Movie sign with Mystery Science Theater 3000
Mystery Science Theater 3000 is one of my favorite TV shows of all time. I watched it on Comedy Central back in the day, and followed it to its new home on the Sci-Fi Channel in the late 1990s.
Heck, I even watched the Mystery Science Theater Hour, which broke episodes up into two-part, 60-minute shows, and I made a trek to an out of town theater to see MST3K: the Movie (1996), which never received a wide release, because the distributor decided to spend its money promoting Barb Wire instead. Yeah.
But, for those uninformed, perhaps I should explain the show: A man (either Joel or Mike depending on the season) is trapped in outer space with his two robot buddies (Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot). The trio is forced to watch bad movies — and they make jokes during the process.
I savored the absurd, random humor, the silly genre films, and let’s be honest, the robot puppets were a draw as well. I spent many hours of my youth, and now of my adult years, watching and re-watching episodes. My collection of episodes on VHS, some taped off TV, traveled with me to college, and then to my post-college life.
Watching shows taped on TV in years past is always a fun walk down memory lane. Remember the collect calling craze of the late 1990s? Commercials with the likes of Carrot Top telling us which service to use are forever stored on my MST3K VHS collection.
Some may chide me for hanging on to such an outdated medium, but due to the nature of MST3K (which had to obtain the rights of the films they lampooned) not every episode is available for (legal) home viewing.
But then — enter Netflix.
Once I realized I could watch a great quantity of MST3K episodes via Netflix’s Watch Instant service, I was in heaven. I even noted this landmark event with the Internet equivalent of the town crier, Twitter, observing thus: “Episodes of MST3K are now available on Netflix Watch Instant. Clearing my schedule for the next month.”
If my teenage self could see me being able to watch a number of MST3K episodes on demand, without having to fast forward through collect calling commercials featuring Mr. T., he would scream with jealousy. But, after his bout of scream therapy, I would tell Teen Daniel to go and actually talk to a few girls (and to leave the MST3K baseball cap at home for a change).
But where to start when it comes to choosing your own MST3K adventure? I use the website Instant Watcher to find my titles, as Netflix’s search feature leaves something to be desired.
Here are a few favorites, in no particular order:
The Wild World of Batwoman: Buxom avengers in short-shorts and mini-skirts do battle with the vile Rat Fink. This film is pure exploitation cheese.
Eegah!: A giant caveman that time forgot terrorizes teens in dune buggies with stupid haircuts. Watch out for snakes!
Horrors of Spider Island: A plane full of leggy dancing girls, along with their sleazebag manager, crash land on an island full of spider puppets. Better still, the film is hilariously dubbed in English, and full of catfights.
Cave Dwellers: A shirtless Conan wannabe (the barbarian, not the comedian) fights his way across a land filled with swords, sorcery, and terrible fake mustaches.
Pod People: What happens when you throw together an animal obsessed child, a pop singer and his groupies, a group of egg poachers, and a few aliens? I have no idea, but it is called Pod People.
Final Sacrifice: One of my all-time favorites from the Sci-Fi Channel years. It is a tale of high adventure in the wild, uncharted forests of Canada. Lost cities, killer cults, hockey hair, and more. This episode introduced MST3K fans to the likes of denim encased Canadian adventurer, Zap Rowsdower.
By watching MST3K over and over, I developed a love of running gags, obscure pop-culture references, and a quick wit of my own—which I put to use as a writer, especially when I write for Lost Highway’s B-Movie Reviews.
So queue a few episodes, invite some friends over, and partake in the absurd hilarity that is Mystery Science Theater 3000.