As I’ve shared here at the blog before, “Mystery Science Theater 3000” was a pretty big part of my college experience. MST3K parties were indescribably fun. I honestly believe that I have literally never laughed so hard in my life.
I’ve previously linked to the priceless episode where Joel and the ‘Bots skewer Joe Don Baker and 1975’s “Mitchell.” Below are three more that were the unofficial required viewing for the second floor of Mary Washington College’s New Hall during the 1993-1994 school year.
What was maddening about MST3K was how difficult it was to explain to the uninitiated. (Bear in mind, this was before the days of Youtube, with which you could just send your friends a clip.) It was an amazing TV show, but my efforts to explain it to friends made it sound preposterously stupid: There are these three comedians that make fun of old movies — really bad ones — as the movies are playing. Two of the comedians are portrayed by robot puppets … There’s an ongoing skit in which they’re stuck in space. The special effects are really terrible — but that’s okay, because it’s kinda part of the joke …
The first episode below is 1966’s “Manos: the Hands of Fate,” which I understand to be the most popular among fans. (Even aside from MST3K’s satirical riffing, I’ve read that this is widely regarded as the worst movie of all time — a distinction I’m not sure it truly deserves.)
The second is the episode devoted to 1944’s befuddling and blithely moralizing “I Accuse My Parents.” (I and the other guys on my floor might have actually liked this one even more than “Manos.”)
The third is my personal favorite — the entry for 1951’s saccharine, preachy “The Painted Hills.” In a strange coincidence, I think it’s actually the first one I ever saw. And it’s also one that I’ve never heard named as a favorite by another MST3K fan. Seeing the Joel and the ‘Bots make fun of a poor defenseless dog (played by the same dog who played Lassie, no less!) was just too irreverently brilliant. SNAUSAGES! (And does anyone else think that this was a morbidly strange film when it was first conceived? It was marketed as a family-oriented “Lassie” movie, but it contains just a bit more murder and bizarre horror than you’d expect from that.)
“Manos: the Hands of Fate.”
“I Accuse My Parents.”
“The Painted Hills.”