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Joel Hodgson’s CINEMATIC TITANIC Sets Sail Live And One Of Our Spies Was There!

Hey, everyone. ”Moriarty” here. It’s funny... there are many film geeks I know who have a general dislike of MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 because they see it as a mockery of film, and also because they hate the copycats, people who sit through movies in public, making comments loudly. Harry’s never been a fan, for example. I am a MST fan, though, and this letter from a guy who went to see a live performance of a new venture called Cinematic Titanic is a really fun read if you’re one as well:

Harry- I just wanted to share a bit of Geekery with you guys on this, the first day of the 24th year of the Great Homsar. For a birthday present, my wife, a co-worker, his wife, and I (no, no, I'm not going to finish this sentence the way you might think)...went up to Big D to check out the 20th anniversary celebration of Mystery Science Theater 3000 at the USA Film Festival. Afterwards, we bought tickets to a live riffing session of Cinematic Titanic, Joel Hodgson's latest project with long-time collaborators Mary Jo Piehl, Frank Conniff, Trace Beaulieu, and J. Elvis Weinstein. I don't know if CT plans to release the film we saw at the Angelika Theater as their next DVD, but I've definitely got my fingers, toes, and various other appendages crossed. For two hours the sold-out audience was subjected to "Wasp Woman," the cinematic equivalent of a dysentery sandwich covered in syphilis sauce. Who directed this pungent turd of a film? Who else- Roger Corman. The collective groan of the audience when the director's credit appeared was almost as funny as some of the riffs from the performers. For those unfamiliar with Cinematic Titanic, the five comedians sit at various points around the bottom of the screen (or in our case, on the front row of the theater with microphones) and mercilessly shred these god-awful "films" until the laughter begins to numb the searing pain in your skull which inevitably develops after the first ten minutes. Is "Wasp Woman" the worst movie ever made? No, not even in the league for the bottom 10. But it lingers somewhere dangerously close to number 11 in my book. The movie centers around some screwball scheme to extract jelly from the queen wasp in order to reverse the effects of aging. None of the so-called plot really matters though, since it's all just an excuse to throw together god-awful acting with even more ridiculous monster makeup. The usual cardboard characters, xylophone-centered musical score, tin-ear dialogue, and piss-poor special effects left me pining for the relative technical mastery of "Girl in Gold Boots" or "Mitchell." The riffing, however, was absolute gold. For the first ten minutes not a single joke fell flat- it was as if the glory days of MST3K had magically returned and I was somehow on board the Satellite of Love joining in on the wisecracking. By the time the main character, a cosmetics CEO/dedicated ice-bitch, had morphed into a half corporate tool/half wasp, I could hardly breathe from the constant hysterics. Mary Jo's commentary had vastly improved from the first Cinematic Titanic (I think she had the best line of the night, one which I won't spoil here but will mention that it involves a character reading a very unique kind of "journal"). Afterwards, we stood in line for the obligatory autograph signing. Some of the merchandise people brought put my pitiful $10 poster to shame; I think the highlight of the night was watching the look on the guy's face when Joel signed his life-size Tom Servo model. A friend of my co-worker actually was assembling his own Crow T. Robot and got the mouthpiece signed as well. The CT cast were all very friendly and managed to interact for a good couple of minutes with each gushing geek that came by. Naturally, I managed to stammer a weak-ass "uhh, it's very nice to meet you" to each of them before clutching my newly-signed poster to my chest and making my way to the exit. I mean, this was my Graceland. Seriously. All in all, the signs seem to be good that Cinematic Titanic will continue to provide snarky, highly-referential satisfaction to the "misties" out there who lament the passing of one of the greatest shows on TV. If you can find a use for this, call me TheGreatHomsar.
Readers Talkback
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  • April 28, 2008, 8:33 a.m. CST

    SO...Has anyone seen my dad?

    by Bastard Son of Superman

  • April 28, 2008, 8:34 a.m. CST

    The only problem I had with MST 3000...

    by DerLanghaarige

    ...was that they often made not fun of the movies because they were bad, but because they were OLD! Yeah, way to go, laughing at 30 - 50 year old Special Effects. :P<br> Apart from that, it was most of the time funny!

  • April 28, 2008, 9:03 a.m. CST

    They launched it here in Minneapolis back in February...

    by John Maddening

    ...and it was great. All five of them did standup acts, including some of Joel's "why was Carrot Top ever popular?" prop comedy. They'll be doing a live CT show in October in the 2200-seat State Theatre downtown, and it'll be awesome.

  • April 28, 2008, 9:04 a.m. CST

    So...it's basically MST3K without the robots and ship and shit?

    by HitchCock'n'Balz

    Sounds Fanfuckintastically Awesome and Wonderfulrifical!

  • April 28, 2008, 10:04 a.m. CST

    Um... Rifftrax

    by NeoMyers

    Rifftrax has been at this for a year and a half now and AICN never talks about the new Rifftrax that come out on a semi-weekly basis or the live shows they've done. The two newest are "I am Legend" and "Cloverfield." If you're an MST fan, Moriarty, let's cover everything shall we.

  • April 28, 2008, 10:44 a.m. CST

    A word about vandalizing cinema

    by 3 Bag Enema

    Yes, that's what MST3K and it's two current iterations do. (Not to mention the unmentionable immitators, who should be avoided at all costs.) However, it doesn't ruin the original. The original Wasp Woman is still there for geeks like Harry to play at two in the morning at some festival at the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz, without Minneapolis comedians goofing on it mercilessly. However, there is absolutely nothing funnier to me than these guys ripping bad movies a new one. These are the professionals, folks. No one does it better. (I'm including Rifftrax and Cinematic Titanic.) There is only one warning to those hesitant to enjoy such brutal defacement of artwork: if you like a movie, do not watch them goof on it. It will ruin it for you forever. I watched Mike and the 'bots goof on Hamlet and laughed my ass off. Now, whenever lines from Hamlet stray into my mind, they're being goofed on by a big-headed mid-westerner and two robot puppets. In other words, of you loved The Phantom Menace(you poor bastard), skip the Rifftrax version. It will scar you for life.

  • April 28, 2008, 10:57 a.m. CST

    It was an awesome show

    by ebolamonkey

    Lucky enough to be there, and it was a fantastic show. Unlike RiffTrax, which takes on more modern films, this was a return to classic MST3K where movies that were slapped together in weeks without the least concern for plot, logic, or performances are mercilessly skewered. Today it takes major studios and million-dollar directors months to churn out films that are anywhere near as incoherent.

  • April 28, 2008, 12:41 p.m. CST

    I like MST3K too but...

    by SEACHANGE

    I never took it seriously and thought the guys hated the movies like the people in the audience clearly do. Groaning at Roger Corman's name on the credits? I'm sure alot of those same people paid to see the latest POS at the theater last week, but they need to diss an old low budget movie from the late 50s in unison? Theres def a line between poking fun in a good spirited way and hating movies.

  • April 28, 2008, 12:42 p.m. CST

    MST3K: Harry hates it?

    by thegreatwhatzit

    Good reason; if appended with some longevity, Mike & the 'bots would have trashed the films he endorses (GODZILLA remake, anyone?). Its cancellation from the Sci-Fi Channel venue further kindled my hatred for the network (which subsequently produced absolute garbage like FLASH GORDON). Anyway, be sure to sample MST3K's roasting of MERLIN'S SHOP OF MYSTICAL WONDERS, SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS, DEVIL DOLL, THE UNDEAD (which includes Mike's "Leonard Maltin" impersonation), you-name-it. It's a truly iconic show and its tagets well deserved the ribbing.

  • April 28, 2008, 12:46 p.m. CST

    Danger: Diabolik

    by SEACHANGE

    They had that film on MST3K too and its one of my favorite cult films. Its not a bad movie, in fact its awesome. Mario Bava def wasnt a hack.

  • April 28, 2008, 1:08 p.m. CST

    First DVD was meh.

    by Optimus Primal

    The first CT DVD was ok. Certainly not up to what I was expecting from the All stars behind MST3K. However I will give them a pass and chalk it up to being rusty. I eagerly await their next DVD installment.

  • April 28, 2008, 2:24 p.m. CST

    I don't know how this will fly...

    by AnnoyYou

    ...without the framing device of the Satellite of Love. I mean, some of the greatest MST3K parodies were done outside of the theatre: Joel as Manos, Mike as Torgo the Pizza Guy, Mike as Mikey, the Weeping Fey Brother of Jimmy, etc. I suppose I'll just have to see this for myself.

  • April 28, 2008, 2:47 p.m. CST

    MST3K *celebrates* film by pointing out the shit

    by Osmosis Jones

    Now, movies likr Meet The Spartans and TV shows like Family Guy genuinely hate the concept of entertainment.

  • April 28, 2008, 3:48 p.m. CST

    Rifftrax a rip off?

    by kevred

    Anywhere from one to three people spend hours, if not days or weeks, writing all the riffs for a feature-length movie. Then it's recorded, probably in a pro studio, mastered, all in absolutely flawless time-sync with the movie. Then all the related graphics and promotional stuff is created by designers and uploaded to their web site, which also hosts and handles the bandwidth of hundreds of downloads. Somewhere in there, someone processes payments and does payroll, paying everyone involved in the chain of creation.<p>And for all that, $3 is a "rip off"?<p>I was just downloading a few MP3s from Amazon last night (the Sinikka Langeland Ensemble, to be specific), and was marveling to myself at all the work and virtuousity that went into a recording that I was paying 99 cents for.<p>When you're getting paid $3 for weeks of work, come tell us about rip offs!

  • April 28, 2008, 3:49 p.m. CST

    Rip-off?

    by NeoMyers

    How exactly is Legend Films going to make a profit on giving away Mp3 files? Besides, for the price of one CT DVD you can get 6 or 7 Rifftrax. And if you already own the movies, all the better. If not, half.com is your friend.

  • April 28, 2008, 3:56 p.m. CST

    AnnoyYou, you have a good point.

    by kevred

    I love MST3K, I was really glad to have the rest of the old crew back on CT, but no matter how much I enjoyed the first DVD (and I did), I couldn't help feel that something was missing, and that something was the framing device.<p>Between the lack of a "concept", the lack of any sight of the performers' actual faces (they're in silhouette form exclusively), and the use of their real names, it felt reduced somehow.<p>From what I've read on MST3K-oriented sites, it seems like that was the only real complaint from most fans, and Joel has said they plan to beef that up a bit. But until we see all of them, un-silhouette-d, in a 3-D setting, it will probably not quite reach that MST3K feel.<p>Interestingly, the DVD project of the RiffTrax crew, called The Film Crew, did have a framing device and skits, but perplexingly, they weren't all that funny or well written for the most part (though the movie riffs were).

  • April 28, 2008, 4:37 p.m. CST

    Rifftrax

    by INWOsuxRED

    made Transformers worth watching.

  • April 28, 2008, 5:47 p.m. CST

    um.... what?

    by omarthesnake

    Gotham_night, are you trying to be a parody of a boneheaded whiney fanboy or is that just how it turns out? a $3 rifftrax is as long as say, two albums worth of music that costs 99 cents per track, meaning oh, maybe 20-24 bucks to make up the same amount of time. and then poor little baby has to watch the movie while listening to it rather than what, magically having the movie downloaded straight into your brain so you can enjoy it without bothering to experience it? What will you find to whine about next? sheesh.

  • April 28, 2008, 7:09 p.m. CST

    AGREED..... THEREFORE....

    by Super Moo

    HARRY SHOULD BE SHOT!!!!!

  • April 28, 2008, 7:23 p.m. CST

    Lack of bots

    by TheGreatHomsar

    I'll admit, the bots were great and I missed them considerably while watching the first Cinematic Titanic DVD. But I can't convey how great it was to see the original crew in top form again (the laughter from one riff usually spilled over into the next one...I'm sure I missed quite a few good one-liners because I was too busy trying not to piss myself from a previous joke!) It does sadden me to find out that the Harry one isn't a MST3K fan...I would've thought this kind of show would be hugely popular on a site like this. Oh well. His loss.

  • April 29, 2008, 12:39 a.m. CST

    Over the Top

    by INWOsuxRED

    Tonight we watched the Over the Top RiffTrax. I enjoyed it, although I think I would have laughed almost as much if the movie had no commentary. THIS IS A DOUBLE ELIMINATION TOURNAMENT...IF YOU LOSE ONCE, YOU ARE NOT ELIMINATED. YOU HAVE TO LOSE TWICE TO BE ELIMINATED!

  • May 2, 2008, 6:28 p.m. CST

    we just came to beat everyone up we're leaving now!

    by Prossor

    WATCH BOND TAKE SHORT HAND.