MST3K

Mystery Science Theater 3000 is back and we can all breath easy again 

It’s back! 

After a successful Kickstarter campaign, cult favourite TV show Mystery Science Theater 3000 is now back and available on Netflix. 

I have to say, as a big fan of the originals (and Rifftrax) I was pretty worried that they they couldn’t pull this off, even with creator Joel Hodgson on board. But after watching the first few episodes since they were made available on April 14th, I’m feeling much more reassured. 

The episodes are good! Hooray! Though I doubt any of the new episodes will crack anyone’s top ten, they certainly have a lot to like. Especially once you get over the more irritating changes (Tom Servo flies, Gypsy has a “normal” voice and Crow’s new body is terrifying). 

For one, it feels modern. And the skits are pretty spot on (certainly much better than the riffing in the early episodes). But things are as silly and nerdy as always. Oh, and the films picked are absolutely hilarious all on their own.

The new cast do a pretty good job, too. Jonah Ray isn’t as easily likeable as previous hosts Hodgson and Mike Nelson, but he does a satisfactory job. I even like Felicia Day in this! I was a bit irritated by decision to cast big names, but it was a decision made to pull in a new audience. And if that means more fans of MST3K, then welcome. 

The premise of the show is hardly changed at all. A man and four robots are stuck on the Satelite of Love in an evil experiment where they’re forced to watch bad movies. Nothing changed here dramatically that could offend fans of the originals. 

It’s a pretty damn good revival. But I’m mostly happy that it’s bringing this show back to the forefront of things. MST3K has always been a niche show, but television today is better than it ever has been for niche. May the future be bright. 

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MST3K set for a 2016 reunion show

RiffTrax-MadeFunnyByLogoThere is something so very special about a bad movie. But every bad movie can always be improved by one thing: Mystery Science Theater 3000. And while the show called it a day back in 1999, it’s carried on in reiterations like RiffTrax, who will be celebrating their 10th anniversary in 2016.

To celebrate RiffTrax’s birthday, Kevin, Mike and Bill have a few events planned, but none are as big as the one planned for June this year: a Mystery Science Theater 3000 reunion show.

The usual trio will be joined by several familiar faces to MST3K fans. Bridget Nelson (Nuveena), Mary Jo Pehl (Pearl), Trace Beaulieu (Dr Clayton Forrester) and Frank Conniff (TV’s Frank) will all be joining in to riff sci-fi film Time Chasers. Bridget and Mary Jo will be familiar names to RiffTrax fans as well for their hilarious riffs on shorts like Prom: It’s a Pleasure. As a bonus finale for the show, the entire cast will be joining in on something they are calling the “SUPER RIFF-A-PALOOZA.” And paloozas are always run, right?

Like with the previous RiffTrax, this reunion show will be riffed live for audiences across America on June 28th. There will also be a selection of educational short films also being riffed for viewing pleasure. But no matter what the cast decide to do, this is a show that promises to be great.

And yes, that reboot is still happening. But the more MST3K fun the merrier, right? I share love for all MST3K members, but as a great lover of RiffTrax, this reunion show is particularly something I’m excited about. Unfortunately, the shows are still not extending into UK. But one day. One day…

Until then, for those unable to attend – the team are offering a digital version of the show for a reward for backers as well as a digital download of their show Time Chasers.

You can donate on the kickstarter page until Saturday April 9.

 

MST3K Mondays comes to RiffTrax!

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Who says Mondays are awful? Well, probably everyone. But thankfully there is now a little bit of salivation for the beginning of the week. There is now the MST3K Monday to look forward to every week, thanks to the crew over at RiffTrax.

The old Mystery Science Theater 3000 group consiting of Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbet are releasing favourite episode of their former show each Monday. RiffTrax have been releasing new content since their website launched in 2006. The two shows will compliment each other in a most beautiful way.

MST3K Monday is great news, especially for foreign audiences. It can be a bit tough to get a hold of the gang’s older material as region-free releases are far and few. Those of us outside of North America can all finally enjoy our MST3K with the freedom of the internet.

This Monday’s new additions are The Pumaman and the absolute classic, The Final Sacrifice. The episodes will be available to download and stream from the RiffTrax website for $9.97 (and they’ll be yours… forever!). Check back every Monday for the next episode. Each of these two episodes will include a lovely intro from Mike Nelson himself. Just watch the announcement video below to feel those jittery, excited feelings:

If you’ve seen every episode of MST3K and would like to try something new – RiffTrax are always uploading new riffed movies for your viewing pleasure. Thankfully this is a group of comedians whose humour has aged extremely well.

MST3K guys back on Comedy Central (at least for tonight)

On June 9th something truly great is going to happen. Something that could win the Internet. Lo and behold, the guys from Mystery Science Theater 3000 will be back on Comedy Central for the first time in almost two decades.

Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett of RiffTrax (and formerly MST3K) take a trip back to their old station where they will be joining Chris Hardwick on the popular show @midnight. For those not familiar with the Emmy-nominated show, @midnight is an improv comedy/game panel show that take part in various games inspired by the internet. Hardwick, co-host of the popular Nerdist Podcast, will be pitting the guys against each other in a #HashtagWars to end all wars.

MST3K was on Comedy Central from 1989-1996 before moving to Sci Fi (SyFy). Seeing them back promises to be worth watching. Catch the episode of @midnight with the RiffTrax at 12A/11C.

And after they’ve paid their visit, this means we can get the crew back on Comedy Central again. Right? Please? Until that fateful day, keep up with Mike, Kevin and Bill on their RiffTrax website. They frequently release new films that they’ve riffed, and yes they’re still the best.

I recommend their latest b-movie riff, Rock n Roll Nightmare, highly because “like Spinal Tap recording The Basement Tapes on the set of Labyrinth if it was written by Otto from The Simpsons, Rock n Roll Nightmare is some serious 80s cheese.” And who doesn’t want that? If you don’t that watch To Catch a Yeti because why not enjoy Meatloaf acting with a puppet?

PS: I say this every time and I will say it again: can we please get these guys in the UK?

Wicked (Wisconsin) Wednesday Pt. 1: The Giant Spider Invasion

I miss home.

Yes I know I moved to a great country and a fantastic city, but some days you can’t help but miss home – even if it is a bit crap. So although I can’t go back the weird place I call home – Wicked Wednesdays are temporarily dedicated to my state of Wisconsin. Never has there been a more bizarre and unusual place. So why not celebrate by watching every horror movies ever set there?

According to Wikipedia, there are only 43 films that take place in Wisconsin. Most of those were not horror-related, and most were not filmed there. But why not start off with one of the worst that both takes place and was shot on location? That gam, of course, is 1975’s The Giant Spider Invasion.

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I have to admit I gave myself a break right off the bat. I couldn’t handle this low-budget piece alone. When I found out MST3K used this movie for an episode, I opted to watch their version instead. Let the two worlds collide.

The movie stars several familiar faces including the still-gorgeous Barbara Hale as Dr. Jenny Langer and the Skipper himself, Alan Hale Jr as the clueless sheriff. As the title explicitly states, there is an invasion of giant spiders who crash land in a rural Wisconsin town.

The meteor-like object lands in the field of married couple Dan and Ev Kester. They’re a rather disgusting couple. She’s an alcoholic (though I do respect a woman who cracks open a PBR for breakfast) and he’s a pig. Dan often chases around his wife’s underage sister Terry and is having an affair with the local barmaid. That makes the spiders probably the least repulsive thing about this movie.

As Mike on the Satellite of Love notes, “You know guys, I know this makes it all look pretty bad, but there are a lot of good things that come from Wisconsin… Like fireworks and cheese. And fireworks…”

Ev and Dan decide to see what happened to the object that crashed in their fields. What they find are plenty of dead Holsteins that have been torn apart. While Wisconsinites are usually fearless people, there are several things we do not abide by: dead cows. Nothing puts terror into a heart like a lack of usable beef and the end of cheese.

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Drs Langer and JR Vance head the scientific investigation. They are never notified about the giant spiders (which are still terrifying in their early tarantula phase) that are lurking about in the fields of Wisconsin. Would have been a bit helpful. They spend much of their time theorising about black holes and sharing this really long-running joke about having a cup of tea. They find it incredibly hilarious. I suppose it’s one of those inside jokes that the audience is just too clueless to be included in.

But these two are clearly the heroes of the story. Even though Dr Vance is a massive sexist (he doesn’t believe that Dr Langer could possibly be a scientist), the two forge a small romance. They are always talking in sciencey-speak so I really never paid attention to their bits.

There is only one giant spider in the end. While it looks slightly ridiculous, there has to be a bit of respect for the creative way they made the insect. The production crew dressed up a Volkswagen Beetle with giant legs. The car was made up backwards to that the lights at the back could act as the red eyes for the monster. Pretty clever, actually, for a time without excessive CGI.

Mind you, throughout the entire film there is a subplot with this crazy preacher. He tells his followers about how the end of days is coming. I guess it comes in fire, brimstone and spiders. His words are repeated throughout the movie. I don’t entirely know his point but he certainly brings the feeling of impending doom.

This doom never really comes until over half-way through the movie. There are several characters that are picked off, but most of them who die are not even in the main cast. Some you only see die. So when you see mobs of people going after the spider, there is hardly any terror involved because it’s difficult to give a damn when you watch faceless humans get picked off.

To be completely honest, the ending was really confusing. Whenever there is any sort of science-related speech going on, my mind tends to automatically shut off. Thankfully Wikipedia offered some sort of insight:

“The invasion is deduced (with various scientific-sounding language) to be the result of some sort of interdimensional gateway, and is ultimately thwarted when Drs Vance and Langer manage to close off the gateway, draining the spiders of their energy and causing them to melt into puddles of disgusting sludge.”

And the entire time I thought they were just planning to blow up the big spiders. Shows how much I pay attention to these things.

This film was the typical struggle, but still remains laughably enjoyable. I honestly don’t know if I could have gotten through it without the crew of the Satellite of Love. There is still a labour of love that shows throughout. In many ways it feels low budget, but it probably took a lot to pull this off. I’d recommend it for a watch, though probably still to the Mystery Science version.

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But always remember: “Packers won the Super Bowl!!! Whoooo! Go Packers!”

Tommy Wiseau and RiffTrax to make movie magic

Yesterday at the Tribecca Film Festival, cult movie The Room met cult-television-heroes RiffTrax in a premier in hilarity and everything bizarre (including a group of men who clearly have never seen a football before).

Michael J. Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett, formerly of the utterly brilliant Mystery Science Theater 3000, will be tearing audiences apart with their upcoming live performances in May. The team has made fun of terrible (and sometimes good) cinema for years, but not much has come close to the mind-boggling bad The Room.

The film, released in 2003, has garnered some extreme fans over the past number of years making it one of the most successful cult films of the millennium. Actor/writer/director Tommy Wiseau is the much-loved creator behind the monstrosity. The Room is full of plot holes, horrific acting and questionable sex scenes, which means there is plenty of space for the RiffTrax crew to fill in with their quips.

While many directors have been upset over having their movies picked apart, Wiseau has embraced the culture that has surrounded his movie. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, the director had to say this about his collaboration:

“Long story short, they sent me a proposal and I approved the proposal,” Wiseau told us. “I’m pro-freedom, so I said why not, let people have fun.”

Pro-freedom? Why not!

See t he trailer for The Room here and enjoy the promotional video for the RiffTrax show below:

RiffTrax Live: The Room will be showing in cinemas across the States and Canada on May 6 and 12. There are, unfortunately, no UK dates in the work. Buy tickets for The Room and RiffTrax’s other live performances at Fathom Events.

I’ve looked every where-wolf

Being newly unemployed (or rather, my internship has ended) has given my life a new meaning: nothing at all. But having no job or no internship for the next month and a half will have to be inspiring. I shall write every day, clean, learn new crafts, and maybe even start on that novel.

Or maybe just watch the men at MST3K every single day.

Although I watched many of these as a kid, I think most of the goodness was lost on me. Over the past few years, Mystery Science Theater 3000 has become a favourite show of mine. Especially the ridiculously catchy songs.

In episode 904 titled Werewolf, the boys were particularly on point (after Gamera, of course).  The girl-group heartache just splits the sides. The song includes some of the best lyrics of any MST3K song:

“But just then his hairy paws caused the wheel to slide! I screamed! Too late! We hit a tree! He died!”

Well, whose story is this, Carol?

But there are times where the movies are so incredibly bad themselves, the songs are already there to give pure entertainment like in the Pod People episode. It definitely sounds like “Idiot Control Now” but whether or not I can’t get Joel’s voice out of my head is another mystery.

It has become my new destiny in life to spread the Mystery Science love to the UK. In many ways the shows are really American, but in a great way.

I am currently in the States for a few weeks as my student visa has expired and I have a wedding to attend in California at the end of the month. Exciting things, but always crazy. I will be back in the UK in March or until my visa gets processed. Who knows when that will be. Thanks immigration!