My friends and I discovered Mystery Science Theater 3000 in the early 90's when it was a Saturday Late Night Staple on Comedy Central. Those were the days when creator Joel Hodgson was the host and the evil scientists were Dr. Clayton Forrester (Trace Beaulieu) and TV's Frank (Frank Conniff). The jokes were hilarious (and almost non-stop) and I was usually quite proud to get most of them, though there were always those few that made no sense to any of us. When head-writer Mike Nelson took over the hosting duties, the show was still pretty funny, but there was something missing. By the time the Mystery Science Theater 3000 Movie came out, it was time to hang it up, though there were three more not nearly as funny seasons after that.
The premise was simple - a guy and two smart-alecky robots, trapped in an orbiting space station, were forced to watch terrible movies as part of a sadistitic experiment. The movies were usually horror or sci-fi (though there were plenty of other genres) and were always the worst of the worst. The audience watched the three in silhouette as they sat in the front row and said all the snarky things you and your friends said while watching bad movies and smoking dope. Simple and hilarious. There were eleven seasons and dozens of episodes, some better than others. And some of the best eps were those that included a short to fill the time left by a shorter feature. Here then, in no particular order, are my favorite MST3K episodes & shorts:
********Santa Claus Conquers the Martians
(Season 4, Episode #21):
This episode contains one of my favorite all-time MST3K lines: "Pills for breakfast? Who do we look like, Judy Garland?" Also, the infamously bad actress Pia Zadora makes her film debut as a Martian child.
(Season 3, Episode #2):
This godawful motorcycle racing flick is so badly made, the boys have to actually explain that the hero's girlfriend has been murdered, because no one in the movie ever mentions it. The boys' best line comes during a particularly bad edit that takes place just as the hero clutches the tiny padlock on a chain around his neck: "Oh magic lock, take me to the freeway!"
********Here Comes the Circus!
(Pre-Feature Short, Episode Unknown):
One of the show's best shorts, Here Comes the Circus was basically a commercial for Ringling Brothers. It features the classic line "Oh, no! No! They're doing it 'clown-style!'"
The Day the Earth Froze
(Season 5, Episode #22):
This Russian-made version of a Norwegian folktale is about a witch who steals the sun, and features a slew of the boys' best lines, including "My other log is a Redwood!"
(Pre-Feature Short, Episode Unknown):
Basically a training film for Chevrolet salesmen, Hired! is just terrible - and oh so funny in our boys' hands.
Manos: Hands of Fate
(Season 5, Episode #24)
This very, very, very bad, semi-soft-core porno movie about a weird cult features Torgo, the oddly big-kneed manservant and the least erotic dance sequence ever put on film.
Attack of the Eye Creatures
(Season 5, Episode 18):
The boys were on fire in Season 5, and this stinker is no exception. It's so bad, in fact, the movie's title screen reads: "Attack of the The Eye Creatures" (No, that is not MY typo). The best line comes as an alien's disembodied hand is crawling around in the backseat of our hero's car: "Gotta boogie... gotta boogie... gotta boogie on my finger and it won't come off!"
Honorable Mention - For the episdoe featuring teh Japanese monster movie Gamera, the boys re-write the Japanese lyrics to the movie's theme song: "Gamera is really neat! He is filled with turtle meat! That's why we love Ga-mer-a!"
The show may be long gone, but the riffs continue as most of the original cast can be found doing much the same thing as Pay-per-View downloads at: CinematicTitanic.com. Check 'em out!
More of this, anon.