Look, I don’t care how much you may debate it: Mystery Science Theater 3000 changed how we looked — or rather, talked — at movies. Growing up, I was something of a B-Movie Puritan. While I preferred to revel in vintage z-grade science fiction and horror films, I more than occasionally lambasted the few friends I actually had who insisted on making fun of them. There was something about the naïve and hokey onscreen antics that I found soothing. As I matured ever-so-slightly (I’m still not done; not according to my many exes, at least), however, I finally “mellowed” out enough to the point where humor had at long last found its place in my ritualistic form of therapeutic cinemasochism.
And then came Mystery Science Theater 3000. My first encounter was on the Comedy Channel (as it was then called) in late 1989. It was the premiere of Episode #103: The Mad Monster. At first, I was afraid; I was petrified. But then, I acquired a need for it — much like my already-established addiction to silly movies itself. The Mad Monster was only the third episode of a series that would go on to have a complete cast change, cross over to an entirely different network, and even make a theatrical feature before finally calling it quits some ten years later. But that doesn’t mean the Best Brains behind MST3K stopped quipping. Far from it, actually.
In 2006, after a couple of varied attempts at keeping his fans happy one way or another (books, solo riffing gigs, animal husbandry, etc.), the show’s second and final host, Michael J. Nelson, found his post-MST niche in RiffTrax: an online site that specialized in downloadable comical commentaries that one could view whilst watching their favorite (or perhaps least favorite, as the case usually is) film. The following year, the show’s original host, Joel Hodgson developed Cinematic Titanic: a similar-though-completely-different concept which was more along the vein of the long-running Cable TV series he cultivated back in 1989.
During the last couple of years, both variants have released a number of DVDs that we longtime MiSTies just can’t seem to get enough of. And, so, for this special chapter of Catching Up At The Video Store, I have decided to explore a few recent home video releases “From the Best Brains Mystery Science Theater Had to Offer.”