I’ve been a fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000 since the film, wherein they riff This Island Earth, came out. I didn’t have Comedy Central when the show was airing there, but I did have Sci-Fi Channel (remember when it was called that?) when it switched stations. Maybe that makes it obvious when I say season eight is my favorite of the show’s entire run. That season was the beginning of my love affair with the show, and there’s a lot of nostalgia for me there.
Still I find when I watch episodes now, which I do often, season eight is still my favorite. I seem to laugh the most at those riffs, have the most fondness for those particular terrible films. Let’s talk about a few of the episodes that I feel made this season shine.
I Was A Teenage Werewolf. This isn’t just a classic for MST fans. It’s a classic horror film in general with an actually decent performance from Michael Landon. But it was also full of tropes from the time and a random sock hop scene that completely diverted from the movie’s tone and story. I love werewolves, so anytime they get to make fun of that genre, it’s bound to be a favorite of mine.
The Giant Spider Invasion. I know I’ve watched this one a million times. Overly moist rednecks in Wisconsin fight a felt-covered Volkswagen. The Skipper from Gilligan’s Island is the town sheriff. Barbara Hale gets rolled on. The stunning downward spiral that is this movie has to be seen to be believed, and the MST writers mocked it for all it was worth.
Jack Frost. A Russo-Finnish fairy tale about a mushroom-hatted guy, Prince Valiant turning into a bear, and a love interest so cute it’s actually haunting. It’s frankly mind-boggling to watch this as someone mostly unfamiliar with the cultural folk lore. Oh, and some Baba Yaga action is had, with the house with chicken legs and everything. If you’re a fantasy fan, you’ll be ROFLing.
Riding With Death. The inexplicable seventies trucker genre meets science fiction. In a made-for-TV movie. Are you wincing yet? This was clearly meant to be a pilot for a TV show, and what we receive are two episodes crammed together with some questionable weaving together of plots. With lines such as “you’re as elusive as Robert Denby!” before we’ve even met the man. It has to be experienced to be believed.
Agent for H.A.R.M. The very, very poor man’s James Bond. With a lot of smirks and smarm from our “hero”. There’s a vague SF plot, but mostly it’s a total lack of action and intrigue that results in the most boring spy movie ever. Punctuated by drawn out scenes (probably meant to pad out the running time) featuring one of our riffers belting out the Bond theme in full irony mode. Delicious.
Space Mutiny. I’ve watched this episode to the point that I can never watch it again because I have it memorized. It’s my all-time favorite. In an attempt to duplicate Star Wars, we end up with a heavily muscled space pilot and a middle-aged teenage princess fighting a villain whose chief weapon is his ability to overact. If you’ve not heard of this, you’ve at least heard Ryder’s many nicknames as coined by the MST writers, my favorite being Big McLargeHuge.
I could go on. Which is why it’s easier to just say check out season eight for yourself. I’ll let you in on a little secret. You can watch these episodes pretty much anywhere. Give them a google. You won’t be disappointed. As always, happy geeking!
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