT!!

  4. December 31, 2009 8:19 pm

    Dave

    I followed a link from Josh Weinstein’s Twitter to here. Good write-up. I was lucky (?) enough to see them live in Portland, and this is the show they slaughtered the night I was there. The warmups, with Dave “Gruber” Allen, Frank, and Josh, doing stand-up and Joel answering audience questions, were worth the price of admission. The movie was so desperately cheesy, I was kind of in awe. I used to think “Monster A-go-go” on MST3K was as bad as it could get (I’d argue that it was worse than “Manos,” but Joel disagrees). CT has found an impressive crop of crap, though, including “Frankenstein’s Castle of Freaks” and this stink bomb. Even though it holds together better as a film than the cut-and-paste wrecks like “Monster A-go-go” and “Riding with Death,” “East Meets Watts” has such disdain for the story-making process, it noses into worst place for me. The riffing is first-class clever and funny, too, so this is one I’d definitely recommend owning.

  5. December 31, 2009 8:19 pm

    retroman steve

    I’m downloading it now. (it’s going to take forever according to their site) I watched a sample of it and honestly it looks so much funnier than the other versions. I think they really need the energy of an audience. Not that the other DVD’s are bad they just lacked something that this one seems to have. that fun and laid backness that was in the original MST3K. I hope they continue with this format. Rifftrax has been doing a few live shows and they’re a riot.

  6. January 5, 2010 1:10 am

    ÜberSciFiGeek · The Word on Cinematic Titanic’s “East Meets Watts”

    [...] Bryan White at Cinema Suicide: [...]


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