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"WE'VE GOT ZOMBIE SIGNAL!"
Incognito Cinema Warriors XP -- ICWXP for short -- is a show which debuted on DVD in 2008, and as of 2011 is becoming a series of videos-on-demand. Somewhere between Sketch Comedy, improv, and late-night movie anthology, it shows some of the worst films imaginable -- or at least the kind of crappy B-movies an underfunded independent production can afford the rights to -- intercut with framing sequences following the life of Rick Wolf (Rikk Wolf), a member of a zombie-fighting military branch known as CORPS, who takes refuge in the "Cine-A-Sorrow Theater" and is trapped there by Mad Scientist Dr. Harrison Blackwood (Rob Atwell, a reference to the hero of the 1980s TV show adaptation of War of the Worlds.). During the movies, Rick, Topsy Bot 5000 (Atwell, later Gregory Wyatt Tinnen, LATER later Nick Evans), and Johnny Cylon (Zach Legler), two robots Blackwood created to run the theater, mercilessly riff on the comically low quality, portrayed in "Shadowrama" as they sit in the balcony of a theater showing the movies.
In spite of its borrowed premise (Blackwood mentions he got the idea for torture-by-movie from an old cable show), it does stray from "that other show" in some places, being explicitly not aimed at young audiences (there's a warning that it may not be appropriate for those under 13 on the back of the box) and tackling films with more "mature" content than the MST crew usually saw.
The show has been evolving remarkably quickly. The first episode featured a laugh track during the host segments, which was swiftly dropped in time for the second. By episode three, the show had introduced Professor Zedekiah "Zed" Logan (Rob Atwell, later Nick Evans), a sophisticated sentient zombie head (that still craves human flesh), and episode four saw the replacement of Blackwood and the swift introduction of a new villain Jonathan Kincaid (Tinnen) and an accompanying story arc. And this is all in the first four episodes.
As of season two, the show has switched to a half-hour format, riffing shorts rather than entire movies, with a much quicker production time and a stronger emphasis on story.
The official website is here. Episode 201 has just been released, and 202 is almost finished.
ICWXP provides examples of:
- Alternate DVD Commentary
- Amazing Freaking Grace: Rick and the 'bots do this in wolf howls when the werewolf dies in Werewolf in a Girl's Dormitory.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Blackwood is dragged off for brainwashing by Ludivico because some of his politics didn't line up, and he made personal calls on company time. He also stole office supplies. Guess which gets treated as a more serious offense.
Kincaid: Seriously, there's like a whole box of paper clips missing.
- Art Evolution: Each puppet is an improvement over the last. Cylon and Topsy have LED lights for mouths and static eyes. Zed's mouth moves remarkably well, but he's still just a head in a jar (and his eyes don't move either.) The most recent bot, Flux Namtari, has a functioning mouth and arms. Also, Cylon is having functioning legs added.
- Attractive Bent Gender: Kincaid feels this way about Topsy. See Creepy Crossdresser below.
Kincaid: How much for the blonde?
- Audible Sharpness: When the spikes come out of the rest of the logo during the theme song.
- Badass Boast: Rick declaring he can fight his way out of the theater (which is surrounded by zombies) in the first episode. Unfortunately, Blackwood takes him up on it, and while Rick does kill a decent number of zombies eventually Oh Crap sets in and he backs down.
- Baleful Polymorph: Episode one ends with Topsy turning Rick into a gorilla, and episode four ends with Topsy turning Cylon into a werewolf. By the creator's admission, it's basically the same joke twice, but the DVD for episode four's movie (Werewolf in a Girl's Dormitory) came with instructions for creating a werewolf and they felt obligated to use it.
- Big Name Fan: The show has gotten praise from Michael J. Nelson, head writer of Mystery Science Theater 3000 from season two on and the host of the show after Joel left. The back of each DVD features this quote from him:
"These guys are good. Fast paced, funny riffing throughout. Now fellahs, would you please stop making my job look easy!"
- Brain In a Jar: Zed, of the "whole head" variety.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: In Bride of the Gorilla, but unfortunately, unlike on Mystery Science Theater 3000, there is no in-universe audience for them to be talking to. The bots do it once and Rick immediately asks them to stop because the poor wall is shaky enough as is. He then promises us it won't happen again.
- By episode three, it's been firmly established through the Fourth Wall Mail Slot that the content we're seeing is being broadcast to other zombie survivors, thus rebuilding the wall.
- Censor Box: Whenever the episode's movie gets pornographic (though this has only popped up during Lady Frankestein), a censor box appears. It doesn't entirely cover the offending content, but darkens that area of the screen enough to be able to tell what's going on without actually seeing any privates.
- Chainsaw Good: In episode one, Rick uses these to take out a large number of zombies when Blackwood takes him up on the aforementioned Badass Boast.
- Conspicuous CG: The door sequence in episodes one through three, less so from episode four onward.
- Creepy Crossdresser: Topsy in episode four, pretending to be a hooker.
- The Corrupter: This seems to be part of Blackwood's goal, as he's happy to see Rick turn Darrell out to the zombies in episode two and Rick and the bots tormenting Zed in episode three. (Of course, the zombies won't touch Darrell and Zed makes no secret of his desire to eat the three.) There's also episode three's car...demon...hallucination...thing. Both are laughably bad at it.
- Darker and Edgier: In comparison to that other show, since it mainly riffs adult-rated horror films featuring tons of sex and nudity, something MST3k couldn't get away with on basic cable.
- Dartboard of Hate: Rick is seen to have one of Blackwood in promotional materials. He removes Blackwood's picture when he's dragged off in Episode 4.
- The Danza: Rikk Wolf as Rick Wolf.
- Deadpan Snarker: The entire cast, save Blackwood.
- Development Hell: Again, let us remind you: there were four episodes between 2008 and 2011. Episode four suffered especially badly, to the point where the tagline called it "The About Friggin' Time Edition." The show has improved its turnaround time in Season 2, now getting an episode out every few months.
- Do-It-Yourself Theme Tune: Rikk Wolf does the vocals on both versions of the theme song.
- Double Vision: Topsy and his grandfather utilize the same puppet, so they appear together via split-screen. (Topsy's grandfather's puppet uses the Blackwood beard.)
- DVD Commentary: A bonus feature on episode four is Rikk Wolf doing commentary on the story segments.
- Early Installment Weirdness: The Laugh Track in episode one, as well as the presence of a more Mystery Science Theater 3000-like seating arrangement.
- Evil, Inc.: The Ludivico Corperation. It's right there in the name.
- Expository Theme Tune
- Fail O'Suckyname: From the Victory Garden short, commenting on the name of the young son's name:
Cylon: So his name is "Dick Holder?" ...Ouch.
- Fourth Wall Mail Slot: Once an Episode, as exemplified by this vid.
- Fun with Acronyms: CORPS: Command of Re-Animate Processing and Suppression.
- The Goggles Do Nothing: Not even allow you to see. Blackwood has to peer out from under them and seems to switch between wearing them over his eyes and over his head at random.
- Hope Spot: A brief one in episode four. Kincaid is not a member of the CORPS Evac Team.
- Keep Circulating the Tapes/Lost Episode: Episode One is now and forever out of print due to too much Early Installment Weirdness and too little interest in a proper redo.
- Lampshade Hanging: On everything, from the absurdity of the premise to Blackwood's affinity for buttons that are flashing lights.
- Leitmotif: Whenever Zed switches from condescending sophistication to ravenous flesh-craving undead, it's accompanied by suitably deranged heavy metal music playing over his (heavy-metal-esque screaming) dialogue.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: In spite of five years passing between 104 and 201, the last thing Rick remembers is the last scene of 104 when he comes out of the torture machine. The brain-probing torture-by-movie device he spends most of the five years between in is implied to have something to do with it.
- Mad Scientist: Blackwood.
- Make Way for the New Villains: Kincaid, to Blackwood.
- Non-Singing Voice: Zed's black-metal screaming is always provided by Rikk Wolf, regardless of who's actually playing the character.
- Not Using the Z Word: The military (and the show's wiki) calls them "reanimates" (mostly to accommodate the R in CORPS), though the characters themselves don't shy away from calling them zombies.
- I'm a Humanitarian: Zed.
- Off-the-Shelf FX: Of the kitbashing variety, as well as the "surprisingly effective" one (mostly thanks to the paint jobs, which make it hard to tell that the bots are of this variety.)
- One of Us: The show's wiki frequently potholes the Rule of Funny page.
- The Other Darrin: Up to Eleven with Nick Evans for Gregory Wyatt Tinnen...for Rob Atwell as Topsy, and Nick Evans for Rob Atwell as Zed.
- Redshirt Army: Kincaid reveals that CORPS has become one of these in episode four.
Kincaid (on phone): What's that? You're a mile away? And you say you saw that plot point coming?
- The Remake: Kind of. Episode one, Bride of the Gorilla, now discontinued, is getting a five-minute reriffing on the episode 201 DVD.
- Retcon: The viewscreen button on the wall that shows up in episode three to allow for the Crimson Executioner bit. Apparently it's been their the whole time and Rick just never noticed it. Also, the door sequence changes in episode four.
- Revolving Door Casting: Topsy suffers the brunt of this, but Zed isn't exactly well-off either (to the point of being rendered mute in 201, justified by five years of decay.)
- Running Gag: Each episode has at least one that spans only that episode--"I forgot there's no staaaaaairs" (when someone walks out a door), "The greatest acrobat in the world!" (when the character initially given the line makes a blunder) and the awesomeness of Lucky Strike cigarettes are prime examples.
- Self-Destruct Mechanism: Topsy and Cylon apparently have these built in. Blackwood is notably disappointed that they don't work in the first episode.
- Shock Party: Rick and the Bots throw one for Topsy's grandfather who has just had heart surgery, which causes him to die from the shock. (Yes, a robot had a heart attack. Best not to dwell on these things too much.)
- Shout-Out: Kincaid works for the Ludivico Corperation. This is promptly Lampshaded when Rick wonders why Kincaid is making him watch bad movies.
- Harrison Blackwood and Jonathan Kincaid also both share names with characters from the 1980s TV show sequel to the 1953 film adaptation of War of the Worlds, in tribute to the character of Dr. Clayton Forrester on Mystery Science Theater 3000 (who shares his name with the hero of the original film.)
- Zed Logan's name is a shout out to Sean Connery's character in Zardoz and Marvel Comics' Wolverine.
- The two additional CORPS agents that show up in the live-action version of the opening have name tags reading Nelson and Murphy. You can't really see the tags, but it's the thought that counts.
- Snarky Non-Human Sidekick: Topsy and Cylon.
- Spiritual Successor: To "that other show".
- Stable Time Loop: Blackwood claims to be broadcasting from prehistoric times at the end of episode three, in order to create a cave painting that will inspire one of his inventions when he sees it in a museum in the present day.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Subverted to hell and back with Kincaid, who actually knows what he's doing and can manipulate the theater more efficiently than Blackwood ever could.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: One of Blackwood's stock intercom announcements that play over the door sequences in episode four asks the theater visitors to "please remember that the blast doors are for your safety, not to trap you inside some sick experiment."
- The Stinger: As part of it's attempt to be as Mystery Science Theater 3000-like as possible.
- Talking to Himself: Formerly Blackwood and Topsy, but now that Blackwood's been replaced with Kincaid...wait, Tinnen took over Topsy duties, never mind.
- Nick Evans will be playing a new character, Flux Namtari, alongside Zed as of episode six.
- Take That: Almost any pop cultural riff in any episode is bound to be this, but bonus points go to episode four for spending an entire
hoststory segment making fun of Ghost Adventures.
- The Thing That Would Not Leave: Darrell from Lady Frankestein.
- Time Skip: Five years pass between season one and season two.
- Too Spicy for Yog-Sothoth: Darrell isn't desirable zombie fodder, which is why Rick has no qualms about locking him out of the theater at the end of episode two.
- Unfortunately for Darrell, he runs into his zombified mom - who is apparently used to Eau Du Darrell and has no problems digging in.
- Unusual Euphemism: Werewolf in a Girls' Dormitory gives us "coming of age", a euphemism so unusual that Rick and the 'bots can't even figure out what it means. The three have fun finding increasingly more bizarre usages for it over the course of the episode.
Doctor in film: In my report from the coroner, he said the girl was assaulted by wolves, and she died of the injuries inflicted.
Cylon: Hm. Maybe she's just coming of age.
- Vanilla Edition: And how. Episode one didn't even have scene selection. (This, of course, is lampshaded on the menu.) Episode four averts the trend, however.
- Webisode: Several, to fill the gap in between actual episodes.
- With Lyrics: During a bit of background music from Bloody Pit of Horror:
It's the worst film ever made / ever made / ever made
You will want to kill yourself / with a knife / with a spork
- The Wiki Rule: Achem.
- X Days Since...: One of Blackwood's stock intercom announcements that play over the door sequences in episode four remarks that it's been three days since the last movie-related suicide, and asks the viewers to keep up the good work.
- You Look Familiar: Nick Evans is Darrell in episode two and the Crimson Executioner in episode three.
- Zombie Apocalypse