Netflix Review: Mystery Science Theater 3000 11.1 “Reptilicus”


I grew up loving Mystery Science Theater 3000.  Since my favorite was always Tom Servo, it never mattered to me whether Joel or Mike was the host.  Even after the show went off the air, it was always nice to know that I could say, “How much Keeffe is in this movie?” and at least one person would know that the correct answer would always be “Miles O’Keeffe.”

When I first heard about the Kickstarter campaign to bring back Mystery Science Theater 3000, I was worried.  As someone who owns all of the Rhino DVDs, along with The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Colossal Episode Guide and several VHS copies of the original broadcasts on both Comedy Central and SyFy, I was happy to see that there was still life in the show.  At the same time, I was worried that a possibly inferior reboot might ruin some of my favorite childhood memories.

I just finished watching the first episode of the Netflix MST3K and there is no need for alarm or concern.  My childhood will survive.  While it wasn’t perfect, it was still more than good enough.  It may not have ranked up with the classic episodes of MST3K but it’s at least as good as the one where Pearl forced Mike and the Bots to watch the Russian version of Hamlet.

Felicia Day and Patton Oswalt were great as the new Mads.  I appreciated the return of the invention exchange and that the show still had the same deliberately cheap look that we all know and love from the original.  With Tom Servo, Crow, and Gypsy all being voiced by new actors, it’s going to take a while to get used to the new crew on the Satellite of Love but, by the end of the episode, both Hampton Yount and Baron Vaughn had settled into their roles of Tom and Crow.  Considering that it was his first episode and that it is still strange to see someone other than Joel or Mike hanging out with the bots, Jonah Ray did a commendable job as the new host, bringing a laid back vibe to the role that was very reminiscent of the Joel years.  (That’s not surprising, considering that the revival is largely Joel’s baby.)  Tom being able to fly and Gypsy now being suspended from the ceiling are things that sound like they should not have worked but they did.  My one real complaint is that, without the Netflix captioning, it is often difficult to tell the difference between Jonah’s voice and Tom’s.

The movie was Reptilicus.  As a badly dubbed Danish monster movie, it was the perfect “experiment” with which to start off the new MST3K.  Everyone, even Gypsy, got a few good jokes in at the film’s expense.  Among my favorites:

“Something is rotten in the state of Denmark and it’s this movie.” — Crow

“Now, you’re Mr. Filing Cabinet.” — Gypsy, after one of the film’s scientists placed his hat on a filing cabinet.

“The Danish Army, cheaper than extras and less busy.” — Tom

“Reptilicus Returns in Reptilicus 2: 2 Fast 2 Danish.” — Jonah

The show’s best joke came during a host segment, when Crow and Tom asked Jonah to explain how every country has a monster “preferably in rap.”  The chorus of “Every country has a monster/They’re afraid of in their nation/Every monster has a country/Yeah, a station they call home” stayed with me long after the song ended.

Finally, I was happy to see the return of viewer mail segment.  It is nice to know that, in 2017, eight year-olds are still drawing pictures of Tom and Crow on the Satellite of Love.

If you are like me and you were worried that a new Mystery Science 3000 would destroy your childhood, don’t worry.  MST3K is back and, so far, it’s pretty good.

 

The Daily Grindhouse: Laserblast (dir. by Michael Rae)


The latest pick from Grindhouse of the Day will be from the sci-fi genre and this one I remember clearly as I saw it several times on one of those UHF channels that showed cheap sci-fi and horror flicks. This particular grindhouse pick made a major impression in my preteen mind due to the awesome laserblast weapon which gave the flick its title. Yes, the latest grindhouse pick is literally titled, Laserblast.

It was released in 1978 and I’d hazard a guess and say it was part of the cheap, B-movie craze that tried to capitalize on the megasuccess of Star Wars. This sci-fi grindhouse was awesome when I first saw it as an 8-year old but now I look at it and think to myself, “This thing is so awful that it’s gone beyond any level of awfulness and come out the other side as some sort of classic.” It’s still quite awful, but even now it still entertains even if not the same reasons as when it was first seen. I can understand why the MST3K guys over at Comedy Central picked on it.

The flick had a late 70’s, San Fernando Valley porn sheen to it, but minus all the stuff which made those flicks must-see. The special effects were rudimentary, though I will say that the stop-motion animation for the aliens who hunted down the people who got corrupted by the laserblaster were quite good for such a low-budget. If I had to tell someone two reasons why this should be seen at least once its for the aliens and the awesome cheesiness of the laserblaster.

This flick has the distinction of being director Michael Rae’s only film. He hasn’t made a film since. It would seem he gave it all to this single one. It’s also notable for being the first major work for composer Joel Goldsmith (son of renowned film composer Jerry Goldsmith) who would continue later in his career to composing the soundtrack to sci-fi tv series and major videogame franchises.