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Cinematic Titanic Was the True MST3K Successor

Cinematic Titanic Was the True MST3K Successor

I recently had the opportunity to see a show on Mystery Science Theater 3000‘s “Watch Out for Snakes” tour. It was incredibly funny and so heartening to know that the love of that show from the ’90s led it to return, on Netflix, and go on tour. But even with fans worldwide. who kept circulating the tapes and donated to the Kickstarter, the show would never have come back without the determination and ingenuity of its creator, Joel Hodgson. In the nearly 18 year interim between versions of the show, Hodgson’s Cinematic Titanic was MST3K under a different name.

In 2006, Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett, and Kevin Murphy (the main cast of the final three seasons of Mystery Science Theater 3000) launched The Film Crew and RiffTrax, two different riffing consortiums, the latter of which is still active and provides joke-filled commentary tracks of new movies, and video-on-demand of older, weirder movies. These are absolutely hilarious, no question, and certainly they have the voice of MST3K, but Hodgson’s own riff-continuance Cinematic Titanic (started in 2007) feels much more like the original show.

Hodgson brought along the other main cast members of Mystery Science Theater for his Cinematic Titanic venture: Trace Beaulieu (Dr. Forrester, original Crow), J. Elvis Weinstein (Dr. Laurence Erhardt, original Tom Servo), Mary Jo Pehl (Pearl Forrester), and Frank Conniff (TV’s Frank). They stood or sat on scaffolding-looking risers and were silhouetted in front of a series of bad movies and riffed and joked like there was no tomorrow. In total, they released seven in-studio episodes and five live shows.

All 12 of these episodes are available now in a new box set from Shout! Factory, the home of MST3K on DVD for a million years. I’d seen a few of these upon their original release, but watching the rest recently has given me a brand new appreciation for it. This isn’t knockoff MST3K; this IS MST3K. It’s the exact same sensibilities, same love of the weirdest, crappiest, and most obscure B movies of all time, and the only thing that’s changed is that there’s slightly more colorful language and the movies are a little bit raunchier because there are no network censors.

The in-studio movies in the set include: The Oozing Skull, The Doomsday Machine, the Roger Corman movie The Wasp Woman, Legacy of Blood, a new version of MST3K favorite Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, Frankenstein’s Castle of Freaks, and Blood of the Vampires. In addition, the set also has all five live-riffs released on DVD—East Meets Watts, The Alien Factor, Danger on Tiki Island, War of the Insects, and Rattlers. Plenty of “Watch out for snakes” references to be had here.

These episodes are tremendously funny, and are the perfect thing to keep your riff-love alive while we wait for the next Netflix season. As the back of the DVD box says: “To MSTies, this collection belongs on your shelf. To everyone else, this collection belongs on your shelf.” Couldn’t have said it any better myself.

Images: Shout! Factory

Kyle Anderson is the Associate Editor for Nerdist and an avowed lifelong MSTie. Follow him on Twitter!

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