In the past three years, Incognito Cinema Warriors XP has gone from a fan film to a series with a respectable fanbase of its own. The film-mockery series was started when Rikk Wolf and a couple of friends decided that their comments were funnier than the average film riffs, and they put together a movie that was part original concept (man trapped in a movie theater surrounded by rampaging zombies), as well as part homage (the man and robots making-fun-of-movies concept from Mystery Science Theater 3000, aka MST3K).
Wolf and the rest of the crew at AgonyWolf Media are in the midst of production on the next six episodes of Incognito Cinema Warriors XP, but he was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to speak with us by phone from the studios in Plattsburg, Missouri.
The Pitch: How have you not gotten sued?
Rikk Wolf: It's a different name. The shadows we overlay on the movies don't resemble MST3K's at all. That seems to be enough. We've never gotten any kind of cease-and-desist message or anything like that. They don't seem to have any kind of problem with us. Michael J. Nelson, who does Rifftrax -- our stuff's available on his website. He was actually kind enough to give us a shining little blurb. That was an interesting moment for me, because we just did this first one as a way to get some film chops. We just kind of did it for fun, and to have that happen was kind of a dream come true.
How has the audience grown with each episode?
It seems to have doubled, if not tripled, with each one we've put out. Every time we put one out, it seems to get circulated more heavily -- probably a factor of every time we put one out, there's a bigger catalog to discover, and people see there's more to watch and show their friends. Each time we do an episode, there's a little gap between 'em, and my producing chops get a little better, so each one is at least 100 percent better than the last one.
Where do you find the movies? Are they all public domain?
Yes, they all are. We look on a site called Archive.org. Just tons of movies that nobody cares about. We actually have a fan who has spent the last three years bombarding our message board with film suggestions. It's almost gotten to the point where we don't even have to go to Archive.org. We just go look at the section of the forum that that guy posts in.
Does he sum up things for you?
No, he just embeds it right there in the page, and we can take a look at it right there. We're actually considering one that he suggested, called They Came From Beyond Space, for the next full-length. These next six episodes are going to be riffing short films, and then we're going to do a full-length like we have done in the past, to be kind of a season finale.
What do you look for in what you're going to riff on?
For me, sort of just outright goofiness. I enjoy bad films that have a character that seems to have a ridiculous premise or costume that you can tell the actor is taking seriously. It creates some very funny unintentional humor. I have gotten into trouble in the past. This last film we did, Werewolf in a Girl's Dormitory, I just picked it because the title seemed wacky, without viewing the entire film. It is a flatline movie.
There's just so little happening in it, we're going to avoid films like that in the future. That was a fan suggestion, too. They're mostly fan suggestions at this point. As far as bad cinema is concerned, we try and look for the "good" bad movies, if that makes any sense. Bad monsters, silly monsters -- things like that. And, of course, bad acting. That's the best. You can't ask for more than that in a bad movie.
Famously, the guys at Best Brains and MST3K have said that if they could've, they would've riffed Highlander 2: the Quickening. What movie would you do if money was no object?
We're trying -- and probably not succeeding, unfortunately -- to do Gor. It's actually a prequel to a film that MST3K did called Outlaw of Gor. It's not looking so good on that, but it's a great bad movie. It's not really a mainstream film, by any means, like Highlander 2 was. But if I had to pick something? There's such a catalog to pick from. Probably one of the Resident Evil films. I have a particular distaste for the second one that came out. I thought that movie was a catastrophic failure from just about every standpoint. Probably Resident Evil: Apocalypse for a big, big budget movie.
Have there been any live screenings of the episodes?
There's going to be a screening of (I believe) episodes three and four at this year's Gencon. Unfortunately, we won't be able to attend, but that's going to be the first live screening. Hopefully, there's a video camera there, and we can see some reactions. We're planning on being at Jim Kilroy's Rock and Comicon at the Uptown Theater on May 21, with a booth, and have the puppets there. We're not going to be riffing a film. We don't have plans to do that at the moment, but you never know.
What is your projected release date for episode five?
We're hoping -- and every time we've projected a release date, some wrench has gotten thrown into the works, but we're hoping -- for fourth quarter this year. Our goal is to get all six of the next ones shot, and then start releasing them. But if time's gone by, and we've only gotten three shot, we'll probably release the first one, just to get the ball rolling. Hopefully, towards the end of this year, we'll start putting them up.
Episode four, Werewolf in a Girl's Dormitory, is out now and available from the ICWXP website, as well as episodes two and three. The first DVD officially sold out yesterday.