MST3K, THE RETURN :: I (almost) Like It Very Much!

It seems bold to me to 'reboot' sacred cult stuff (X-Files, Twin Peaks, It) for no other reason than cult members are fucking crazy & you don't mess with their God. Of course, even the most mainstream things (Star Wars, Alien, Ghostbusters) have their own 'cult following' (which is just lazy terminology for 'people who really enjoy something a lot'). Point is, everything is somebody's favorite something, and it can and will all be reworked and retold. Don't think they can't remake Catalina Caper or Final Sacrifice, because there is a market.
It's us.

And on that twisted note, let's turn our attention to the plain fact that "we" funded this new MST. (I myself contributed nothing). After watching the first 4 episodes, it seems that maybe they could've done with less money. That's one of a few nits I can pick in what otherwise seems to be a shaky frame on an already sturdy foundation.

  1. The 'Bots are now controlled by a puppetry 'team,' as opposed to voice actor=puppeteer. While that carried with it a bit of charm, it also created a loose flow in the physical performance. Now that they have working arms & Servo has a functioning hover skirt, they manage to look less real and more stiff & weird. 
  2. Speaking of stiff - the riffing itself. While the show has always been scripted, it has never felt more so than it does presently. My favorite years are the last few - the Mike, Kevin and Bill seasons before the end. If for no other reason - and there may not be any - it was the pace and temperament of the jokes. Casual disdain mixed with impatient hostility seemed to be the best formula - better for me than the chuckling sparseness of the early Joel stuff. Now, the riffing is rapid-fire, incessant, and shouted at us with exclamation points, as though each comic simply can't wait to get their line in. Though, what forgives this is that, yeah, they're excited to fill the theater seats of cultural icons, & that excitement can be infectious. Also, the jokes themselves are solid; topical, referential and esoteric as ever. The delivery needs work. Practice.
  3. Jonah Ray is the new host. Despite his hipster name and his hipster face, he certainly carries on the MST legacy of the "doughy white guy" in a jumpsuit, and he does it pretty ok. The 'Bots are troubling because, again, after the stilted delivery and movement, recasting puppets is like changing the voices of cartoon characters. We all know what Mel Blanc and Jim Henson sound like, & we know bullshit knockoffs when we hear 'em. That's the thing, though - these aren't knockoffs. Apart from Crow's Hampton Yount actually sounding a lot like Trace Beaulieu, it's startling when voices change but faces stay the same. The best (or worst) example is Gypsy. Her transition from folksy Midwestern gal to sassy back-talker who actually drops in on the movies to pop a joke (?) sorta personifies the new constitution of the show.
  4. The show now exists in a post-Seinfeld comedy-show-world. While it was always rooted in sarcasm, it also had an innocent charm. It was, after all, a puppet show on local Minnesota television. Today, the climate of comedy has become way more cynical, current, and winkingly self-referrencial -- just look at The Simpsons for Christ's sake. A bit of that sneaks onto the new MST. Of course, they also have twice as many writers as before - just like every other thing on the show - which also explains the volume of jokes. Jonah has described the original series as "comforting." That's not just nostalgia - that was the whole vibe of the show, mostly attributed to the fact that, when you're not watching a movie with these guys, they're talking into the 4th wall, at you. As long as they keep that up, we can combat the cynicism - which is likely, since I don't think the movie segments are going away.
  5. The movies themselves were, and continue to be, the best and most fascinating thing about the show. They could do 10,000 episodes and still only scratch the surface of 'these kinds' of films. But the ones they have done and are doing places them into a kind of "hall of fame." I was certainly never aware of most of the movies they've "showcased" until they made me aware. Coincidentally, that's always been a point of contention for the show's haters, who insist the show defiled classic cinema masterpieces. I don't know about that, but I do know that someone who can't find humor in everything is no friend of mine, and I don't want to know you.
Maybe that falls in line with that whole "comfort" thing - sharing the same sense of humor as others. That, and the movies. 
The sketches are pretty far down the list - even more so now. So much more so that I'm not entirely clear on the new setup: Are they on a new satellite? Are they underground? How did Tom & Crow get back into space?
Of course, I should just repeat to myself, "It's just a show..."

 - Paul


Easter Movies : Aliens, Zombies, and How the Revolution Was Televised

Holidays are weird - all the big ones, anyway. They're all rooted in sex, violence & religion, & they're celebrated with money & food. I love 'em.
Easter is no exception; it may be the freakiest. It certainly has the best candy. But for all its weirdness, it's skimpy in the cinema department... Or are I?
There seems to be 3 kinds of holiday movies. The first kinds are the ones that are directly about the festivities & the day itself (Halloween, Scrooge). The second are where the holiday is just the setting of when the larger story takes place (Die Hard, Jaws). Then there's the third, which can either take dedication, or merely happens by accident. If you watch the same movie at the same time every year, they can become inseparable. I wrap Christmas presents to King of Kong. Jess watches Rushmore when she does our taxes. American Graffiti is a great way to celebrate the first day of summer. There are many. In fact, we've assigned just about every movie to a day or season.
Here, we have our votes for this particularly wacky time of year.

The Jess list

The Secret Garden
One year, for Easter, I got a VHS copy of this film in my Easter basket. More exciting to me than the movie was the sterling silver locket that came with it. I paraded around that day fancying myself as an early 20th century debutante. The film is permanently synonymous with Easter as a result.
Cute side note: after years of reminiscing about this locket I recently happened upon a sealed VHS copy at a flea market, complete with jewelry.

*Even cuter sidenote: While viewing this on DVD four years ago, I proposed to Paul, and he said yes.

For some reason, Paul and I watch Predator every year around Easter. Probably because we watched it one year and it became some kind of bizarre tradition. Like many films and traditions in the Proulx household.

The Last Temptation of Christ
This is one of my favorite films of all time. Top 100. And what a better time to watch a film about Jesus than on Easter.
Easter. Jesus. Easter. Jesus.

Critters 2
Paul and I are always hunting for holiday-themed horror. Even though Easter is one of your major holidays - Jesus and stuff - there aren't a lot to come by. C2 delivers on so many levels, complete with  Krite egg painting and a giant flesh eating critter ball finale. Great to watch while your painting your own eggs.

Night of the Leepus
Janet Leigh is being chased by giant bunny rabbits.

The Paul list

Black Moon
Talking animals, mythical creatures, a fictional war, psychosexual tension, decadent food. If you're into the creepier subtext of the holiday, this should make perfect sense.

April Morning
TV movie about the battle of Lexington and Concord, based on the novel by Howard Fast. Made for cheap with a few inaccuracies (green leaves in April?), it is, by definition, the perfect time of year for it. And as far as American Revolution movies go, it beats the shit out of The Patriot.

Magical Mystery Tour
Got it for Easter on VHS in '96 or '97, along with the album - cassette tape also. Like Black Moon, it comes with bizarre animal symbolism and lush European countryside.
Plus, the whole "egg man" thing.

Bad Lieutenant
The first time I saw it was in the spring, & I think I kept up with that for a year or two. The religious imagery is pretty thick, and it's not any harder to watch than The Passion, or even Jesus of Nazareth.


Meet the New Blog (Same As the Old Blog)

Where were we? Ah, yes: popcorn, ham & cheese, women's lingerie and culture fart. That's what it was, and my heart will go on. Right? Just nod if you can hear me.
The tree has a few extra branches lately. There's Creature Double Feature, a low-key horror parade. Also, It's Your Birthday and Swamp Sex Robots serve as shelves for odds & ends. And, for the game, there's Bennett Place, a home for all our best(ish) videos. That doesn't mean this house is condemned. Any & all original creations will still filter though here - especially any kinda commentary (which there will be more of) and videos.
Videos. That can happen some more if there's an interest - from you and from us. In the meantime, here's a new Top 100 - not in video form. But it's still fun to look at & sorta fits in with the theme as of late.
The list. It's been about 5 years since the last one, and almost 10 years since the first published one. As time goes by, I'm seeing less new stuff get on the list and more old, old favorites bubbling back to the surface. This may be a result of aging, I dunno. After enough life, you can feel which movies are still in your blood and which were just one night stands. There are movies that I loved that I haven't revisited in 10 years, so, they get benched. They can stay on the DVD shelf forever, but they're not who I am right now. Like books & songs & paintings, they change as we do. So, the list will keep changing, recruiting old favorites or experiencing new classics (the latter much less likely). Stay tuned.

- Paul

Related Posts with Thumbnails