Mystery Science Theater 3000: C/D, S/D.

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It's about time, too.

Michael Daddino, Saturday, 12 January 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Oh *please*, you ask this of me? What episodes *don't* I have on tape?

So gloriously fucking classic it hurts, period, etc. To explain why -- I always loved really bad movies, they're great. Seeing bad movies trashed by people who obviously had brains but weren't afraid of cheap shots either seemed like perfection, and the fact that the perpetrators were seemingly calm Minnesotans who had a clear and total loathing for bullshit of all sorts -- societal, cultural, political, philosophical - - made it all the more fun. Still my favorite ever TV show.

Search -- um, everything. Some episodes you don't need to see as many times, though, and sometimes ones that weren't as great initially become great with time. My Top Ten List At Present:

Manos, The Hands of Fate -- "Honey, I'm scared." "Of WHAT?"

The Starfighters -- "Bob Dornan, wild at heart."

Mitchell -- "She was going to smell like beer sooner or later."

Teenage Strangler -- "I didn't steal no bike neither!"

Overdrawn at the Memory Bank -- "My nuts?"

Red Zone Cuba -- "You and your swank restaurant and your chichi frog's legs!"

Agent From H.A.R.M. -- "There's the windup...and there's the smarm!"

Werewolf -- "C'mon, dead people know what's going to happen next!"

The Starfighters -- "I like coffee."

Pod People -- "Trumpy! You can do MAGIC things!"

Subject to change, but that's a good starter pack right there, along with Eegah!, Jack Frost, Parts: The Clonus Horror, Monster a Go-Go, The Girl in Gold Boots...

Ned Raggett, Sunday, 13 January 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Oh yeah, and Deathstalker, naturally.

Ned Raggett, Sunday, 13 January 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

I absolutely adore this show, though I've only been able to see Sci- Fi episodes and only a handful of them at that due to infernal copyright issues (any channel wishing to broadcast it needs rights to both the episode and the film, thus only about 18 eps have been shown in the UK). So my knowledge of MST3K is very limited, but I'll add my vote to Overdrawn At The Memory Bank and Agent From H.A.R.M. - as for episodes to destroy, I haven't seen any eps that are bad but apparently the KTMA ones weren't that good, so destroy them.

Chris Lyons, Sunday, 13 January 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

First, the lowdown. Classic? Oh my, yes.

Search

Favorite Episode Available on Rihno: I Accuse My Parents or Catalina Caper. Favorite Episode Overall: Alien From L.A.. Favorite Short: The Days of Our Years. Favorite Riff Sequences: The Beau Brummels at the Whiskey-A-Go-Go in Village of the Giants and Fat Linda Rondstadt in The Incredible Melting Man. Favorite Riff: The Albert Goldman/Greil Marcus ref in The Pod People and the "...Massapequa, Massapequa Park, Amityville, Copaigue, Lindenhurst and Babylon. Change at Jamaica for..." line in The Beatniks.

Destroy

The fifteen-minute promo they did for Nintendo; the "sandwich" sketch at the end of The Undead; the long string of lesbian jokes in Racket Girls; and, ultimately, the movie, which while v. good, probably should never have been made; and finally, the various asinine copyright issues that pretty much will ensure its limited availability in non-bootleg form to future generations.

Michael Daddino, Sunday, 13 January 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

The fifteen-minute promo they did for Nintendo

Herein a mystery -- what is this? Given that they're such gaming addicts I'm not surprised they did it...

Ned Raggett, Sunday, 13 January 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

I made a boo-boo. It was actually for Playstation Magazine. Riffing was good, as you can imagine, but it was genuinely painful to watch them hawk stuff. Kinda odd that I can't find more info about it.

Michael Daddino, Sunday, 13 January 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Any film with Joe Don Baker or John Phillip Law is an absolute classic.

But if I'm being honest, I love nearly every one. The only one I think I would destroy is Hamlet, because the adaptation was so static and dull it was hard to make jokes from.

Nicole, Sunday, 13 January 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Oh, and Ned should definitely make me some tapes. The ones on sci-fi I see all the time, but I miss the old episodes.

Nicole, Sunday, 13 January 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Arrangements can be made. I need to get a second VCR for dubbing purposes first, though...

Ned Raggett, Sunday, 13 January 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

And yes, I did forget Space Mutiny, didn't I? "HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH!"

Ned Raggett, Sunday, 13 January 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Additional Commentary

I brought the subject up because I think it's high time we discussed it at length. A lot of Americans on ILx are pretty vocal about their MST3K-love, but for obvious reasons, much of the UK posse have never even seen the show. Those who have only know the Sci-Fi era shows (and can't get Rhino tapes, either), so they're only getting part of the fun.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not a Comedy-Central purist at all. The primary reason I got slowly peeved at the AOL NY MST3K contingent was because they were by and large vehemently Anti-Mike, going on and on about how the show was a bunch of boring crap now and how cute and sexy Joel was. I just couldn't see it. Admittedly, though, by the time MST3K left CC, the show's early, woozy charm had long faded away -- but it was replaced by something else that, while slick, was still awfully entertaining. (Charm isn't everything.) At the other end of the history spectrum, the KTMAs aren't bad at all, but all woozy charm and few laffs. Still, that won't matter if you're already a fan.

The worst movie they ever did was, easily, Monster A Go-Go. Scroungily overamped "What'd I Say"-rip at the beginning, but looooong stretches of black & white nothingness punctuated by perhaps the most infuriating cinematic anticlimax ever. Next in line is Manos: The Hands of Fate. It's my impression that MST3K almost single-handedly velcroed this flick onto the Canon of Bad Movies, and that's a good thing, because it's a startling artifact with a great story behind it.

Favorite Sci-Fi-era Episode: Jack Frost. Indeed, every episode involving a children's movie is sterling.

Best Acting in a MST3K Episode: Beverly Garland reads the riot act to The Celery From Outer Space in It Conquered The World. Bela Lugosi tells a fellow scientist off in Bride of the Monster.

Crow vs. Crow: Trace-Crow is more neurotic, Bill-Crow is more snide, yet once Bill got in the groove, I seriously think they were in equal in goodness.

Joel vs. Mike:

Extraneous thought: if in some alternative universe Catalina Caper was a good, no, GREAT movie, the Avalanches' album would be its soundtrack. Perhaps we could kindly suggest to Tim Burton a remake...

Michael Daddino, Sunday, 13 January 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

it's a startling artifact with a great story behind it.

I was going to throw in a link to the article with all the info, but dammit, it's expired! Your vision of a new Catalina Caper thrills and disturbs my soul.

Ned Raggett, Sunday, 13 January 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Although I should at least throw in a link to the more or less official fan site, the Satellite News.

Ned Raggett, Sunday, 13 January 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

The Manos article is here.

Michael Daddino, Sunday, 13 January 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

That's one of the reasons I could never get into any of the MST3K fan discussions/forums online, they all seem to suffer from this irrational hatred of Mike. It's so silly and pedantic. What's so wrong with liking Joel and Mike?

Nicole, Sunday, 13 January 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Why do you say the movie should not have been made, Mike?

Josh, Sunday, 13 January 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

For one, the movie didn't make any money, partly because Gramercy concentrated its promotional efforts on the Pamela Anderson vehicle Barb-Wire, which ended up belly-flopping anyway. Plus, I got this impression from some recent interview with a member of Best Brains (can't remember where I saw this) that they all ended up regretting ever making the thing in the first place. The whole process was too arduous and distracting and they had to deal with all the asshole suits who prided themselves on having a certain level of hepness, yet told BB to take out a joke about Bootsy Collins because they didn't know who was.

Michael Daddino, Sunday, 13 January 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

The other weird indulgence of the AOL MSTies was the tongue-lashing Sampo, a.k.a. Chris Cornell (the mst3kinfo.com guy, not the Soundgarden guy), recieved on a regular basis. People seemed real irritated at the fact that he assumed the role of King of All MSTies rather quickly, and I attribute that to minor professional jealousy and peevishness over his pro-Mike stance, all caught in a spiral of ever-amplifying regicidal loathing that you often see online. (Sampo's sometime pomposity didn't help either.) Pettiness a go-go.

Michael Daddino, Sunday, 13 January 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

dude, fuck all that. after joel left the show totally went to shit. joel really wanted to create a feeling with story /characters and consistancy. mike was just a hired writer. i think i read someone saying in another thread "after a while if felt like the ones running the show just didnt get 'it' "

chaki, Monday, 14 January 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

As so many of us are such pynchon junkies, here's a great mst3k & pynchon link.

i is brit and loving the mst3k. it can grate if you're not in the right mood, but fuck that for a game of toy soldiers. I also liked the film (riffing on This Island Earth -- fave bit is when the alien is explaining about the fate of his planet "a-huh, yeah, yup... got ya... a-huh"

Alan Trewartha, Monday, 14 January 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

In point of fact, Mike wasn't merely a "hired writer": as early as the second season, he was the Head Writer. Since MST3K was always a group effort, I think it's difficult to pinpoint one person who was responsible for any particular characteristic of the show. (Two obvious exceptions, of course, are the whole Gizmonics Institute business and the idea for the Invention Exchange.) So he may share some responsibility with Joel H. for creating the rather paternal relationship between Joel R. & the 'bots -- a relationship which, for obvious reasons, would be altered once Mike replaced Joel R. the SOL.

Michael Daddino, Monday, 14 January 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

The funniest episode of MST3K I've ever seen is a Gammora movie that we watched on KTMA backstage during a high school show choir competition. I can't remember the name of the movie, but the bad monster was a giant gumball machine and the episode contained one of my favorite riffs ever (7-YEAR-OLD GIRL: I love you, Gamora! CROW: Keep your shirt on, honey.). Most of the others I've seen have come from the Sci-Fi years, but "Manos" is definitely classic. I will also put in a vote for "Overdrawn At The Memory Bank" if only because it's fun to watch Raul Julia in something embarrassing, plus "Squirm" and "The Final Sacrifice".

Dan Perry, Monday, 14 January 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

I loved Overdrawn At The Memory Bank as a child. I believe I still have a video on it somewhere doubling up with Max Headroom.

Pete, Monday, 14 January 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Ah, the AOL MSTie days. Got my first stalker out of that bunch.

Anyway, I adored the show. Was a staunch Mike defender in the Mike v. Joel days, now I'm not so sure. Favorite bit (of all time): "Are You Happy In Your Work?"

Colin Meeder, Monday, 14 January 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

What the fuck are you doing here, Colin? :)

Michael Daddino, Monday, 14 January 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Dan -- you saw a KTMA on the air? I envy and worship you, my liege.

Colin -- yeah, I remember you were torgotback@aol.com, but the stalking? No, not that.

The boards also attracted a number of true mental cases, most unforgettably KeijiKJ. He was similar to Gondola Blob in that he indulged in casebook net.kook behavior: delusions of professionalism, snottily dismissive of any random thing, threw around the word "clique" a lot. I've even heard stories that he scared the bejesus out of BB members during the first con. I personally had a thoroughly pointless argument with him about the population of the cities in California.

Concerning Mike, I'll say this: there are quite a few times during the Sci-Fi-era when he seemed to be sending out his performance via Fed Ex. Sad, because it was clear after CC he was capable of much better. But you know, a lot of the Sci-Fi-era episodes that initially seemed kinda minor and kinda eh to me now strike me as being thoroughly solid.

Michael Daddino, Monday, 14 January 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

That was my first exposure to MST3K. I had no idea that it was going to become so huge; I only thought that snarky Minnesotans would find it funny!

Dan Perry, Monday, 14 January 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Well, you're lucky and we hate you. There. ;-)

I'm waiting on Mike's next collection of essays and novel myself. The Megacheese collection was a scream.

Ned Raggett, Monday, 14 January 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Michael: With you and Dave R. here, it was simply a matter of time.

Stalking resulted from an unfortunate IRL encounter with a nice enough person. I thought it was a lovely afternoon, she thought it was TRUE LOVE FOREVER. Eek. The story resolved harmlessly enough -- she found TRUE LOVE FOREVER again with another MSTie, and this time it was returned.

Colin Meeder, Monday, 14 January 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

What the hell do I have to do with anything, Mr. Meeder? I've never seen you before in my life! (Weren't you supposed to get me a job?)

MST3K was never that big a part of my life - I watched it sporadically, and I always seemed to be in the wrong state of mind to truly enjoy it. I'll side with the Joel phreex, though, just because bald is sexy. (I'm getting sexier by the minute.)

David Raposa, Monday, 14 January 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

DR: I'll side with the Joel phreex, though, just because bald is sexy. (I'm getting sexier by the minute.)

But wasn't Mike balder than Joel? I'm confused. No matter. I'm balder than both, and I agree with David.

Brian MacDonald, Monday, 14 January 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

I'm watching Rocketship X-M right now and it looks as if Joel is balder than Mike. I agree wholeheartedly that BALD(ING) = SEXXXY (my real and imaginary boyfriends are testament to this) but Joel really isn't bald enough to be sexy-bald.

Michael Daddino, Monday, 14 January 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

grr, watch it daddino.

ethan, Monday, 14 January 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Le huh?

Michael Daddino, Monday, 14 January 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Let me second Ned's Mike Nelson's Movie Megacheese rec. Even if you don't like or are not familiar with MST3K it is an extrodinarily funny take on a lot of overblown movies of the 80s and 90s.

Nicole, Tuesday, 15 January 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Had you gotten that job I mentioned, David, you'd have been laid off about five months ago. So I did you a favor by being a hopeless slacker.

I think that my slight preference for Joel has something to do with a sense that the guy's a bit . . . off, where Mike is merely charming and funny.

Colin Meeder, Tuesday, 15 January 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Merely? I wouldn't go that far, though he certainly projects more immediate affability. But every so often he comes out with something or takes on a role that makes you a bit nervous. Thus, when he wigged out about his old temp job in one episode, and in Time Chasers where he played his drunk angry brother or cousin, I forget which. Sure, it's a role, but he inhabited them rather well. ;-)

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 15 January 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Sampo once remarked that in interview, one can sense that there's something very dark and private about Mike just percolating below the surface, and that's colored my impression of him ever since. One thing to remember: "I suffer from excruciating headaches that dozens of neurologists have tried unsuccessfully to treat. I think I might be possessed."

Michael Daddino, Tuesday, 15 January 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

I appreciate the fact that both Mike and Bridget are very private about their home life, but from the sound of it from some of Bridget's comments it's a very happy family, lots of singing and nuttiness and fun with their kids. A good reminder that the show was, after all, just a performance.

But yes, Mike has the angst in there somewhere. He just tempers it very beautifully -- thus his legendary turn as Morrissey.

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 15 January 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Fair enough -- Mike probably *is* a churning cauldren of angst. But I think he (and his rage) are probrably more based in reality, where Joel strikes me as more otherworldly. Which I prefer (slightly, only ever so slightly) in humor.

Colin Meeder, Thursday, 17 January 2002 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

one year passes...
Oh, about time for a revival (thanks in part to a recent link from Mike D.). Actually, there were a number of episodes I didn't have, mostly from the sixth season, but my Seattle trip has given me the chance to dub a lot of those from Brian's collection, yay me. Plus I finally have Daddy-O and Fugitive Alien, that took long enough!

To add to the book recommendations -- Mike N.'s general essay book Mind Over Matters is another fine read (the TV essay alone is some kinda genius, the mock 19th century novel even more so), while I very much liked Kevin Murphy's A Year at the Movies. Chris Piuma mentioned he felt it was fairly Joe Queenan-like and therefore not as distinct as it could be, but I think it was handled very well and worked as both microstudy of the moviegoing experience and general reflection. Certainly any of the ILF/film-going hounds on this board should consider reading/borrowing a copy, at least. Then there's Mike's new novel Death Rat, which I really need to order next month...

And praise to all the other castmembers doing things and the continual rolling out of more DVDs, though apparently Rhino says they've exhausted what they have the rights to right now and are looking into securing more, hopefully...

Ned Raggett (Ned), Sunday, 25 May 2003 15:08 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

...although a quick check of the SatNews link sez there's some sort of further DVD thing coming out later this year, hm! Good thing to know. Also, anyone in Minneapolis can go to a writing workshop taught by Mary Jo Pehl next month, which I think would be great (I'm an unabashed fan of hers but she seems to really grate for a lot of MSTies...).

Ned Raggett (Ned), Sunday, 25 May 2003 15:11 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

is this ever shown in the UK?

mark s (mark s), Sunday, 25 May 2003 15:12 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

It may still be on the Sci-Fi Channel UK, but your best bet is to go on S0ulS33k and download entire episodes (which are about 700MB a pop, FWIW).

Michael Daddino (epicharmus), Sunday, 25 May 2003 15:16 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I've never come across it here, Mark - but I have never had the Sci-Fi Channel.

Martin Skidmore (Martin Skidmore), Sunday, 25 May 2003 15:21 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

It was certainly on (late night) on the Sci-Fi channel a couple of years ago.

N. (nickdastoor), Sunday, 25 May 2003 15:24 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Michael, I kiss you! I had no idea there were mst3k episodes on soulseek.

Nicole (Nicole), Sunday, 25 May 2003 15:34 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Yeah, that sounds great, rah Mike! Nicole, I might be able to help with dubbing too though I still need a second VCR, but also please drop me a line about another possible source...

Ned Raggett (Ned), Sunday, 25 May 2003 15:52 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

FYI, Best Brains Inc. has its own little shop with some non-Rhino treasures. I highly recommend "Mr. B's Lost Shorts" which has the hands-down best short, "Mr. B Natural" - you know, the one with the ridiculously perky, questionably-gendered Neverland shill for Conn brass instruments.

"Bad touch."
"Does this mean I like guys now?"
"I feel ill."
"Spanking time!"

http://www.mst3kinfo.com/satnews/catalog/Basement.htm
http://www.mst3kinfo.com/daddyo/images/mrb5.JPG

Ernest P. (ernestp), Sunday, 25 May 2003 15:58 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I caught Overdrawn at the Memory Back and Warrior of the Lost World. I don't remember watching them before. A good time was had.

Einstein, Bazinga, Sitar (abanana), Friday, 24 November 2017 22:18 (ten months ago) Permalink

i'm irrationally fond of warrior of the lost world... maybe it's the talking motorcycle. got funnier after i visited corviale and realized that nearly all the locations were just that, under construction. or sometimes nearby office buildings of the same vintage.

gimme the beet poison, free my soul (Doctor Casino), Friday, 24 November 2017 22:26 (ten months ago) Permalink

Warrior of the Lost World is so much fun, and that motorbike is hilar

Squeaky Fromage (VegemiteGrrl), Saturday, 25 November 2017 01:57 (ten months ago) Permalink

"Awww, now how does he know they're bad mothers?"

gimme the beet poison, free my soul (Doctor Casino), Saturday, 25 November 2017 02:07 (ten months ago) Permalink

...and the bad fathers who love them

YouTube_-_funy_cats.flv (Jimmy The Mod Awaits The Return Of His Beloved), Saturday, 25 November 2017 02:08 (ten months ago) Permalink

ANY FRUIT TO DECLARE

Squeaky Fromage (VegemiteGrrl), Saturday, 25 November 2017 02:10 (ten months ago) Permalink

MEGAWEAPON!

Ned Raggett, Saturday, 25 November 2017 02:26 (ten months ago) Permalink

So our own tylerw posted this on Twitter, a nice little snapshot of a moment:

NYC, December 1967 pic.twitter.com/Mza9TLYnqS

— Tyler Wilcox (@tywilc) November 27, 2017

But I'm posting it here because note what is the other film on the bill with Dylan's _Don't Look Back_ there.

Ned Raggett, Monday, 27 November 2017 21:54 (ten months ago) Permalink

If only they could have gotten Dylan onto that party boat. Hijinks ensue!

gimme the beet poison, free my soul (Doctor Casino), Monday, 27 November 2017 22:14 (ten months ago) Permalink

They already had Little Richard!

Screamin' Jay Gould (The Yellow Kid), Monday, 27 November 2017 22:19 (ten months ago) Permalink

Such a strange film. That one band covers a Ray Davies song that the Kinks might not have recorded themselves, I think.

Ned Raggett, Monday, 27 November 2017 22:25 (ten months ago) Permalink

Anyway I'm just trying to imagine who would go see that in 1967 and honestly enjoy both films. (These days, yes.)

Ned Raggett, Monday, 27 November 2017 22:26 (ten months ago) Permalink

one month passes...

The Avalanche episode is decent, though I agree with what was said upthread about their not always knowing the best way to fill the many blank spaces in action and incident that the film leaves. The best joke: "Tonya Harding in Sophie's Choice on Ice!

Avalanche itself is a truly dreadful film, btw. It has everything that I hate about the disaster genre--the sadistic deaths of random extra characters, the way these films always busy themselves with boring relationship melodramas as filler before the disaster happens--in addition to just feeling lazy and undercooked: the genre was obviously breathing its last gasps in 1978 (or, this first wave of disaster movies, at least) and this movie just felt like a quickie last-ditch cash-in on a movement that already running on fumes by the time this would have gone into production. Occasionally, I come away from some of these episodes with a tiny bit of affection for the films being skewered (say what you will about the nutso Cry Wilderness, but it is certainly trying to be...something), but this is precisely the kind of junk product that truly deserves the thrashing the show gives it.

iCloudius (cryptosicko), Tuesday, 9 January 2018 03:46 (nine months ago) Permalink

two months pass...

Watched the Starcrash episode today. My favourite thing about it was that I wasn't always sure if some of the Southern (???) robot's lines were actually in the film or just part of the riffing.

Whatever they paid Plummer, it wasn't enough.

Dangleballs and the Ballerina (cryptosicko), Tuesday, 27 March 2018 00:44 (six months ago) Permalink

"...halt the flow of TIME!"

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 27 March 2018 01:28 (six months ago) Permalink

i love Starcrash. it is worth watching without riffs imo. if you decide to do so there is an extended international cut that is even funnier, as some scenes were cut short and there are additional lines/reactions.

also it's kind of funny that Star Wars has now ripped off Starcrash.

Hazy Maze Cave (Adam Bruneau), Tuesday, 27 March 2018 14:07 (six months ago) Permalink

two months pass...

this podcast on WFMU, Night People, has an interview with Joel Hodgson from September 29, 2014:

http://wfmu.org/playlists/NP
https://wfmu.org/archiveplayer/?show=57497&archive=113880&starttime=

in the interview he says he initially got the idea for the show from an illustration in the gatefold art for Elton John's "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" LP. the image in question:

https://i.imgur.com/rF2edhdm.jpg

Hazy Maze Cave (Adam Bruneau), Friday, 22 June 2018 17:32 (three months ago) Permalink

Yup, been part of the lore for a while -- nice to see this again though!

Ned Raggett, Friday, 22 June 2018 17:37 (three months ago) Permalink

Neat!

Evan, Friday, 22 June 2018 18:19 (three months ago) Permalink

one month passes...

I was probably wrong to side with Fujiwara upthread. These days, I dig MST3K a little bit more than the entire concept of movies.
― Eric H., Friday, November 2, 2007 1:28 PM (ten years ago)

The pendulum. It always swings.

I Never Promised You A Hose Harden (Eric H.), Friday, 27 July 2018 16:10 (two months ago) Permalink

(Informed by a re-read of the infamous article.)

I Never Promised You A Hose Harden (Eric H.), Friday, 27 July 2018 16:10 (two months ago) Permalink

Which I'm posting here in its fullness because it's no longer on the original site, far as I can tell.

One sign of the death of the cinema is the zombie-like persistence of the "bad film" cult that rose to public-nuisance status in the late Seventies, feasting noisily on things like the Ed Wood films. From the start, this was just an especially obnoxious manifestation of a general intolerance for films that try to free themselves from the dominant mode of cinematic realism.Thus it's but a short step from sneering at the budgetary deficiencies of Plan 9 from Outer Space to scoffing at, e.g.:

1. Any non-state-of-the-art special effects and visions of the future, even though these things date themselves anyway from period to period, and future generations may find Independence Day less "realistic" (whatever that will mean) than the 1956 aliens-smash-the-state programmer of which it is an unacknowledged remake, Earth vs. the Flying Saucers;

2. Overtly non-realistic visual and acting style used for expressive purposes, as in Soviet master S. M. Eisenstein's outrageous Ivan the Terrible, which uses actors' bodies as components of a delirious architecture;

3. "Implausible" plots like Vertigo—as if we're supposed to ignore the holes in the stories Hollywood tells now just because men don't wear ties to walk around the block and no shot lasts longer than 1.4 seconds—and "banal" ones like the potboiler-like thriller stories from which Orson Welles made his superb Lady from Shanghai, and Touch of Evil—as if Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripedes working together could have come up with an original story or cared less about it;

4. Mythic dialogue and situations like those in Rebel Without a Cause and Douglas Sirk's Written on the Wind, The Tarnished Angels, and Imitation of Life, whose emotional power intimidates audiences lulled by the rituals of appeasement enacted in nighttime soap operas.

The irrelevant yocks that frequently greet the films just mentioned when they show at a revival house or a college auditorium are the voice of a viewing public paralyzed by fear, desperate for any externalization of a comforting "distance" to protect them from recognizing their own anxieties writ large in the image unspooling from the past not dead enough to suit them.

Such a distance is abundantly provided by the robots on the cable (now also broadcast-syndicated) show Mystery Science Theater 3000, devoted to stomping on "the worst movies ever made." The big gimmick (the "plot" behind which isn't worth explaining) is that these robots are sitting in a mockup of a theater and we the lucky TV audience are watching the films from over their shoulders and ostensibly being entertained by their scornful running commentary. The numbing, irritating effect thus achieved is not unlike watching a Josef vos Sternberg film in the eighth row of the Brattle Theater in Harvard Square the week after midterms. What is most amazing about MST3K (the acronyum preferred by the show's adherents) is that the robots can blather on for an hour without saying anything witty or interesting—and people can't get enough of them! (As of this writing, MST3K, which has been in hiatus, is due to be "revived" in new episodes [it was—ed]; meanwhile, the repeats are still shown contantly on Comedy Central.)

(A similar dead-end sensation can be found by watching what is supposed to pass for heady, unsettling stuff in recent cinema. I refer to the ubiquitous superficial irony that has become the stock-in-trade of Robert Altman, the Coen Brothers, and many less skillful directors, the maddening profusion of brain-eating detail in one of Terry Gilliam's nasty conceits, and the pompous theatricalized events of Peter Greenaway.)

I'd like one of the misties (in-group code for the shows devotees) to explain to me (a letter in care of the editor of this magazine will do, thanks) why if these mechanical creeps are such Oscar Wildes don't they take on something just a bit juicier, a tad more worthy of their withering satire than The Beasts of Yucca Flats. What about, say, Fellini's La Dolce Vita? There's a film that has everything the robots love to disdain: pretentious dialogue, long dull stretches, and people with funny clothes and big asses. Obviously, the contempt for cinema, history, and the audience that fuels the whole robot insanity can be applied to low-budget horror and exploitation filmmaking.

MST3K isn't really about "bad movies" anyway. This is proved by the choice of 1955's This Island Earth as the film basted in Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie, the recent theatrical spinoff from the show. In a kinder, gentler era of genre film appreciation (whose tone was set by Forrest J. Ackerman, the benevolent editor of Famous Monsters of Filmland), This Island Earth was regarded as a classic. Whatever you think about the film, to rank it one of "the worst movies ever made" is clearly absurd. Of the 30,000 features released in the United States from 1915 to 1960, This Island Earth is probably in the top 3,000-4,000. Considering that countless films have been made since (most of them bad in ways that could scarcely have been imagined in 1955), I would guess that This Island Earth is sitting comfortably in the top five percent of all films.

(That's right, I'm saying that 19 out of every 20 films are worse than This Island Earth. Prove me wrong.) Why pick on This Island Earth? To raise the intellectual stakes a little ? Probably not—it's doubtful that many members of the intended audience of MST3K:TM had ever heard of This Island Earth or could distinguish it from Rocky Jones, Space Ranger. Anyway, the level of humor in MST3K:TM is preposterously low: roughly a third of the robots' remarks are alarmed, sniggering references to homosexuality, putdowns of the hero's sidekick's virility, and other manifestations of male adolescent sex-role anxiety. (Another third are mostly farting and toilet jokes, which possibly belong to the same category.) In its treatment of Faith Domergue's sexy scientist, This Island Earth may betray what we now recognize as the sexism of the Fifties, but what are we to make of the fact that the woman aboard the MST3K spacceship is a maternal vacuum cleaner with no arms? MST3K is obsessed with sexuality and afraid of it. The absence of women highlights the show's treehouse psychology.

MST3K's use of robots for heroes is no accident. MST3K's sarcasm at the expense of the past is techno-elitism at its most self-congratulatory, asserting mastery through acts of cultural misrecognition. Perhaps the reason the MST3K people despise so much that they choose to mount an attack on it in the nation's theaters is that they're disturbed by the way the film reduces the unimaginable future of interplanetary communication to the level of an erector set. MST3K's creators, who resemble science nerds using their first grant as an excuse to lord it over their former peers, would probably be thrilled to be drafted for a totalitarian planet's nuclear program (the fate of the protagonists of This Island Earth).

The robots on the bottom of the MST3K screen are scotomas that indicate a more fundamental visual disturbance, the inability to see anything in films except the same things over and over again: hot women, men who match masculine stereotypes either too well or not enough, and supposed defects of representation (too slow, too cheap-looking, not realistic enough, etc.).

Then there's The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Amazing Colossal Episode Guide. Just as MST3K represents a depressing low in "golden turkey" television, TMST3KACEG marks a stupefying new milestone in "golden turkey" film books by having no information about any film, apart from short, inaccurate plot summaries. Instead, the book recounts supposed highlights of the robots' parasitic interventions and explains how the robots behind the robots "strived to make [the films] funny." Readers are thus treated to 172 large-format, haute-design pages filled with pointless descriptions of robot skits and unreadable writing-room anecdotes ("I recall this episode as being the first time we decided to write sketches having nothing to do with the movie..." —from the section on Monster a-Go-Go). Nauseatingly self-important, TMST3KACEG leaves wide open the door I wish had remained shut; I expect to see a new wave of film books that focus on the writers' bus rides home.

The book exposes the cluelessness behind the smug sensibility evident on the show. MST3K writer Kevin Murphy proclaims reverence for Frank Zappa (and in real goo-talk yet: "When all his tapes are played and his music is studied, I'm guessing he'll go down as one of the finest composers and performers of the century," p. 109) but makes fun of an angry viewer for wanting to hear Eddie Cochran in Untamed Youth without robots talking (p.16). It makes sense that someone who thinks it's cool to put robots in front of The Killer Shrews would have no problem revealing in print that he thinks the composer of "Don't Eat Yellow Snow" and "St. Alphonzo's Pancake Breakfast" is a greater artist than the man who recorded "Something Else" and "Nervous Breakdown."

There's nothing new about MST3K—it's just a tasteless crossbreeding of the tradition of the TV horror host (Zacherle, Ghoulardi, the Ghoul, Elvira) and the "Golden Turkey" way of misreading films that was codified by inane right-wing reviewer Michael Medved and his equally vapid brother, Harry. All this comes indirectly from the surrealists, but the MST3K robots, following their idols the Medveds rather than André Breton and Ado Kyrou, deny and trivialize the power of strange films to disturb, confuse, and give hope.

It's time the "bad movies" movement died a quiet death. This goes not just for MST3K-style vendettas against low-budget films but also for the would-be more sophisticated "camp" onslaught against glossy major productions like "Valley of the Dolls" and the Delmer Daves-Troy Donahue cycle (A Summer Place, Susan Slade, etc.). Of the many possible ways of enjoying a film that deviates from standard criteria of adequacy, the least interesting is to treat it as a source of unintentional humor. Robot Monster, The Sinister Urge, The Brain That Wouldn't Die, Hercules and the Captive Women, It Conquered the World, Attack of the Giant Leeches, Aleksandr Ptushko's fantasy films—"bad" as some of these films may be (although many of them are, in fact, "good"), all of them will be admired long after their potential for robot humor has been exhausted (i.e., starting right now) for the unique aesthetic experiences , strange personal visions, and precious cultural documentation they offer.

Someone should invent MST3K glasses with the robots printed on the bottoms of the lenses for people to wear to movies, except that it would be unnecessary, since the robots are already built into the cognitive and aesthetic faculties of an entire culture. MST3K assumes its audienes are so impotent that they can't enjoy even "bad" films first hand but can derive pleasure from them only over the shoulders of robots.

I Never Promised You A Hose Harden (Eric H.), Friday, 27 July 2018 16:16 (two months ago) Permalink

Still think he has no idea about how comedy can work, but if it was just the newer incarnation of the show he was addressing I'd be more understanding.

Ned Raggett, Friday, 27 July 2018 16:19 (two months ago) Permalink

Reads like early eruption of the contemporary irony backlash

devops mom (silby), Friday, 27 July 2018 16:22 (two months ago) Permalink

I recall reading some article or maybe just Dr Morbius complaining about young people laughing inappropriately during movies and maybe that’s to do with our irony-poisoned culture but it might also be perfectly okay to just laugh at anything, idk.

devops mom (silby), Friday, 27 July 2018 16:25 (two months ago) Permalink

it's ok not to like mst3k, fella. more for the rest of us. never read that article before, but what a load. "vendettas"!!! lol. ned's right, though. he should've waited a few years and tried to stomach rifftrax and the others. just zapping all the fun out of the whole thing. imo.

andrew m., Friday, 27 July 2018 16:32 (two months ago) Permalink

Hercules and the Captive Women and "precious cultural documentation" in the same sentence.

andrew m., Friday, 27 July 2018 16:34 (two months ago) Permalink

Reads like early eruption of the contemporary irony backlash

I do think there's something there tbh.

I Never Promised You A Hose Harden (Eric H.), Friday, 27 July 2018 16:39 (two months ago) Permalink

Head writer of season 11 Elliot Kalan pointed out on an episode of his podcast The Flop House that the truth is you can make fun of any movie, not only “bad” movies. Which seems perfectly true. Maybe it’s distancing but it’s also a potentially cogent formalist close reading of the artifice of film. The robot shadows make the film-object obvious, and prevent us from falling into the experience as we would otherwise—certainly that is a distancing mechanism. But it also facilitated the analysis of a movie as a collage of parts. Busting apart the temporal continuity and spatial totality of the film-viewing experience makes it possible to riff on—that is, to read—the component elements that a film is built of. Each cliche, type, washed-up movie star, technical infelicity can be riffed on, and the spectacle thereby disassembled. Surely not the only way to read a movie, but it’s a way.

We just watched all the Hammer Draculas at my house in the last month or so (though I only caught about half of them) and it was impossible to resist the temptation to ironize. The red paint and raspberry jam are tough to take at face value. Christopher Lee as Dracula isn’t just Dracula, he is “Christopher Lee as Dracula”. Heck they even reused the name “Paul” in two consecutive movies. But irony-poisoned though we were we weren’t dismissing these movies or rendering them inert. Isn’t it more condescending to talk about the raspberry jam without laughing? Can you even see it without laughing about it?

devops mom (silby), Friday, 27 July 2018 16:41 (two months ago) Permalink

The biggest failure of the essay is not thinking the robots are ever funny, and/or that the jokes are always about how the movie is bad. The latter are usually the weakest and least-loved lines, I think.

This is a total Jeff Porcaro. (Doctor Casino), Friday, 27 July 2018 18:00 (two months ago) Permalink

when it comes to consumer policing (telling you HOW you should be consuming something) people tend start from a bad premise (ie. MST3K is about making fun of bad movies for being bad) and just line up the dots. add in further bad consumption evidence (gasp - he likes Zappa!) and let your lazy assumptions do the rest.

MST3K is about more than ha ha it's bad. i don't think it's about distance necessarily either, often the shitty b movies that fill their schedule were made to best be appreciated in between makeout sessions, the plots and characters all stock for economy of production and story, etc. ironically some of the best riffs are when they get even more invested in the story than is to be expected, asking questions that the filmmakers didn't consider necessary or important to explain.

Hazy Maze Cave (Adam Bruneau), Saturday, 28 July 2018 15:56 (two months ago) Permalink

yes. i also think it's important to keep in mind that the creators had been weaned on these films/genres/archetypes. as gen x-ers growing up amid the three networks plus UHF stations, they actually would have sat around watching this stuff as the late-night movie, not to mention all the stuff that actually came out when they were kids/teens and was targeted at them in the first place. they've inhabited these films, their values, their pacing, their sense of what counts for plot or characterization. it's not as simple as digging up something they know nothing about and adopting an easy, distant attitude of superiority. maybe with some of the really, really old shorts, or I Accuse My Parents, i guess, but pretty sure they probably encountered that stuff in the course of life too.

This is a total Jeff Porcaro. (Doctor Casino), Saturday, 28 July 2018 21:29 (two months ago) Permalink

Head writer of season 11 Elliot Kalan pointed out on an episode of his podcast The Flop House that the truth is you can make fun of any movie, not only “bad” movies. Which seems perfectly true.

― devops mom (silby)

you can make fun of every kind of movie, but as the mst3k writers point out in the book fujiwara takes such offense to, not every film is equally amenable to an mst3k-style treatment - and the criterion which makes a film amenable to it is not "badness". comedies, for instance, fare poorly, as do dialogue-heavy films.

the political critique fujiwara makes is fairly muddled, as political critiques of this sort tend to be. mike nelson, the longtime head writer, has long been publicly known as a conservative, and presumably as a result of conflicts within the show - frank conniff, for instance, is decidedly _not_ a conservative - the show tends to pull back from overt political elements, a stance which was possible in the '90s in a way it isn't now. which doesn't keep them from spending the bulk of an early episode filmed from a heinlein script taking apart its toxic masculinism.

honestly i'd say far from being an either/or thing, mst3k operates more on what tvtropes would refer to as a sliding scale of idealism vs. cynicism - the show can be harsh and brutal in its condemnation, but never as harsh and brutal as a film like "five the hard way" itself - a film which showed another limitation to the show. in this sense the comedy of the show reminds one of the work of someone like james branch cabell, a popular satirist of the 1930s whose work is famously said to have gone out of vogue because there was no room for someone like hitler in his world.

personally i find it useful to understand mst3k in the context of uncritical fan acceptance and adoration. to be a sci-fi fan in those days required one to love crap in a way that it doesn't these days. i am reminded of colin baker's pushback against fans who said they "loved" the bad special effects in the series - "you didn't love them, you tolerated them". this divide is precisely what separates mst3k from frank zappa's "cheepnis" ethos - attempting to make a deliberately bad film, as zappa did multiple times, tends to turn out unutterably awful. whatever one can say of mst3k, hopefully one can acknowledge that it is several orders of magnitude superior to something like the film of _uncle meat_.

in any case, i'd rather watch the mst3k version of fucking castle of fu manchu again than read another listless example of thundering against like fujiwara's. it's a toss-up between fujiwara's articles and _uncle meat_.

Arch Bacon (rushomancy), Sunday, 29 July 2018 01:40 (two months ago) Permalink

one month passes...

Season 12 on Turkey Day

https://news.avclub.com/exclusive-mystery-science-theater-3000-s-new-season-ge-1829297286

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 25 September 2018 15:50 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Is "Well maybe then it's too late" actually future conditional pluperfect subjunctive?

Dan I., Sunday, 30 September 2018 02:29 (two weeks ago) Permalink

New interview with Joel re the new tour (which he's riffing/performing in along with Jonah -- somehow I'd missed that!), Season 12 etc

https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2018/10/joel-hodgson-on-his-mst3k-riffing-revival.html

During the live tour, the MST3K riffers will be tackling several films that were released in 1988, the same year that the show first debuted on Minneapolis public access TV. First up is Canadian monster movie The Brain, “an adorable movie about a giant brain that eats people” in the words of Joel, followed by Deathstalker II.

That is indeed in the same series as the Season 7 Deathstalker and the Warriors From Hell -- that was the third film overall, and needless to say the only point of continuity is the character name (only the first and fourth films had the same actor). Saw it something like 25 years ago -- as well as Warriors From Hell before it was MSTied! Will be out of town when it swings through, oh well.

Long overdue on my part, meantime, but I did finally get around to watching all of Season 11. Truly some amazing garbage films, I think my faves overall as episodes were Cry Wilderness, Avalanche, the two Wizards botches and of course the glory that is Starcrash, but the whole run was solid enough. (If I had a slog it was Carnival Magic, yikes.) But my overall take way back when when I saw the Reptilicus preview pretty much held course over the whole season -- worth it for the terrible movies and the riffing, even if the riffing mostly wasn't as random or deep with the original writer's room. Felicia/Patton always seemed like they were doing a bit and relying on a couple of stock reactions; maybe this next season will help. Yount got into Crow well as the season progressed, I think; Vaughn wasn't quite there but gaining. Gypsy was kinda wasted in her theater appearances, just about all the quips were 'eh.' Jonah's all right I guess.

Ned Raggett, Wednesday, 10 October 2018 18:03 (one week ago) Permalink

Carnival magic was one of those xanax episodes to put on before bed so you pass right out

YouTube_-_funy_cats.flv (Jimmy The Mod Awaits The Return Of His Beloved), Wednesday, 10 October 2018 19:25 (one week ago) Permalink

A perfect description.

Ned Raggett, Wednesday, 10 October 2018 19:51 (one week ago) Permalink

jimmy otm

Squeaky Fromage (VegemiteGrrl), Thursday, 11 October 2018 00:27 (one week ago) Permalink

i got tix to see "the brain" and looked up which "the brain" it was (common name) and it's apparently an allegory on scientology, which sounds good to me. stars cynthia preston, which i am very happy to hear, and tom bresnahan, who apparently isn't the dodgers guy but apparently is a maga chud. anyway looking forward to it!

dub pilates (rushomancy), Thursday, 11 October 2018 13:48 (one week ago) Permalink

BTW, the trailer for Deathstalker II. Says it all

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYyulM9Xzgc

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 11 October 2018 19:45 (one week ago) Permalink

Ned you've never seen Deathstalker 2!? It's a fuckin classic!!!

kurt schwitterz, Thursday, 11 October 2018 20:27 (one week ago) Permalink

No, I have! Reread the bit after the quote in my post.

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 11 October 2018 20:32 (one week ago) Permalink

isn't that movie super rapey? or am i thinking of another conan ripoff

adam the (abanana), Friday, 12 October 2018 08:10 (six days ago) Permalink

Didn’t RLM cover that one?

Glower, Disruption & Pies (kingfish), Friday, 12 October 2018 16:07 (six days ago) Permalink

this seems bad.

sovereignty flight, Friday, 12 October 2018 20:08 (six days ago) Permalink

oh, and the BBFC website has 5 of the 6 titles that will be riffed
SPOILERS BELOW:

Mac and Me, Atlantic Rim, Lords of the Deep, The Day Time Ended, and Ator.

Kinda disappointed that they are doing an Asylum movie, but I am hopeful that they've learned from last season and have slowed the riffing down a bit.

sovereignty flight, Friday, 12 October 2018 20:54 (six days ago) Permalink

xpost That IS weird but there was a follow-up comment:

Hampton said this on Facebook:

"it’s just a money decision that I even kind of understand and I’ll continue to be there as Crow if Netflix picks us up for more. The new season coming is bananas and so,so good. I’ll be fine."

Ned Raggett, Friday, 12 October 2018 21:05 (six days ago) Permalink

Anyway, as for those titles: finally getting the original Ator, eh? Mac and Me, there's a fine choice.

Ned Raggett, Friday, 12 October 2018 21:07 (six days ago) Permalink

Also the Asylum choice does explain that photo with the bots all with jacked up bodies.

Ned Raggett, Friday, 12 October 2018 21:09 (six days ago) Permalink


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