Home / TV / Every Episode of MST3K…RANKED! (#50 – #1)

Every Episode of MST3K…RANKED! (#50 – #1)

It’s nearly Thanksgiving and we’re doing something only a couple of websites have done: watch every episode of “Mystery Science Theater 3000” and rank each one.

I’d love to sit here and pontificate about the show’s history and how great it was…but 1) you’ve heard it all before 2) you don’t really wanna sit here and read what I think about the show’s history when so many other people have said what’s already been said and 3) we’ve gotta get going with this thing.

If you still insist on knowing what the hell I’m talking about, feel free to visit the following sites:

The MST3K Wikipedia Page
The MST3k YouTube Channel
Their Official Website
The MST3K Satellite News Site

And, if you wanna compare lists (though that doesn’t sound the LEAST bit healthy for a growing man such as yourself), you can do so here:

Mighty Jack’s MST3K Review
Ranking Every MST3K Episode, From Worst to Best – Paste Magazine

If you want to watch episodes with other MSTies, you can visit the following sites.

Club MST3K – This site compiles a full episode guide for the show along with corresponding streaming video of nearly every single episode available online. It also offers a forum to chat with fellow MSTies while you watch. 🙂
Where to See MST3K Episodes – This site does the same thing.

And last, but not least, if you didn’t get to read the previous parts, you can do so here:

Every Episode of MST3K…RANKED! (#196 – #151)
Every Episode of MST3K…RANKED! (#150 – #101)
Every Episode of MST3K…RANKED! (#100 – #51)

With all that out of the way, WE’VE GOT MOVIE SIGN!!!

#50 is…

50) 912 – The Screaming Skull (w/ short: Gumby – Robot Rumpus)

There’s a lot of screaming and a lot of skulls in this film but we don’t actually witness a “screaming skull”, per se, something Mike dutifully points out: “I think the title was supposed to be ‘Screaming SEMICOLON Skull’.” It’s actually not a terrible film (if you can get by the abusive, asshole husband angle). It’s just marred, somewhat, by the hokey special effects sequences and a sub-plot where the cast endlessly chases Mickey, the crazy gardener, around the property for half the film, something which fuels the riffing engine for the episode. It’s preceded by the short, “Gumby: Robot Rumpus” which is cute and charming, but also borderline creepy, ending with one of the robot’s heads torn off and placed above Gumby’s garage like a trophy, causing Crow and Servo some severe emotional trauma. “This is worse than SEVEN!” Servo exclaims before he and Crow attempt to engage in “therapy” involving blocks of clay smashing small likenesses of them on a playset with Mike. Solid episode.

BEST RIFF:

MIKE: The movie that DARES to graphically depict sometimes seeing peacocks and sometimes not seeing peacocks.

 

49) 1113 – The Christmas That Almost Wasn’t

(Available on Netflix)

We’ve seen Santa Claus fight martians, work with Merlin, crank up horrifying robotic reindeer and employ children as his labor force. Here, Santa’s on the rocks and needs some rent money to stay afloat up at the North Pole. Yep. Santa rents his place at the North Pole. AND he has a sniveling evil landlord who looks like the real life embodiment of Snidely Whiplash who will pretty much own Santa, lock, stock, and barrel somehow. So, it’s only fitting that Santa’s team assembles like the Avengers to help him! I was GONE when Jonah and the Bots started yelling the kids’ superhero names as they got out of bed to help Santa, one after the other. Riffs like that make episodes magical. The entire premise is just outrageously silly but, considering the other Christmas films we’ve gotten on this show, this is par for the course, as unpleasant as the premise sounds. Some of the best bits come from the weird, arbitrary musical numbers and when Jonah and the Bots pick at the fact that Santa seems so strangely unfamiliar with how to actually be Santa Claus. This is good stuff.

BEST RIFF:

SERVO: How did we end up with a Santa with such extreme generalized anxiety disorder?

 

48) 1202 – Atlantic Rim

(Available on Netflix)

Mystery Science Theater 3000

RiffTrax (Mike Nelson’s off-shoot of MST3K with Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy) did a great job with Sharknado and Sharknado 2. After that, any other Asylum feature RiffTrax covered felt gratuitous. So, I really had mixed feelings about MST3K covering Atlantic Rim. You could almost hear Mike Nelson and company assuring Joel that covering an Asylum feature would be a blast. And I suppose it’s fun watching Joel’s company giving it the ol’ heave-ho. It’s not that this movie doesn’t deserve the MST3K treatment…it’s that The Asylum is basically making cheap, shitty movies on purpose and, essentially, this is free advertising for them. It’s not that the other five films aren’t shitty, it’s that films like “Mac and Me” and “Lords of the Deep” had conviction and you could tell some effort was put into the concept of those films. By comparison, the inclusion of “Atlantic Rim” is a bit too corporate for my taste and goes against the charm MST3K offers. That said, the riffing works, though not every joke hits here. The riffs are the funniest when the action is hot. Jonah and the Bots’ treatment of Red’s machismo and veteran actor Graham Greene’s penchant for overusing the phrase “get on the horn” every ten minutes is a riot. If “Mac and Me” had “pretty nice” as the newest addition to MST3K’s ongoing vernacular, you can add Red’s “Ba-boom” and Graham Greene’s “Bull Butter” to the mix. The biggest issue with this episode is that the movie is a brainless, rapid fire mess, something that Crow points out near the end, so the movie really almost ends up making fun of itself and there are moments where the jokes fall flat because they’re less jokes and more casual observations.

The episode also takes a slight step down in quality in terms of the sketches which, while funny, are not as well-conceived as the ones we saw in the first episode: in the first sketch, we get Kinga and Max forcing Jonah and the Bots to produce an impromptu song that’s on par with Season 11’s “Every Country Has a Monster”. What follows is a mess of impromptu lyrics reminiscent of Joel and the Bots’ attempt at the mockery of the song from “Pod People”. The self-deprecation is quite good. The second sketch has the boys on the SOL comparing medal stories in true Broski fashion, a’la the film’s main character Red, and it’s cute but nothing terribly special. I might get beat up for this, but “Atlantic Rim” is not as good as the Season 12 opener, “Mac and Me”. Where the last episode was more composted, “Atlantic Rim” is controlled chaos. — though don’t let that fool you. It’s just a SLIGHT step down from the last episode. The show is still amusing and I had to stop recording some of the best lines purely because there were so many.

BEST RIFF:

(A robot suit fights a CGI monster.)
JONAH: Fun fact: Andy Serkis is playing BOTH of those characters.

 

47) 1206 – Ator, the Fighting Eagle

(Available on Netflix)

The cast and crew of MST3K has always had balls in that they constantly strive to top themselves. In Season 3, they topped Santa Claus Conquers the Martians with Season 5’s Santa Claus — only to falter when attempting to top the brilliant Mitchell with Final Justice in Season 10. MST3K alumni Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett have attempted to cover some of their older material with new riffs — and mixed results. When Joel Hodgson and company announced they were going to riff the Ator film that came before Season 3’s immortal Cave Dwellers, I was excited…but only cautiously. I’m not saying I am disappointed in “sequel riffing” or attempts at riffing similar material. It’s just that the sophomore efforts are rarely as good as the first attempts.The verdict for Ator, the Fighting Eagle? I can tell you that the riffs are spot on. If Jonah and the Bots were boxers, they come out of the first round, swinging and hitting so many riffs, I actually had to stop recording gems. The humor does have a slight lull near the middle but picks up again moments later. The riffing centers on the ludicrous plotting and tiny budget the filmmakers were working with. The first third of the film is an A+ riff session, especially with the treatment of the weird angle where Ator marries his “sister” who really isn’t his sister. The whole thing is creepy — especially the way Miles O’Keefe leers at the actress playing Sunya. It makes your skin crawl. Anyway, I cannot and will not spoil the rest of the riffing. The absolute classic is Crow’s riff on the Spider God puppet which he dubs “Snufflelantula”, a line so hilarious, I had to pause the show a couple minutes so that I could stop laughing. Ator, the Fighting Eagle is a joy to watch. The riffing is on par with Cave Dwellers (come at me, bros) and proves that the show is timeless.

BEST RIFF:

(A woman breast feeds her baby.)
CROW: Eh…we shouldn’t be watching this…
JONAH: You mean the movie?
CROW: YES!

 

46) 801 – Revenge of the Creature

(Available here.)

This was the debut of MST3K on The SyFy Channel and it’s a decent start to that era, if a little awkward due to the massive amount of changes. First, the Brains had to deal with the loss of Trace Beaulieu who had moved on after the final episode on Comedy Central. This means that there was no more Dr. Forrester and that the voice of Crow had to be re-cast. As such, Mary Jo Pehl became the new villain, reprising the role of Pearl Forrester, Clayton’s mother, who vows to continue her son’s cheesy movie experiment. Pearl was thankfully (and deservedly) more fleshed out here. Rather than the whiny, annoying mother figure we saw in Season 7, her character was funnier, even sweet at times — but no less evil. She was also given a more sarcastic bite, too, which was most welcome. The Brains also dubbed writer Bill Corbett the new voice of Crow. Corbett played Crow as more intense, sarcastic, and gruff and, in the beginning, there’s a noticeable lack of puppeteering skills in that the dialogue doesn’t match his mouth movements and he’s a lot more stiff. The color scheme on the SOL stayed largely the same except that the bridge was given a slightly more industrial look. Ambient blue lighting now flooded down onto the performers and a reddish accent was added. Kevin Murphy was cast as “Professor Bobo”, a sentient ape a’la “Planet of the Apes” and Pearl’s second banana. The “Nanites”, microscopic beings who perform various tasks and maintenance on the ship also make their debut here. As for the storyline, it’s revealed that 500 years have passed since “Laserblast”. Mike and the Bots have returned to the SOL from the Edge of the Universe. Crow has changed and doesn’t recognize Mike, yet knows Servo and Gypsy, and Pearl Forrester runs things on Earth with Bobo and his ape colleagues. It’s all very strange…but, then, the show was always aloof in some way. It was also weird that SyFy demanded two things: that Season 8 have a soap opera-esque running storyline (something that was ditched by the beginning of Season 9) and that every single film had to fall within the sci-fi/fantasy genre (something that had been ditched by Season 10). Gone, at this point, were the shorts. We didn’t see another one until Season 9 and, even at that point, we only saw two the entire SyFy run. No more fan letters were read, either, which took away part of the homespun charm of the show. Riff-wise, it’s like old times. While “Revenge of the Creature” (the sequel to the far superior “Creature From the Black Lagoon”) may not be the greatest experiment the show has seen, watching Mike and the Bots take on the movie is like slipping into an old pair of shoes. It does take awhile to get going and doesn’t get truly great until about the middle of the film when the Creature escapes and goes after the woman he adores. The bits about “Chris the Dog” are hilarious and I laughed heartily during a sequence where the Creature tosses an adult man ten feet into a tree which draws genuine laughter from the guys and makes Crow remark that the Creature has “a nice rising fastball”. It’s a fun film to start with and it would get better from here.

BEST RIFF:

(During the film’s climax)
CROW: The disorganized, short-lived, badly-botched, and thoroughly ineffectual “Revenge of the Creature”!

 

45) 702 – The Brute Man (w/ short: Chicken of Tomorrow)

I had never seen “The Brute Man” up until this project and I’d seen most of the episodes in this series. I thought it would just be another standard episode but it’s far funnier than that. Starting with “Chicken of Tomorrow”, a short about raising chickens so that they can lay eggs — or be cooked and put on a dinner plate for your enjoyment. The bit where one of the female chickens suddenly talks to the short’s narrator is laugh-out-loud hilarious because it’s so unexpected and arbitrary and it produces some genuine laughter from the guys who can’t seem to understand the placement of it, either. This leads right into “The Brute Man” which is about a man named “The Creeper”. He’s huge and deformed and kills people but has a soft spot for a blind girl who can’t see who he is. Again, there’s more genuine laughter to be had here as the guys have a field day with the “creeper” and “creeping” jokes as well as Brute’s own mental thoughts. The general store sequence with the angry old man is priceless. There’s greatness to be had in Season 7 and this is one of the great ones.

BEST RIFF:

(The Brute Man smiles and barely has a mouth opening.)
CROW: Whoa! Does he strain KRILL through his mouth?!

 

44) 610 – The Violent Years (w/ short: A Young Man’s Fancy)

An Ed Wood-scripted film about a gang of females who terrorize their community. It includes a fairly famous implied rape scene where the gang of girls takes a guy into the woods after tying up his girlfriend and then attempts to have their way with him. All the mayhem (which includes an unintentionally laugh-out-loud hilarious scene where after one of the female gang members shoots at the cops, she actually expresses surprise when the cops actually shoot back — to which Servo remarks, “Those BASTARDS!”) culminates in an extremely hypocritical message about the degradation of societal morals. It’s the perfect companion to the episode’s opening short, “A Young Man’s Fancy” which oozes with subtle undercurrents of sex. The riffing is spot on with both the short and feature even if the sketches aren’t great (Servo’s imitation of Barbra Streisand in “A Star Is Born” is painful to watch, as artsy as it tries to be) but the episode, overall, is a blast.

BEST RIFF:

(Women surround a guy and tie up his girlfriend with the intent on having their way with him.)
CROW: Dr. Forrester has sent us a truly GREAT movie!

 

43) 609 – The Skydivers

When “The Skydivers” was first advertised on MST3K, Trace Beaulieu said that it was “worse than Manos”. It’s not that, really. Manos was an entity of sheer filmmaking evil. This is like “The Amazing Colossal Man” without Glenn. It’s a Coleman Francis film and probably the “best” of the few that were showcased on the show, involving murderous happenings at a skydiving school. The guys spend a ton of time making fun of the impossibly dweeby Frankie, the weird promiscuous Suzy and the coffee-happy Beth as well as the cute little prop plane Beth owns, who Mike and the Bots dub “Petey the Plane” and make up a goofy voice for him. The film is wildly uneven and horribly dark and edited shoddily (“Somebody with Attention Deficit Disorder edited this film!” says Crow) and it’s just a strange little movie but not the worst of all-time. The “Industrial Arts” short that comes before it results in some fantastic riffing as well. The sketches are near perfection (the opening “Uranus” jokes are funny despite the sophomoric nature of them) and this is just a great episode.

BEST RIFF:

MIKE (as Frankie): I feel like a cheesburger…would you go have sex with the guy at the Jack-in-the-Box?

 

42) 612 – The Starfighters

“The Starfighters” is nothing more than a commercial for the Air Force, starring such dazzling actors as Sentaor Bob Dornan. Remember “Crash of Moons” and the endless sequences of rockets taking off and landing? Get ready for endless sequences of stock footage of planes bombing objects in the desert and planes re-fueling in mid-flight along with puzzling, surreal sequences of the pilots’ dating lives which actually features an in-depth conversation about the benefits of corn de-tasseling. Many of the jokes revolve around sex and it’s not difficult to see why. The constant shots of fuel hoses trying to enter fueling baskets (and premature shots of fuel shooting out when a hose doesn’t make it) is so unintentionally funny, one might make the same comparison. The real genius is in the sketch work, which features Crow attempting to get his brand-new PC on the Internet, only to have it fight him every single step of the way, the great sketch where Mike and the Bots try to sell “Cowboy Mike’s Own Original Red Hot Ricochet BBQ Sauce” and the supremely beautiful “Servo Academy Men’s Choir” featuring a half dozen Tom Servos singing a gorgeous song that, even as gibberish, is something to behold.

BEST RIFF:

COLONEL: Did you know that flying a plane is like making love?
CROW: Uh, you have to pay?

 

41) 521 – Santa Claus

I didn’t honestly think it was possible for things to get weirder than the first Santa Claus episode we saw on MST3K. The Brains found a way to prove me wrong. Santa faces off against the Devil. The ACTUAL DEVIL. Santa also has a spy network that rivals Russia in terms of complexity. And Merlin (Yes, THAT Merlin) is one of Santa’s allies. This is as weird as it sounds. Yeah, this is gonna draw comparisons to “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” — but that episode, despite the fame associated with its name and its popularity which is generally associated to the legendary “Patrick Swayze Christmas” sketch. “Santa Claus” has what “Martians” didn’t: consistently funny riffing. It’s not difficult when the guys are given this much ammunition, from Santa’s weird underage (and racist) toy factory to his creepy, wind-up reindeer to the fact that Santa employs child labor to spy on people whenever he wants (with weird-looking gadgets to boot; a giant eye on an extending metal tube?!) to the weird nightmares Pitch, the Devil, makes children have. This movie makes “Martians” look normal.

BEST RIFF:

MIKE: Why does he have an Air Force Star above his door?!
SERVO: Well, Santa flew 23 missions over North Korea.
MIKE: You don’t say…

 

40) 1112 – Carnival Magic

(Available on Netflix)

Like “Cry Wilderness” before it, “Carnival Magic” is just one of those films that makes you wonder how far down the IMDB rabbit hole the producers of MST3K are willing to go. It’s not the strangest film the show’s ever featured but it’s certainly an odd film about a carnival in the middle of nowhere and the people who run it and the story revolves around a monkey who can talk and drive and nearly undergoes a procedure where he’s ripped open by a weird doctor who looks like your English professor but sounds like Thurl Ravenscroft. It’s just a goofy production and one that the guys seem at home with. It’s pretty much summed up by Jonah when he sees the director credit during the film’s opening: a great opening joke from Jonah: “Al Adamson is the name Alan Smithee uses when he doesn’t want his name on a film.”

BEST RIFF:

JONAH: Is it me or is this scene supposed to feel like a hopeful autopsy?

 

39) 904 – Werewolf

In a way, MST3K’s 9th season felt like they were choosing some low-hanging fruit with films like “The Pumaman”, “Hobgoblins”, and “Werewolf”. That isn’t to say “Werewolf” isn’t howlingly funny (see what I did there?), it’s just so ridiculous (a man with the werewolf curse inside him drives WHILE he’s a wolf in a scene where you just laugh your ass off), one almost wonders if it was made this bad on purpose. It’s the story of the discovery of a werewolf skull and the absolute chaos it manages to create with the small Arizona town where this is supposed to take place. Mike and the Bots have a field day with actress Adrianna Miles who has a thick accent and says things like, “Paul…you is a war-wilf?” and it doesn’t even need to be riffed. It wouldn’t be so bad if she would put some conviction behind her lines but she plays Natalie like a wide-eyed zombie who occasionally says something dull. The sketch work is decent with a great opening where Mike think he’s James Lipton from “Inside the Actor’s Studio” and culiminates with “Where O Werewolf”, a song where Mike and the Bots dress in 50’s drag and sing about Mike (or Suzie’s) werewolf beau. It hearkens back to the old MST3K days and that’s most welcome.

BEST RIFF:

SERVO: This is very moving…in that I want to MOVE out of the theater IMMEDIATELY.

 

38) 1204 – The Day Time Ended

(Available on Netflix)

The last time we saw a Charles Band production was the 7th Season Finale, “Laserblast”. And, despite throwing everything but the kitchen sink at the audience If you want evidence that the riffing is a little tighter, look no further than this experiment. The entire light switch sequence is beautifully riffed with Jonah and the Bots taking the pain in stride, sarcastically clapping at the end of the scene, one that, appropriate to the film, has gone absolutely nowhere. Servo’s line about the film’s seemingly lazy nature just before the cut sums it up beautifully: “This whole movie is like the cold open to a Columbo episode.” It is that and more. Other riffs play on Grant’s gruff, somewhat grizzled nature, inventing a running joke in his imaginary love of “Steak Milk” (Grant loves grilling steaks and the joke is that he craves it all the time, infusing it into his night-time glass of milk; it’s funnier than it sounds) and several jokes are made about Jenny, the annoying kid who knows everything but who the adults ignore all the time despite the fact that she keeps saving their butts at every turn. This episode is notable for revealing the fate of Dr. Erhardt who, we were told, went missing at the beginning of Season 2. He’s back to scatter the ashes of (and close the door on) TV’s Frank and Dr. Clayton Forrester, Max’s dad and Kinga’s dad, respectively. Season 12 (and the modern era) really found its rhythm here.

BEST RIFF:

SERVO: This whole movie is like the cold open of a Columbo episode.

 

37) 903 – The Pumaman

The first time I heard the Brains were going to take this movie on, I knew nothing about it other than it sounded like absolute garbage. The funny thing was, in my mind, I pictured some guy in a lame puma costume. How in the hell do you come in below even THOSE expectations? The actual “Puma Man” (pronounced “pew-muh man” by just about everyone in the cast which wimps it down even further) is a dweeby-looking guy wearing a black shirt and Jim Harbaugh-style khaki slacks with a short red cape that only goes down to the middle of his back because I guess they didn’t have the budget for a full cape. Not that it matters anyhow. There’s no improving on the costume, like, at all. And what’s even more amusing are his powers which includes things pumas can do like…fly…and walk through walls. That first one is just tragic because it’s obviously Puma Man against a rear projection screen showing city scapes that move back and forth and not in one specific direction. Picture a child toying around with the dial and you have an idea of what watching it is like. The riffing is strong throughout the episode but gets better by the second half, especially when Puma Man’s hero theme (which sounds like background music for a cable access TV commercial) begins playing and the guys begin singing random things like “We…have got…selection and savings” or “If…you love…the great taste of bacon”. It’s just awesome stuff.

BEST RIFF:

CROW: You know, I have almost no respect for pumas now. I now know that if I ever run into a puma, I could just push it the hell over.

 

36) 1001 – Soultaker

Ah, “Soultaker”. Not to go Joe Buck on everyone, but HERE’S an episode where you had it all. The SOL is in trouble. Mechanical systems are failing all over the place, Gypsy’s behavior chip is bad and the ship is on its way to burn up in Earth’s atmosphere…all while a mysterious ship monitors the SOL’s status from afar. Things down at Castle Forrester are just as bad: an evil, soul-stealing wraith has descended upon Pearl and her minions and all hope seems lost. How fitting is it that the film in question is “Soultaker”, an 80’s fantasy/horror romp written by the star of the film, Vivian Schilling? It’s not too terrible, but it’s not very good and most of the jokes seem to come at Vivian’s expense. One of my favorite moments is where Zack questions the logic of one of the characters and Natalie (Schilling, in character) acts shocked. Mike’s response is perfect: “Hey, look, you WROTE this crap!” It’s a decently-riffed film, though not wholly memorable in terms of the jokes and there isn’t really a line that produces a good belly laugh. The main attraction is the set of sketches…the ship monitoring the SOL is piloted by none other than Joel Robinson, the original host of the show. And the wraith is none other than TV’s Frank. The banter between Pearl and Frank is wonderful and the first meeting between Mike and Joel warms your heart and feels like a handshake between two enemy superpowers. It just doesn’t get any better than that. My ONLY gripe is that this wasn’t the series finale on SyFy with an ending which saw Joel rescuing Mike and the Bots from their captivity. But you can’t have it all.

BEST RIFF:

SERVO (as Vivian/Natalie writing this moment in the script): “INT: Bedroom. ME, draped across the bed, tousled and tawny. I lay there, hand on my taut tummy, still pretty in a worried sort of way.”

 

35) 1003 – Merlin’s Shop of Mystical Wonders

If The Hallmark Channel began airing flicks about witchcraft and Satan instead of 1000 Christmas flicks, you’d probably have “Merlin’s Shop of Mystical Wonders”, a film about a grandfather who tells bedtime stories to his grandson that involve horrible, evil toy monkeys that spread death and destruction across whole suburban areas. I’m not kidding. The thing kills flies, starts garage fires and then murders the family pet…and this story is something a child should hear? This is something Mike and the Bots point out throughout the film and they SHOULD, for crying outloud. This is one dark story. I mean, a severly depressed and powerless Merlin walking around the city asking people if they’ve “seen his monkey” doesn’t even bring comfort to the proceedings. I couldn’t even make up that last bit if I were on shrooms. A hilarious episode, though. Quite underrated.

BEST RIFF:

SERVO (as little kid): “No, Grandpa Borgnine, leave light and hope for me, please!”
CROW (as Borgnine): “Get out from behind that cushion, Billy, it gets worse!”

 

34) 706 – Laserblast

The Comedy Central era of MST3K comes to an end with “Laserblast”, a terrible piece of “science fiction” about a kid who finds an alien gun because the aliens who own it are too stupid to simply retrieve it for some reason. Like every other episode in the reduced Season 7, the riffing is solid, taking multiple shots at the fat sheriff with a resemblance to Hank Williams, Jr. (they take turns shouting variations of “ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL” nearly every single time he’s on screen) as well as the pacing of the film which is so unbelievably lazy and apathetic, Servo declares that the endless shots of Kathy waiting for Billy is “like watching an aquarium”. But, of course, the reason to watch the episode is to see how the show almost ended. At the time, this was considered “the end” of MST3K as SyFy hadn’t stepped in to save the show just yet. The sketches aren’t wonderful. Mike and the Bots escape burning up in Earth’s atmosphere after Dr. Forrester disconnects the Umbilicus. Due to the ship’s lack of directional capabilities, the SOL is shot into deep space. Along the way, they confront an angry, sentient satellite, run into a field of Space Children (and change one of their diapers) and nearly meet their ends due to a black hole…until Mike, dressed as Captain Janeway, saves them in a hilarious sketch (in which Mike declares that he’s responsible for the “148 crew members aboard this ship…144 of which, we never see”). The show ultimately ends with Mike and the Bots arriving at “The Edge of the Universe” and becoming pure energy while, on Earth, in a homage to “2001: a space odyssey”, Clayton grows older and older and becomes a star child who Pearl has to raise. This would be Trace Beaulieu’s last show as he wouldn’t make the leap to SyFy. From here on out, Bill Corbett, a writer with the show, became the new Crow,

BEST RIFF:

MIKE: These credits give you a chance to finish your popcorn, talk a little…decide to see another movie…

 

33) 1013 – Diabolik

Here it is, the final episode of the SyFy Channel era, the end of the 10th season and, for all intents and purposes, the show as well, before it was finally brought back to us almost two decades later. The film is Italian and is based on the comic book character of the same name. It’s a fun film, full of energy and silliness and the guys have a fun final romp as they make fun of just how silly the main character is (Mike dubs him “Reverse Racoon Man”) and how over-the-top his hideout is (Servo’s remark about thinking he only needed a nice stereo to get some tail in the 60’s is classic) but the most important thing was how the show ended, especially after fans griped, somewhat, about the pseudo-ending we got with Season 7. Here, Pearl breaks the SOL’s manual control device (a cheap 80’s joystick from Radio Shack) while messing with the ship and inadvertently activates their manual re-entry system, meaning the SOL is coming back to Earth one way or the other. Ultimately, Pearl, Bobo, and Brain Guy all move out of Castle Forrester, Pearl disconnects the feed to the castle one last time, and the ship crash-lands on Earth…only to find that things haven’t changed much: Mike, Crow and Servo have all moved into an apartment together and watch bad movies on the couch on Saturdays. It’s a wonderful conclusion even if the episode isn’t perfect.

BEST RIFF:

MIKE (singing to the 1966 Batman Theme): Dun, nuh, nuh, nuh, nuh, nuh, nuh, nuh, THIS GUY!!!

 

32) 1203 – Lords of the Deep

(Available on Netflix)

Before there was The Asylum…there was Roger Corman. Corman, bless his heart, is still alive, 92 years young. He built his entire career on films like this. More than a few of them have been featured on this show. As Max notes, “Lords of the Deep” is NOT, in fact, a rip-off of “The Abyss”. “Deep Star Six” and “Leviathan” ripped off “The Abyss” — and “Lords of the Deep” ripped off those films. So, everything’s all right, guys! What’s more, Corman shamelessly rips off 2001 while he’s at it with the Malevolent AI Computer trope. All while giving us so…many…shots of the high-tech underwater base. MST3K was made for this kind of sci-fi cheese. The riffing on this movie does take some time to get going and really takes off once Claire and O’Neill are established as lovers. The two have absolutely zero chemistry being that Claire is driven and O’Neill is such a beta. That doesn’t stop Jonah and the Bots from unloading on poor O’Neill’s naivete when it comes to their sex lives. The endless and, at times, oddly-placed establishing shots of the underwater base (it’s even on the goddamn POSTER for crying outloud, so the thing is as immortal as The Vampire Lestat) is met in clever fashion: constant references to sitcoms where establishing shots are the norm during transitions. Overall, it’s another solid 12th season outing.

BEST RIFF:

(CLAIRE and O’NEILL get comfortable. CLAIRE lays on top of O’NEILL’S chest and the two attempt to sleep.)
JONAH: You know, in the Kama Sutra, this position goes by a number of names: “The Sleepy Arm”…
CROW: The “No, This Is Fine”…
SERVO: The “What Happened To Us?”…
JONAH: The “Excuse Me While I Get My Phone And Go Into The Bathroom For, Like, Ten Minutes”…

 

31) 515 – The Wild Wild World of Batwoman (w/ short: Cheating)

Easily, one of the most goofy films MST3K ever did. “The Wild Wild World of Batwoman” attempted to hack off a piece of that sweet Adam West Batman money. There’s some sort of plot involving a “hearing aid” that will allow “Ratfink” (that’s actually the villain’s name; I guess they didn’t want to be TOO subtle here) to listen in on every conversation on the planet. Only “Batwoman” stands in his way. “Batwoman”, by the way, looks like someone’s tried soccer mom (wearing a really weird Dracula/Batperson hybrid costume with a late 80’s Cher-at-the-Oscars peacock headdress) who (VERY) passively makes strange, calm diplomatic deals with her enemies instead of fighting. Be prepared for endless sequences where her “Batgirls” dance, beyond their control, because of a formula which has been specifically invented by the villains to make girls go-go dance. It makes the “Cheating” short that comes before the film look normal. I’m really trying to avoid writing large capsules for each episode…for this one, that isn’t possible. The movie is batshit insane — and it drives Mike and the Bots batshit insane the longer it goes. Most of the humor comes from their weariness and impatience with the film, an act we rarely see because they’re usually not THIS affected by a movie. Servo finally snapping and screaming “EEEEEEEEND!!!” at the movie during the umpteenth go-go dancing scene is as therapeutic as it is well-deserved. What a movie…

BEST RIFF:

CROW: Oh, stop pretending there’s a PLOT! Don’t cheapen yourself further!

 

30) 907 – Hobgoblins

This is, without a doubt, the dumbest film ever shown on MST3K. I know the show’s concept is to show bad movies but did we have to get into “USA Up All Night” territory? I mean, watching this film (a bunch of Gremlin/Critter hybrids escape a film set and make idiot teenagers’s fantasies come to life in murderous ways), it’s easy to see that it’s schlock cinema and that he wasn’t into making a serious film here. The riffing is near-perfect as Mike and the Bots range anywhere from complete exasperation (Servo counts at least 30 parking scenes throughout the film) to free-wheeling and relaxed to the point of directly insulting a cardboard cut-out of director Rick Sloane during the end credits. Apparently, Sloane was mostly pleased with the show’s treatment of his film but didn’t like them personally attacking him. To me, the insults directed at him are about as aggressive as a roast and come with the territory. When you produce a film this bad, what else would you expect? It’s all in good fun.

BEST RIFF:

CROW: Can we have a law, that in the future, films have to be made by filmmakers?!

 

29) 1105 – The Beast of Hollow Mountain

(Available on Netflix)

Mystery Science Theater 3000

“The Beast of Hollow Mountain” holds the distinction of being 1) the first film to feature stop-motion special effects in color widescreen format and 2) the first film to ever showcase dinosaurs and cowboys in the same movie — all because the effects artist wanted to do a film about cowboys and dinosaurs. The creature (an Allosaurus) is charming with a long, forked tongue that whips around like a pin flag at Pebble Beach. He’s the best part of an otherwise dull film — and his appearance isn’t until the last 20 minutes of the film. So enjoy an hour or so of cattle negotiations and familial alcoholism. Guy Madison and Patricia Medina end up overplaying their parts, coming across as a manly stereotype and a swooning female stereotype. So, it’s no wonder that the trio have fun going after Jimmy’s deep, manly voice or Sarita’s beauty (which, in the minds of Jonah and the Bots, causes Jimmy to stammer and say stupid things to “impress” her) and the various Mexican characters who are obviously what Americans think Mexicans are and what Mexico is. The movie is lighthearted and fun for the most part so that makes the episode flow well, too.

BEST RIFF:

JONAH: Ah! A Gene Simmons-osaurus!

 

28) 822 – Overdrawn at the Memory Bank

It’s nice to see the late Raul Julia here. He was a great actor. He had an Oscar-worthy supporting role in “Presumed Innocent” with Harrison Ford and brought a smoldering romantic charm to Gomez Addams in “The Addams Family”. This was obviously one of his lesser films, yet you can see how much he tries to bring something to the role of “Aran Fingal” (which Mike points out is so NOT a Puerto Rican name), a man who just wants to enjoy a simple life and not die a workplace drone. This ranking project was the first time I had seen this episode, though I’d heard that it wasn’t a great one due to how tedious and confusing the film was. Imagine my surprise when I found out just how solid this episode was. The sketches are basically crap (the one standout is Pearl singing in a duet with Brain Guy) but the riffing is spot on as Mike and the Bots spare no firepower aiming at the terrible visual effects and a story which, while paying homage to “Casablanca”, makes no sense despite the fact that the intended idea was actually fairly clever and way ahead of its time,

BEST RIFF:

FINGAL: Genius…pure genius…
CROW: …couldn’t save this film.

 

27) 414 – Tormented

Bert I. Gordon resurfaces yet again with “Tormented”, a film about a guy who sleeps with anything that moves and then murders one of them, only to be haunted by her. The film is dark and the premise is actually fairly spooky. The film is beautifully riffed with the guys hitting dingers over the fence left and right, touching everything from Vi’s goofy haunting bits to Tom’s sleazy, secretive nature to Sandy, Meg’s “little sister” to the beatnik who shows up to find out how Tom and Vi are linked. This is one of the triumphs of an incredibly mixed Season 4 which seems to have seen more duds than hits.

BEST RIFF:

TOM (to his fiance’s little sister): From now on, you’re the only other woman in my life.
JOEL: Put her DOWN, Jerry Lee!

 

26) 1103 – The Time Travelers

(Available on Netflix)

Mystery Science Theater 3000

Ever wanted to go forward in time to an era where mankind has survived the apocalypse and progressed to living in a swag cave with a bunch of nightmarish android slaves, a spa full of naked women and “love machines”? Then “The Time Travelers” is the flick for you! Unfortunately, the halfway compelling nature of the movie serves as a bit of a hindrance to Jonah and the ‘Bots and their riffing. That’s not to say the jokes don’t land or that the episode isn’t funny. It’s fairly solid humor from end to end. The boys get some great belly laughs at the expense of “Danny”, the dorky lab assistant and point out that the movie is considerably upbeat for a post-apocalyptic epic (in the future, there are ORANGES) This may sound like an odd complaint, but I feel like there were too many jokes here. I don’t know how much caffeine the writers and performers ingested before and during filming, but Jonah, Hampton, and Baron are so manic here, it’s like listening to a trio of Robin Williams shouting odd jokes at the screen and it’s slightly off-putting to the point of being annoying. Still, this is funny stuff and Season 11 was really rolling at this point.

BEST RIFF:

STEVE: Date…five, July…’64…time…
JONAH: MILLER!

 

25) 613 – The Sinister Urge (w/ short: Keeping Clean and Neat)

Had Ed Wood directed “Boogie Nights”, we might have gotten this, His take on the porn industry rivals “Reefer Madness” in terms of ridiculous hyperbole. The riffing is solid here, starting with the perfect companion short in “Keeping Clean and Neat”. What “Young Man’s Fancy” was to “The Violent Years”, this short is to “The Sinister Urge”, poking fun at the highly uncomfortable subject matter of keeping clean. One of the funniest and priceless moments of the episode comes near the end when Gloria attempts to explain to the cops how a dead guy ran away from the scene of the crime. Mike and the Bots’ just lose it here, genuinely laughing at how ridiculous the plotting is and it’s SO good.

BEST RIFF:

CROW: This is the hottest “Petticoat Junction” EVER!

 

24) 513 – The Brain That Wouldn’t Die

Good-bye, Joel. Hello, Mike. Changes to the show included an entirely new intro sequence, a new hallway sequence before the theater segments and the SOL (and the Mad’s lair which is now officially just “Deep 13”) was altered to kill any reference to “Gizmonics Institute” because of Joel’s ownership of the term. It’s odd not to see Joel greeting us at the beginning of the show but Mike is so easy-going and so effortlessly facetious at times, you can’t help but be taken by him. In other words, the show didn’t suffer from Joel’s departure. In fact, the show had years of laughs left in it at this point. Mike’s maiden voyage into riffing has him crossing paths with “The Brain That Wouldn’t Die”, a staple of midnight B-movie creature features. It’s sufficiently horrible and gruesome, about a man who somehow keeps his wife alive after she’s decapitated following a horrific (and fairly random) car accident by placing her re-animated head in a pan full of fluid and promising her a new, sexier body. Just yuck. The superlative riffing offsets the dark tone of the film and the opening sketch featuring Mike being trained by the ‘Bots to riff on bad movies sets things up rather nicely, giving us one of the funniest non-theater riffs ever: SERVO: Marc Singer walks out in a loin cloth…what do you say? MIKE: “Now I know why the show’s called ‘V’!” So good. The problem is that the rest of the sketches, while clever, aren’t totally great until show writer (and eventual host) Mary Jo Pehl visits the SOL, playing Jan in the Pan, something that even made my Mom laugh — and she isn’t a fan of the show.

BEST RIFF:

(Jan, now without a body, wakes up in the pan and attempts to talk.)
MIKE: Doesn’t she need LUNGS?!
SERVO: No! She’s got neck juice!

 

23) 319 – War of the Colossal Beast (w/ short: Mr. B Natural)

Ten episodes after “The Amazing Colossal Man”, we get the sequel, also directed by Burt I. Gordon. The riffing isn’t as sharp as on the original film but the episode is buoyed by the legendary short, “Mr. B Natural”, a weird little film about a musically-inclined seemingly androgynous sprite who visits/haunts (depending on your point of view) a young boy and tries to get him into playing live music. It’s well-meaning but as horrifying as it actually sounds. The episode, overall, is still very good, but not the classic that was the original. Using Mr. B to fix that seems like a cheap win.

BEST RIFF:

(Bert I. Gordon’s name appears in the credits. Joel & the Bots cheer.)
SERVO: What does the “I” stand for?
CROW: “I am ashamed.”

 

22) 418 – Attack of the Eye Creatures

Not to be confused with “The Crawling Eye”, “Attack of the Eye Creatures” is about a bunch of young morons as they deal with an alien creature which is literally made of eyeballs. The film is goofy as hell in the “Catalina Caper” vein and you’d think Joel and the Bots couldn’t add much to it. But, they do. A slew of jokes make fun of the supposed “night” shots where it’s pure daylight outside with foleyed-in crickets which supplies the riff, “I sure hope they don’t get a MOONburn!” The constant creepiness that permeates the flick just adds to a bizarrely funny experience. And it’s not even “creepy” as in “scary creepy”. This is low-budget “Eegah” creepy. Aside from some weak sketch work, it’s so much fun to watch.

BEST RIFF:

SERVO: David Lynch only ASPIRES to make something this creepy.

 

21) 603 – The Dead Talk Back (w/ short: The Selling Wizard)

Imagine a film so goofy, it demands dueling narrators to tell the audience what’s happening. One of them is “Krasker”, a dude who tries to get the murder victims to talk to the living (via a cheap-looking Jiffy Pop container) so that they can tell everyone who murdered them while the other sounds like a hard-boiled detective who just talks whenever he feels like it. It’s so overacted, it removes any sense of creepiness the film attempts to generate. Precursor to this, Mike and the Bots riff on “The Selling Wizard”, a film about the process of selling items people really want. It’s so stone-cold boring, even the riffing can’t save it. Still, it’s all about the main feature which reminds me of the insanely goofy “Attack of the Eye Creatures”. The sketches also have a lot to offer even if you’re not buying the feature, with Crow playing his Jerry Garcia-esque guitar solo throughout the show and the Bots invent a machine which talks to the dead, summoning the likes of Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln…who both call in to argue about whether or not the Bills are returning to the Super Bowl.

BEST RIFF:

SERVO: Look, we’ve been married for 25 years…at LEAST let me get to second base.

 

20) 1101 – Reptilicus

(Available on Netflix)

Mystery Science Theater 3000

Imagine the glee heard from every MSTie on the planet when Joel Hodgson announced that a new version of MST3K would be in the works — provided his Kickstarter campaign received enough funding. Two months later, Hodgson had nearly $6 million dollars and the fans got a new season. From that moment on, it felt like forever. It only started to become real during Turkey Day 2016 when it was announced that Patton Oswalt would be cast as “TV’s Son of TV’s Frank” and we got to meet the remainder of the cast. Then the release date was announced…then the teaser trailer. It was all coming together. And when it premiered, I felt like a kid at Christmas. Yes, the first episode of the 11th season isn’t without its flaws. Yes, it’s different. Joel may be behind the scenes but the show has been completely overhauled. First, and foremost, the cast is completely different. Jonah Ray plays the new guy, “Jonah Heston” (an obvious nod to Charlton Heston who the cast has referenced more than once with regard to his part in “Planet of the Apes”) while Hampton Yount and Baron Vaughn play Crow and Tom Servo, respectively. Gypsy is played by an actual female voice this time around (Rebecca Hanson) and we have two new mads in Kinga Forrester (Felicia Day), the daughter of Clayton Forrester (and granddaughter of Pearl) while Patton Oswalt rounds out everyone by playing “TV’s Son of TV’s Frank”. It’s not hard to get used to the newbies or the situation. This is the same song done a different way with some upgrades: the hallway sequence is beautifully detailed, the Bots’ arms work (sadly eliminating a long-standing running joke on the show) and the movie now takes up your entire screen and is completely remastered and gorgeous. What’s more, Joel’s fingerprints are all over the show what with the return of the Gizmonics Institute backdrop, the Invention Exchanges, and talky, analytical sketches. The film leading off our Netflix journey is “Reptilicus”, a Danish Kaiju-style monster movie, if you’d believe that. The riffs come hard and fast and Jonah and the Bots are over-the-top in their snarkiness, shooting jokes at the screen, rapid-fire. It feels less natural and more rehearsed and acted out. There’s little breathing time between them (something that gets better as the season progresses) but it has quite a few gems. This is just total fun, the guys just messing around and taking their shots. The sketches are decent. The highlight of the thing is the song “Every Country Has a Monster” which is just a slice of pure brilliance in that it’s the best sketch produced in the new generation AND is one of the greatest songs ever written for the show. The whole thing is like putting on an old piece of clothing you’re comfy with. After all this time, it feels like no time passed.

BEST RIFF:

JONAH: They’re obviously dubbing in those screams.
CROW: Why do you say that?
JONAH: The Danes are too polite to scream.

 

19) 1109 – Yongary

(Available on Netflix)

Mystery Science Theater 3000

There’s always something so comfortable about watching a giant monster flick on Mystery Science Theater 3000. I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s the feel of it: the stilted dubbing, the strangely edited audio and sound effects, the silly musical scoring, the sound of the Monster Children yapping at the monster in the film…everything about giant monster films is just so silly that it melds incredibly well with everything MST3K is. Both are made on the cheap and have conviction in their campy attitude. They’re like brethren, two sides of the same coin where the only difference is that one takes itself semi-seriously and the other has dropped all pretense about being serious. It’s just “home” to me. “Yongary” is everything that was great about MST3K’s treatment of the Sandy Frank films and it’s one of the best episodes of the 11th season of “Mystery Science Theater 3000”. If the monster didn’t already give Jonah and the Bots plenty of ammunition, Icho, the Monster Child, does in spades. From aggravating newlyweds with an “itching gun” (yes, this is a thing that exists in this movie) to shaming single adults into not being married, Icho is this season’s “Johnny” from “Time of the Apes”: he just doesn’t care. There’s also a running riff using popular songs from nearly every decade which just shows the range of intelligence of the writers when it comes to pop culture.

BEST RIFF:

JONAH: You know, whereas GODZILLA was a parable about the ravages of nuclear war, YONGARY is a parable about copyright infringement.

 

18) 703 – Deathstalker and the Warriors from Hell

“This is one of the most ambitiously bad films we’ve ever done,” says Mike about three quarters of the way through “Deathstalker and the Warriors from Hell”, a film in the MST3K roster that’s been compared to “Cave Dwellers” (but is really “Outlaw” with better, tighter riffing), which it rivals in terms of pure incredulousness from the guys. The film has some great riffing, mocking the horrible 80’s-style sword-and-sorcery which includes some awful miscasting and pretentious accents. “Let’s see how long THOSE last”, Crow says of their alleged “native tongue”, in a line that grabs you right off the bat and primes you for a great time the rest of the film. And that’s a good thing because the sketch work, involving an ailing, bed-ridden Pearl shouting “CLAYTON” repeatedly just grates.

BEST RIFF:

MIKE: This movie is like playing “Doom” when there’s no monsters or opponents.

 

17) 1104 – Avalanche

(Available on Netflix)

Mystery Science Theater 3000

The first Roger Corman experiment of the 11th season is a piece of 70’s disaster porn that barely has a disaster and doesn’t have the 70’s porn to fall back on. There’s just a love triangle storyline which you’d think would be kinkier than it is, considering the time period…but, no, it’s between an air-headed Mia Farrow, a lecherous, overweight, elderly Rock Hudson (he’d seen MUCH better days than this) and a somehow sexy, yet dull, Robert Forster. I also feel compelled to mention that Steven Franken (“Danny” from “The Time Travelers”) returns here as “McDade”, a character who sounds like he should be sliding across car hoods and jumping into the air firing twin nines with explosions raging in the background. In any case, it takes far too long for the actual “avalanche” to actually happen and, when it does, it’s just footage of emergency services vehicles slipping on icy roads and crashing into nearby buildings while people die horribly out at the ski resort where this whole thing takes place. Many of the jokes tackle the tacky 70’s backdrop (“Is everything BROWN or do I have retina damage?” asks Jonah when he sees the insane amount of wood paneling on walls and lack of color in everyone’s clothing) and the complete lack of any action (“You know, not like I’m complaining but, at this point, Gene Hackman was already halfway through the Poseidon,” Crow complains about halfway through the movie when we get another romantic interlude). The addition of some choice sketches (Neil Patrick Harris cameos as Kinga’s long-distance boyfriend and it’s here we learn that Max has a thing for Kinga as well), this is a fairly solid episode.

BEST RIFF:

SERVO: This is like if ‘The Shining’ was booked on Priceline.

 

16) 908 – The Touch of Satan

I don’t even know how to quantify “The Touch of Satan” (which Servo says “softens your hands while you do the dishes” in a hilarious opening riff) other than to say that it’s strange, hypnotic film that resides somewhere between “The Exorcist” without the shock factor and a 70’s TV drama. The dialogue is so slow and wooden (“This is where the fish lives” is, possibly, one of the strangest, most arbitrary lines ever to be uttered by an actor in the entire history of film) and I’m curious as to who in the hell thought of a “walnut farm” as a suitable horror film setting — if that’s what this was supposed to be. Nonetheless, the guys manage to pull out their best, perfectly timing jokes in between the big rig-sized pauses, riffing on everything from the obtuse and obnoxious use of “Amazing Grace” during horrific shots of women being burned alive (“PublicDomanWeDon’tHaveToPayAThingHaHaHaHa!” Servo quickly sings as the song drones on) to the walnut farming dad’s penchant for putting “peanuts” in his moonshine — but slurring the word “peanuts” juuuust enough to the point where Crow uncomfortably remarks, “Boy, I HOPE he just said ‘peanuts'”, a line that made one of my good friends laugh for so long, we needed to pause the episode so he could catch his breath. This is such an amazing episode and it’s only brought down by weak sketch work that only ever sees its bright spots when Beez McKeever is on-screen as the nanny Pearl hires to watch Bobo and Brain Guy while she’s gone.

BEST RIFF:

(An angry mob carries torches and shouts “BURN THE WITCH” over and over.)
MIKE: Oh, and also, “Go Packers” but, mostly, “Burn the witch”.

 

15) 1102 – Cry Wilderness

(Available on Netflix)

Mystery Science Theater 3000

One of these days, when I write my article about the oddest films MST3K ever riffed, this will be on it. Try to keep up here: a cute little boy named Paul lives in some sort of school/palace/museum for boys. Paul has some sort of weird connection with a Bigfoot (WHICH IS SOMEHOW AN EXHIBIT AT A MUSEUM FOR ANTHROPOLOGICAL NATURE  STUDIES even though the guy running the place thinks Bigfoot is phony), who actually wanders by the place, while Paul is sleeping, TO TELL HIM THAT HIS DAD IS IN GREAT DANGER. Yes, Bigfoot (who, incidentally, loves to swill several 24-packs of Coca-Cola at a time) yells arbitrary, creepy shit at Paul in the middle of the night. Still with me? Good. Paul wanders into the woods to find his Dad and his friend, Jim, a Native American man, as they walk through the forest aiming shotguns at anything with four legs and fur, threatening it’s life — only to let it go and promising to “come back for it later”. Seriously. This happens at least a dozen times throughout the movie. And , if you think THAT’S weird…it gets even weirder and, at times, just plain horrifying. In my initial review for the episode, I said that the film was “like ‘Pod People’, ‘Boggy Creek II’ and ‘The Final Sacrifice’ all had a weird little baby and had it wander into Leonard Nimoy’s ‘In Search of Bigfoot’ documentary.” Yep. That’s still a fair assessment. The riffing is out-of-control wonderful here (though the pace and spacing of the jokes are still an issue) as Jonah and the Bots do an admirable job of picking apart the movie on every level from the absurdity of Bigfoot’s weird stalking of a minor to the constant use of stock footage of the animals to the fact that foleyed-in “ricochet” sound effects don’t apply to tranquilizer darts. This is proof that it didn’t take long for the new generation of MST3K to produce something great.

BEST RIFF:

SERVO: Paul’s been out of school six months now, so he’ll probably have to repeat, like, three grades?

 

14) 510 – The Painted Hills (w/ short: Body Care and Grooming)

MST3K does a western starring Lassie (you remember that dog) as “Shep”, a canine who must protect a boy from a grizzled, murderous prospector. The riffing pokes a lot of fun at the entire Lassie angle, giving an exhausted voice to the famous dog (though the “Snausages” joke wears thin after the first few times; not everything is “Big Stupid”, guys) as well as the kid, which is always a welcome thing to do. There’s also a great short about taking care of one’s body and it’s disturbing as hell — though the riffing is fantastic and attacks the outdated outlook of young boys growing up and maturing. Crow’s sketch about President Hayes is an absolute gem. But that was Season 5: one solid episode after the next, with about a half dozen crown jewels.

BEST RIFF:

CROW: Now, is this the REAL “Old West” or the Roy Rogers “Old West” where they electricity and cars?

 

13) 813 – Jack Frost

“Jack Frost” is, easily, the best of the Russo-Finnish co-productions. In fact, when one watches it, one might wonder if it’s just as crazy as all the others we’ve seen (“Sinbad”, “The Day the Earth Froze”, to name a couple) or if it’s an insane parody. It’s balls-out bonkers crazy to the point where Crow just says, “So, the entire premise is that everyone is nutty as all get-out.” Truer words have never been spoken. The riffing here is pure reactionary at one point, driving Mike and the Bots to fits of laughter as even they can’t find the words for what they’re seeing. That’s the only reason why it might not hold a higher rating on my list. It’s hard to find a good solid foundation from which to work. That’s still not a bad thing. It’s easily one of the best episodes of the show.

BEST RIFF:

(Trees are being frosted over.)
CROW: Smilla’s Sense of CRAP.

 

12) 624 – Samson vs. The Vampire Women

Vampires led by a fierce female vampire threaten to corrupt and enslave a rich professor’s daughter. And the only one who can stop it…is Samson, a Luchadore. It sounds ridiculous and it IS. The moment where Samson busts into the professor’s office declaring that he “came as soon as he could”, Mike and the Bots just laugh. No joke, no riff, no comment, just laughter. That’s the style of riffing on display here. But forget that for a second. This is the 6th season finale — and the final episode we’ll get to see TV’s Frank up until a cameo during the 10th season opener. The sketches are much improved here as Frank is taken away to “Second Banana Heaven” by “Torgo the White”, which gives us a wonderful number called “Who Will I Kill” sung by a distraught Dr. Forrester. This episode is a fitting end to the year and to Frank’s final turn on the show. The show’s second bananas would evolve over time but nothing was as good as Frank.

BEST RIFF:

CROW: Which one is Brad Pitt?

 

11) 303 – Pod People

An alien with an elephant-like snout befriends a little boy while the alien’s parents systematically murder everyone in the little boy’s cabin. If this sounds fairly uneven to you, that’s because it was meant to be a horror film until E.T. convinced the filmmakers to add the story of the little boy. The riffing on this is perfection as there are plenty of moments Joel and the Bots aim for hit with precision. The movie is weird, borderline incomprehensible and foggy to the point where Servo says, “Even the movie The Fog didn’t have this much fog!” Crow’s running Trumpy voice is gut-bustingly funny. The sketches are ALL brilliant with the centerpiece being a full reproduction of the pop number the band in the film sings complete with Frank playing the effeminate guy in the studio and Joel yelling “IT STINKS!” at the end, a line which is fully ingrained in the MST3K lexicon. The entire episode is. It’s almost perfection.

BEST RIFF:

(We’re moving backwards in space to open the film.)
SERVO (chuckling to himself): Whoa! Boldly backing AWAY from where no man has gone before!

 

10) 309 – The Amazing Colossal Man

Born of the paranoia which permeated the public during the beginning of the Atomic Age, The Amazing Colossal Man (courtesy of MST3K repeat offender, Bert I. Gordon) is insanely goofy, despite the serious subject matter and heartbreaking storyline. This is because Joel and the Bots are as loose as they’ve ever been and they rarely miss with the jokes which range from gleefully insensitive to Glenn’s plight (CAROL: He still ribs me about my driving… JOEL (as man listening): RIBS! That’s what I’m hungry for!) to elegantly simple (MAN: Do you see anything? CROW (as CAROL): Well, there’s a 50-foot guy, but he’s got hair…that can’t be Glenn…). The sketches are pure awesome and clever with Joel being put in his place after attempting to come up with a lame lesson for the Bots on how to treat a nuclear burn victim, Joel assuming the role of Glenn, and the crown jewel: Mike Nelson playing Glenn and visiting the SOL. This is, easily, one of MST3K’s top episodes.

BEST RIFF:

(The camera is on Glen’s fiance as she drives.)
CROW (in Public Service Announcement voice): Susie doesn’t think she NEEDS a seatbelt! Watch Susie go ballistic through the windshield!

 

9) 701 – Night of the Blood Beast (w/ short: Once Upon a Honeymoon)

We get a Corman-produced venture (both Roger and his brother, Gene, were in on this one) to start a very truncated Season 7 of MST3K as an astronaut crash-lands and dies — but comes back to life much to shock of his cohorts at “NASA” which is comprised of a small office and about a half dozen workers. Season 7 (the final season of the Comedy Central era) is infamous for only having six episodes but it’s still a solid season and it starts with a bang here. The film (which Mike Nelson credits Mary Jo Pehl for “rescuing” from MST3K’s writer scrap heap) has conviction in its camp but is so awful in execution, it ruins any goodwill it intended to have. The riffing is perfection, starting with the hilarious short “Once Upon a Honeymoon”, a musical about a man who just wants to go on his honeymoon but can’t because he needs to finish writing a musical for his boss — and can’t even do that because of writer’s block. Crow’s line, “Let’s see, what rhymes with ‘blue balls'” gets me every single time and the guys just have fun with the rest of it, making up their own lyrics to the surprisingly catchy musical score. The fun carries right over into “Blood Beast” which seems so effortless and natural due to the soft chuckling shared, every so often, between the riffers, giving the audience a sense of genuine camaraderie. This doesn’t feel scripted. It feels more like three guys who have had a couple drinks and they’re just letting loose. The running jokes work because they’re spaced out beautifully (the bits about shrimp living inside John are great — and has a great payoff at the end when Servo, as one of the scientists asks “Should we split him open and scoop out the roux?”) and the episode is just too much fun. A couple things to note: Mary Jo Pehl became Dr. Forrester’s new second-hand, reprising her role as Clayton’s mom, Pearl. She would be the main villain on the show for the next three seasons following this one. She’s NOT Frank — but there’s only one Frank, so trying to imitate that is pointless. She is, however, very good as Pearl, bringing a salty/sarcastic demeanor that only Pehl can deliver. There are also two versions of the episode. I posted the Turkey Day version, which only aired once. The only difference between the two is the sketch work. Personally, I like the Turkey Day version better as it fits the overall continuity of the show better and features a great set of sketches involving Dr. Forrester’s Thanksgiving Day dinner which is attended by Jack Perkins, Mr. B Natural, Pitch, Kitten With a Whip and pianist Michael Feinstein. The execution of these sketches is genius because the cast members have so many roles to fill. Mike plays two of them and Trace plays two of them and it works seamlessly. You can find the other version here.

BEST RIFF:

SERVO: This was back when NASA was family-owned and operated.

 

8) 810 – The Giant Spider Invasion

The first color feature of the SyFy era lands in the form of “The Giant Spider Invasion”, a giant insect film set in the mid-west portion of America and the guys give it the “Mitchell” treatment, absolutely destroying it. It’s not like the film doesn’t deserve it. It’s ugly, dusty, dirty, sleazy, and sweaty. Whoever thought it was a great idea to cast a bunch of country yokels as the heroes of this film needs to resign and leave the movie business forever. The film not only features Alan Hale as a moronic sheriff who thinks he’s hilarious, but it moves so slowly, Crow dubs the film “a Minor Spider Unrest” rather than a “GIant Spider Invasion”. And, then, there’s the great “PACKERS” running joke. And I haven’t even mentioned the “giant spider” which is a big set of legs welded to a car, which is beyond laughable. Easily, one of the best episodes of the 8th season.

BEST RIFF:

MIKE: And the movie ramps up the repulsion…
CROW: This movie HATES us, doesn’t it?

 

7) 424 – Manos, the Hands of Fate (w/ short: Hired!, Part 2)

I’m not sure I can even add anything to what’s already been said about this insane film. Every single time I watch the episode, though, I’m just a little peeved that there’s a short that comes before it because this movie deserves the entire spotlight (even though the short is perfectly riffed). It’s so weird and awkward and terrible. It’s everything you’ve come to expect from this show…and SO much more. It’s so bad, the Mads can’t even celebrate the pain it’s causing. Fu Manchu, Cave Dwellers, Pod People, Monster A-Go-Go…those may have left a mark which eventually healed…Manos leaves a life-long scar that is still felt today, even if the riffing on the film is spectacularly good..

BEST RIFF:

(ANOTHER scene showing fields full of lettuce crops from the POV of a car going by.)
SERVO: So, what are we, a half hour into this movie?
JOEL: No, I’m afraid not, it’s more like a…minute…
(Pause)
SERVO (almost silently): No…
JOEL: Yeah.
SERVO: Huh…

 

6) 506 – Eegah!

Actors, actresses, and directors sometimes have their “moments” on the show. For director Bert I. Gordon, it was probably “The Amazing Colossal Man”. For actor Joe Don Baker, it was “Mitchell”. For actor Richard Kiel, it was THIS movie. The last time we saw Kiel was in “Human Duplicators”. In that capsule review, I wrote that Joel and the Bots pounced on the poor guy and that the showrunners must have felt bad about it because they give him the hero’s rub in “Eegah”, a schlocky, icky, ugly film about a young girl who stumbles upon a caveman in the California desert — and her dorky boyfriend and father who puff their chests to go look for him. “Eegah” shares the same painful “what-the-fuck” feeling as films like “Manos”, “Monster A-Go-Go” and “Pod People”. It feels barely strung together with tears and angst. It feels greasy and cheap and, like the Bots at the end of the film, you feel like you need a shower after it’s finished. That said, the riffing on the film is GOLD, presenting us with so many jokes at the expense of the dweeby Arch Hall, Jr. who squeals and howls out a couple musical numbers (which is just what this film needs, lemme tell ya’) and who the Bots dub “a Cabbage Patch Elvis”. The episode also gave birth to yet another MST3Kism in the phrase “Watch out for snakes!” which is not only badly dubbed into the film, it’s just so arbitrary and weird, just like the rest of the film.

BEST RIFF:

(During the scene where Roxy shaves her own Dad’s face.)
JOEL & THE BOTS: EEEWWWW!!! UGH!!!
SERVO: Joel, I’m gonna slap this movie SO hard…

 

5) 512 – Mitchell

“Mitchell’ stars Joe Don Baker as an overweight, beer-swilling cop (who has a sex scene with LINDA FREAKIN’ EVANS for crying outloud) who is assigned to investigate a gangster played by Martin Balsam. If you read that sentence and said “What the fuck”, you’re not alone. It’s as awful as it sounds. And if you thought the treatment the guys gave Richard Kiel was terrible, they absolutely CRUSH Joe Don Baker to the point where you almost feel bad about laughing…if only that sex scene set to Mitchell’s weird, bouncy hick waltz “Mah, Mah, Mah, Mah Mitchell” wasn’t a thing…and that brief shot of the baby oil at the side of the bed–nope. Crow’s frustrated, grossed-out reaction is EVERYTHING: “Why would anyone wanna DO this with Mitchell, Joel?!” Even though the riffs do lose their steam in the third act, it’s still the perfect swan song for Joel as this is his last episode as he leaves the SOL for greener pastures. The sketches featuring Gypsy planning Joel’s escape are absolutely brilliant featuring some inside baseball you’ll get a kick out of if you’re a Stanley Kubrick fan. Head writer Mike Nelson, who had been playing arbitrary characters visiting the SOL, would take over and things would slowly change and evolve in the next few years but this episode is a great send-off of the Joel Era.

BEST RIFF:

CROW: I can’t imagine why “Mitchell 2” never came out.

 

4) 820 – Space Mutiny

It’s always nice to get 80’s sci-fi cheese. It’s even better when it has conviction in its awfulness. At first, Mike and the Bots start jabbing at the film, making fun of the visual effects by imitating Strauss’s “Blue Danube”. “Duh, duh, duh, duh, CRAP, duh, duh…duh, duh…”, then there’s Captain Santa Claus and his “daughter” who looks just as old as her “Dad”. But, when Dave Ryder shows up, THAT’S when the guys start swinging with everything they have. The episode is famous for all the Meathead Hero names the guys bestow upon Ryder. Even without that running gag, the episode is raucously funny due to how straight-faced the film tries to be. It wants to serve up a great adventure for its audience and you still can’t help but chuckle at action/chase scenes that involve battery-powered electric cars that have a top speed of 5 miles an hour. It doesn’t let up. Not during the lame climax or stinger ending or even during the credits. The riffing here is pure art. Even the host segments feel right, with a great opening where the Bots mock Mike for his aged set of encyclopedias which are so out-of-date, Servo remarks that a photo of Stonehenge includes a sign that reads “UNDER CONSTRUCTION”. It’s even better when Mike updates the books: “27 pages on Gwen Stefani alone!” says an impressed Crow. Lastly, this episode marks the end of the “Ancient Rome” sketches and thank the gods for that. There were more than a few good episodes in Season 8, but this was the first “great” episode of that season as well as the SyFy era.

BEST RIFF:

MIKE: Special Effects by Industrial Light and Morons.

 

3) 507 – I Accuse My Parents (w/ short: The Truck Farmer)

“I Accuse My Parents” is one of those films one might look at and think, “There’s nothing here for us to mock.” It’s about a guy named Jimmy who’s supposed to be in high school but looks 25. He lives in a dysfunctional home with an alcoholic mother and abusive father. He lies more than Donald Trump in order to keep up the appearance of being clean-cut. Then, he gets mixed up with the mob and ends up in court…where he accuses his parents of making him the way he is. It’s meant to be preachy…if only Jimmy wasn’t such a moron. It’s preceded by the “Truck Farmer” short which isn’t as funny as I remember it being (though Crow’s snarky comment about “carrots being made flavorless so people will buy steak” ALWAYS gets a good laugh from me) but the riffing on the feature is spectacularly great. Dare I say, perfect. Nearly every single joke lands. There really isn’t a moment in the film where you aren’t laughing because everything from Jimmy’s gullibility to his dishonesty is fair game.

BEST RIFF:

(Kitty and Jimmy talk and talk. The clock on the wall goes from 6:20 PM to 8:20 PM.)
JOEL: 1700 LIES LATER…
SERVO (as Jimmy): …and, of course, I was the last one out of Saigon!

 

2) 910 – The Final Sacrifice

If ever there was a film made for MST3K’s treatment, it’s the Canadian import, “The Final Sacrifice”. It’s almost the amalgam of everything we’ve experienced on the show up until this point: puzzling casting (a severely wimpy kid and a beer-swilling yokel are the heroes), unintentionally funny antagonists, goofy supporting characters (the grizzled archaeologist sounds like Jim Henson doing Yosemite Sam), an agonizingly low budget, and the sense that it’s taking itself seriously despite all its flaws. It’s the fat, hanging curveball of MST3K features, about a wussy kid named Troy who attempts to learn the fate of his father and, in doing so, runs afoul of a weird cult full of hooded figures who are lead by a guy who looks like the front man for an 80’s rock group who sounds like Jesse “The Body” Ventura. As Troy’s pursuit thickens, he befriends an older guy with Canadian hockey hair named “Zap Rowsdower” (forever part of the MST3K lore and lexicon and, yes, that’s his real name and isn’t a leftover from “Space Mutiny”) who was once a member of the cult, but has seen the light. There are SO many great lines in this episode as the crew savages poor Rowsdower (Servo remarking that Rowsdower’s hair can sense things; Crow, as Rowsdower, wondering if there’s beer on the sun as he peers at the horizon, and the constant imitation of Troy simply saying “Rowsdower” are all gems) if only the sketches didn’t get progressively weaker after the superb sketch where Servo dresses up as a Canadian Mountie and tries to sing a song, praising Canada — only to have Crow and Mike sabotage the song by mocking Canada and its culture — which corrupts Servo completely, leading him to singing a verse where he describes violently destroying the country, its people, and their culture before Mike and Crow are able to rein the sobbing Servo in. You just can’t top that, I suppose.

BEST RIFF:

MIKE: Children and pregnant women should not watch this scene…you know, in fact, nobody should watch any of these scenes…

 

It’s time to reveal the #1 MST3K episode of all-time…but first, let’s review the rankings leading up to #1:

196) 410 – Hercules Against the Moon Men
195) 211 – First Spaceship to Venus
194) 317 – The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent (w/ short: Home Economics Story)
193) 617 – The Sword of the Dragon
192) 902 – The Phantom Planet
191) 107 – Robot Monster (w/ short: Commando Cody – Radar Men From the Moon, Chapters 4 & 5)
190) 103 – Mad Monster (w/ short: Commando Cody – Radar Men From the Moon, Chapter 2)
189) 209 – The Hellcats
188) 111 – Moon Zero Two
187) 616 – Racket Girls (w/ short: Are You Ready for Marriage?)
186) 806 – The She-Creature
185) 101 – The Crawling Eye
184) 105 – The Corpse Vanishes (w/ short: Commando Cody – Radar Men From the Moon, Chapter 3)
183) 411 – The Magic Sword
182) 102 – The Robot vs. the Aztec Mummy (w/ short: Commando Cody – Radar Men From the Moon, Chapter 1)
181) 104 – Women of the Prehistoric Planet
180) 205 – Rocket Attack U.S.A. (w/ Phantom Creeps, Chapter 2)
179) 110 – Robot Holocaust (w/ short: Commando Cody – Radar Men From the Moon, Chapter 9)
178) 203 – Jungle Goddess (w/ Phantom Creeps, Chapter 1)
177) 607 – Bloodlust! (w/ short: Uncle Jim’s Dairy Farm)
176) 818 – Devil Doll
175) 615 – Kitten With a Whip
174) 412 – Hercules and the Captive Women
173) 605 – Colossus and the Headhunters
172) 1111 – Wizards of the Lost Kingdom II
171) 202 – The Sidehackers
170) 1005 – Blood Waters of Dr. Z
169) 811 – Parts: The Clonus Horror
168) 508 – Operation Double 007
167) 305 – Stranded in Space
166) 323 – Castle of Fu Manchu
165) 1114 – At the Earth’s Core
164) 322 – Master Ninja I
163) 324 – Master Ninja II
162) 614 – San Francisco International
161) 308 – Gamera vs. Gaos
160) 213 – Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster
159) 310 – Fugitive Alien
158) 312 – Gamera vs. Guiron
157) 1110 – Wizards of the Lost Kingdom
156) 1008 – Final Justice
155) 314 – Mighty Jack
154) 502 – Hercules
153) 401 – Space Travelers
152) 405 – Being From Another Planet
151) 106 – The Crawling Hand
150) 803 – The Mole People
149) 805 – The Thing That Couldn’t Die
148) 623 – The Amazing Transparent Man (w/ short: The Days of Our Years)
147) 204 – Catalina Caper
146) 304 – Gamera vs. Barugon
145) 307 – Daddy-O (w/ short: Alphabet Antics)
144) 416 – Fire Maidens of Outer Space
143) 1011 – Horrors of Spider Island
142) 606 – The Creeping Terror
141) 406 – Attack of the Giant Leeches (w/ short: The Undersea Kingdom, Chapter 1)
140) 611 – Last of the Wild Horses
139) 315 – Teenage Caveman
138) 1007 – Track of the Moon Beast
137) 403 – City Limits
136) 408 – Hercules Unchained
135) 804 – The Deadly Mantis
134) 108 – The Slime People (w/ short: Commando Cody – Radar Men From the Moon, Chapter 6)
133) 313 – Earth vs. the Spider (w/ short: Speech – Using Your Voice)
132) 802 – The Leech Woman
131) 402 – The Giant Gila Monster
130) 420 – The Human Duplicators
129) 1205 – Killer Fish
128) 602 – Invasion U.S.A. (w/ short A Date With Your Family)
127) 522 – Teenage Crime Wave
126) 901 – The Projected Man
125) 1004 – Future War
124) 806 – The Undead
123) 1009 – Hamlet
122) 1010 – It Lives By Night
121) 311 – It Conquered the World (w/ short: Snow Thrills)
120) 407 – The Killer Shrews (w/ short: Junior Rodeo Daredevils)
119) 503 – Swamp Diamonds (w/ short: What to Do on a Date)
118) 320 – The Unearthly (w/ shorts: Posture Pals & Appreciating Our Parents)
117) 318 – Star Force: Fugitive Alien II
116) 113 – The Black Scorpion
115) 417 – Crash of Moons (w/ short: General Hospital, Part 3)
114) 413 – Manhunt in Space (w short: General Hospital, Part 1)
113) 109 – Project Moonbase (w/ short: Commando Cody – Radar Men From the Moon, Chapters 7 & 8)
112) 112 – Untamed Youth
111) 415 – The Beatniks (w/ short: General Hospital, Part 2)
110) 523 – Village of the Giants
109) 421 – Monster A-Go-Go (w/ short: Circus on Ice)
108) 601 – Girls Town
107) 622 – Angels Revenge
106) 816 – Prince of Space
105) 819 – Invasion of the Neptune Men
104) 201 – Rocketship X-M
103) 208 – Lost Continent
102) 212 – Godzilla vs. Megalon
101) 302 – Gamera
100) 514 – Teenage Strangler (w/ short: Is This Love?)
99) 404 – Teenagers From Outer Space
98) 1108 – The Loves of Hercules
97) 618 – High School Big Shot (w/ short: Out of This World)
96) 524 – 12 to the Moon (w/ short: Design for Dreaming)
95) 518 – The Atomic Brain (w/ short: What About Juvenile Delinquency?)
94) 620 – Danger! Death Ray!
93) 517 – The Beginning of the End
92) 423 – Bride of the Monster (w/ short: Hired!, Part 1)
91) 419 – The Rebel Set (w/ short: Johnny at the Fair)
90) 619 – Red Zone Cuba (w/ short: Platform, Posture, and Apperance)
89) 520 – Radar Secret Service (w/ short: Last Clear Chance)
88) 409 – Indestructible Man (w/ short: The Undersea Kingdom, Chapter 2)
87) 504 – Secret Agent Super Dragon
86) 501 – Warrior of the Lost World
85) 913 – Quest of the Delta Knights
84) 621 – The Beast of Yucca Flats (w/ shorts: Money Talks / Progress Island U.S.A.)
83) 316 – Gamera vs. Zigra
82) 809 – I Was a Teenage Werewolf
81) 1012 – Squirm (w/ short: A Case of Spring Fever)
80) 206 – Ring of Terror (w/ Phantom Creeps, Chapter 3)
79) 207 – Wild Rebels
78) 821 – Time Chasers
77) 1002 – The Girl in Gold Boots
76) 210 – King Dinosaur
75) 815 – Agent for h.a.r.m.
74) 911 – Devil Fish
73) 321 – Santa Claus Conquers the Martians
72) 306 – Time of the Apes
71) 519 – Outlaw (of Gor)
70) 704 – The Incredible Melting Man
69) 301 – Cave Dwellers
68) 1107 – The Land That Time Forgot
67) 604 – Zombie Nightmare
66) 505 – The Magic Voyage of Sinbad
65) 509 – The Girl in Lover’s Lane
64) 807 – Terror From the Year 5000
63) 812 – The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies
62) 705 – Escape 2000
61) 817 – Horror of Party Beach
60) 422 – The Day the Earth Froze (w/ short: Here Comes the Circus)
59) 608 – Code Name: Diamond Head (w/ short: A Day at the Fair)
58) 511 – Gunslinger
57) 906 – The Space Children (w/ short: Century 21 Calling)
56) 516 – Alien from L.A.
55) 814 – Riding With Death
54) 905 – The Deadly Bees
53) 1006 – Boggy Creek II: …and the Legend Continues
52) 1106 – Starcrash
51) 909 – Gorgo
50) 912 – The Screaming Skull
49) 1113 – The Christmas That Almost Wasn’t
48) 1202 – Atlantic Rim
47) 1206 – Ator, the Fighting Eagle
46) 801 – Revenge of the Creature
45) 702 – The Brute Man
44) 610 – The Violent Years (w/ short: A Young Man’s Fancy)
43) 609 – The Skydivers (w/ short: Why Industrial Arts?)
42) 612 – The Starfighters
41) 521 – Santa Claus
40) 1112 – Carnival Magic
39) 904 – Werewolf
38) 1204 – The Day Time Ended
37) 903 – The Pumaman
36) 1001 – Soultaker
35) 1003 – Merlin’s Shop of Mystical Wonders
34) 706 – Laserblast
33) 1013 – Diabolik
32) 1203 – Lords of the Deep
31) 515 – The Wild Wild World of Batwoman (w/ short: Cheating)
30) 907 – Hobgoblins
29) 1105 – The Beast of Hollow Mountain
28) 822 – Overdrawn at the Memory Bank
27) 414 – Tormented
26) 1103 – The Time Travelers
25) 613 – The Sinister Urge (w/ Keeping Clean and Neat)
24) 513 – The Brain That Wouldn’t Die
23) 319 – War of the Colossal Beast (w/ short: Mr. B Natural)
22) 418 – Attack of the Eye Creatures
21) 603 – The Dead Talk Back (w/ short: The Selling Wizard)
20) 1101 – Reptilicus
19) 1109 – Yongary
18) 703 – Deathstalker and the Warriors From Hell
17) 1104 – Avalanche
16) 908 – The Touch of Satan
15) 1102 – Cry Wilderness
14) 510 – The Painted Hills (w/ short: Body Care and Grooming)
13) 813 – Jack Frost
12) 624 – Samson vs. The Vampire Women
11) 303 – Pod People
10) 309 – The Amazing Colossal Man
9) 701 – Night of the Blood Beast (w/ short: Once Upon a Honeymoon)
8) 810 – The Giant Spider Invasion
7) 424 – Manos, the Hands of Fate (w/ short: Hired!, Part 2)
6) 506 – Eegah!
5) 512 – Mitchell
4) 820 – Space Mutiny
3) 507 – I Accuse My Parents (w/ short: The Truck Farmer)
2) 910 – The Final Sacrifice

And, the number one episode is…

 

 

1) 1201 – Mac and Me

(Available on Netflix)

Mystery Science Theater 3000

“Mac & Me” is the best MST3K episode of all-time. It’s the film that “turns E.T. to B.S.” according to Kinga Forrester. And, ho boy, she’s right. It’s widely considered to be one of the worst movies ever made, a cynical cash-in on Spielberg’s success. The first time I saw this movie…was pretty much when I wrote my review for this episode. The only bit of the movie I ever saw was the bit made famous by Paul Rudd’s running joke on Conan when he’d “show a clip of his new movie” — only to roll the part of Mac and Me where Eric loses control of his wheelchair and flies off the cliff to a certain death. Sadly, that’s not even the worst part of this film. In fact, I can’t decide whether the worst part is the surreal dance number inside of McDonald’s (a sequence so bad, it makes the creepy Ronald McDonald look benign) or the horrifying, climatic scene where the authorities blow a local supermarket to kingdom come, straight up murdering Eric in cold blood. And if you’re saying, “This doesn’t sound at all like a movie for children”, the original ending was worse. A LOT worse. While the film is all kinds of awful, the episode is sheer brilliance. Nearly every single riff is an absolute hit (add “Pretty NIIIICE!” to the MST3K lexicon) as the guys go after the insanely disturbing alien costumes and the rampant product placement…and the sketches are AWESOME. The latter sketch (Jonah and the Bots at a McDonald’s style birthday party where Servo’s dressed like the little girl from the film and Gypsy oversees all as “The Grimace” who sends unhappy kids to “The ball pit”). It’s SO delightfully screwed up and that’s what makes it so ridiculously funny. I don’t have any disrespect for any of the other Top Ten staples who have been in this spot. They’re in my Top Ten, as a matter of fact. The thing that separates “Mac and Me” from the rest of the pack is that it’s a complete package from the perfect riffing to the outstanding (and accessible) sketch work. This is MST3K at the top of its game.

BEST RIFF:

CROW: I wanna see the movie this composer THOUGHT he was scoring.

 

SPECIAL THANKS

A lot of work went into this project which began in late August/early September and went on for three months into late November. I would be remiss if I didn’t thank the following:

Jim Vorel of Paste Magazine and “Adam Smasher” of Mighty Jack’s MST3K Review – Adam’s website has been the holy grail of MST3K review websites. I’ve been consulting it for years for advice on which episodes I should include in my yearly marathons as well as to compare and contrast my opinions with his. Jim Vorel’s awesome ranking project stands out as possibly the greatest attempt to ever make an official “worst to best” list. He directly inspired me to create my own after I began reviewing the Netflix episodes for The Workprint. I’m not half the writer Jim is but it was nice to compare lists as I went along.

Club MST3K – A virtual library where you can find every single full episode of the show, plus mingle with other MSTies as you watch. This was also an invaluable source for me as it created a one-stop shop for all the video links provided here.

MST3K Satellite News – One of the greatest MST3K fan sites ever created, with reviews, interviews, loads of trivia, and an extension of the MST3K Amazing Colossal Episode Guide for Seasons 7 through 10!

The MST3K Amazing Colossal Episode Guide – I’ve had this sucker in paperback form for 20 years. It’s a comprehensive diary of the making of each episode through Season 6, written by the cast and crew of the show. It features some great reflections from each of them.

The past and present cast and crew of MST3K – This TV show has endured through three decades. It’s timeless. I believe it was on a list of shows that never jumped the shark. I think Doctor Who and the original Magnum P.I. were on that list. There are so many who still haven’t heard of this show but the ones who have know just how special it is and that’s due to the men and women who are behind it, including the great Joel Hodgson who has such a wonderful sense of humor and knowledge of pop culture, it’s insane.

My editors at The Workprint – Jen Stayrook and Bilal Mian. They’ve been incredible supporters throughout my off-again, on-again thing with the site. And it’s always fun watching Bilal ask “You’re gonna do WHAT now?!” before giving me realistic suggestions and advice so I don’t bite off more than I can chew or bore my readers to death. Thanks, guys, so much, for the support.

My readers and my friends who read my stuff – Thanks for the readership and the feedback. It takes me forever to make a point. My stuff is always about 4,000 words long on average and this sucker is the biggest thing I’ve ever written in my life at just over ten times that amount. Thanks for sticking around and reading. I try to make it fun for the reader. 🙂

And last, but not least…

My wife, Danielle – When I started this thing, she had no idea why I was watching this show again. When I do my “marathons”, as it were, leading up to November, it’s usually me watching the show by myself, but only the ones I considered to be worth watching. My wife had to sit through nearly each and every episode with me and would curse the theme song and beg to watch something else. I felt awful about it but kept it going for the sake of entertaining everyone. As I was getting close to the finish line, she really began to cheer me on because she was excited for me and wanted me to make it as much as I did. I know I put her through hell by watching nearly 200 episodes of a show totaling nearly 300 hours of viewing time which equates roughly to 12 days of straight viewership. When you break it down like that, it doesn’t seem like a lot…but it is. It isn’t 12 days and a few episodes per day…no. That “12 days” means it would take you 12 days to watch the show if you went 196 episodes straight with no breaks, no job, no sleep, no nothing. As such, I had to break it down to a few eps per day over the course of a few months and I would fall behind more than a few times. It’s unavoidable, especially having a high-stress job which wears you down and being a parent. As such, Danielle made sure certain things I usually did around the house were done and would also keep our son distracted so I could finish this project. I couldn’t have a more supportive wife. Thank you, honey. I’ll never do this again…I think.

Thank you, everyone.

Please have a wonderful and safe Turkey Day and I love you. You knuckleknobs…NOW GET BACK TO WORK!

Push the button, Frank…

About Matt Perri

Matt Perri
Matt Perri is one of those literary Ronin you’ve never heard of until he shows up and tells you he’s a literary Ronin. He’s a native Californian, a film buff, old school gamer geek, and a sports/entertainment fan. A lifelong Giants, 49ers and Sharks fan, he also covers the world of pro-wrestling, writing recaps for WWE Monday Night RAW and Total Divas at Scott’s Blog of Doom. You can follow the guy on Twitter via @PerriTheSmark as well as here at The Workprint and his own blog, We Hate Your Gimmick.

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