By the time you read this, it may be too late, but just in case it isn’t, the guys from RiffTrax.com – Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett, all late of “Mystery Science Theater 3000” fame – will be doing a live event in a theater near you this evening: riffing on the Ed Wood classic, “Plan 9 from Outer Space.” The evening will be hosted by Veronica Belmont, the host of “Tekzilla” on Revision3 and “Qore” on the PlayStation Network, with musical guest Jonathan Coulton and a special segment by Rich “Lowtax” Kyanka of Something Awful. In addition, the night will also feature the world premiere of a brand new, never-before-seen short.
If you’d like to attend, just head over to the Fathom website and see if the live theatrical simulcast will be offered in your area. And if you’re not familiar with the film in question…well, geez, have you been living under a rock, or what?
Here’s the trailer for your viewing enjoyment, and I can assure you from personal experience that it’s every bit as bad as it looks…though, of course, I mean that in the best possible way.
There’s no doubt about it: “Plan 9 from Outer Space” definitely transcends badness to become a legitimate classic.
Do “Mystery Science Theater 3000” fans engage in fierce debates over who was the better ringleader – Joel or Mike? And if so, does it ever get ugly? A little bit of MST3K (as the cool cats refer to it) has always gone a long way for me. I’ve never been able to grasp how this gimmick lasted for as long as it did, since it requires 90-plus minutes of your time for each installment; while the concept of heckling bad movies is novel, you still have to sit through the bad movies. Often times the fare would be considered unwatchable if not for all the slings and arrows lodged in the direction of the movie screen. Of course I realize that’s the whole point of the thing, but if the gimmick isn’t working, as is the case about half the time with MST3K, it can be a torturous way to watch a bad movie.
The latest set from Shout Factory collects four more installments, from different eras of the series. Judging by these episodes, Mike would unquestionably win the proposed fan debate, as neither of the Joel offerings are anything to write home about. “The Robot vs. The Aztec Mummy” comes from very early in the series, and it’s just terrible. I swear I didn’t even laugh once. “The Girl in Lovers Lane” is somewhat better, but the difference is negligible. The third offering, “Zombie Nightmare,” is an absolute scream – everything that this show ever did well is encapsulated in their lambasting of this terrible ‘80s film featuring Adam West. The final entry is called “Racket Girls,” and while not quite the standout the previous title is, it’s still pretty good stuff, although you’ll be able to safely slip off to the bathroom from time to time, and likely not miss anything special. Regardless, MST3K has such a devoted following, I can’t imagine fans of this show will be satisfied until every single episode is available on DVD, and therefore my stick in the mud antics carry very little weight whereas this series is concerned.
Need further proof that Shout Factory rocks? No, of course, you don’t, because they’ve proved themselves dozens of times over by now. But at the very least, let’s give them a shout-out for not only taking over the release of “MST3K” DVDs but also not wasting time between releases. They started the ball rolling in November, with the show’s 20th Anniversary Set; now, it’s less than three months later, and we’re already being gifted with “Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XIV.” Better yet, it’s as if the producers of this new collection took the comments in my review of the anniversary set to heart, since the selections on “Volume XIV” are split straight down the middle: two from the Joel Hodgson era (“Mad Monster” and “Manhunt in Space”), two from the Mike Nelson era (“Soultaker” and “Final Justice”).
The big win here is unquestionably “Soultaker,” which not only stars Joe Estevez (who also featured in the last set’s “Werewolf”) but also features the return of both Joel and TV’s Frank for guest spots. Still, you can never go wrong with a Joe Don Baker film, so there’s much to be said for “Final Justice” as well. As for the Hodgson-era flicks, it must be said that any chance to take a trip in the wayback machine and experience some seriously old-school “MST3K,” and “Mad Monster,” which is from the show’s very first season, fits that bill perfectly. “Manhunt from Space,” from Season 3, is equally classic, with the film’s cheesy sci-fi effects inspiring references to everything from the B-52s to “Gamera.” Shout Factory has also come through with some nice bonus material: new interviews with Joe Estevez and “Final Justice” director Greydon Clark (both of whom are really good sports), the original trailer for “Mad Monster,” and a clip of Mike, Tom, and Crow appearing on ESPN Classic’s “Cheap Seats without Ron Parker.” Yep, it’s another great set all around, fans. Go forth and buy it.