For those of you who missed Mystery Science Theater 3000, or MST3K as it’s also known, here’s a bit of a primer.
MST3K was the perfect foil to the ego, pomp and circumstance of moviemaking. Mad scientist Dr. Forrester maroons everyman Mike Nelson (who replaced original strandee Joel Hodgson) on the Satellite of Love. Forrester then force-feeds Mike bad B movies and plots to take over the world by driving people insane through film flops. The robots, Tom Servo (the one that looks like a gumball machine), Crow T Robot (looks sort of like a robot duck) and Gypsy (looks very much like a giant vacuum cleaner) keep Mike company and the first two help him to critique the movie in question. Mike, Tom and Crow’s silhouettes poke fun at the movie screened at every possible moment. The films stop briefly (he has no control over the breaks as those parts were used to make his robot friends) and the brief intermissions are filled with skits, usually having to do with the movie in question.
For MST3K: The Movie, Dr. Forrester forces Mike and bots to submit to This Island Earth. This Island Earth involves an alien force arriving surreptitiously on Earth in the hopes that Earthling scientists can solve their uranium deficit crisis. Their peaceful mission commander, Exeter, tries to be pleasant and hospitable. After an escape attempt leads to the death of one of the scientists, the plan is scrapped and the laboratories are destroyed. The two remaining scientists are taken to the alien home world of Metaluna… briefly.
Pop cultural references fly fast, loose and out of control and include (but not limited to) Casablanca, Willy Wonka and the Dating Show. During one of the intervening skits, the manipulator arm control is labeled Manos after a film made (in)famous previously by the MST3K crew. The Satellite of Love itself looks like a giant bone… a nod to 2001:A Space Odyssey perhaps? Perhaps one of the funniest moments is when they make fun of their own end credits. This film should be most effectively viewed in the company of people with solid senses of humor and a catalogue of pop culture.
My one criticism is that the film nearly takes itself too seriously. It jettisons the fun, traditional TV opening song that explains everything for an introduction by Dr. Forrester. This starts the proceedings off on the wrong foot and it takes a bit of time to recover. I don’t know how many newcomers will actually stumble across this, so it’s could also be construed as a bit pandering.
The feature is presented in 1.85:1 Anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 on the English track and Dolby Digital 2.0 for the French language track. There are English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing.
That is all.
No trailer. No scene selection. No inner workings. Heck, no outer workings for that matter. There were no ads for other movies, which I often have a hard time counting as a bonus seeing as they’re just attempts to secure more of your money. As mentioned previously, we don’t even get a performance of the MST3K opening song. As it clocks in at a 75 minute run time (shorter than most episodes of the TV incarnation), this void is sad and evident.
Fans who missed out on the initial theatrical release and that of this DVD years ago will be pleased to have a chance to finally watch it. Unfortunately, there are no new additions to sweeten the pot. The film and its stars continue to bring the funny, but the dearth of extras makes for a disappointing end to the long wait.