Last time out I extolled the virtues of the official TV show of Retropolis Mystery Science Theater 3000 and why I have a deep undying love and admiration for the show. I also listed the first 6 of my picks for 12 best episodes of the series (insert link to last blog here) and this week I am starting off by finishing off that list:
7. Episode 619 Red Zone Cuba
The auteur behind several MST3K movies (including The Beast of Yucca Flats and The Skydivers), Coleman Francis looks like Curly from the Three Stooges but if cast in a Bukowski novel and casts himself as the most absolutely unlikeable lead in any film ever. Seriously. This guy makes Patrick Bateman look like Wall-E in the charisma department. All of his dialogue sounds like he just woke up with a mouthful of marbles and the story jumps from seemingly random plot point to random plot point with little regard for things like character development or story. Also notable for the theme song sung (?) by John Carradine,”Night Train to Mundo Fine”. Mike Nelson was really coming into his own as MST host and the riffs fly fast and furious in this episode.
8. Episode 810 The Giant Spider Invasion
MST3k had many many movies depict the stratum of society known as “white trash” (Attack of the Giant Leeches, Squirm, Touch of Satan, the list could go on and on) but this movie is by far the white trashiest. Also, along with our next entry, one of the most quotable episodes of MST. If you hear two MSTies yell “PACKERS!” at each other its from this entry. Starring a doughy character actor you might remember as a guest star on several 60s and 70s TV shows past his prime,(Steve Brodie), the actress who played Della Street, Perry Mason’s secretary (Barbara Hale) and the Skipper from Gilligan’s Island. This movie is the cinematic equivalent of a trailer park after a tornado.
9 Episode 820 Space Mutiny
Possibly the most popular episode of the show, definitely the most quoted episode, Space Mutiny is a space operatic budget sci fi flick that recycles special effects shots from the original Battlestar Galactica by running them backwards, has as its lead a living, walking hunk of beef former football player-turned-”actor” Reb Brown (ruthlessly given fake tough guy nicknames like Blast Hardcheese and Brick Flattop throughout the episode by the MST crew) and a script so incomprehensible that dead characters return without explanation, subplots rev up and go nowhere, and,even after having watched this particular episode several times, I would be hard pressed to explain the story. I would use this episode as a litmus test; if you enjoy it and laugh you might be a MSTie, if not well then I would need proof that you are indeed human because it is hilarious.
10. Episode 903 The Pumaman
This movie may possibly be the worst superhero movie ever. Yes worse than Shaquille O’Neal as Steel, yes worse than the Corman Fantastic Four, or Barb Wire or Son of the Mask or even Man of Steel. I’d put it at an even stance with Joel Schumacher’s Batman and Robin, but it doesn’t have as big of a budget as Schumacher had to play with. Donald Pleasence is a leather-clad heavy with aspirations of world domination and the Pumaman, the utterly bland Walter George Alton, is a whiny goofball with powers given to him by ancient astronauts via an even goofier medallion and belt, is all that stands in his way. Armed in his brown velour costume and able to wield the power of shitty greenscreen effects and Casiotone, The Pumaman is the crappiest of all the crappy MST superheroes (although Prince of Space is a close second) and the episode is appropriately uproarious.
11. Episode 910 The Final Sacrifice
Another of the most popular and most quoted episodes, The Final Sacrifice stars no one and is . ,as Bill Corbett himself says in the intro scene, “the WORST THING TO COME OUT OF CANADA!!!” . A whisper thin ultra-wheedley teenager named Troy finds evidence that his father was killed by a cult that worship the hidden golden city of a lost civilization. In Canada. He is aided in his quest by a mulleted drunken drifter named Zap Rowsdower with a pick-up truck full of dirty laundry that keeps breaking down. No seriously, I am not just making this up. This was an actual movie. The resultant MST episode is incredibly funny, as you’d imagine it might be.
12. Episode 1013 Diabolik
The final episode of MST3K is a goofy 60’s romp based on a European comic book about a Batman-like master thief named Diabolik played by chronic scene-chewer John Phillip Law (the villain from Space Mutiny). Its full of silly gadgets, bad dubbing and actors that look like the extras from an Austin Powers movie.The Bots and Mike go out on a high note and an actual ending for their story in which the crew (SPOILER) actually, finally make it back to Earth only to find themselves doing pretty much exactly what they were doing on the Satellite of Love.
Well that’s a dozen to get you started. MST3K was one of the best TV shows of all time and thanks to the fans you can still access pretty much every episode of both the Comedy Central and SciFi Channel runs. If you like what you see, several of the original MST cast have continued riffing on bad movies after the show ended. There is the Cinematic Titanic group who have continued to find the worst of the worst of movies to make fun of, and the RiffTrax group who create mp3 files that you can synch to your DVDs that offer the riffing of an MST episode for most major Hollywood releases. They can be found at www.cinematictitanic.com and www.rifftrax.com respectively.
Hi Keeba! And keep circulating the tapes!
Retropolis is brought o you by Jim Dietz of the Nothing’s On podcast. Give it a listenI