Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Day One Hundred - Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie, "Isn't the fact that it's Universal make it International?"
It feels like I started only yesterday with Day One and Hardware... but also like I've been doing this forever. That's the thing with memory: it exists in both states at once, a kind of quantum uncertainty as our time-sense flickers back and forth.
In any case, Day One Hundred rolled around and I began to feel the need to be meta... so I chose the only theatrical release of my second favorite television show of all time, Mystery Science Theater.
(The first is, of course, Pushing Daisies which is, sadly, not available on streaming).
Back to the matter at hand... sure, the closing trio of MST3k (Mike, Bill, and Kevin) have been doing one of its two spiritual successors (Rifftrax) live every year, broadcasting in specially streaming theaters across the nation, but it's just not the same without the shadows of Mike (or Joel), Crow, and Tom Servo taking up the bottom third of the screen and adding the occasional physical dynamic to the commentary comedy.
MST3k: The Movie takes most of the silver age cast (including Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Trace Beaulieu) and streamlines the premise of the television series in order to widen the audience and generally introduce the characters and their situation to movie-goers who might not have had the privilege of knowing about MST3k's days on Comedy Central and KTMA.
Trapped in space, Mike Nelson and his Robot Pals (Tom Servo, Crow, and Gypsy) are forced to watch bad movies by their captor, Dr.Clayton Forrester... a would be mad scientist. All of that is just window dressing, though, as the point of the movie (and the series) is a couple of guys getting together and riffing on the cheesy scifi, adventure, and horror films of yesteryear.
MST3k:The Movie chose to riff the classic scifi film This Island Earth, a silly little feature by today's standards that actually had decent effects for its era and tried to rise above its cheesy pulp fiction plot (not very successfully).
Let's just say that it's no Forbidden Planet.
Set in the post-war Americana of the 50's where scifi was all about the Other and the Atomic Age, This Island Earth on its own reminds me of those early comics that played fast and loose with credulity, relying on the most fantastic things they could put to paper and screen.
With the guys adding flavor via their meta-humor (about Meta-Luna, no less~), the movie is pulled up by its dated bootstraps and becomes golden once more. Everything from high-brow political humor to Trek jokes to the crass recurring fart gag, there's something for everyone in the jokes that Mike and the Bots casually lay over This Island Earth's original audio track.
The films, both old and new, are certainly rough... and the added budget of a whole new set and higher quality film and cameras kind of ruins the nostalgic, homespun feel that the series brought. To be honest, that was a lot of the appeal, that notion that a couple of folks with a peanuts budget could put together a consistently fun public-access style show. Seeing it brought up to the cinema level loses all that.
Still, MST3k: The Movie is one of the greatest geek films of all time both for its actual content and for the faction of riffing geekdom that it represents. My only regret is that my mother absolutely hates MST and the show (and my love for it) has been a point of contention between us since I first started watching it in the 90's. It's a small bone to pick, but it's there... lying dormant until my reflexes kick in on movie night and I utter an off-color joke.
Until tomorrow, Potatoes~