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.