Where wolf?
August 10, 2012 10:52 PM   Subscribe

Man I just started rewatching a bunch of old MTS3K episodes and I had apparently forgotten the upper bounds of my capacity for laughter.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:02 PM on August 10, 2012 [4 favorites]

I'm going to race jharris to commenting here.

posted by The Whelk at 11:04 PM on August 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

man - this would be awesome! But...the music really began to grate after a minute. I'll stick to watching the full eps.
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 11:04 PM on August 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

Whar wilf?
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:06 PM on August 10, 2012 [7 favorites]

Get out of my hallway.
posted by en forme de poire at 11:07 PM on August 10, 2012


I've looked every where wolf.

Okay everyone go up a shirt size.

I'm not supposed to talk to people who aren't in the movie

Is she stalking it cause it's the weakest of all gas stations?


I'm sorry we had to remove your Contintent.

Please send pants at once.

This is a strange remake of Jane Eyre.

I'm going to get all sexy now.

He's not a werewolf he's just Greek.

Oh thank god you turned off the annoying soundtrack.

That was from memory, mind you.
posted by The Whelk at 11:08 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Hi, I'm a tree. Just thought I'd put in a good word for nature since the camera's on me.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:08 PM on August 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

Flagstaff. It's a small town.
posted by The Whelk at 11:09 PM on August 10, 2012

Episode 512: Yelling "Mitchell!!" at the movie Mitchell was not good enough. Please re-edit.
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:11 PM on August 10, 2012

Someone is helping her scream?
posted by The Whelk at 11:12 PM on August 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

posted by shakespeherian at 11:13 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Every frame of this movie looks like a "Last known photo"
posted by hellojed at 11:14 PM on August 10, 2012 [4 favorites]

Is this a snuff film Joel, is it, IS IT?!
posted by The Whelk at 11:14 PM on August 10, 2012 [4 favorites]

Sockhop of the Damned.
posted by rmxwl at 11:15 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

It means I'm a craftsman

And not a killer.
posted by The Whelk at 11:16 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

The balloons make it look fun!
posted by shakespeherian at 11:17 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

So you can go back to your DRINKING AND PILL POPPING.
posted by The Whelk at 11:17 PM on August 10, 2012

Clothes. That's what I need. Clothes.
posted by The Whelk at 11:18 PM on August 10, 2012

Well, I'm not supposed to listen to people who aren't in the movie, but...
posted by rmxwl at 11:20 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

We've found another strata of ladyfingers!
posted by The Whelk at 11:21 PM on August 10, 2012

You can't handle the truth, dearie.
posted by rmxwl at 11:22 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

YOU shove off!
posted by Rangeboy at 11:23 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

My wallaby means a lot to me.
posted by rmxwl at 11:23 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Due to my habit of putting on old mst3k episodes on when working I think I've seen Wharwilf roughly ninety thousand times. Only slightly less than hobgoblins.
posted by The Whelk at 11:24 PM on August 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

Which is a long way to say PLAY SOME WELL TEMPERED CLAVIER.
posted by The Whelk at 11:24 PM on August 10, 2012

Shoe Cam! (Actual shoes)
posted by rmxwl at 11:25 PM on August 10, 2012

posted by Mooseli at 11:26 PM on August 10, 2012

Frank Booth Cam!
posted by shakespeherian at 11:26 PM on August 10, 2012

I can and will sit here and recite the entirely of that episode, dialogue and riff, but I have more important things to do.

I just have to figure out what they are first.
posted by The Whelk at 11:27 PM on August 10, 2012

I have to go, all my rowdy friends are coming over tonight.
posted by Rangeboy at 11:28 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Who am I kidding I never went to Castleton...
posted by The Whelk at 11:32 PM on August 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

This showed up in as an aside (or a "related" link to whatever was being linked to) in an FPP the other day, and speaking as someone who has watched at least *some* bit of either MST3K or Rifftrax literally EVERY day since 1991, I just couldn't get into it. I guess it was the (necessarily) fast-paced editing, but without context, some of the jokes fell flat. And let's face it, the early "improv" episodes are practically unwatchable, except for nostalgia value.

MST3K is pretty much my 2nd favorite "entertainment entity" ever, and this left me feeling "meh, nice effort, I guess it does what it says on the tin, but...whatever."

I don't mean to disparage the FPP though, because obviously any excuse to drag out MST3K quotes is fine by me.

posted by ShutterBun at 11:33 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Look, look, look at my crotch!
posted by Rangeboy at 11:33 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

This is where the fish live.
posted by The Whelk at 11:34 PM on August 10, 2012

Whoa, huge slam on anteaters out of nowhere!
posted by rmxwl at 11:34 PM on August 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

I can and will sit here and recite the entirely of that episode, dialogue and riff, but I have more important things to do.

I just have to figure out what they are first.

Sleeping nose-to-anus?

What? It's fun!
posted by ShutterBun at 11:35 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

You'll find my secret hair dying place!
posted by The Whelk at 11:36 PM on August 10, 2012

Uh, Rowsdower, I, uh, swallowed the knife.
posted by Rangeboy at 11:36 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Know him?! He was delicious!
posted by rmxwl at 11:38 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


posted by The Whelk at 11:38 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

This is where the fish live.

At some point in most Mstie's life, they will eventually get into "stinger prediction." That is, predicting which moment from the film will be included as the "stinger" at the end of the episode. (stinger: a brief clip from the movie, shown at the end of the credits, which somehow encapsulates the bizarreness of the movie being shown)

"This is where the fish lives" has got to be, hands down, the most predictable "stinger" of all time. As soon as you see it, you know: "That's the stinger, right there!" and I love it for that.

It has nothing to do with anything, comes out of nowhere, and is never referenced again. It is the quintessential "stinger."

(close runner-up would be the "EXTRA, paper! Read all about it!" guy from "Invasion U.S.A.")
posted by ShutterBun at 11:40 PM on August 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

I'm going to go Zuh! At you.
posted by The Whelk at 11:40 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Booze. It's what's for dinner.
posted by Rangeboy at 11:41 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Whoa, huge slam on anteaters out of nowhere!

posted by shakespeherian at 11:41 PM on August 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

I've said "za" in better towns than this.
posted by rmxwl at 11:41 PM on August 10, 2012 [4 favorites]

Watch out for snakes!
posted by rmxwl at 11:43 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Mitchell: Even his name says, "is that a beer?"
posted by Rangeboy at 11:45 PM on August 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

That's an anagram for 'straight to video'!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:49 PM on August 10, 2012

Hello, this is the sun. Your call is important to us.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:49 PM on August 10, 2012

My my my my 'partment.
posted by rmxwl at 11:50 PM on August 10, 2012

Down, down, down....
posted by ShutterBun at 11:51 PM on August 10, 2012

So... um... rock climbing.
posted by rmxwl at 11:53 PM on August 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

My nuts?
posted by Lokisbane at 11:54 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Confessions: My favorite episode of MST3K is "The Leech Woman" ("But your kitten checks are adorable!"), followed closely by "The Deadly Bees." ("The Bees made it you know!") because they are both actual studio products, legit B-Movies with a layer of technical competence that can pull you through the fact that they're completely and totally batshit. It's not like a Manos or Track Of the Moon Beast Or Eegah or Laserblast where half the movie is borderline unwatchable cause of the technical problems, these are serious crews and serious actors, cashing in a paycheck on some of the worst lines ever put to film. I love that. And as someone who watched enough old movies that they knew who Colline Grey was BEFORE MST3K, that episode was like a revelation. Prong met hole in my mind and then I just had to see everything ever which led to of course, seeing all of them about a hundred thousand times and able to rattle off the entire script to Squirm at the merest prompt. I had friends in Middle School I was only friends with cause they had cable and would let me tape episodes off their TV. I was involved in AOL chat room MSTings of AMC's classic monster movies and I fucking KILLED at King Kong. I had a Metaluna Mutant figurine above my computer in High School.

This shit is like, permanent.
posted by The Whelk at 11:56 PM on August 10, 2012 [9 favorites]

Keeping pace with The Whelk:

"I sleep with my head in a catcher's mitt"
"I like it VERY MUCH."
"There's a world, going on, under-ground duhdudundunDUH!"
"She's got combination skin: one part fetid and one part rotted"
"See all those people down there Davey? Those are the people you've disappointed."
"I have tubes in my ears!"
"Is there anyone who loves pickles as much as me?"
posted by ShutterBun at 11:57 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh, and emotional best. Hobgoblins. Everyone looks like they're having fun despite you know ..the movie happening. I can't watch it now without thinking about the shoot and how they're all 80s-era 20s something filming in the high school cafeteria and I just want a movie about ...that.
posted by The Whelk at 11:58 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I see your Patriots don't work, either!
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:58 PM on August 10, 2012


"So this is hell, when people ask what hell is like, we can tell them."
posted by The Whelk at 11:58 PM on August 10, 2012

If I run out of vomit, can I have some of yours?
posted by rmxwl at 11:59 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's like they have two servings of movie they're trying to stretch to feed eight people.
posted by The Whelk at 11:59 PM on August 10, 2012

I gotta agree with you, Whelk. Some of my favorites are "The Mole People" and "Revenge of the Creature" which were actual "watchable" movies that tried, but somehow became oh-so-riffable.

The truly shitty movies are as hard to get through as they (presumably) were for the crew of the SOL.
posted by ShutterBun at 11:59 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

posted by The Whelk at 12:00 AM on August 11, 2012 [5 favorites]

Sting, Debbie Reynolds, and God.

Ah my Grandmadaughter!
posted by The Whelk at 12:01 AM on August 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Puma Man. Liberace with dockers.

When you want...the flavor of bacon in a dip.
posted by porn in the woods at 12:01 AM on August 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

posted by rmxwl at 12:01 AM on August 11, 2012

Confession: one of my first Flash projects was a thing where you could press a button and have a picture and audio file for one of Bob Johnson's nicknames played randomly.
posted by ShutterBun at 12:02 AM on August 11, 2012 [6 favorites]

Bring me my warrior muumuu.
posted by rmxwl at 12:02 AM on August 11, 2012

I also like the studio B-movies cause that fucking HAMBURGER PAINTING shows up in like FOUR of them. Even the Movie.
posted by The Whelk at 12:02 AM on August 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

Tank Concrete: Astro-NAUT!
posted by ShutterBun at 12:03 AM on August 11, 2012

Hi, I'm Bob Evil.
posted by Rangeboy at 12:03 AM on August 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

The Johnny Deep vehicle Blow was ruined for me by the fact that they had Puma Man's spirtual guide as a featured extra extra. I couldn't get the song out of my head.
posted by The Whelk at 12:03 AM on August 11, 2012

(hoping it's OK with the MeFi moderators that we enjoy our little MST3K kiddie pool over here)
posted by ShutterBun at 12:03 AM on August 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

And I get to lick the axe!
posted by rmxwl at 12:04 AM on August 11, 2012

They made love in the Chevy van and that's NOT all right by me!
posted by porn in the woods at 12:05 AM on August 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Shutterbun, we're jumping on the couch.

with juice.
posted by The Whelk at 12:05 AM on August 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

The Johnny Deep vehicle Blow was ruined for me by the fact that they had Puma Man's spirtual guide as a featured extra extra. I couldn't get the song out of my head.

Minus-points for not mentioning that he was ALSO in the MST'ed "Deathstalker and the Warriors from Hell"
posted by ShutterBun at 12:05 AM on August 11, 2012

Do farts have lumps?
posted by rmxwl at 12:06 AM on August 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Shutterbun, emotions are for ethnic people.
posted by The Whelk at 12:06 AM on August 11, 2012

It's fun when it's fun!
posted by ShutterBun at 12:06 AM on August 11, 2012

posted by Rangeboy at 12:07 AM on August 11, 2012

the faces of those he's wrong float before him!
posted by The Whelk at 12:07 AM on August 11, 2012

Maybe we could narrow the field a bit: best two word riffs:

Crotch Cops
posted by ShutterBun at 12:07 AM on August 11, 2012

posted by The Whelk at 12:12 AM on August 11, 2012

posted by Rangeboy at 12:12 AM on August 11, 2012 [6 favorites]

posted by ShutterBun at 12:12 AM on August 11, 2012

Bus Taker!
posted by rmxwl at 12:13 AM on August 11, 2012

Uta Hagens "Respect For Acting"
posted by The Whelk at 12:13 AM on August 11, 2012

Jimmy Smitts
posted by ShutterBun at 12:13 AM on August 11, 2012

the first time I heard my little brother laugh so hard I thought he broke something.

"So that's how you got rid of grandma."
posted by The Whelk at 12:14 AM on August 11, 2012

Slutting's fun!
posted by rmxwl at 12:16 AM on August 11, 2012

posted by The Whelk at 12:17 AM on August 11, 2012

He died as he lived: mud-stained and splaying.
posted by rmxwl at 12:20 AM on August 11, 2012

Can he prove he's not Hoyt Axton?
posted by The Whelk at 12:21 AM on August 11, 2012

You know, John Goodman on Huyn Cronyn's back could outrun this guy.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:25 AM on August 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Doctor Lady!
posted by rmxwl at 12:28 AM on August 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

When the Kennedys rules Greece!
Camera three get off the track. Camera three... AAAaaaah (Crash)!!!
This movie stops at nothing... and stays there.
Alright, stop! Everyone go up a shirt size!
(Velociraptor breaks through door) AmWay!
Nipple, nipple, tweak, tweak. Fly! Fly! Flyyyy!
Here comes Nurse Feratu.
posted by Davenhill at 12:28 AM on August 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Don't I know you? Aren't you me in another role?
posted by rmxwl at 12:31 AM on August 11, 2012

Lewis B. Moffett...sat on a toffet.
posted by Rangeboy at 12:42 AM on August 11, 2012

"I'm back!"

(Girl With Gold Boots)
posted by ShutterBun at 12:42 AM on August 11, 2012


The Girl In The Gold Boots is the THE episode if you want to covert burlesque dancers and gogo girls into being MSTies.

posted by The Whelk at 12:47 AM on August 11, 2012

For all of the brilliant bon mots (or is it mots bon?) done by MST3K over the years, some of my favorites are the flat-out "making fun of how someone talks" riffs. There are two GREAT ones from "Escape 2000", within moments of each other.

Uuuhhh, what evidence...? and

When will the demolition ceremony..."

I can listen to those 100 times in a row and not stop laughing.
posted by ShutterBun at 12:49 AM on August 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

So long, non-acquaintance who inexplicably gave us rides in his dune buggy.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:54 AM on August 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

I don't care!
posted by junco at 1:00 AM on August 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Look Polish
posted by ShutterBun at 1:06 AM on August 11, 2012

Uh, sorry about the porn - there's a Kilgore Trout piece in there.
posted by gompa at 1:08 AM on August 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Look! Venusian blinds!
posted by loquacious at 1:09 AM on August 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

posted by loquacious at 1:09 AM on August 11, 2012

Don't laugh. They made me in a hurry.
posted by loquacious at 1:11 AM on August 11, 2012

Please, god, cut away to anything, anything, please!
posted by loquacious at 1:14 AM on August 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

What times are it?
posted by librarina at 1:27 AM on August 11, 2012

No, Lupita!
posted by ShutterBun at 1:51 AM on August 11, 2012

First Federal Church, member FDIC.

my backup user profile on PSN is Fist Rockbone.
posted by Ghidorah at 2:54 AM on August 11, 2012

There go the piano lessons! I don't remember my mom!
posted by Ghidorah at 2:55 AM on August 11, 2012

Somebody's been four-wheelin'!
posted by jiawen at 3:13 AM on August 11, 2012

I think it's very nice of you to give that dead woman another chance.
posted by kyrademon at 4:08 AM on August 11, 2012

Should we be seeing this?
posted by hototogisu at 4:15 AM on August 11, 2012

Hide a massa' in the cold, cold ground.
posted by coolxcool=rad at 4:30 AM on August 11, 2012

"Rowsdower"...is that a stupid name, or...?
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 4:39 AM on August 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Two words, Hercules; French doors.
posted by wittgenstein at 4:44 AM on August 11, 2012

Samuel Barbers Adagio for young, Japanese children.
posted by wittgenstein at 4:45 AM on August 11, 2012

Luckily, the in-flight film was Berlin Alexanderplatz.
posted by FelliniBlank at 4:54 AM on August 11, 2012

Manos Live! Coming this Thursday to a theater near you!
posted by Rock Steady at 5:04 AM on August 11, 2012 [3 favorites]

(walks through woods) "Roswdower, Rowsdower, Rozie-Rozie Rowsdower"
posted by angrycat at 5:43 AM on August 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

posted by DiscourseMarker at 6:27 AM on August 11, 2012

Geez, can't you guys wait until I'm awake to have these threads? (yawn)
posted by JHarris at 6:41 AM on August 11, 2012


(please wait while I vomit)
posted by JHarris at 6:49 AM on August 11, 2012


posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 6:51 AM on August 11, 2012

Oh, and ShutterBun, we really need that Flash thing you made on the internet somewhere, and a link to it. For SCIENCE.
posted by JHarris at 7:01 AM on August 11, 2012

Could this be my Yoda-like mentor?
posted by rmxwl at 7:08 AM on August 11, 2012

"How do you like your scotch, Mitchell?"

"By the quart!"
posted by antonymous at 7:26 AM on August 11, 2012

This thread makes me want to break out my "I'M A VIRGIN" t-shirt.

Biddy on the road, bees on pie, burnin' rubber tires!
posted by anthom at 7:49 AM on August 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

"Let me reference my earlier codicil, about how your weapons against me are without merit!"
posted by Strange Interlude at 7:56 AM on August 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

And of course: "Trumpy, you do stupid things!"
posted by Strange Interlude at 7:57 AM on August 11, 2012

Ah. This must be the eponymous "Willy."
posted by rmxwl at 9:08 AM on August 11, 2012

Ah this is where we shall make our delicious Roquefort cheese!
posted by The Whelk at 9:21 AM on August 11, 2012

Since you all are obviously professionals here, let me pose a question: These are all available on Netflix, and I haven't seen any of them. Any particular standouts?

Manhunt in Space. Warrior of the Lost World. Giant Gila Monster. Secret Agent, Super Dragon. The Corpse Vanishes. Mad Monster. The Rebel Set.

This comes from a tried and true Hobgoblins/Touch of Satan fan, just not too familiar with (I assume) the earlier stuff.
posted by SomaSoda at 9:44 AM on August 11, 2012

Secret Agent Super Dragon had a sort of demented half-assed charm to it...
posted by Scattercat at 10:04 AM on August 11, 2012

In the future can we pass a law that films have to made by film-makers?
posted by The Whelk at 10:29 AM on August 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

When it comes to selection, I'm personally a Mike Nelson fan, which is a controversial choice, plus there's the sad thing he has evil politics. I find his delivery more snappy and everybody else has got their timing down.
Also, there are like a zillion of them FREE on amazon for Prime members. Not to promote the Death Star, but it is nice.
posted by angrycat at 10:35 AM on August 11, 2012

SomaSoda, questions about what are the best MST3K episodes are the kind of thing for which I live, but it'll take me some time to compile a list out of the 198 shows. Need to think about it a bit.
posted by JHarris at 10:53 AM on August 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

I had every episode in a hard drive until my divorce last year, and these are the episodes I watched most frequently: space mutiny, werewolf, that one with Raul Julia, hobgoblins, manos, that Canadian one with Tia carrere, and all the Japanese gamera ones.
posted by annathea at 11:08 AM on August 11, 2012

I'm personally a Mike Nelson fan, which is a controversial choice

I think Mike seems to be playing a character more while Joel comes across as "I'm Joel and this is what I do!" It makes Mike's work tighter and more defined. I also think the Joel seasons tended to be more self-referential, calling back to movies they'd already seen and riffs they'd already done, so it was harder to jump in in the middle of a season and find it funny. Going straight through, in order, I'm finding Joel funnier than I used to.

Of course, I loved Trace's Crow and Mary Jo as the evil Dr. Forrester (not just Clayton's mom), so there's no such thing as a bad season of MST3K.
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 11:17 AM on August 11, 2012

I also have to say that when "The Island" came out, I would not have recognized it as a(n unauthorized) remake of "Parts: The Clonus Horror" but for the fact that was the very first MST3K I'd ever seen. ...there's a moral in there, somewhere.

...I'm Peter Graves.
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 11:24 AM on August 11, 2012

ob1quixote, I'm watching that one right now.
posted by angrycat at 12:02 PM on August 11, 2012

SomaSoda: Since you all are obviously professionals here, let me pose a question: These are all available on Netflix, and I haven't seen any of them. Any particular standouts?
Of the MST3K episodes available on instant, if you haven't seen Monster a Go-Go that's the one I would start with.

My favorites not currently on Netflix are
  1. Ep. 0303 - Pod People (It stinks!)
  2. Ep. 0816 - Prince of Space (I like it very much!)
  3. Ep. 0301 - Cave Dwellers (I think your cape looks fabulous!)
  4. Ep. 0201 - Rocketship X-M (Dad! Look out! We lost the trailer!)
  5. Ep. 0410 - Hercules Against The Moon Men (It's Herc and he brought the keg!)
  6. Honorable Mention: Ep. 0213 - Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster (Ka-bob and Ka-steve!)

I'd be remiss in not pointing out club-mst3k.com which is, the only complete list of free online streaming Mystery Science Theater 3000 videos.
posted by ob1quixote at 12:34 PM on August 11, 2012 [4 favorites]

I'm working on an epic episode guide, but I just wanted to chime in, the best episodes for experienced MSTies are often not the best ones for newcomers, and Monster-A-Go-Go is a movie that could potentially poison an unsuspecting newbie against the whole idea. Manos and Red Zone Cuba too. The movies are just so bad that it's like throwing a frog into a boiling pot -- best to turn up the heat slooowly.
posted by JHarris at 12:43 PM on August 11, 2012

Also, Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster is really not one of the best episodes, especially when put up against the *other* MST Godzilla movie, which is one of the very very best ones.
posted by JHarris at 12:44 PM on August 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

a magical BM
posted by a humble nudibranch at 1:11 PM on August 11, 2012

I make no claim that any of them are objectively the best, but speaking as someone who memorized the commercials on his SLP MST3K tape that included The Attack of the Giant Leeches and Hercules Against The Moon Men among others, those are the ones I throw in when I'm feeling down and want to soothe myself. I did forget to mention Attack of The Eye Creatures, which is another go-to for me.

Point taken on Monster A Go-Go however. I'm not sure which of the ones on Instant Watch I'd recommend otherwise though. Maybe Warrior of the Lost World? I guess you couldn't go wrong with Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie either.
posted by ob1quixote at 1:12 PM on August 11, 2012

I'd recommend one of the Studio-made-by-professionals-but-still-awful movies from above or the like, good enough production values to not turn off your average person.
posted by The Whelk at 1:29 PM on August 11, 2012

although they only really got those in the later series.
posted by The Whelk at 1:30 PM on August 11, 2012

Here is a list of highlights episodes, containing a mixture fan and personal favorites. Keep in mind most MST3K episodes have great moments somewhere along their length and if you onbly watch these you'll miss a thousand wonderful moments. But if you want a good set of episodes to turn to when you need a great episode in a hurry:

107- ROBOT MONSTER with shorts: COMMANDO CODY PTS 4 and 5
The first Great Bad Movie MST3K covered. There are some problems with first season episodes concerning having less of a joke density than other seasons, but a fun movie can overcome that. Here, the population of the world has been destroyed by a guy in a gorilla suit with a fishbowl on his head, living in a cave with a bubble machine parked out front, except for a family of six people living a short walk away. Awesomely bad.

Another movie that's entertainingly bad enough to overcome the first season's reduced joke density. This movie wants to be Star Wars. It so desperately wants to be Star Wars, with a feverish intensity that's tragic. Because there is no way in hell that these cut-rate LARPers trapising around Central Park could ever hope to be Star Wars. Also has the last of the Commando Cody shorts, which the Mads actually ended the short before the plot resolution, those jerks.

One of the earliest non-sci-fi movies MST did on cable, and the first really great episode. The first 20 minutes are entranced with the idea of sidehacking, a goofy form of dirt track motorcycle racing involving a team of two people on a bike, one on a sidecar hanging his rear off the edge to balance out the bike on sharp turns. After 20 minutes the movie forgets practically everything about sidehacking and becomes a depressing revenge pic. Infamously edited for violence in the MST cut -- according to the Amazing Collosal Episode Guide, in the uncut version J.C.'s goons rape and kill Rommel's girlfriend Rita quite graphically, which sickened the entire writer's room.

The only full-on comedy MST ever did. The Brains were reluctant, after this, to tackle movies that themselves tried to be funny, probably mostly because they usually weren't. Still this episode is so weird to make it work. A beach movie about a bunch of layabout rich kids fighting against one of the kids' parents who fancy themselves art thieves and a real villain with a name like a Tintin villain. Contains the "Creepy Girl," an Eastern European of uncertain ethnicity who pines away for a fish she met diving, and Tom Servo's classic 50's-style ode to said girl.

Cold War paranoia at its finest. Don't get too caught up in the fates of these characters folks 'cause they're all gonna die by the end. The lady spy who seduces the fat Russian general (named by the guys "Suey the Pig Girl") deserves some kind of posthumous medal for institutional fortitute -- maybe the Golden Turd. Also: "Help me!"

MST3K did two Godzilla movies. How can you go wrong with Godzilla? Watch the other one, Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster, to find out. This one, on the other hand, is one of the best episodes the Brains ever did, gloriously ridiculous and not afraid to show it, from the humidifier casually hanging from a chain in our two heroes' batchleor pad, to the unfortunately voiced kid of unknown parentage who hangs out with them, to Megalon the monster with Chrysler Buildings for arms, to Dorf the leader of Seatopia, to driving a car down steps, to Jet Jaguar (oooooh Jet Jaguar). Then halfway through the movie Godzilla finally shows up and things really get weird. Not to be missed.

First episode of season three. A movie that tries and somehow fails to be a standard barbarian hero movie. Dramatic pauses so long you can come up with your own riffs before the line continues. When you think it can't get any worse WHAM Willie Nelson-lookalike sorceror dude! Then when you think that's the new low WHAM fakey fight with an invisible cave monster! Then WHAM Ator fighting a giant snake puppet! Then WHAM: the hang glider. Oooh that hang glider. And after the movie's over Joel and the bots helpfully point several additional continuity problems you probably didn't catch.

302- GAMERA (and the other four Gamera movies, while we're at it: 304 vs. Barugon, 308 vs. Gaos, 312 vs. Guiron and 316 vs. Zigra, the third season was truly the Year of the Turtle -- and yes I know that's more Chinese than Japanese)
I think the third season was MST3K's best year, almost every movie is great in some way, and the Gamera films are highlights. Unfortunately the rights were held until recently by Sandy Frank Productions, who word has it were upset at the Brains' mocking of his product and forbade their inclusion on DVD sets until recently. (Sandy Frank is still alive BTW, although he looks his age -- he also brought over Gatchaman aka Battle of the Planets aka G-Force, and produced Name That Tune and at least one season of Family Feud.) Gamera is a kaiju, a Giant Japanese Monster Movie Monster, but of an unexpected sort: he's a giant turtle, who can draw his arms and legs inside his shell, shoot fire out of the holes, and use those as jets to fly through the air like a frisbee. His career parallel's Godzilla's, in that in early movies he's a threat to mankind, then he evolves into a defender, finally becomes pure camp, then got a revival in the 90s or thereabouts. Gamera has the additional properties of being a "friend to children" (even while destroying Tokyo and killing thousands) and eventually picking up a glorious theme song, to which Joel & company helpfully supply translated lyrics. Here they are:
Gamera: Plays it straight. Gamera befriends Kenny, a kid who's scary obsessed with turtles, in a scene a little reminiscent of Lovecraft's "The Cats of Ulthar." Eventually 8-year-old Kenny is brought in by the Japanese military to advise on the Gamera crisis. (Their self-esteem must be at a low ebb, I mean first WWII and now this, right?) After several missteps, including knocking Gamera on his back, they hit upon the mighty Z-PLAN and shoot him into space. Kenny is happy about this, but he never appears in a later Gamera movie.
vs. Barugon: Also largely plays it straight. Gamera is only depicted as fighting Barugon as a fight between alpha predators. Barugon has a ram-tongue that practically invites risque commentary, and a rainbow beam. Has the great "Gamera action figure" commercial as a host segment.
vs. Gaos: Gamera is more of a protector here against the space vampire Gaos, mostly typical monster shenanigans.
vs. Guiron: Here's where the series boards the train to Goofyville, where Gamera regains his close connection with children, and where he picks up his theme song. Probably the most entertaining of the lot, every moment is ludicrous, from the "Bicycle Song," to Cornjob (Cornjob?!), to the space babes, to Guiron himself fighting against a random Gaos who happens to be hanging around, to the kaiju fight itself. To Cornjob. Because really at the end of the day what are you really left with, except Cornjob. CORNJOB.
vs. Zigra: Last of the MST3K Gamera films. Back on Earth, an alien in a spaceship like a bowl of Trix comes to Earth to threaten and place humans under its eeevil spell, which, unfortunately, can be broken simply by going up to them and shouting "AAAAH!" in their ears.

Trumpy is a newly-hatched alien who is hassled on one side by crossbow-wielding poachers and the other by a lonely orphan kid who just wants a friend. He can do magic things. In the woods an evil sibling of his kills folks indiscriminately. In the words of Mike Nelson channeling Jack Perkins from the MST3K Hour: "Pod People was released on the heals of the blockbuster 'E.T.' Pod People did nowhere as well as E.T. Pod People did nowhere as well as Mac And Me."

Season three had 24 episodes, and nine of them came from Sandy Frank Productions. Those that were not Gamera were badly stitched-together and dubbed episodes of Japanese TV shows. Some of those shows seem like they might actually be interesting if they were dubbed and edited better (see my prior FPP on Star Wolf). Time Of The Apes somewhat apes (har har) Land Of The Lost in its premise of adult and kids being warped to an uncertain time and forced to put up with weirdnesses, here in the form of a military nation of sentient gorillas who drive big cars. At least a whole year of episodes is condensed into this hour-and-a-half movie, and the experience of trying to make sense of the badly edited mess on its own terms is known to bring about an altered mental state known to psychologists as Sandy Frank Syndrome, to which there are two cures available: riffing, and alcohol.

These movies were edited down from a couple of years of a Japanese TV show called Star Wolf. While they're hard to make sense of because of that, you can kind of get the sense there was something more substantial behind what we see on the screen. And the music kicks ass, which Joel and company remark upon in a host segment in the second movie. "He Triiiied to Kill Me With a Forklift! Ole!" Anyway, our hero Ken is a human being brought up on the planet Valna Star under the care of the evil Star Wolves, and kills and plunders with them until a quirk of fate (involving trying to save the life of a young Earth boy also named Ken from his teammate) puts him against his adopted world. He teams up with the crew of the Bacchus III under the command of hard-drinking Captain Joe. They have adventures and stuff.

Earth seems too damn easy to conquer sometimes. Here the dire threat facing the world is an venusian space carrot holed up in a cave that sends out evil bats that bite people in the neck and make them its slaves. It is aided in his diabolical plan by Lee Van Cleef, somewhat before he became a star of westerns. Any genuine terror is defused by the fact that the space bats are obviously hanging from strings. A good movie for monologues.

One of the all-time best MST movie titles. 50s monster flicks blanket the ten seasons of MST3K like a comfortable sweater, albeit one infested with spiders and lobsters and grasshoppers and leeches and shrews. Guess who wins this one in the end. Go on, guess!

A knockout episode, one of the best, and unlike Manos, Red Zone Cuba or The Starfighters it's accessible too. It's hard not to cringe whenever Droppo is on-screen, and by the end you kind of feel for the poor evil Martian who chose the wrong side in the festive yuletide war. And the fate of the poor Marian super-robot Torg is (slightly) chilling: "He's become a toy!" In the middle of the space shenanigans watch for the fakest polar bear ever put to film.

Almost as important to MST3K's early years as Sandy Frank is a company that specialized in taking known bad movies and repackaging the damage goods by editing together a different title sequence from unrelated films, changing the name, then selling them to unsuspecting video buyers. Film Ventures International was in some ways the The Asylum of its day. Cave Dwellers was one of theirs' and so are these two "movies," really repackaged episodes of a 70s "action" show called The Master, starring the twin Vans, Lee Van Cleef, somewhat after he became a star of westerns, and Timothy Van Patton, of Eight Is Enough infame. (Fun fact: Tim Van Patton directed the first episode of Game Of Thrones. That's just a little fact to help keep you warm during those long nights on The Wall.) Van Cleef is an unlikely ninja master, and Van Patton is an even more unlike ninja student. They have adventures that, for the most part, have nothing much to do with ninja-ing.

Here I leave my listing of great MST episodes, for now. More later.
posted by JHarris at 1:48 PM on August 11, 2012 [23 favorites]

"This actually isn't too bad."
posted by yellowbinder at 3:08 PM on August 11, 2012

After 20 minutes the movie forgets practically everything about sidehacking and becomes a depressing revenge pic. Infamously edited for violence in the MST cut -- according to the Amazing Collosal Episode Guide, in the uncut version J.C.'s goons rape and kill Rommel's girlfriend Rita quite graphically, which sickened the entire writer's room.

"For those of you watching at home, Rita is dead now."
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:13 PM on August 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

subliminal message
posted by Red Loop at 4:20 PM on August 11, 2012

That's for not knowing about ancient dental history.
posted by hellojed at 5:04 PM on August 11, 2012

ob1quixote, in MeMail, says he really meant to ask what would be the best introduction to MST streaming on NetFlix. I intend to include my epic descriptions of the most classic MST episodes, but until I can continue that:

A good first episode shouldn't be too "special," it should just be simply a strong episode, preferably something involving a goofy fifties sci-fi movie. So, start with the Giant Gila Monster maybe. Then Warrior of the Lost World (70s lame-ass post apolyptic sci-fi), then maybe MST the Movie (its shorter than a standard episode but has a 50s sci-fi subject).

After that your friends should be acclimated, so it's okay to raise the temperature: Santa Claus, Secret Agent Super Dragon, Soultaker. Then go FULL BLAST: Monster A-Go-Go, The Starfighers (esp. if they lean politically liberal), The Corpse Vanishes. Then if all has gone well they're hooked, so go with any of the rest.

Most of the movies I would personally introduce people with aren't on Netflix instant. Diehard MSTies won't let that stop them.
posted by JHarris at 5:12 PM on August 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

Er, I intend to continue the listing.
posted by JHarris at 5:13 PM on August 11, 2012

He Triiiied to Kill Me With a Forklift - oh drat, JHarris got there first. God I love that one.
posted by batgrlHG at 5:42 PM on August 11, 2012

Holy crap, MST3k did Phase IV? Even if it's one of the early episodes, I have to track that down.
posted by Merzbau at 6:09 PM on August 11, 2012

It was in the semi-disowned KTMA season, so don't expect great things from it.
posted by JHarris at 6:27 PM on August 11, 2012

For the record, it was SomaSoda who asked which Netflix Instant Watch would be a good introduction. :)
posted by ob1quixote at 6:29 PM on August 11, 2012

"I feel like a monkey!"

"Me too...where can we find one?"

Also, I wish it to be known that I sing whenever I sing whenever I sing.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 6:50 PM on August 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yeah, you can hardly expect me to keep the thread straight when someone makes multi-page comments. The nerve of that guy!
posted by JHarris at 7:21 PM on August 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

The AV Club recently published a couple of guides that might be useful for newbies looking to hop on the MST3K train.
posted by Rangeboy at 9:56 PM on August 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

As threatened previously he's more highlights, going up to the end of the 5th season:

At the time this was aired, this was the newest movie MST had ever done (it was supplanted later by Werewolf). There is some unexpected star power in this film, including James Earl Jones and Kim Cattrall, but this movie did no one's careers any favors. After the apocalypse violent kids rule a city on motorbikes, but of course the real villains are the evil corporation that wants to move in and take over. A great moment: near the beginning the hero casually hooked up with a young woman and they get frisky in a water tower. A couple of moments of female nudity are "accidentally" covered up by Joel suddenly deciding he needs to open an umbrella.

Another 50s movie, this one about evil alien invaders, including their not-evil young recruit, named Derek, natch. Their diabolical plan is to use the earth as a feeding ground for their Gargons, which are better known by their Earth name,lobsters. Except these space lobsters grow to full size quickly. Remember: when we get back to our home planet the high council may well sentence you to TOR-CHAA!

Another 50s monster movie. Set in a southern town populated by disgusting stereotypes, who are preyed upon by leeches from the nearby pond. Victims are (somehow) taken by the armless leeches to an air-filled cave beneath the pond where they are slowly drained of blood. At the end our heroes fix the problem in typical 50s style by dynamiting the lake, killing both the leeches and the survivors left in the cave. Noble!

Another another 50s monster movie. This time the beasties of honor are obviously friendly dogs with ratty furs on their backs. The movie tries to make them seem scary by saying their saliva is incredibly poisonous so the merest scratch is fatal. Yeah, we're buying that. The movie has some great host segments, including instructions on how to mix the drink "The Killer Shrew," which includes, among many other things, a unfortunate tryst between Mr. Pibb and Mrs. Butterworth.

At last we come to the first of the Italian muscleman movies, also known as "Sword and Sandals" movies. (Well technically the first was Cave Dwellers, but it's not a good example of the type.) Throughout them all Hercules gets involved in all kinds of trouble, as Greek demigods were wont to do. In this one he loses his memory from drinking from the Waters Of Forgetfulness and hooks up with an evil queen. Every Sword and Sandals movie ever made, as near as I can determine, has a scene in which half-naked young women prance around the royal court like ninnies to music. I bet none of those women, when they were sweet, idealistic little girls, expected that their careers would take quite that kind of a turn.

The second Sword and Sandals movie. There is an unforgettable line in this movie, and it goes: "We, the people who are dedicated to Uranus." NOW THAT YOU HAVE READ IT IT WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU. The moon men look vaguely like owl people. And an old man is killed while walking down a secret corridor by the most laughable trap you've ever seen. All told though it's just another day in ancient Greece.

Honestly there are worse movies than this Bert I. Gordon fantasy, which at the least is suitably fantastic, and I can really respect that. It's still somewhat goofy, but what really great fantasy isn't? Movie fantasies like this one tend to find some respected actor, or at least formerly respected, but someone with a good voice and stage presence, to play the bad guy. In the Dungeons & Dragons movie it was Jeremy Irons, and here it's Basil Rathbone. Unexpected fact #1: Bert I. Gordon is still alive! Unexpected fact #2: he has a web page! Anyway, there are a number of 50s and 60s movies that have a certain vibe to them due to being produced and/or directed by a certain subset of low budget Hollywood filmmakers, and Bert I. Gordon was one of them. Other names to watch out for: Samuel Z. Arkoff, and the infamous/legendary Roger Corman.

More Hercules! Of course he almost hooks up with the evil queen. Of course he ends up overthrowing the kingdom. This concludes the early Hercules trilogy, but they would go on to do two more Sword and Sandals movies: 502- Hercules, and 605- Colossus and the Headhunters, but I don't think those rise quite to the heights of the first three.

That title doesn't contain a typo, according to the title displayed at the start of the film, that's the title. The error in the title is completely in keeping with the lack of care with which the movie was made. The creatures are sometimes shown with headpieces askew, and sometimes missing part of their costume. At the end it turns out that bright light kills the aliens, always an unfortunate weakness to have when invading a planet in a heliocentric system.

421- MONSTER A-GO-GO with short: CIRCUS ON ICE
I learned the hard way to treat this movie with respect. One of what I'm going to term the "lethal three," movies so bad that they not only go right through bad back around to good again, but keep going even after that and find a profound, abysmal kind of badness. It takes a calloused soul to survive (awake) through one of these, roughened by exposure to several previous MST episodes. If you introduce a friend to the show through one of these three you risk souring them on the whole idea and creating an anti-MSTie. But once you're acclimated, these episodes are without parallel. Barely coherent throughout, Monster A-Go-Go finishes with perhaps the most infamous ending of any Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode, an ending shocking in its awesome terribleness... but far be it from me to spoil it! Say what you want about Monster A-Go-Go, but you're not going to guess the ending.

On the other hand, this movie is absolutely charming. It's goofy as hell and completely deserving of its place among MST3K's collection, but it'd be watchable even without riffing. The product of brilliant Russian director Aleksandr Ptushko, this is one of three vivid, hallucinatory mythological fantasies produced by this true artist that MST would cover. If you don't fall in love with these movies (even while Joel and company mock them) you have no soul. The other two Ptushko movies MST would cover are 505: The Magic Voyage of Sinbad and 617: The Sword and the Dragon. Both are just as wonderful.

423- BRIDE OF THE MONSTER with short: HIRED! PT 1
Such are the depths of inept moviemaking that MST3K uncovered that this film, formerly considered by connoisseurs of badfilm as one of the worst ever made, has trouble even making it into a top ten list of bad MST movies. But it IS bad, and it IS produced by infamous auteur Edward D. Wood, Jr. The badness here is less dire as that of the "lethal three," so it doesn't make a bad introduction. I wish I could say the same for:

424- "MANOS": THE HANDS OF FATE with short: HIRED! PT 2
DANGER: RADIOACTIVE! Second of the lethal three. Not suitable for newbies, many of whom will be driven to despair by this relentless dirge. Don't believe me? The first five minutes of the movie is driving. Torgo guards the gates of hell. Ia! Ia! Shub-niggurath! Can suck the soul out of both your body and your evening. Heed my words! For MST3K vets this one is great fun, a masterpiece of riffing, but treat Manos with respect or Manos will destroy you.

Now we're into the fifth season, and Joel only has 13 episodes to go. This is one of the better of his remaining shows. Donald Pleasance is in this, the first of two MST3K appearances, both as villains. Poor guy, but I guess that's the price you pay for being Blofeld. It's another post-apocalyptic trudge through the wasteland, here with a lead actor ("that Paper Chase guy") whose voice isn't that far off from Christian Bale's Batman. His "supersonic speedcycle," has a Windows screensaver built into its dash and a voice no one in their right might would ever want to hear -- but after the apocalypse, you take the talking motorcycle you get, I suppose. Our hero is supposed to be Han Solo-like in how he doesn't care about the good guys, but he just comes across as a complete asshole. But at least this movie gave us MEGAWEAPON.

506- EEGAH!
There's a kind of James Bond theme to MST3K at this point in its history. Donald Pleasance as a supervillain, and around the same time a couple of movies with Jaws himself, Richard Kiel. This is the second (the first was 420: The Human Duplicators). Eegah asks us to believe that there is a survival from prehistoric times, and he's lived for centuries in California. There's lots of pinkness on display here. The first thing to remember: watch out for snakes! A piece of advice so important that a disembodied voice says it to our intrepid party from out of the ether. The second thing to remember: tequlia.

More Bondian badness, this time in a kind-of spy movie starring a Moneypenny and Sean Connery's brother Neil. Neil's character is really a superhero who can do anything, from action stuff to hypnotizing people at a glance, without any effort at all. Watch for the villain's all-female army; this guy may have been where Gaddafi got the idea from. Apparently the female body has a hundred uses. Why do these girls stick around with Dr. Evil and be objectified? We don't really know. There's a great host segment here where Joel channels the evil guy and dresses the robots up like the girls from the movie.

Here it is, Joel's last episode, and an infamous movie. They cut into Joe Don Baker so many times through the course of this ugly, ugly film that it's no wonder he had it in for them. They paint a picture of a deeply unpleasant man, and Baker doesn't really help matters any when he gets into a shouting match with an obnoxious kid, or has a pink and sweaty sex scene with Linda Evans while a bottle of baby oil rests on the nightstand. A great episode, but because of its momentous nature not good to introduce people to the show with.

This one almost made the lethal list, it's certainly as bad as Monster A-Go-Go, but it's goofy enough that one tends to want to watch it just to find out what preposterous kind of thing's gonna happen next. Synthetic vampires, atomic hearing aids, a villain named "Rat Fink" in a luchador mask, the upsetting behavior of Heathcliff, the inexplicable reuse of footage from the Mole Men, the girls hanging out at Batwoman HQ apparently doped out of their pretty young minds, the list could stretch out as long as the movie. Kathrine Victor, the Batwoman herself, didn't stop making movies with this; she was also in Frankenstein Island, available in riffed form from the fine folks at Rifftrax.

A relative recent movie from the fiends at Cannon Films. Basically a vehicle for Kathy Ireland's body, but even that is barely displayed throughout this secret underground world kind of movie. Unfortunately, the lost world found by our heroine is Australia. This is one of those films where the intent was on world building damn all else. If I told you that this movie could be seen as a prototype for the Super Mario Bros Movie, would that intrigue you or warn you away?

Have you heard of the "Gorian lifestyle?" Thankfully it is barely evident in this big ol' skinfest, except in the form of a bunch of mostly-naked slave girls slinking around. A vocabulary expander: forever after seeing this, a solid display of some guy's crotch will be known to you as a "buffalo shot." This movie contains Jack Palance, who had bills to pay as much as anyone. If it seems like he's classing up the movie a little just wait a minute and a lithe, scantily-clad young miss will show up and gladly knock it back down for you.

MST did two Christmas movies in its run, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians and this. This one has the decency to stay on Earth, but then it turns out that its vision of Christmas lore has Santa living in a sky workshop over the north pole with kids from all nations, and Merlin the wizard, and a flower that lets him disappear, and wind-up reindeer, and even weirder things. The villain is Pitch the devil, a most ineffectual hellspawn. This episode brought us the phrase "good old fashioned nightmare fuel," you'll know why when it appears.


I don't know when I'll be able to finish this. Even going mostly by memory it takes a long time just to write them up.
posted by JHarris at 10:59 PM on August 11, 2012 [16 favorites]

JHarris: 421- MONSTER A-GO-GO with short: CIRCUS ON ICE
See to me, this one is worth it just for the short. It's got what has to be Servo's greatest riff of all time…
posted by ob1quixote at 12:26 AM on August 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

There's nothing sadder then a just got shot faun .....on ice.
posted by The Whelk at 12:46 AM on August 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Thanks everyone for the suggestions. And holy moses, JHarris. Thanks for taking the nuclear option in responding :)
posted by SomaSoda at 6:46 AM on August 12, 2012

I know it's a best post contest, but surely there's a Thread MVP award.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:00 AM on August 12, 2012

I'm pretty sure the line is "There's nothing sadder than a gut-shot fawn... on ice."

I purposely have ignored most shorts in the above because sometimes a great short comes with a so-so episode, and vice versa. If you're introducing people it would be better to just cover the short, such as with the infamous Mr. B Natural, which you can do with one of the multiple Shorts DVDs or probably off of YouTube.
posted by JHarris at 8:32 AM on August 12, 2012

Manos. The Hands of Fate.
posted by angrycat at 8:33 AM on August 12, 2012

Toro! Toro! These cars are made by Toro!
posted by porn in the woods at 2:32 PM on August 12, 2012

A Date with Your Family.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:45 PM on August 12, 2012

Manos. The Hands of Fate.

Just to remind some long-time fans who might have been out of the loop, but the Rifftrax team are doing a Live re-riffing of Manos: The Hands of Fate this week. If you've never seen one of their live shows (broadcast live via satellite (of love) to movie theaters) you are in for a treat. Although you're not literally there in the theater with them, the live audience watching with you, combined with the notion that "this is happening right now*" really makes it feel like a real show.

Also, for those in the L.A. area, the folks at Cinematic Titanic are doing a live riffing of Ted Mikel's "The Doll Squad" a week from tonight as part of the Everything is Festival

It's definitely a good time to be a fan of this show that's been off the air for a dozen years.
posted by ShutterBun at 5:29 PM on August 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

* tape-delayed to the West Coast
posted by ShutterBun at 5:30 PM on August 12, 2012

I guess what I'm saying is yes, families of all ages enjoy Dorkin!
posted by ShutterBun at 5:37 PM on August 12, 2012

I can't make it through Manos. Even MST3K can't make it watchable.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:46 PM on August 12, 2012

I'm back with highlights from seasons six through eight.

This is a weird one. A bit of googling reveals that, while filmed in 1957, this movie wasn't actually released until 1993; the episode aired in 1994, making this movie unusually fresh meat for the guys. A "scientist" named Krasker runs experiments on talking to dead people in the basement of his boarding house. In the end, however, his biggest experiment turns out to be a Scooby-Doo ruse, a sham in order to trick a murderer into giving himself away. Krasker is a strange guy; he presents himself as something of a Randolph Carter, but he's obviously just a kook playing around in a basement.

I have a real soft spot for this episode. Easily one of the worst movies MST's done, yet the monster is a real winner, an ur-example of the kind of world-endangering threat these old B&W monster movies provide: painfully slow, made of random bits scavenged from the workshop floor, and unable to eat anyone unless they actively crawl inside its mouth. The monster's incredible silliness helps to keep the entertainment value up for new viewers. The highlight is a long sequence in which the monster attacks a dance in a school gym; excusing the fact that it takes a long time just creeping up to the building, excusing the fact that it somehow just appears inside, even excusing the occupants lethargy in evicting the building (they queue up single file!), an actual fist fight erupts while the monster is swallowing people whole.

The Starfighters is nothing less than an U.S. Air Force propaganda film disguised as a theatrical release. Starring none other than (now) former Congressman Robert "Bob" Dornan himself, sometime guest host of the Rush Limbaugh show, which adds an extra tinge of disgust to the movie. Chock full of stock footage of planes refueling to romantic music; what Dr. Strangelove presented sarcastically this movie truly believes in. Randy yet idealistic young pilots screw around (in more than one way) in the American desert, and the movie fully expects us to care. Try to survive this one until you get to the infamous scene involving a party surrounding a certain brown colored suit; there must not be an awful lot to do in the Air Force. Has a couple of great musical moments from Tom Servo/Kevin Murphy. The first, the United Servo Academy Men's Chorus sings in a host segment; the second, during the film, is Servo's Song About Stock Footage. A song with a message we can all believe in.

619- RED ZONE CUBA with short: SPEECH
The worst of the three Coleman Francis movies MST would cover; the others are 609: The Skydivers and 621: The Beast of Yucca Flats. All of them are among the worst movies MST ever did, but this one "rises above" the others and becomes the third in the "lethal three," horrible to introduce people to the show with, but terrific for true MSTies. The "Cuba" section of the movie is a short section in the middle; our anti-hero protagonists go there, then leave it, leaving nary a trace of their passing on the plot. The thing that really pushes this movie into classic badfilm territory are the inept little artistic touches director Francis brings into it, like the John Carradine theme song "Night Train to Mundo Fine," or the narrated summary of protagonist Griffin's life at the end.

Frank's last show, and incredibly the only Mexican wrestler movie MST would ever do. All of these movies are about superhero masked musclemen who fight criminals, aliens and the supernatural as sidelines from their careers as professional luchadores. "Samson" here is actually El Santo himself, greatest of the luchadores. Of the MST staff, I get the feeling that it was Frank who had the greatest admiration for these terrible old movies, the film buff on the staff, and with his leaving the show one can sense something real and affectionate leaving the series.

For MST's last season on Comedy Central they were kind of on the outs with the network, who only ordered six episodes. These shows are kind of anomalous in the show's history, with a special opening done up just for them. This was right after the movie came out and they got to use some of the set design from that on the show. The movie is one of the two stand-out episodes of the season, one of the infamous "Deathstalker" movies, soft core porno fantasy flicks starring (in its other installments) a blond He-Man type who gets it on with various underdressed princesses and amazons. This appears to be the non-porno installment in the sequence, and the one with the least-buff actor playing D. Stalker, removing the only reason anyone would ever want to watch them. Listen for the words "Guess what I've been doing!" But do so with care; when you see what's on the screen when they're said, staring too hard (in disbelief or disgust) can easily cause nerve damage.

And so we come to the end of the Comedy Central era of the show, and also Trace Bealieu's last show. They go out with a real winner, with stop motion aliens, a teenage loaner who is slowly corrupted and mutated by a laser gun, and the real villain of the film: the crushing weight and despair of being a teenager in a small mid-western town in the 70s boring down on everything. I got the sense that the protagonist chooses to go out zapping people with his thingy mostly because it beats the alternative. Marking a landmark moment in MST history, I can't really recommend this episode to new viewers.

I'm generally less familiar with the later episodes in MST's run than the earlier ones, so it's possible that I've missed out some real classics that only reveal themselves after multiple views. Please don't take omission from this point on as indicative of boringness.

Infamously remade recently, without the original director's permission, as "The Island." This movie was made a short time after Watergate when it seemed like any kind of crackpot secret could be kept by the government. A utopian compound where human clones are raised stupid to provide spare organs for powerful politicians? How could that not happen??

With a title like that how could you go wrong? This is the movie that brought us Ortega, who you might think of as the Torgo of the Sci-Fi Channel era. Director and lead actor Ray Dennis Steckler, who died recently, reportedly disliked the way the MST guys treated his film. I hate to break it to his lingering shade, but it's really bad. Of particular note are the long, supposedly arousing dance sequences in which sort-of dressed young women prance around in formations that would make the temple dancers of Hercules movies proud, for no purpose at all that serves the plot. Large amounts of screen time are consumed by these entirely pointless displays.

It's not directed by Aleksandr Ptushko but it's close enough. Another charming Russo-Finish mythological fantasy, surprisingly watchable despite incredible weirdness. All kinds of stuff happens that only makes sense in fairy tales, but it does make sense, because this is a fairy tale. I wouldn't recommend it as a first episode, but after that it's excellent.

Perhaps hoping to revisit old glories, MST did two Japanese movies in its eighth season, this one and 819: Invasion of the Neptune Men. This is the more watchable of the two. A bootblack living in a large Japanese city who has adopted several orphans is actually, inexplicably, the all-powerful Prince of Space, defender of the Earth, protecting the world from the evil forces of Chicken Man the Phantom of Krankor. WAH... HAH... hah... hah! Once in a while this movie throws you an incredible curveball, like when an (obviously) model spaceship is approaching planet Krankor, then the camera pans over and there's a guy on the set in Krankorian costume, with no music sting and no real attention paid to him. It's just a giant hanging around, no biggie. His existence is mentioned in later scenes, but is completely unheralded up to that point, leading you to wonder for a while if it was a mistake, or maybe an hallucination. Crow reacts to it with some surprise.

We all know that stage magicians are the most evil people in the world, and ventriloquists a close second, so when we have a sinister man who is both you can be absolute certain that he must be Satan in human guise, choosing to work as a two-bit performer in questionable venues for some unknowable, infernal purpose. This dime-store Svengali seems to hold his assistant in some kind of hypnotic thrall, forcing her to gad about on stage in a suit that leaves most of her ass hanging out (the bots nickname her "Butt Lady"), but his real evil is expressed in how he's trapped some schmuck's soul in his ventriloquist dummy Hugo. As you might can guess, this leads to some decidedly uncomfortable performances. (But really, don't you just know this is how Jeff Dunham operates?) This seems like an awful lot to go through for the sake of a stage act, especially when the villain receives his comeuppance at the end, he's got to be wishing he just worked up a real act.

Ah, this one. MST3K has done the macho-name-for-strong-chinned-lead-actor thing before (way back in 109: Project Moonbase a character was nicknamed "Dirk Squarejaw") but they really go to town with them in this movie. The movie makers shamelessly steal their space battle scenes directly from Battlestar Galactica, there's a whole subplot with the spandex-wearing, plasma globe-worshipping alien women "Bellarians" that goes nowhere, a prominent crew member is killed in one scene and shows up as an extra soon after, and so on. Another of those little phrases that will sear itself on your memory: "She's presenting like a mandrill."

A real winner start to finish. Raul Julia, long before the Addams Family movies and even longer before Street Fighter: The Movie, stars in this made for public television production, dubbed by someone at one time the "thinking man's Tron." According to the MST3K Wiki (of course there is one), this was partially funded by the NEA, a fact that I hate to bring up for fear of supplying ammunition to budget-slashing wingnuts. The movie is so drenched in meaningless jargon that it's only barely comprehensible sometimes. A computer hacker's brain, in a mix-up involving a mischevious kid on a field trip switching body tags, gets uploaded to a computer for safe keeping and he has adventures in a virtual world that looks like Casablanca, while other people try to rein in his compu-shenanigans. With special effects like these you'd be forgiven for thinking it was an episode of 70s Doctor Who. By the way, if you think that this is actually how computer hacking works... well, then you're probably just like 90% of the world. Sigh.
posted by JHarris at 6:24 PM on August 12, 2012 [12 favorites]


What this post doesn't know is that it has only fifteen minutes left to live!
posted by The Whelk at 6:32 PM on August 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Another semi-interesting note about "I don't know much about X, but X doesn't look right to me, so it's fake." You guys should tackle the Zapruder film next. is that it was the only MST'ed movie to actually have been shot on video, which really gives the whole production a "cable access" feel.

Also, the brief scenes that were shot on film (namely: the baboons and other animals getting drunk on Maruba fruit) were taken lock,stock, and barrel from the film "Animals Are Beautiful People," which was a wonderfully quirky documentary made by Jamie Uys, who also created "The Gods Must Be Crazy."

posted by ShutterBun at 7:22 PM on August 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

Oh dear; my clipboard has made a butchery of my last post. Please replace the quoted-from-another-thread text with the word "Overdrawn."
posted by ShutterBun at 7:23 PM on August 12, 2012


All you need to know about this film is that they lost pretty much the entire soundtrack prior to wrapping, so the filmmaker was forced to do the entire thing with hamfisted narration and an occasional over-dub.
posted by ShutterBun at 7:25 PM on August 12, 2012 [3 favorites]

So THAT'S where "hi-keeba!" came from. After all these years.

I have great, fond memories of watching the show late on Fridays, and looking forward to the big annual Turkey Day. And sad regrets of not keeping tapes of my favorite episodes, because I naively thought it'd be on Comedy Central forever.

I think my biggest lament is that none of the MST guys really carried their talents over to something else with much success, other than different variations of MST. Joel, especially. He really could've gone on to some big, creative things. I think there was talk about him doing a kids' show with Andy Merrill (of Space Ghost/Cartoon Planet fame), and that would've been quite a combination.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 8:43 PM on August 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

You might be surprised. Although it's debatable what the definition of "much success" means, but many of them have gone onto various projects: writing and appearing on "Freaks and Geeks", "America's Funniest Home Videos," as well as screenplays (ahem) "Meet Dave" by Bill Corbett, books and regular magazine columns (Mike Nelson), Mary Jo Pehl has written at least a book or two, as well as Kevin Murphy.

Granted, it's fair to say that they've not exceeded their success on MST3K, but they definitely seem to have kept busy over the years.

Joel in particular is always a font of new ideas, but let's face it: success is anathema to him. On one hand it might be kinda lamentable that they've now settled back into what made them famous in the first place (riffing on movies) and not trying anything new, but on the other hand, it's kinda awesome. They're like the beloved band who still plays small gigs, but aren't too proud to play their old hits, as opposed to making us sit through all their new stuff, which nobody really wants to hear.
posted by ShutterBun at 9:00 PM on August 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

I guess I generally agree. I probably should've said "notable success" or something like that. Not that I expect anyone to be able to match MST3K, but they all kind of went on to more low-key projects, and maybe that's all they wanted.

I think the one thing about MST that gets overlooked is that it wasn't just the riffing that made it great, it was also the characters and host segments. It was like a variety show in and of itself, and in particular I loved the bits where Joel would sort of teach the bots about human nature, and it gave some heart to a show that was otherwise very cynical and irreverent. Very inspired, inventive stuff.

(And looking at related videos now, What's-a-Herringway from "First Spaceship on Venus" looks an awful lot like Christopher Nolan.)
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 9:21 PM on August 12, 2012

I watched two episodes this weekend, picked at random from the selection on Netflix, that both included my all-time favorite running gag: Trace Beaulieu's dead-on Fred Schneider impression. THERE GOES A NARWHAL!
posted by Merzbau at 9:35 PM on August 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

TheSecretDecoderRing: It was like a variety show in and of itself, and in particular I loved the bits where Joel would sort of teach the bots about human nature, and it gave some heart to a show that was otherwise very cynical and irreverent. Very inspired, inventive stuff.
You know, I watched a couple last night because of this thread, and the thing that struck me is that MST3K inexplicably became a kids show. Little kids wrote letters and drew pictures for Joel and the Bots, and for a long time they showed one every week. I've always wondered how the Brains reacted to that when it started happening.
posted by ob1quixote at 9:39 PM on August 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Well, one of the many influences of the show was a spinoff of the old "Kukla, Fran, and Ollie" puppet show (along with Silent Running). It seems like the show was always meant to be sort of a satire of that genre (but intended for grown-ups, considering the references they made). And I guess it inadvertently appealed to kids too, but I can't imagine they'd have been too surprised. It's nice that they embraced it, though.

Some of their older stuff can be seen in the MST3K Scrapbook video, which starts out with a very Peter Tork-ish Joel. And a mention of "Death Valley Days."

That reminds me, though, my other big regret is never writing to the MST3K Info Club. I hear people got some cool stuff for doing so.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 10:01 PM on August 12, 2012

MST3K inexplicably became a kids show. Little kids wrote letters and drew pictures for Joel and the Bots, and for a long time they showed one every week.

Inexplicably? That's known in the business as "working as intended." Let's face it, they had a 2 hour TV show on basic cable (shown at bizarre times such as 10am Saturday morning) featuring talking robot puppets. The whole idea was to create sort of a "Captain Kangaroo" vibe (hence why they *chose* to read letters from little kids more often than adults.)

Also, for those without Netflix, there are a handful of episodes on (standard) Hulu right now (As well as some full Rifftrax features and shorts), and I think pretty much all of the episodes are on YouTube by now.

(on preview: SDR's comparison to Kookla, Fran, and Ollie is most apropos.
posted by ShutterBun at 10:11 PM on August 12, 2012

I hear people got some cool stuff for doing so.

Not to mention god-like geek bragging rights from here on out.
posted by ShutterBun at 10:12 PM on August 12, 2012

I still have my fan club card around here somewhere, and some issues of the print Satellite News. (brag brag)
posted by JHarris at 10:50 PM on August 12, 2012

Man, I feel like Crow after Servo got a go kart, and he just got a nice pair of slacks that he could wear as dressy or casual.

Did you guys write a fan letter in hopes it'd be read on the show, or was it just "Here's my address, now send me stuff!"?
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 10:57 PM on August 12, 2012

Well come on, you can wear them to job interviews and things like that.
posted by ShutterBun at 1:13 AM on August 13, 2012

intended for grown-ups, considering the references they made

I must admit, it is a bit awkward watching some episodes with my pre-teen daughter. The occasional oblique reference is OK, as so many of their references go over her head (and some over mine, frankly -- the show and its cultural referents are 20 years old at this point), but there is an awful lot of pretty explicit "now they are having sex" humor.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:33 AM on August 13, 2012

but there is an awful lot of pretty explicit "now they are having sex" humor.

Well, when a monster and a small car love each other very much, they....
posted by JHarris at 8:33 AM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's the 80's! Do a lotta of coke and vote for Ronald Reagan!
posted by Chrysostom at 8:57 AM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Someone's rubbing puppets on her!
posted by The Whelk at 9:02 AM on August 13, 2012

JHarris: "Well, when a monster and a small car love each other very much, they...."

The idea of sex ed as presented by the Satellite of Love is both chilling and hilarious.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:05 AM on August 13, 2012

"Hey, look! Robbie Benson, Jack Burns, Andrea Martin, Dennis Hopper, Jodie Huson, Garry Shandling, Paul Reiser, Peter Cook, Junior Samples, Elaine Boosler, Adam Sandler, Barry Sobel! And there's Garth Brooks, Bruce Miller, Les Paul, Patrick Swayze as Gandhi, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Robert Carradine, Bruno Kirby, Griffin Dunne, Mike Nichols, Ron Reagan! Demi Moore, Gabriel Byrne, Gallagher, Robert Loggia, Janis Joplin, and Jonathan Schwarz! Oh ho! There's Lyle Waggoner, Tom Dreisden, Steve Rubell, Alan Alda, Michael Ironside, kd lang, Kate Clinton, Lee Van Cleef, Marlee Matlin, David Byrne, Linda Hunt, Leslie West, Sandy Duncan, Craig T Nelson, David Letterman, Tony Danza, Anthony Quinn, Edie Brickell, and Tony Bill! Cool! And Roland Gibb, Tracy Kozinski, and Rene Auberjonois! John Hurt, Cicely Tyson, Michael Perry! Persis Khambatta! And ... I can't place him. Paper Chase guy?"
posted by Chrysostom at 9:07 AM on August 13, 2012 [3 favorites]

Ok, quiz:

1. In what episode is there a couple who are about to kiss, but for some reason are really slow in the kissing endgame, and the riff is "Docking.... Docking complete"?

2. Once I saw an episode - probably 1996 or earlier - that was one of the b/w teen-in-trouble dramas, where there's a girlfriend and boyfriend, and one of them belongs to a motorcycle gang, and gets the other one in trouble. It was the funniest episode; I was just splitting my sides the whole time. But which one was it? I haven't been able to find it again. Any bets?
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:21 AM on August 13, 2012

And so we come to the end of our tour, covering highlights from the ninth and tenth seasons of Mystery Science Theater 3000. As with the previous comments, these are based off a combination of fan buzz and personal opinion. I'm sorry if I miss one of your favorite episodes, but I simply can't cover all 198 episodes here without far more preparation than I can allow myself to put in here.

A nebbishy white guy is actually the reincarnation of an Aztec demigod, who must fight against the mind-controlling powers of Donald Pleasance, who's Blofelding again. He has perhaps the lamest theme music of all heroes, and he flies around with far less grace than you might expect from his title. Most of the movie consists of our hero failing in various ways and sorely disappointing his South American guide to the ways of heroism.

A lot of people like this one, but I haven't seen it more than once so far. It was made in 1995, making it the most recent of all MST movies. Particularly notable for having the TUSK bit going on throughout the ending credits.

A movie about unpleasant white kids in the 80s, full of awful stereotypes, in a world so eager to justify them it seems puppyish. Obviously made to ride the coattails of Gremlins, the Hobgoblins are gussied up dolls, and mostly inanimate; most Hobgoblin movement is done off-screen, with reaction shots. This movie has the power to turn a casual misanthrope into Mark Twain. After the episode increased the movie's popularity director Rick Sloane went and done made a 2009 sequel, the theme song of which is based on the Hobgoblins song sung by Mike and the bots.

A man driving through Lovecraft Country ("CAUTION: Cultists next 20 miles") stops off to dally with a woman who, it turns out, has the devil in her. The secret knowledge implanted in her mind by her Faustian bargain appears to concern knowing "where the fish lives." Reader, if you made a pact with Dark Forces granting you witch powers and immortality, what would you do? Go out to Hollywood and live it up consequence-free or consign yourself to an eternity of crushing subsistence farming? These folks are living the dream. JEEEEEEED!

More cultists! Movies in the 80s were rife with stories riding the satanism hysteria. This one introduces us to an ex-cultist by the name of Rowsdower, and Mike and company make sure you won't forget it. Contains more than your recommended daily allowance of grizzled old prospector. Watch for their Canada song, which takes an unexpectedly negative tone.

There is this song, as near as I can tell featuring in roughly half the barbarian and medieval movies ever produced. You must know the one I'm talking about. It involves flutes, and someone is beating a drum, and there's a tambourine in there. It is a favorite at court, in pagan temples, and in village faires, marketplaces and bazaars from Wales to Persia. I bring it up because DAMN IT IF IT ISN'T ON CONSTANT LOOP THROUGHOUT THIS WHOLE WRETCHED MOVIE. Too-tootie-toot-toot-toodle-loodle-HOO-hoo, too-tootie-toot-toot-toodle-loodle-HOO-HOO, (repeat ads infinitum and nausium). Well, I guess it beats Safety Dancing. This movie was shockingly ill-informed about the life of Leonardo Da Vinci decades before Dan Brown.

Some kids get trapped on the border between life and death after a car crash. They are menaced by a creepy angel of death, who himself is menaced by the even creepier Robert Z'dar and his Chin of Fate. (Z'dar also appears in 1004: Future War.) The movie was written by the lady who plays the heroine, so as the guys point out during the film, she wrote herself a bath scene. Not a good episode to introduce people to, but only because Joel and Frank come back to the show in cameos, and if a viewer doesn't know who those people are their returns will have no impact.

Another of that MST staple, episodes of a failed TV show shoved together and called cinema. This one's especially notable for its framing story involving a grandfather (Ernest Borgnine) telling his sons stories about Buttercup and the Dread Pirate Roberts a jerk who gets ahold of the Necronomicon and a clapping monkey toy that kills things. Well that's enough reading from Grandpa Borgnine's Book of Terrors kid, sweet dreams!

This is a legendary bad movie, known in some circles as Zaat. It opens up with one of the most ludicrous monologues in the show's history: "Sargassum... WEED of DECEIT!" His laboratory might be the most depressing room in the world, it's real dingy and poorly lit, the kind of place you could well imagine inspiring madness, not like a sudden flame, but more like the slow, cold spread of mildew enveloping the brain. The evil scientist's madness is well-depicted by his giant Zaat chart, like a Mayan calendar of insanity. For some reason whenever people get killed the editor likes to suddenly throw pictures of swamp creatures up on the screen.

A movie obviously made by, and for, rednecks, concerning the hunt for some kind of Bigfoot creature. Contains two of the most disturbing moments in Mystery Science history. The first is the outhouse scene, about which all I'll say is that it ends with someone being hosed off. The second is Old Man Crenshaw, about which I'll say AUGH MY EYES. Crenshaw is a horror much more profound than the monsters, a potato sack of a man wearing overalls on which the warranty clearly expired long ago.

I'm going to leave it there. There are other notable, even great episodes, but those stick out the most in my mind. Anyone else want to chime in with favorites? BTW, I realize now that I missed another personal favorite, 620: Danger!! Death Ray, with the infamous (ping!) Bop-da-dop-da-dah-dah song.
posted by JHarris at 10:05 AM on August 13, 2012 [10 favorites]

Borgnine's character was telling his grandson stories, sorry.
posted by JHarris at 10:11 AM on August 13, 2012

JHarris, I somehow missed the link to your Kickstarter for an episode-by-episode guide to the whole series. Can you point it out to me?

It's fun when there are things.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:34 AM on August 13, 2012

ShutterBun: Inexplicably? That's known in the business as "working as intended."
N.B.: Comment delayed because I didn't check the MetaFilter Status Blog until it was too late, and by then it was bedtime.

I don't think it's obvious Hodgson, et al. intended to create a kids show. Yes, Hodgson acknowledges the influence of certain children's programs in the creation of the format. Particularly Beanie and Cecil, which he says, was the first cartoon I remember watching and I think there are analogies.

Still, I think they thought they were going after an audience around their own ages or maybe the college kids a little younger than they were. While there was always a mix, little kids are never going to get a joke about Gaussian equations being flawed due to their strictly Euclidean view of the universe.

However, they certainly embraced the children's audience. Not least by reading their cards and letters on the air, as you mention. I'm just still curious about the reaction in the writer's room was when instead of getting letters from college age stoners, little kids' pictures started pouring in.
posted by ob1quixote at 11:18 AM on August 13, 2012

I have a soft sot for THE HORORRS OF SPIDER ISLAND, an East German/Czech commie coproduction, an attempt to exploit cheapo monster nudie films and boy does it exploit as it follows the adventures of a troop of showgirls trapped on a remote island after a plane crash.

Bad dubbing, terrible effects, and a monster subplot that just evaporates half way in for more lingering shots of the stranded showgirls in increasingly smaller outfits. Notable for a long pan of the girls sleeping nearly nude outside and Tom screaming " THE HORRORS OF SPIDER ISLAND!"
posted by The Whelk at 1:14 PM on August 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

I would agree with that, ob1quixote. It was certainly subversive (probably more so in the Joel era) in that it outwardly appeared as a Saturday morning kid's show, while the jokes were clearly aimed at the adults in the room. Beany & Cecil were the same way, as well as The Muppet Show. Possibly they chose to read kid's letters more often just to carry on the illusion that they were making a children's show.
posted by ShutterBun at 1:46 PM on August 13, 2012


Every time I read that, my inner voice says it just like in the movie. My favorite bit is when Dr. Strangelove shows up at the beginning to help with the auditions.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:55 PM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh and the aformentioned THE GIRL IN THE GOLD BOOTS, a rare non Sf/fantasy/horror Sci-Fi channel outing, this bit of 60s era Showgirls gives us a young dancer who wants to flee this one horse town and the sweaty, confusing beatniks who drive into her life to save her. A drug-and-sex exploitation film that doesn't seem to understand drugs, sex, or exploitation, our heroine ends up taking a job at a Halloween themed nightclub ( a real Hollywood landmark in the 60s!), does some drugs, and finds out even the " sex and drugs industry has a seamy underbelly!". A rare example of the Star-Is-Born genre in MST3k, a soild riffing experience, an Orginal score straight out of open mic night, and not so much Beyond the Valey Of The Dolls as six feet under it.
posted by The Whelk at 2:01 PM on August 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

Then my mind had babies and got stretch marks.
posted by Chrysostom at 2:05 PM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Suddently I love the Allman Brothers!
posted by The Whelk at 2:08 PM on August 13, 2012

I'm having Critter's varmint!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:54 PM on August 13, 2012

I can't date you because I'm significantly bigger than you.
posted by The Whelk at 2:58 PM on August 13, 2012

She's dancing the specials at TGI Fridays.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:02 PM on August 13, 2012

I just teleported here, c'mon it's impressive!
posted by The Whelk at 3:08 PM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

The club where they filmed the scenes for "Girl in Gold Boots" was called the "Haunted House," and is now known as "The Cave." Amazingly, it seems to have gotten even more seedy than it was in the 60s.
posted by ShutterBun at 3:09 PM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

That movie has some real classic 60s Hollywood sleaze settings, ESP. The arriving in L.A montage

" a ten story office building!? This could only be L.A!"
posted by The Whelk at 3:11 PM on August 13, 2012

We're the Bank of America, whoa-oh!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:13 PM on August 13, 2012

Merry Christmas, everyone! Let's all go to the Haunted House.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:14 PM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Cowboy Santa.
posted by The Whelk at 3:16 PM on August 13, 2012

He gets a nice harmonica sound out of that guitar.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:23 PM on August 13, 2012

Ah THE SCREAMING SKULL, this is kind of a hard sell cause it's basically a two hour thesis on boredom. The normal structure of an episode is upended cause NOTHING HAPPENS. No seriously, nothing happens in this movie and the stuff that does is so drawn out and underplayed it's like anti action. In the right mindset, this is almost art. Add in some Castle-like gimmick opening about how anyone who dies during the movie will get a free funeral and a psychological horror plot that never gets more dramatic beyond skull throwing and painting burning and you have a movie that frustrates even the bots as, after another plotless sequence occurs, crow shouts CAN WE GIVE YOU A PUSH MOVIE LADY?
posted by The Whelk at 5:21 PM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

On the other hand, The Screaming Skull is worth it simply for the Gumby short which precedes it.
posted by ShutterBun at 5:43 PM on August 13, 2012

That squares my breasts.
posted by The Whelk at 5:44 PM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you're like me, and I know I am....
posted by Chrysostom at 5:12 AM on August 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

To respond with what the MST guys did after the show, from above:

Well, Joel made TV Wheel, which was entertaining but failed to catch on. He worked with his brother Jim for a while on a special effects company Visual Story Tools. IMDB reminds, in addition to TV Wheel, they made a movie called Statical Planets. I have heard that Joel did some stage magic effects on the TV show Sabrina the Teenage Witch.

Mike and Kevin wrote books. Mike's are collections of essays and one novel, Death Rat, about the weirdness of Minnesota, featuring direct parodies of Garrison Keilor and Prince. They're pretty funny generally. He also had a long column in some magazine or other that doesn't leap to mind at the moment.

Kevin's book is the terrific "A Year At The Movies," which I can't recommend highly enough. In it he writes about his experiences watching a movie a day for a year. Furthermore, all of the days except one (due to a mistake on his part) the movies were projected, not on a video screen. He goes to all kinds of venues, including a movie theater made of ice, a theater in a truck stop, the Mall of America (one of his worst experiences), in the wilds of Australia, and so on. It's an impossibly lovable ode to the joys of cinema. I got him to sign my copy at DragonCon a couple years ago. Kevin also did the occasional piece for National Public Radio for a while.

Bill Corbett has written plays. In one panel his first year at Dragon, he actually presented a part of one. He's also written screenplays; unfortunately, the one you would know is the original screenplay of Eddie Murphy's inexorable Meet Dave, originally Starship Dave, which was changed greatly by executive meddling on its way to the screen. You might consider him participating in a corrupt system, but I prefer to think of it as the wise leech draining blood from the corpulent hippopotamus. That's because I like weird analogies.
posted by JHarris at 8:14 AM on August 14, 2012 [3 favorites]

Yeah, they've all found a fair bit of success in their creative endeavors. Everyone has drifted back to riffing, which is cool, too-why not do something you like and audiences enjoy?
posted by Chrysostom at 10:50 AM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

The BoingBoing post seems to claim this is the first time MST guys have gone back to one of the old movies, but that's not quite true. Cinematic Titanic redid Santa Claus Conquers The Martians a couple of years back, although it wasn't a live show. (I think it was one of their last DVD-only releases, they've really been focusing on live shows lately.)
posted by JHarris at 5:55 PM on August 14, 2012

New Salon interview with Joel.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:22 AM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Also, JHarris, you should re-mention the "Jollyfilter" process that Joel came up with ( previously by JHarris ) which looked promising.

I met Joel for the first (and only) time shortly after that video came out and asked him about it. We agreed that it was a really fun idea, but he pointed out that it was just way too expensive to do anything further with.

I see his return to riffing as being akin to Jordan returning to basketball after trying his hand at baseball. He left for less-than-perfect reasons, did his thing, then found a way to come back and do what he's best at. (though in Joel's case, it really would be great if more of his wacky ideas caught on; he's terribly creative)
posted by ShutterBun at 9:57 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

(bleh...it looks like the "Jolly Filter" video has been removed from YouTube. Did anyone manage to save a copy?)
posted by ShutterBun at 9:59 PM on August 15, 2012

Rifftrax Presents "The 7 Most Unintentionally Hillarious Movies of the Decade", Cracked, Aug. 16, 2012
posted by ob1quixote at 5:10 AM on August 16, 2012

Paul, I enjoyed your letter to the Philippians.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:04 PM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee "A Taste of Hell From on High" Season 1, Episode 5. Jerry's special guest is Joel Hodgson in this episode of Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee.
posted by ob1quixote at 1:58 AM on August 24, 2012

"Chip Hitler"
posted by lkc at 12:24 AM on August 29, 2012

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