Dir: Jim Mallon, 1996
Relatively scarce in the UK, the US TV series Mystery Science Theatre 3000 was a hit in its native country, becoming a cult.
Released to hardly any fanfare, the film quickly found its way onto home video with only the die-hard fans taking an interest.
With the series never having being shown in Britain, the decision to release it, here, was rather obscure. Any idea of gaining an interest in the series and garnering potentially new fans was scuppered as UK audiences still didn’t have access to the show.
Mike Nelson is an employee at the Gizmonic Institute who was sent into space and lives aboard the Satellite Of Love.
A mad scientist by the name of Dr. Clayton Forrester, forces Mike to watch the worst films ever made.
Mike and his two robot friends, Crow and Tom Servo, make fun of the film they’re watching, while cast in silhouette at the bottom of the screen.
Being funded by Universal Pictures, the filmmakers were able to take advantage of having a larger catalogue to choose the film from. Using Universal’s own 1955 sci-fi movie, This Island Earth.
The series was very much in American humour, with references to pop culture and the US way of life. A lot of it doesn’t translate too well outside of the US, severely limiting its overseas exportation appeal.
However, the film foregoes many of these and is quite neutral in its humour, making it easily relatable to those outside America.
A problem with the premise of both the series and movie, is the frequent breaks the subjects take, allowing them to indulge in what is, essentially, a skit.
This detracts from the enjoyment of the movie and feels clunky. It would have been wiser to have the trio riffing on whatever they’re watching from start to finish.
Saying that, everything starts strong, but the film runs out of steam after the halfway point and begins to drag.
But, still, the first half is very funny and the film as a whole is worth a watch.
Not brilliant, but enjoyable.