The site design continues unabated. I’ve got some nifty new duds for sixsquare.com, all spread out and ready to pull over the tousled head of this here code, but it’ll be a week before all the final edits and adjustments are done. I was hoping to get it done this week and premiere it today, but unfortunately, Cinematic Titanic happened.
My disc arrived in the mail a week ago. It took me until this weekend to find two hours to string together for a good curl up on the couch. To say I’ve been anticipating the return of Joel and the bots is an understatement. My love of Mystery Science Theater 3000 stretches back fourteen years to the 1993. Those were the days of living on Bath Street in Santa Barbara, when friends would pile into my loft apartment whenever they felt like it, grab a glass of cheap wine from one of the bottles on the counter and slump with me on the couch. More often than not, I’d be tuned in to MST3K. This, itself, eventually became reason enough for friends to drop by. If I were watching anything else they’d grumble and complain over the lip of their wine glass. They were good times. It was a good show. So understandably, expectations were high.
And happily, those expectations were met. I mean, it’s easy to shift and frown and fidget and say, “it just doesn’t feel the same!” and, well, that’s true. First of all, the setup is different. Instead of sitting in theater seats, our band of merry riffers is perched around the perimeter of the field like a gathering of buzzards, picking over the tragic roadkill on the screen. But I like the difference. It gives them more of an opportunity to interact with the film (although I begin to feel bad for Trace Beaulieu and Josh Weinstein, who have to stand through the whole affair — I keep wishing they would just take a seat.) Joel Hodgson and Frank Conniff are on board, of course, and the addition of Mary Jo Pehl is marvelous, partly because it helps to have the bonus X chromosome in the mix, but mostly because she’s one of the funniest women alive.
Missing this time around, at least thus far, is a context. Whereas MST3K dropped our unfortunate heroes into a satellite prison and forced cinematic limberger into their eyes, there doesn’t seem to be a back story here. Ultimately, that’s okay, because anyone who’s a fan of the original show will tell you, it’s about the movie, stupid, and that’s why Mike Nelson’s RiffTrax works (or for that matter any director commentary in existence.) But when you actually see the characters on screen you find yourself wanting to know more. Where are they? Why are they there? And where did Stephen Hawking come from?
The film itself, The Oozing Skull (not its original title) is a wonder to behold, and if ever a film deserved the Titanic treatment, it’s this one. There’s body switching, a death ray, a hot blonde, a love story with no apparent motivation, a funny dwarf and a complete dearth of integrity. In other words, exactly what my life has been missing for the past several years. Welcome back gang. We’ve missed you.
Order the DVD here.
Incidentally, mine arrived in a thin paper sleeve. That’s not a problem, itself. I don’t need any more plastic around the house, but the disc itself was a bit scuffed as a result. Happily, the damage has turned out to be cosmetic. The disc played fine.
And it looks good on my cat.