Cinematic Titanic, a revival.
For the robust fan who remembers the sarcasm-laced weekly original TV show called Mystery Science Theater 3000 (aka MST3K), the time to miss the show has come… and gone. The creative forces that were behind MST3K have regrouped and created a new effort for movie ripping and call it Cinematic Titanic. It has the same flair and edge as the original work, but goes just a bit further.
MST3K had characters sit around, their silhouettes in front of the movie while they added their own sarcastic observations to the obvious B quality works they played for the audience A quick example would be if a car chase ended with a car exploding. Don’t you sometimes think, “Why do the cars always explode at the end of these chases?” Well, they don’t think it. They say it. It was originally on the airwaves from 1988 to 1999, delivering over 190 episodes of fun with gritty sarcastic overviews and running commentary during movies.
In the eleven years it was on, there were character, plot outline and network changes. It premiered on Thanksgiving day in 1988 on a local Minnesota station, played on the cable channel Comedy Channel, which became Comedy Central. It was eventually canceled at Comedy Central, where I lost track of it. It then got a fan revival and got picked up by the Sci-Fi Channel for its three final seasons. By then, it had languished and slid into something a bit different than the show everyone originally fell in love with. At least for me. There have been similar efforts but no one has really managed to replicate the magic the original crew mastered.
- “Independent Pictures, making movies you’ve never heard of, for 40 years!” (Riff on the production company who made the victim film)
For those who don’t know, the premise of MST3K was based on a guy named Joel who was trapped in a satellite/space station and forced to watch movies. Bad movies . While up in orbit, he was kept company by little sentient robots that he built to keep himself company. There was the satirical Crow T. Robot and my personal role model: the sarcastically imbued Tom Servo and his sarcasm sequencer. Tom Servo was a little gumball machine with the best ‘tude ever. In fact, he may be the original Dr. House, in disguise! Finally, there were Gypsy and Cambot rounding out the little space-faring crew.
A friend of mine introduced me to the show by sitting me down with a 6-pack… of, um, soda. Yeah, soda, and he said “I think you’ll like this show” and there you have it. I don’t remember the title of the movie, but it was an older “B” flick centered around cowboys fighting dinosaurs. I never laughed so hard in my life. The “soda” might have helped. Actually, if anyone might know what that movie is, please, let me know. It haunts me so, not remembering.
- “It’s stiffy pop!” (In reference to the evil scientist wheeling a body around wrapped in tin foil)
In 2007 the original team from MST3K, Trace Beailieu (Crow, Dr. Forrester), J. Elvis Weinstein (Tom Servo, Dr. Erhardt), Frank Conniff (TV’s Frank), and Mary Jo Pehl (Pearl Forrester) came together, revamping the process they were so very good at: Back together with their unique style of rebroadcasting fine, wonderful, B-Grade movies.. There is a God! They come at us with the same, sharp edged observational humor we remember from the original show. The oddness of their new project is that the old sense of humor we’ve come to remember has been updated. We now hear things about Mapquest, Howie Mandell, TMZ and other modern day references.
- “Is that a skull or mapquest?” (In reference to looking at an X-Ray of a skull.)
It’s called Cinematic Titanic, Movie Riffing 2.0. (aka CT) CT is funded, owned, and operated by the creative team behind it. They produce new direct-to-DVD shows every 6-8 weeks and even do Live riffing shows as they try to reconnect with “MSTies” around the world while making new fans along the way.
The first feature they riffed on DVD is the B-movie Brain of Blood. (You have to read that with a deep, drawn out echoing voice.)
Humorous note: if your movie is being featured by this gang of riffers, you know your work has been poop-canned somewhere and will probably never see the light of day, or a projector bulb. But by the grace of God, the Cinematic gang has chosen to reincarnate your product under their special brand of riffing.
Well, by some strange quirk of missing logic, one of the original film’s producers had concerns that having multiple versions of their film out in public for viewing consumption could create marketplace confusion. Eh? They requested that Cinematic Titanic’s version have a different name. To alleviate concerns, Cinematic Titanic re-titled their version of this cinematic block-duster release to The Oozing Skull.
LOL… wow! That’s like suing the studio of a major movie for using a picture from your blog in their movie!!
- “Peppridge Farms dismembers!”
Their second effort is titled The Doomsday Machine, followed by The Wasp Woman and Legacy of Blood.
- “Who are they operating on? Sherwin Willaims?” (In response to a really bad operating room scene with excessive raspberry colored blood.)
As MSTies remember, Joel was stuck on a space station in the original. Joel is no longer trapped on a space station. Now the gang sits around on risers in front of the movie and do their thing. They have a new intermission process that’s quick and short and is reminiscent of their old intermissions, if you remember the trip down the space station hallway and the many doors we traversed to get to the intermission.
I miss Tom Servo but this is a wonderful replacement with the old gang riffing like they used to. I’d forgotten how good they can make bad movies feel.
All we MSTies can really hope for is that it picks up enough steam and publicity to find it’s way back to the small screen for our enjoyment once again.
If you are having the same withdrawal symptoms I was having, you can go check out the collection of DVD’s they offer right now. Their latest movie riff is Santa Claus Conquers The Martians. LOL… I can’t wait to see that one! Check it and there other efforts out at their Cinematic Titanic Store!
Intermittent quotes throughout this article are from the first film I watched and couldn’t help but inject into the article.