For fans of “Mystery Science Theater 3000,” November is December and Thanksgiving is Christmas.
Since the show was originally on the air in the 1990s, MST3K fans have been trained to get hungry at Thanksgiving and the annual “Turkey Day” marathons that Comedy Central would put on. For a full day, the network would show non-stop episodes of the show, and for several years included bonus segments in between the movies. If you thought your relatives were insufferable before, wait until you had to entertain them in the living room (the one with the good furniture that you were normally banned from), knowing that the marathon was going on in the TV room upstairs.
“Oh, come on! How can it be American and International?” — Joel Robinson
The seeming geographical contradiction at the heart of the B-movie kingpin studio known as American International Pictures seems only a minor flaw, especially comparing it against the studio’s long and rich history of getting teenage audiences in the ’50s and ’60s to part with their money by any means necessary. In other words, movies like “Earth Vs. The Spider” and “The Beginning of the End” were perfect fodder for Joel and the ‘bots to riff on on “Mystery Science Theater 3000.”
So, it’s only fair that AIP gets its due on the latest DVD boxed set from Shout! Factory, “Vol. XXXIV.” Not only are all four movies in the set all black-and-white cheesy classics from American International — “Viking Women Vs. The Sea Serpent,” “War of the Colossal Beast,” “The Undead” and “The Sea Creature” — but the primary bonus feature on the set is a full-length 90-minute documentary on the studio called “It Was A Colossal Teenage Movie Machine!”
Happy Turkey Day!
To the general populace, Turkey Day is just another way of saying Thanksgiving. But to a select few, the phrase conjures more than just images of turkey, cranberries and your Uncle Dan talking with his mouth full. For “Mystery Science Theater 3000” fans, Turkey Day was truly something to celebrate.
Did anybody ever deliberately start watching “Mystery Science Theater 3000” on purpose? It feels like every fan I run across (myself included) has an origin story with the cult ’90s TV series that sounds like this: “There was this show on, and I didn’t know what was going on! But it was just so funny, and I just kept watching more and more and more . . .”
That was from the woman sitting next to me at the Pabst Theatre in Milwaukee for “Cinematic Titanic,” which features five of the creators/performers of the series, including the trio that begun it back in its Minneapolis public-access days — Joel Hodgson, Trace Beaulieu, and J. Elvis Weinstein, along with Frank Conniff and Mary Jo Pehl. (The trio who ended the series on Syfy in 1999 — Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett — went on to start the equally worthy Rifftrax.)
Rifftrax has focused on doing new commentaries for famous and recent films that can be synced up to your DVD, as well as live nationwide broadcasts. Cinematic Titanic has kept its focus on old movies, mixing DVD releases with live shows like the Pabst Theatre two-night stand.