by Rob DiCristino
One of the best things about the F This Movie! community is that we’re eager to recom-mend the work of other artists and shows we really connect with and enjoy. Commenters are constantly shedding light on new stuff, Patrick’s yearly appreciations of the Shock Waves crew are always well received, and Adam Riske remains a vocal supporter of Dana Buckler’s excellent How is this Movie? podcast. With that in mind, I thought it was long past time I shared my affection for Milwaukee-based YouTubers (for lack of a better term), Red Letter Media. Indie filmmakers in their own right, the gang first gained notoriety in 2009 with their Star Wars Episode I review, a 90-minute video in which co-founder Mike Stoklasa delivers a thorough, funny, and insightful breakdown of that film’s shortcomings through the ironic guise of the crass and disgusting sociopath, Mr. Plinkett. Along with further Plinkett reviews, RLM’s work has since expanded to web series like Half in the Bag (which reviews new releases), Re:View (which high-lights old favorites), and Best of the Worst, a round-table discussion of B-movie oddities. Their videos have been appointment viewing in my house for years, immersive and comfy hangouts with people who have come to feel like friends.
Annabelle: Creation review, in which Stoklasa and co-host Jay Bauman expose a conspicuous “contest” inviting aspiring writers to submit their screenplay ideas to Warner Bros., who would then claim the option on the work for next to nothing. While some critics are professional contrarians, overeager to prove how much smarter they are than the films they’re reviewing, these guys genuinely want movies to be good and take it personally when they’re corrupted by corporate hackery.
Avengers and Boyhoods of the world, further demonstrating the gang’s egalitarian approach to criticism. “Most entertaining for whatever reason” is the governing principle when deciding Best of the Worst, which means that the goofy and fun Chopping Mall will always win out over the – perhaps – technically superior Exorcist II: The Heretic. They celebrate the work of B-movie stars like Don Dohler (director of Nightbeast), Cameron Mitchell (star of Space Mutiny and Terror in Beverly Hills), and have even befriended schlock auteur Len Kabasinski (Curse of the Wolf, Fist of the Vampire). They’ve become so notorious in the film community that when their review of American Ultra called out screenwriter Max Landis’ bratty tirade against the popular rejection of “original” filmmaking, Landis joined them in studio for a follow-up conversation (and even stayed for an episode of Best of the Worst). Though they remain outsiders, RLM’s influence is clearly being felt in the right places.