Before you do anything rash today, kids. Ask yourself: Is This Love?
MSTies rejoice! Shout Factory has announced, via Satellite News, that they will release a five-disc box containing every Gamera episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Why is this news? Because the guy who brought those movies to America, Sandy Frank, has long blocked DVD distribution of the MST3K versions.
The going theory has been that Frank didn’t take too kindly to the way Joel and the bots personally lambasted him on the show, but according to Badass Digest, it was just a matter of money. Either way, Frank’s stake in the films has expired and the big fire-breathing turtle is finally flying into your home. As Badass points out, this could mean that more MST3K versions of Sandy Frank owned films could be on the way, like Time of the Apes, Mighty Jack, and the Fugitive Alien movies.
Yes these still exist. And while I prefer stadium seating, it was surprisingly nostalgic to watch a film in an old sloped-floor theater like the heady days of my youth. Of course, I hate to admit that these days I’m most likely to skip the theater entirely in favor of my living room, which usually has far fewer tweens on their cell phones. Excluding my weekly iCarly parties.
On a semi-related note, you’ll notice that the theater was advertising this week’s live Rifftrax event. Three MST3K alumni goofing on Plan 9 From Outer Space, broadcast simultaneously to theaters across the country. We’re living in the not too distant future, kids.
Last weekend I was introduced to my new favorite Chicago event: B-Fest. Each year, a dedicated team of film geeks put on a 24-hour b-movie marathon at Northwestern University. Guests are encouraged to hurl comments at the screen MST3K-style, hop onstage to perform impromptu skits, and sleep in the aisles when they start to fade. It’s essentially a 500-person slumber party.
I made it through about half of the program, catching such classics as Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman (the dullest monster team-up movie ever filmed), Murder in the Air (apparently one of a series of Ronald Reagan spy films), Scream Blacula Scream (awful, yes, but man, William Marshall is fun to watch), and Don’t Knock the Rock (Bill Haley and the Comets crusade against the persecution of wholesome and lucrative rock and roll.)
To keep things fresh, the evening is peppered with the most bizarre short films you will ever see. My dreams are still haunted by Comics and Kids, some kind of 70’s anti-war propaganda piece in which a bunch of boys read issues of Sgt. Rock and are transformed into cold-blooded soldiers who brutally murder and eat an innocent group of toddlers. Or actually, maybe they just scare them away and wreck their sandcastle. I did fall asleep for a second. However, my favorite short was easily The Wizard of Speed and Time, the only legitimately good film I saw. I could attempt to describe how it redefines “fantastic”, but instead just watch for yourself:
The highlight of the evening, however, was the traditional midnight showing of Plan 9. While all of the films are verbally savaged by the attendees, Plan 9’s riffs have risen to the Rocky Horror level of audience participation. The audience calls out each time the scene abruptly switches from day to night, when Ed Wood’s chiropractor is standing in for Bela Lugosi, and at every appearance of the inimitable Tor Johnson. And each time the shoddy UFO appears, a shower of flying paper plates ensues.
I could give you my ratings for these movies, but that’s not the point. They’re all terrible. But watching them with an audience of smart, funny people is an absolute blast. So, B-Fest. Awesome. See you there next year.
Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman
Murder in the Air
Scream, Blacula Scream
Don’t Knock the Rock
The Wizard of Speed and Time
Plan 9 from Outer Space