Making fun of movies has been a sport long enjoyed by movie goers of all ages. From the very young to the very old, people really do enjoy making fun of what they see on the big screen. Some are better at it than others, and a number of people decided to make it a career path with Mystery Science Theater 3000, a local TV show turned cable show turned movie. After numerous retoolings, the show went off the air but those involved are still doing what they do best-- making fun of movies. There are three camps which are still cashing in on their MST3K success, each with varying degrees of competency. Mike Nelson (Mike, as seen in this DVD), Kevin Murphy (Tom Servo, again from this movie) and Bill Corbett (not seen in this movie) presently work on RiffTrax. Joel Hodgson, Mary Jo Pehl, and a number of other writers and creative folks from the show are doing Cinematic Titanic. Finally, Jim Mallon is still producing works with the original Mystery Science Theater brand online, but these are mostly recycled film clips and Flash movies featuring the robots.
Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie
May 6, 2008
The actual, original, real show ran for years and spawned a legion of fans and, despite being what appears a very low-budget show, there wasn't a market for additional films. As an introduction to the whole Mystery Science Theater 3000 franchise, this is a great first step-- especially since it's fairly short and the movie they riff on, This Island Earth, isn't nearly as painful as some of the dreck which made it on the airwaves.
The original 1955 movie This Island Earth provides much of the content for this film, which-- if you're not familiar with the concept-- features a grown man and two puppets making fun of the older movie, essentially giving you a movie "hosted" by these other characters. The original This Island Earth ran 87 minutes, and this enhanced version with additional scenes of Mike, Tom Servo, and Crow T. Robot runs 75 minutes-- meaning you're basically losing much of the original film in this brisk comedy. Episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000 have a two-hour runtime, but even with commercials this movie comes up fairly short without very much there to give viewers an idea of the zaniness of the actual show.
After the mad scientist Dr. Clayton Forrester appears to inform you of the "experiment" he's performing-- notably, forcing Mike, a hapless guinea pig, to watch the worst movies ever-- you get to see the lone human in a dog bone-shaped spacecraft run in a hamster wheel, drink from a hamster bottle, and try to save his own hide by preventing one of his robot friends from tunneling through space. Once the chaos has subsided, the movie This Island Earth begins and we get to go to the movies to watch a bunch of guys talking over a movie. Seeing as how slowly older films are paced, there's plenty of room for additional dialogue or general goofiness to be added in the sidelines, which really does help make some of these older movies all the more exciting. The leisurely paced This Island Earth begs for a little more oomph, and thankfully our heroes provide a constant running commentary which really does help the movie watching experience.
The gags are fairly memorable, and nearly 12 years after first seeing the movie in theaters, I still enjoyed watching this one. It may not be a movie you'll want to pop in as background noise, or watch every few weeks, but it's a lot of fun and should be considered a must-see to anyone who hasn't yet seen it. Unless you aren't a fan of the funny, in which case I could see you not much caring for it.
None, not even a trailer. There, that was easy. The DVD does have an anamorphic 1.85:1 aspect ratio new to this release, but it's otherwise fairly similar to the previously out-of-print version which has become something of a collectible over the years.
Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie is a great introduction to what makes Mystery Science Theater great, despite being really short and something that the people who made it don't seem to much like. There are episodes of the show on which this is based that are a lot funnier, but this isn't a bad example of what the program is on an average day. It's absolutely worth checking out, and odds are this is one of those discs you'd be likely to loan your friends after you're done with it. Due to the fact there are no extras, you'll probably be all done with this one in under 90 minutes.
May 12, 2008