JollyMetaFilter
July 27, 2008 7:17 PM   Subscribe

In the years after leaving MST, Joel Hodgson of Mystery Science Theater, and his "smarter brother" Jim Hodgson, worked on a new movie-repurposing concept for USA Networks. The introduction for the test clip read:
"The Jolly Filter segment is a proof of concept test for a new film process. You will first view 2 minutes of the original film 'Rollercoaster' and then the same 2 minutes utilizing the JollyFilter technique.
"Note: If you find yourself getting bored during the original 'Rollercoaster' footage, don't worry, this is normal."
(SLYT, but an awesome one.)

Via deep ape, via the Cinematic Titanic YouTube channel.
posted by JHarris (50 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'd love to see more of this.
posted by nola at 7:27 PM on July 27, 2008


I can see the potential, although it might be hard to watch two hours of that without some sort of overarching theme to the gags. And I imagine doing that to an entire film would cost quite a bit, especially back in 2000.
posted by Donnie VandenBos at 7:28 PM on July 27, 2008


Turning any "thriller" from the late 1970s into a Max-Fleischeresque gag reel is A-OK in my book.
posted by infinitewindow at 7:32 PM on July 27, 2008


I can see the potential, although it might be hard to watch two hours of that without some sort of overarching theme to the gags.

True. However, it's a great idea, and I hope they get to explore it more. And with better known movies.
posted by Bookhouse at 7:37 PM on July 27, 2008


I don't know, I didn't even come close to laughing once during the gagged-up version. After twenty five years of Airplane clones, it's hard to be very original spoofing movies these days.

I'm so old that I went to Rollercoaster in the theater when it came out and it had SENSEROUND during the coaster scenes.
posted by octothorpe at 7:38 PM on July 27, 2008


Oh that is so very great. The visual equivalent of the audio riffing Joel is known for. I hope he at least used this technique on some public domain short films.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 7:44 PM on July 27, 2008


Hmmm... seems pretty expensive and time consuming, yes, but that's not my biggest problem with it.

I honestly LOL'ed at exactly two points: the first was the "stop struggling" that he muttered to the frog, and the second was the pieces of wood collapsing from the roller coaster as the guy walked along it. Both of those were subversively funny, but if I hadn't watched the original clip, I may have assumed that they were part of the original, and thus wouldn't have laughed.

This is very dependent on either knowing the source material backwards and forwards, which is very unlikely, or else watching a show that deals with this sort of stuff the same way the test does, which as they mention, can be pretty boring as your watching the original as a control group for their experiments.

That said, the clip did make me laugh twice, so that's pretty good.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:48 PM on July 27, 2008


That was great!... it felt like I was watching it through Will Elder's eyes.
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:49 PM on July 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


I loved the "stop struggling" and the "Rollarcoaster! Of Love! Say What?" bits (I don't know that song, so it was unexpected and excellent.) The CGI was, eh. Honestly, I'm a sucker for "film dialogue being dubbed over in silly ways" and anything like that would make me happy.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 7:54 PM on July 27, 2008


I dunno Navelgazer. The test was for USA Networks, which has tons of crappy movies sitting around collecting dust. They could make it something where, late at night, they'd show an entire horrible movie, then after it show the JollyFilter version. Some people would watch the original film just to be able to get the jokes in the "revised" version, and those that didn't care would just watch that.
posted by JHarris at 8:00 PM on July 27, 2008


In trying to raise money for my upcoming move to Austin, TX, I almost put Joey the Lemur up for sale on Ebay. But in the end, I just couldn't do it. (I got him in the big, end of series prop auctions.) I hate to imagine what all this does to my geek factor.

Nice find...I wish there was more.
posted by zylocomotion at 8:14 PM on July 27, 2008


Who keeps binoculars in a tackle box anyway?
posted by netbros at 8:21 PM on July 27, 2008


That really made me laugh -- thanks!
posted by treepour at 8:33 PM on July 27, 2008


I wanted it to be better than it was. It was a cool demo, however.

I think it would work best on really well known movies. Imagine Star Wars Ep. 1 getting this treatment. That, I bet, would be hilarious.
posted by oddman at 9:07 PM on July 27, 2008


They could make it something where, late at night, they'd show an entire horrible movie, then after it show the JollyFilter version. Some people would watch the original film just to be able to get the jokes in the "revised" version, and those that didn't care would just watch that.

You're talking about stoners, aren't you?
posted by forallmankind at 9:11 PM on July 27, 2008 [4 favorites]


There are guys who riff on films in their basement or living room. Then there are guys who can do it on a level that attracts a following. Then there are guys who taks it perfectly to the next level. I'm in awe. What's next?
posted by Turtles all the way down at 9:18 PM on July 27, 2008


That's right, they taks it. You know what I'm saying.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 9:19 PM on July 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Finally, someone has used CGI for good, instead of evil.
posted by Avenger at 9:20 PM on July 27, 2008


I was previously unaware that Timothy Bottoms did anything after The Paper Chase.
posted by eclectist at 9:22 PM on July 27, 2008


I love MST3K, but that was the cinematic equivalent of penciling a mustache on someone's picture.
posted by Daddy-O at 9:32 PM on July 27, 2008 [4 favorites]


Who keeps binoculars in a tackle box anyway?

Crazybad sociopaths. Who HATE FUN!
posted by longsleeves at 9:43 PM on July 27, 2008


I love MST3K, but that was the cinematic equivalent of penciling a mustache on someone's picture.

I would like to see more of this actually, imagine some of the great scenes redone-

John Travolta and Uma Thurman twisting with a big handlebar and a goatee

Scarlet O'Hara coming down the stairs with a big set of muttonchops

Cary Grant running from that cropduster with a nicely trimmed vandyke...
posted by pupdog at 9:49 PM on July 27, 2008 [3 favorites]


Imagine Star Wars Ep. 1 getting this treatment.

I can only imagine what Episode 1 would have been like had they added a bunch of lame jokes into it with CGI. I think what would be really funny is if they added just a bunch of alien cgi characters doing horrible racist accents.
posted by empath at 9:50 PM on July 27, 2008 [7 favorites]


Daddy-O, you say that as if it were a bad thing.
posted by JHarris at 9:51 PM on July 27, 2008


This might work if they bring in their even smarter brother John Hodgman.
posted by trondant at 9:57 PM on July 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


I love MST3K, but that was the cinematic equivalent of penciling a mustache on someone's picture.

Yeah. I found it pretty lame The "stop struggling" bit and the "Roller coaster, of love" bits were funny, but the rest? Just a bunch of boring gags. What's with the brain that pop's out of the clown head? What's funny about that?
posted by delmoi at 10:33 PM on July 27, 2008


IT WASN'T IN THE ORIGINAL MOVIE, THAT'S WHAT!!! THEY PUT IT THERE!!!

God, you people are dense. It wasn't there to begin with, so it's funny. It's really, insanely funny.
posted by Naberius at 11:17 PM on July 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


show an entire horrible movie, then after it show the JollyFilter version.

I'm reminded of a brlliant piece of scheduling on cable where they played The Crowd Roars back to back with the "remake."

Weirdly, the second film is exactly the same footage, only with the main character (Cagney) substituted with some one else. There's also one single other change I noticed, which was the waitress brings a different meal for breakfast, which seemed strange to only change that one thing.

It made for a pretty entertaining afternoon of Post Modern programming.
posted by StickyCarpet at 12:07 AM on July 28, 2008


thanks for this! I remember reading about this project and wondering what the hell they were talking about. now I know. I love Joel, and I can see potential for this, but it'd be a LOT of freaking work to do a whole feature. and, Joel's voice is funnier than any sight gag. Cinematic Titanic improved from episode 1 to 2. I prefer it, but appreciate finally seeing this demo.
so again, thanks!
posted by Busithoth at 12:32 AM on July 28, 2008


What's with the brain that pop's out of the clown head? What's funny about that?

It's incongruity, coupled with whimsy, which last time I checked were still legitimate types of funny.
posted by JHarris at 1:29 AM on July 28, 2008


Rollercoaster was my first bad date film. She never spoke to me again. Metafilter.....you are digging up my own personal Hell!
posted by doctorschlock at 2:38 AM on July 28, 2008


My reaction: They better be careful.

Recontextualizing a film is brilliant. However, a lot of the recontext depends on knowing the original context. With MST3k, you could see most of the original and then get the recontext from listening to the comments. With this process, unless they do it with a familiar film, the original is destroyed. Alternatively, they could use such a light touch (not evident in this clip) that the original context is still apparent.

What's with the brain that pop's out of the clown head? What's funny about that?

I think a lot of these things were more concepts than actual jokes. "JollyFilter is more than just penciling moustaches on" the clip is saying. "We can make the movie props interactive."
posted by DU at 4:42 AM on July 28, 2008


What's with the brain that pop's out of the clown head? What's funny about that?

I dunno, but I still find inappropriate usage of apostrophes HI-LARIOUS!
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 5:13 AM on July 28, 2008


I love MST3K, but that was the cinematic equivalent of penciling a mustache on someone's picture.

Adult Swim did that three years ago for April Fool's Day- they ran their normal block of programming but had little mustaches digitally added to all the characters. It was actually kind of hilarious.

This- this I don't really know about. In a way it feels almost like trying too hard. This is very ironic coming from the guy who created MST3K, but I rather think this is the cinematic equivalent of those two guys who ruin the movie for you by making a crack about every single thing that appears on the screen. Not in a humorous way, but in the way that makes you want to kill them. "Oh, shit! They're on grappling hooks!" "Dude, look at how he shot that guy in the face!" "Awww yeah boy, it's the Joker!" Repeat for two hours.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:26 AM on July 28, 2008


I absolutely agree that I would not watch a two hour version of that clip. But there is no such movie. That clip is not a snippet of their treatment of Rollercoaster. That clip is a test film. It's showcasing all the techniques they've developed and some of the ideas they've been playing around with.

The question here is now "was the clip funny". The question is "do these techniques have the potential to make something funny".
posted by DU at 5:37 AM on July 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


The question here is now "was the clip funny". The question is "do these techniques have the potential to make something funny".

My answer would be "possibly, but not really." Having had to submit reels myself, judging by the comments here that was a failed reel. A multitude of people saying they liked one or two gags and hated the rest = reel in the garbage can.

The difference between this and MST3K or any of it's spin-offs is that this actively distorts the actual original film, as opposed to just offering commentary on it. That's a huge difference. Watching the bots riff on Manos: The Hands of Fate is hilarious because we're exposed to how awful a film Manos is. If the film was shown with a changed soundtrack and CGI animations bouncing around everywhere we wouldn't really have a grasp on what the deal with the original was to begin with.

People loved MST3K because they likes intelligent, clever comedy, not two hours of those animated effects on "Blind Date."
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:50 AM on July 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


they likes intelligent. Great.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:51 AM on July 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


More importantly, in the original movie, who is the mystery man reflected in the binoculars?

Is that Gene Shalit?.
posted by JaredSeth at 6:10 AM on July 28, 2008


Many of the MST3K movies were edited for time and/or content. "Time Chasers" was cut for length (although David Giancola claims the edits made the story seem less coherent). "Overdrawn at the Memory Bank" was also edited for length, and it was slightly (only very slightly) more coherent in its original form.
posted by crataegus at 6:20 AM on July 28, 2008


This- this I don't really know about. In a way it feels almost like trying too hard.

I think they've all been trying too hard since the end of MST3k.
Riff Trax, Cinematic Titanic, etc.
Just not feeling the love for any of them.

I adored the series, and wish all of them the best in their individual and group efforts, but I really don't think that anything - anything will ever recapture the magic and madness that was that show. It was like the perfect combination of people at the right time in the right place and damn it was good.

Feel free to keep tryin', but it's just not going to happen.
posted by willmize at 6:26 AM on July 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


Yeah, the efforts to recapture the lightning are getting a little embarassing. OTOH, the previews for the Cinematic Titanic thing looked pretty good. (Other than the standing on the decks format--that's just weird and distracting.) "A robot with a head made from a gumball machine? That's just lame."
posted by DU at 6:36 AM on July 28, 2008


What's with the brain that pop's out of the clown head? What's funny about that?

I can't think of a single possible circumstance where a clown's brains pop out of its head where it's not a knee-slapper, or at least a cause for rejoicing.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:02 AM on July 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


I believe Joel and his brother also collaborated on T.V. Wheel, another interesting post-MST3K project.

Comparing things like this, Rifftrax and Cinematic Titanic to MST3K is pointless. If they make you laugh, that's really all that matters in this work-a-day world.

I mean look at Jefferson Airplane, and then look at Starship. Did we not build this city on rock and roll?

I rest my case.
posted by Otis at 8:47 AM on July 28, 2008


A multitude of people saying they liked one or two gags and hated the rest = reel in the garbage can.

But that's what MST3K was! And the Airplane/Zucker/Abrahams movies. And unfortunately, the "----- Movie" series.

It's a barrage of jokes, most of them terrible, but so many of them that you eventually end up laughing uncontrollably. Unless, none of them are funny, as in the latter example.
posted by fungible at 9:46 AM on July 28, 2008


It's a funny idea but MST3K was a better concept. The thing that made me laugh the most was when the fish snapped up the frog. That was unexected, completely in context, and nicely timed. The rest of the gags were stuck on. Some funny stuff, but sort of so-what. Now, if the brain thing was an ongoing gag, that would work for me.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 9:55 AM on July 28, 2008


People loved MST3K because they likes intelligent, clever comedy, not two hours of those animated effects on "Blind Date."
. . .
they likes intelligent. Great.

Don't sweat it, XQUZYPHYR. I've always thought that if more people talked like Popeye, the world would be a much better place. (Side benefit: It would also render TV "funny" man Dave Coulier's entire comedic oeuvre obsolete.)
posted by Atom Eyes at 10:14 AM on July 28, 2008


Isn't this technique exactly the sort of thing that was put to effective use in Kung Pow: Enter the Fist, two years later?
posted by speedo at 10:31 AM on July 28, 2008


Hm, I'm starting to get a strong whiff of beans around here. Especially with people scratching their heads at the brain part, which I thought was one of the funniest bits.

The biggest problem I can see here, overall, is that JollyFilter works for Rollercoaster because it had a nice, long section in which little happens*. There's no speech, no action, no distracting sound effects, etc. There's plenty of room for adding gags to it. A part of the movie that had more stuff going on would probably not be so easy to do.

* Yet, for an attentive viewer, there is stuff going on in the original clip. The whole point was to show that the guy was pretending to fish, but wasn't actually fishing. His pole wasn't cast, and he keeps binoculars in his tackle box. That's the whole point of the scene. He's pretending to fish so he won't be noticed watching the guy walking on the coaster.
posted by JHarris at 12:25 PM on July 28, 2008


Why don't you head on over to the Cinematic Titanic forum thread on this topic and post your opinions there? I'm sure they'd enjoy some feedback on this...
posted by PontifexPrimus at 2:05 PM on July 28, 2008


I loved the "stop struggling" and the "Rollarcoaster! Of Love! Say What?"

Yep, those were good. I also found myself chuckling evilly, for some reason, at the fly crawling slowly up his nose.

Used incorrectly, it could get old quick, but I can definitely see how this might have the potential to make some iconic scenes funny in an unexpected way.

And despite the fact that it was the same length, the second one flew by. Perception is a strange thing.
posted by quin at 3:08 PM on July 28, 2008


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