Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Mocktober XII

Why "Mocktober"? Because today we are celebrating the birth of one of the greatest B-horror/sci-fi film mockers, Mike Nelson, from Mystery Science Theater 3000! And in the grand and storied tradition of this blog, we are doing this a day late, seeing as how his birthday was yesterday. However, through total coincidence, I did happen to post a clip from MST3K yesterday, so scroll down and have a look if you didn't already! 

So what is/was Mystery Science Theater 3000?  Well, it's something you should already know about and probably do if you care anything about old horror and sci-fi films (or if you just had cable in the 90s). For those who have just escaped the dungeon they were held captive in for the past couple of decades, MST3K was a show that ran from 1988-1999, wherein a guy and his two robot pals were imprisoned on  a satellite in space and forced to watch B-films in the name of science. While doing so, they would make endless fun of the films and often dress up like characters from them in order to act out silly scenes. The show developed a massive cult following and was enormously influential both on comedy and a new generation's appreciation of B films. 

In my mind, the show is very much in the tradition of classic horror host shows, except it takes the premise a step further and has the hosts making fun of the movie as it is running, not just before and after commercial breaks. Even though the show ended in '99, two camps of writers and performers from it continue to publicly riff on films through two different outlets. Mike Nelson and his crew do RiffTrax, which are downloadable audio commentaries for films you have to provide yourself. The advantage here is that they can bypass licensing fees and do all sorts of films, both A-list and B-list.  Orignal MST3K host Joel Hodgson and his crew do Cinematic Titanic, which is more in keeping with the MST3K premise in that they only riff on B-films.  Their work is available on DVD and they also perform the show live all over the country. 

The song selection today is the Mystery Science Theater 3000 Love Theme, here performed by the fantastic spaced-out surf rock group Man or Astroman?. The band and the show have always been closely related, with the band's songs often making reference to running jokes on MST3K and MST3K host Joel Hodgson claiming he had been working as a pyrotechnician for the band when he returned to visit the show after his departure in 1993. 

Happy birthday once again to Mike Nelson!  But if you're wondering how he ate and breathed during his six years in space, just keep repeating to yourself "it's just show, I should really just relax."  Oh, Mystery Science Theater 3000...

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