Director: Joel Hodgson
THIS IS NOT A FILM BUT AS IT’S BASED ON FILMS & THERE IS NO TV SECTION – HERE IT IS.
In the early days of satellite TV and the internet you heard about US TV shows via friends, radio and TV – often they were huge, like Seinfeld, but still only shown at midnight on BBC2 sporadically, Mystery Science Theatre 3000 (hereafter known as MST3K) was so far off the mainstream radar that unless Danny Baker had mentioned it on his GLR radio show I would not have known of its existence.
By this stage it had entered it’s Sci-Fi Channel phase and had not long to run to the end of it’s final 10th season. First presented by it’s creator Joel Hodgson and later Mike Nelson, the show was simple in its premise. As a test subject for evil scientists, Joel / Mike was on a space station, forced to watch the worst movies ever made along with his robot pals, Crow T Robot & Tom Servo, which they survive by riffing jokes as they watch. The film plays with the silhouette of cinema seats at the bottom of the frame with the guys sitting there, occasionally getting up or pointing stuff out but continually cracking jokes. Stuffed full of film, music and television pop culture references not everything landed (especially if the target was too US centric) but their hit rate was impressive. They made a movie version which was shit.
Now, what started as a crowdfunded project by Joel which raised 6 million dollars, has become a fully fledged return via Netflix who have shown the original series in the past. I’m happy to report that it’s still great. Apart from the occasional cameo, Hodgson stays behind the camera and a new test subject, Jonah Ray, Crow, Tom, Gypsy, Cambot are again at the mercy of mad scientist Kinga Forrester and her sidekick Max (Felicia Day and Patton Oswalt) on their base on the dark side of the moon. The writers, robot voices may have changed but the movies stay the same – the lamest sci-fi, sword n sorcery, crime caper and plain darn awful films ever made. As the cast and writers are younger than the previous regime, the references are more up to date but still grounded in the pop culture from the 60’s onwards.
At heart it is a nerd thing – the film is broken up by little sketches and ad breaks to maintain the old school format and it has the geeky DIY charm despite being shot in HD. If you like it, you will grow to adore it. In the days before real internet shopping I imported VHS tapes of this from a PO Box in Ontario like some kind of drug deal. Shout Factory have done a fine job in reissuing the old shows in DVD box sets but it’s prohibitively expensive to do so.
Might appeal to people who enjoyed:
If you’re like the person who posted on Netflix comments section “I wish they’d shut up, I just want to watch the movie” then this may not be for you. But if you like something akin to TV Burp with people pointing out funny things on screen, or that characters have said or just ripping the piss out of cheap Italian made versions of Star Wars with David Hasselhoff, Christopher Plumber and scantily clad Amazonian women doing kung fu – then welcome to your new home
The 1st series PLUS the series of the classic episodes is now on NETFLIX