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MST3K Reboot

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10 So-Bad-They’re-Good Flicks the Mystery Science Theater 3000 Reboot Crew Should Riff

These Z-grade flicks are ripe for the riffin'.

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Photo Credit: Shout! Factory

Never question the dedication of a diehard Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan, because thanks to nearly 50,000 of them and a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign, the world is getting more bad-movie-riffing aboard the Satellite of Love. Surpassing the Veronica Mars movie for the largest crowd-funded video project in online history, the “Bring Back MST3K” campaign ended with over $6 million in funds to produce a new 14-episode season plus a Christmas special — all for a show that’s been off the air for a decade-and-a-half that began nearly 30 years ago.

For the grand resurrection, comedian Jonah Ray of The Nerdist podcast and The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail is taking over hosting duties with Felicia Day, Patton Oswalt, and a slew of big-name writers and cameos also on board. As such, the show aims to be a higher profile affair while staying true to its cowtown Midwestern roots.

But what of the most important element of all: the films themselves? The original MST3K run gave us memorable titles like Prince of Space and Attack of the Giant Leeches as well as powerful characters like Trumpy, Rowsdower, and of course, Torgo. Who will be our next Big McLargeHuge?

Here are 10 potential flicks the MST3K folks should consider for their upcoming reboot. What do you think, sirs?

1. The Manster (1959)

A shaky portmanteau at best, Manster could slide right into the MST3K archives alongside classics like Bride of the Monster and The Amazing Colossal Man. Featuring a Japanese mad scientist who grows a second head on an American reporter’s body — a nifty effect that director Sam Raimi referenced in Army of Darkness — this has the makings of another ’50s drive-in howler.


2. Chopping Mall (1986)

There’s not much ambiguity in an evocative title like Chopping Mall, and the goofy ’80s sex romp tone should remind fans of the puppety groan-fest Hobgoblins. Mall security robots resembling Short Circuit‘s Johnny Five go full SkyNet and stalk teens amongst the Chess Kings and Orange Juliuses. Character actor Dick Miller and references to “robot blood” ought to keep the entertainment factor very high.


3. The Stuff  (1985)

Schlocky cult favorite The Stuff revolves around a mass market dessert treat (one that’s derived from mysterious ground goo, mind you) that proves to be too addictive and turns sugar junkies into frenzied zombies. With goopy special effects courtesy of experts from Re-Animator and The Howling, this flick could unseat The Incredible Melting Man as the series’ “moistest” film.


4. Gog (1954)

Rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? Gog. Gog. This “Mechanical Frankenstein,” this “Creature of Tomorrow” — their words, not ours — tallies up a healthy lab scientist body count and proved science can’t trust artificial intelligence long before the Human Duplicators episode aired. Shot in colorful 3D, the movie earned favorable reviews upon release, but surely Jonah and the Bots could find something to mock about a rampaging retro-future robot.


5. The Valley of Gwangi (1969)

As a courtesy to those strung out on Roger Corman, MST3K occasionally featured titles that could be considered watchable camp even without the riffs. (Your Kitten With a Whip, your Bloodlust!.) And on premise alone — cowboys vs. dinosaurs with stop-motion effects by Ray Harryhausen — The Valley of Gwangi would certainly qualify as passable fare. But as we learned from Gorgo, charming creature effects can’t always save a film from snarky commentary.


6. Horror Express (1972)

Undisputed titans of Hammer Films, Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee star in a bizarro British production involving an unfrozen caveman with superpowers and brain-swapping mayhem aboard a train. Reminiscent of mod-era UK films The Projected Man and The Deadly Bees, the wonderfully titled Horror Express would make for great additions to Crow and Servo’s indelible Cockney accents.


7. Double Trouble (1992)

Take the creatine-fueled physiques from Space Mutiny and Future War, add the criminal syndicate plots from Mitchell and Angels Revenge, enlist the hairstylist from Escape 2000, run it through some Clonus Horror for mirror-image annoyance, and you’d get the mulleted twin crimefighters in the unfunny face-palmer Double Trouble.


8. Death Bed: The Bed That Eats (1977)

Now that comedian and genre expert Patton Oswalt has signed on to the MST3K reboot as Son of TV’s Frank, one would expect a slew of movie suggestions from the self-described Silver Screen Fiend. And where better to start than a title immortalized in one of Patton’s stand-up routines, Death Bed: The Bed That Eats? After all, nothing could ever be more ludicrous than the surreal fever dream that is The Wild Wild World of Batwoman.


9. I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle (1990)

Speaking of laughable premises, I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle is what Heat Vision and Jack would’ve been like had co-creator and future MST3K writer Dan Harmon removed all the charm from his cult FOX pilot. Packed with as much tiresome jokes and unamusing ham as a dozen Outlaws of Gor, this is a flick that could provoke a level of anger not seen in the theater since Invasion of the Neptune Men.


10. Roger Corman’s The Fantastic Four (1994)

And lastly, we come to a movie that was already featured on MST3K — sorta. In fellow reborn series Arrested Development, Joel and the Bots could briefly be seen mocking the low-budget, hastily produced, god-awful — and yet still somehow the best film from the franchise — Fantastic Four, produced by MST3K lynchpin Roger Corman. Almost guaranteed to be a fan favorite, the foam rubber Thing could launch a thousand clobberin’ riffs just on his own.

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Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.

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Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:

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The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.

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They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!

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Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.

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Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.