A film buff from New Jersey (now living in Philly) with directing aspirations, James Duncan Rolfe (born July 10, 1980) remained mostly under the radar until 2006, when he posted a couple of joke reviews he made for his friends a couple years earlier on YouTube, under the name "The Angry Nintendo Nerd". A few years of booming popularity later, he eventually evolved into The Angry Video Game Nerd.
Aside from making Nerd videos, he also has a large number of films (he's been making them since 1989) registered on his website, Cinemassacre.com. In addition to the Nerd character, he has two other shows: Board James and You Know What's Bullshit?. He also established an improv series with a few friends of his called OverAnalyzers.
He also often posts videos to the site with him acting as himself, either performing interviews, documentaries, or movie reviews, most notable of which is Cinemassacre's Monster Madness, an event that he has taken part in every October since 2007 where he reviews one horror film every day of the month, whether it be an old classic or an obscure treasure, usually in keeping with some sort of theme (So Bad, It's Good films one year, the entire Godzilla series another).
With work on The Movie necessitating a reduction in the frequency of Nerd episodes, Rolfe decided to compensate by launching James and Mike Mondays in December 2012. This is a weekly series in a Let's Play format, where Rolfe and Mike Matei play games that in most cases might not be featured in a Nerd review — whether it's a classic, an obscure game, a romhack, or the occasional game that's already been reviewed. In 2018, Rolfe launched a new series, Cinemassacre Video where James and friends discuss different films, themed around a Retraux VHS rental shop Blockbuster-pastiche, comparable to RedLetterMedia's Half in the Bag series.
- The Angry Video Game Nerd
- James and Mike Mondays
- Board James
- You Know Whats Bullshit
- Cinemassacre Video
- Munky Cheez
See here for a list of all the movie reviews Cinemassacre has done.
Tropes applying to Rolfe himself and his work:
- Ambiguous Ending: In the "Cinemassacre Video" about Ernest Goes To Jail, James recalled that when he first watched the movie as a kid, he thought Ernest died after falling to Earth, since the movie rolls the credits immediately after Ernest gives a one-liner and collapses.
- Archive Panic: Invoked; James never watched Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers as a kid, and decided to play catch-up so he wouldn't go in blind to review the reboot film. But he freaked out when he learned how long the series is, and that's not even counting the original Japanese series that it takes footage from. Even limiting himself to just the first season, he had to binge watch sixty episodes.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: In his Top 10 Shitty Shatner Movies, he ended the list with Incubus at #1, and talked about how the film was lost until it turned up with France, and ended with this dark sentence..."There was a lot of bad luck associated with Incubus and came with the reputation as one of those films with a curse. [Milos Milos] killed his girlfriend and committed suicide. [Ann Atmar] has also committed suicide a few weeks after the film wrapped. [Eloise Hardt's daughter] was kidnapped and murdered. Director Leslie Steven's production company went bankrupt, and his marriage ended in divorce. And William Shatner ended up being in a lot of shitty films."
- Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Has more than once said he has ADD. It is unclear if he has been clinically diagnosed as having it or if he's just using it as shorthand for saying he is easily distracted. During the Cinemassacre Rental about Mortal Kombat: The Journey Begins, he mentioned that he hates watching movies on his computer because he immediately starts clicking around and can't stay focused on the film.
- Author Appeal:
- Horror movies, especially monster movies.
- References to shit. Sorry, that was meant to be, references to SHIT!
- Urban legends and conspiracy theories, especially those regarding supernatural phenomena or extraterrestrial life.
- Inverted with sports. He has shown a few times how he dislikes sports.
- Badass Boast: From the "Contra Memories" video: "I beat Contra before breakfast."
- Berserk Button: James hates iTunes, and is of the opinion that it gets worse with every release, especially changing the interface and removing options (he elaborates on this during the iTunes episode of YKWBS). He also hates waiting for it to update. He spent a good several minutes during the "James and Mike Mondays" episode Star Fox complaining about it. He admitted the only reason he still bothers with it is because he tried the competition, and somehow, they actually had less features to offer than iTunes, so he feels stuck with it.
- He's also not a fan of Blu-ray; while he praises the picture quality, he detests the continued practice of unskippable warning screens carried over from DVD, and is less inclined to upgrade his DVD collection than he was from VHS to DVD. He considers streaming to be superior solely for the fact that the movie starts right up.
- Bullet Time: One of his choices for the Top 10 Worst Movie Cliches.
- The Cameo:
- He appeared in different commercials (one of the earliest being a Budweiser commercial), other online shows, and even independent works (like the Sonic fan film).
- At one point he even assists in special effects works with other works, like blood work and all.
- Cloud Cuckoolander:
"HOLY SHIT! Well, I'm not thinking of Frankenstein. Are you?"
- Judging by the content of his films.
- Top 10 Movie Moments That Have Nothing To Do With The Scene From Frankenstein Where The Monster Throws The Girl Into The Pond is a whole video of him listing moments from various movies that have nothing to do with the scene from the 1931 Frankenstein (1931) when the Monster throws the girl into a pond.
- And speaking of Top 10s, he made another one called Top 10 Worst Top 10s, and #1 on the list is Top 10 Times Johnny Depp Says "Then." Dude sure does love his unconventional Top 10 lists.
- Seven words — "Live like a windrammer as you fuck."
- Anyone watching the episodes of AVGN with Lloyd Kaufman and the Guitar Guy with keen ears and eyes can notice James losing his composure with some of the things they say.
- And of course, the one part in his review of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III where he stressed that the "Help I'm a turtle and I can't get up" gag is not funny, but burst out laughing anyway.
- The House on Haunted Hill (1959) review opens with a botched take of the "It's Cinemassacre's Mooooooooonster Madness!" intro where James loses it during the long O, which isn't used in any other video.
- Crossover: James and his high school friends came up with a proposed crossover of Star Wars and Star Trek called Trek Wars, but they didn't flesh it out very much; the most they came up with was Luke Skywalker and Captain Kirk shaking hands.James: That's the best we could come up with; like, "Hey, how ya doin'?" (Mike Matei laughs) That was really stupid.
Mike: I think you can come up with better at this point.
- Deadpan Snarker: A trademark of his videos, espeically his review videos.
- Deliberate VHS Quality: Used on various projects of his, most notably on Cinemassacre Rental Reviews.
- Department of Redundancy Department:
"Every time you fall down, you have to walk through the entire stage all over again. All of the enemies come back, so you have to fight everybody all over again."
- He has admitted to this being one of his weaknesses while writing. He noted that in the Ninja Gaiden review, he had to use a thesaurus because he had overused the word "impossible" in the original script. The trope has been invoked a couple of episodes before he managed to catch it, such as in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles review:
- He also has a habit of saying "head decapitation," as if there's any other kind of decapitation.
- The Ditherer: "What Will I Watch? (Netflix browsing)", since he can't make a decision.
- Early-Bird Cameo: Ryan Schott briefly showed up in the background of James's CED player video in 2010, a full five years before he was actually introduced as member of Cinemassacre and started appearing alongside James and Mike more often.
- Easily Overheard Conversation: One of his choices for the Top 10 Worst Movie Cliches.
- Enforced Plug: Occasionally in "Cinemassacre Rental", one of the participants will bring up a short film they directed/starred in if it ties into the film they're discussing.
- Engrish: He gets an email filled to the brim with this in Mailbag #3, which introduces the "Live like a windrammer as you fuck" quote.
- Fade to Black: One of his choices for the Top 10 Worst Movie Cliches. He says it's especially bad in modern trailers, as it's annoying when you're trying to find a seat and the theater keeps going pitch black every other second.
- Forehead of Doom: As the years go on, his hair becomes thinner and thinner and his receding hairline gets higher and higher.
- God Never Said That: His refusal to watch Ghostbusters (2016) had nothing to do with the female cast* , and was more due to how it calls itself "Ghostbusters" but doesn't build on the established lore of the franchise, despite having gotten the three surviving original Ghostbusters to appear in the movie. He even outright states that it may end up being a good movie in its own right.
- Go Mad from the Revelation: After his Top 1 Shark Movies, which is basically him praising Jaws and being unable to come up with any other good shark films, he would go crazy over the collection of terrible shark movies he has, leading to the Top 40 Shitty Shark Movies!"Shark movies, shark movies, shark movies, SHARK MOVIES, SHARK MOVIES, SHARK MOVIES, AHHHHHHahhhhhhahhhhhh!"*crazy laugh* Shark movies. Shark movies!
- Go-Karting with Bowser: James and Mike plays. Mike has played enemies of the Nerd such as Jason Voorhees. Played Straight in the episode where James plays with Doug Walker, whose Nostalgia Critic persona was the Nerd's Sitcom Arch-Nemesis.
- Gorn: He's known for making really gory short horror movies like The Deader The Better.
- Gratuitous Rape: James criticized both Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (the producer's cut), and Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed for including these in it. His reasoning is as follows:
"It's not sexy, it's disturbing!"
- Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers involves Michael forcibly raping his niece and impregnating her. Not only does it seem so wrong on so many levels, but it's entirely unnecessary. Michael is out to kill his remaining family. Now he's reproducing to make more family to kill? This is one of the main reasons why James blasted the producer's cut, despite it being the popular choice over the theatrical cut. He considers the latter to be more entertaining, whereas the former is just too messed up to justify its existence.
- Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed was a case of Executive Meddling. Frankenstein, played by Peter Cushing, decided to rape the beautiful inn keeper spontaneously. This had no place in the film at all other than make Frankenstein out to be a more horrible human being, which this and previous films did a great job of already. The meddling part came from the producers wanting the rape scene added in just for sex appeal, despite protests from Peter Cushing and Terrance Fisher, and the scene being nowhere at all in the original script. James says it best:
- Happily Married: To April, A.K.A. Mrs Nerd.
- It Is Pronounced Tropay: In his Real Ghosbusters tribute, he pronounced DiC as "dick".
- Jump Scare: At the end of this video, after talking about how scary the illustrations from Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark are, he suddenly shows one of them, amplified so that it covers the whole screen, with a Scare Chord to top.
- Kensington Gore: many of James's films make use of extremely bright, cheesy blood, likely in honor of the classic B-movies he draws so much inspiration from. He has noted using Kool-aid, ketchup, water with red food coloring, and corn syrup with red food coloring in various commentaries and documentaries.
- Kindhearted Cat Lover: Has a black cat named Boo who appeared in some AVGN episodes (most famously as "Death Kitty" in the Atari Jaguar episode), plus a white cat named Yeti.
- Let's Play: Sort of. He does the James and Mike Mondays series with his best friend: Mike Matei.
- Limited Wardrobe: James in Cinemassacre Rental pretty much always wears a red Cinemassacre T-shirt.
- Long List: In the Cinemassacre Rental episode about Congo, James mentioned that whenever Bruce Campbell is asked why he agreed to act in the movie, Bruce would say that when you look at the pedigree behind it, how could you say no? James proceeded to list all the big talent associated with the movie, and it was quite a long list.
- Long Title: On a few occasions, James has mentioned a horror film that he's been planning to make for several years, titled The Confounded Crazy Critters who Devoured Neurotic Livestock and Couldn't Stop Dying So They Had to Carry Their Own Tombstones over Their Heads.
- Madness Mantra: During his Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers marathon..."Oh, Go Go Power Rangers... GO GO POWER RANGERS!!! GO GO POWER RANGERS!!!"
- Metal Head: He is a huge fan of heavy metal and hard rock occasionally name checking them in a video. He especially seems to like AC/DC. He very often wears metal band T-shirts when not in character. In Mailbag #3 he is wearing a Led Zeppelin hat and in the You Know What's Bullshit episode on iTunes, his music library consists mostly of hard rock and heavy metal bands. He even started a series podcasts called "Audio Slaughter" with his wife. He talks a great deal about his longtime love for heavy metal, particularly in the episodes on Metallica and Black Sabbath. In his "'Making of An Angry Video Game Nerd Episode" video, he mentions that one time, while editing an exceptionally difficult and time-consuming project, he managed to listen to the entire Iron Maiden discography. He's also mentioned in several videos that he likes the cult British Doom Metal band Witchfinder General, who no doubt recieved much more attention thanks to this.
- Mondegreen: Invoked: In the second part of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987) retrospective, he plays various clips and thinks the characters are swearing.
- My Car Hates Me: One of his choices for the Top 10 Worst Movie Cliches (specifically, when the car doesn't start).
- Nerd Glasses: Possibly the king of this trope.
- Older Than He Looks: He still looks to be in his twenties when he's actually 39. It really shows in the Mega Man episode of AVGN, when the Nerd goes back in time and meets his earlier incarnations (which are first shown through Stock Footage, then played by himself). He hardly looked different than his decade-earlier videos, save for the haircut.
- Orbital Shot: One of his choices for the Top 10 Worst Movie Cliches.
- Overly Narrow Superlative: When reviewing an old VHS copy of Assignment Terror for Monster Madness, James anticlimactically concludes that it's the worst commercially manufactured VHS tape to ever feature Dracula, Frankenstein, the Wolf Man and the Mummy.
- Playing Against Type: Known for the directing variant with making gory horror movies and gross out comedies. However, he made a short psychological mystery film called "The Jersey Odysseys: Legend of the Blue Hole" which doesn't include any gore or gross out stuff.
- Political Correctness Gone Mad: Parodied. As the Bullshit Man, he mentioned that people complained about having to say "Happy Holidays" out of respect for other beliefs when they insist on saying "Merry Christmas." So he coined a new term called HAPPY SHUT THE FUCK UP! and has proceeded to use this in some of his Christmas specials, including the AVGN Winter Games, and even as himself at the end of his TMNT Christmas review.
- Pun: His "Top 15 Movies Where People FUCKING Burn to Death" is full of fire-based puns, such as "That really burns me up", "Don't get too hot to trot", "You gotta strike while the iron is hot", "Uh-oh, this chick is TOAST!", "NOW we're cookin' with gas", "It's one hell of a hot mess!" Not only that, but the video uses samples from a bunch of songs that have the word "fire" or "burn" in them.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Usually Blue to Mike's Red. Even while they're acting, Mike's hyperactive characters make even the nerd look reserved.
- Running Gag: One has started in Cinemassacre Video: Tony is grossed out by eyeballs getting stabbed, so naturally Kieran brings it up frequently, even in unrelated contexts.
- Self-Deprecation: In the video where Inspector Gadget explains how to use Cinemassacre:Gadget: I wonder when the fuck there will be a new Board James!
James: But the craziest thing about this is, it's really a shortcut now, because if you can jump up there, you don't have to worry about every time you fall down, you have to walk through the room all over again. So every time you fall down, you have to fight everybody all over again. You gotta do it all over again. All over again.
- In the tenth anniversary video of "You Can Just Walk Over It?", James made fun of his repetitive writing in that AVGN episode.
- Serious Business: In-universe: In the "Cinemassacre Rental" about Road House, Tony (playing a bartender) banned Kieran from his bar because he disliked Jurassic Park III.
- Shout-Out: James has said that he quotes the film American Movie on a regular basis, and has put countless quotes in the Angry Video Game Nerd episodes. In a documentary about the making of the special effects in Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie, after filming a failed attempt to have Death Mwauthzyx punch through a pane of glass, he spontaneously says:James: I'm sorry I tried to put your hand through this, man!
- Shown Their Work: Invoked in his comparison of Dracula's film adaptations with the book. He dissects each movie (at least the ones that are straight adaptations, anyway, which reduces the field to 12 films) in search of the book's plot points and character translations. In the end, Count Dracula (1977) and Bram Stoker's Dracula were the closest ones he found (the former winning out by a tiny margin), even with the creative liberties each work took (such as, the former making Arthur Holmwood and Quincey Morris a Composite Character, and the latter explicitly connecting Dracula to Vlad the Impaler).
- Sir Swears-a-Lot: Surprisingly averted in most of his films (exceptions include "Kill for Thrill" and obviously "Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie"). The most you'll here is the occasional "hell" or "shit".
- So Bad, It's Good: Invoked; there are quite a few films that he readily admits are terrible but loves because of it. Just one example: Mortal Kombat: Annihilation.
- Something Completely Different: Any of his videos that don't fall into the regular series can be seen as this, such as "Why Does the Kid Shout Mortal Kombat?".
- Spit Take: He does an absolutely epic one when he realises that the IndieGoGo donations for the movie have just hit 100k. He even does it in slow-motion, no less!
- Stop Motion: James is a big fan of this practice.
- Stopped Numbering Sequels: One of his biggest pet peeves, claiming it creates needless confusion since, if anything, making a lot of sequels means that numbers are more necessary to tell the movies apart.
- Talk Show: The format of Cinemassacre Video.
- Tempting Fate: In his Top 1 Shark Movies, he said that there were some good ones. The only movie he can think of is Jaws, which he pretty much talks about for almost the entire video. See Go Mad from the Revelation above for more.
- Title Scream: Comes in many variations in Cinemassacre's Monster Madness, starting with Rolfe simply stating the name in the first iteration of the show, and having a much hammier variant in later years with "It's Cinemassacre's Mmmonster Maaaaadneeesss!". The Camp Cult edition of the show even features fan versions of it.
- Vulgar Humor:
- He's known for doing this in AVGN, such as the Nerd defecating on the games (and Bugs Bunny).
- Also the characteristic of the Bullshit Man, Shit Pickle, and the Nerdy Turd.
- What Could Have Been:
- James intended the Angry Nintendo Nerd to be a trilogy series of videos he only made for his friends. Then YouTube entered his life! As one of the podcasts reveals, James was highly reluctant to make another AVGN video outside of original trilogy, and it took some persuasion from Mike to convince him that it's an idea worth trying.
- James apparently intended the Angry Video Game Nerd to have a spin off series called the Angry Movie Nerd, where he would cover bad movies, beginning with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III. Despite being one of his most memorable videos, ranting about movie sequels in an earlier episode, and even implying to talk about the Friday the 13th movies in the game review, this spin off never happened. Instead, he's only done movie reviews as himself since.
- He, at some early point, planned on doing an AVGN episode focusing on the Super Mario Bros. movie (or he planned on it being an entry for the abandoned Angry Movie Nerd series). However, after Nostalgia Critic reviewed it, he felt he couldn't really add much to it with his own review so he held off. He eventually reviewed the film as himself for the film's 20th anniversary.
- Invoked in his video on why he would not watch Ghostbusters (2016) over the decision to make the movie a complete Continuity Reboot, particularly as they were able to get many members of the original cast to appear in the movie... but just as random characters rather than reprising their original roles.
- Who's on First?: Utilized in the "What's the Movie?" video.
- Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: His #1 pick for the Top 10 Worst Movie Cliches.Tuco: When you have to shoot, shoot. Don't talk.
- Willing Suspension of Disbelief: Is a big fan of this practice, and is concerned that modern audiences feel the need to nitpick anything that isn't 100% logical.James: The Indiana Jones movies are all entitled to some dumb moments. They recapture the spirit of the old adventure serials that came out during the Great Depression and World War II. Audiences were looking to escape the real world and forget their troubles. And that's what movies are all about: Entertainment. But today, audiences are far more critical, have less imagination, and aren't as willing to suspend their disbelief. And that is the death of cinema.
- With Lyrics: The second intro sequence to Cinemassacre Video takes the Fresh Music Library track "The Hero is Here" and adds lyrics to them.