Saturday, August 22, 2009
MST3000 & Me!
As a follow up to last week's blog about the Rifftrax live performance of Plan Nine from Outer Space....
There was no news article on Thursday or newspaper advertising either. I'm not sure how people found out unless the following for Mystery Science Theater 3000 is larger than I know. I wasn't able to attend anyway, but my brother-in-law Scott saw it and reports: "I saw the RiffTrax program last night. The turnout was fair, and the show went over well enough in spite of some dull spots and glitches. The program was broadcast from a theater in Nashville. As you'd expect, the audience there seemed to be having more fun than we were."
One friend warned me last week that if I went it would be the "Colorized" version, like this was some Citizen Kane that should not be defiled. I say let the colors flow! Anything that attracts new viewers to old films and adds to the fun is OK by me. The colorized version of Plan Nine with comments by Mike Nelson and company is already out on DVD. The color does not bother me... honestly, I probably prefer it... and I may watch that version some day with the voice overs. The real fun of this movie is seeing it with an audience who gets the jokes without any onscreen help.
Mystery Science Theater 3000 was produced in the Twin Cities. We attended both live shows in theaters in 1992 and 1994. The first was in the ultra-packed neighborhood Uptown Theater about four blocks from where we lived at the time. With advance tickets in hand for myself, Scott, wife Chris and son Jeff, we stood in line for nearly an hour to get decent seats. We could have scalped dozens of tickets. We got seats around the middle maybe ten rows back from where Joel Hodgson, Frank Coniff, Trace Beaulieu and the bots were set up to comment on This Island Earth, which of course is the film they chose for the MST3000 feature film a few years later. All I really remember is the high audience energy all evening. We laughed a lot but I can't recall at what. One political joke got a really big laugh... don't remember it. I'll have to ask Scott who recalls everything. What a newsy column this is -- I was there and something or other happened!
In 1994 we all attended the MST3000 ConventioCon ExpoFest-A-Rama. As proof I offer here my admission badge that I didn't even know I had kept. Out-of-towners staying at the con hotel might have attended everything like round the clock screenings of old episodes, but since we lived here we only took in the main events, which were the Celebrity Panel Saturday afternoon with guests Beverly Garland, Kim Catrall, John Humphries and David Worth, the live show Saturday night at the downtown State Theater, and the Glittering Costume Ball sponsored by Comedy Central. We also caught a tour of the MST studio and sets. Sadly Joel Hodgson had recently left the show and did not attend.
The story about how I won the costume contest and got on the cover of the New York Times will follow when I find the darned pic or at least figure out how to post the short video on Youtube. Searching for it today is how I ran across the convention badge.
The Best Brains are still riffing bad films but in two camps. Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett put out DVDs as either the Film Crew or Rifftrax. The other group goes by "Cinematic Titanic," and they did a live show with Mary Jo Pehl, Frank Conniff, Josh Weinstein, Trace Beaulieu, and Joel Hodgson in late 2008 in St. Louis as discussed here. The theater interior at the top of this post (found on flickr) is for a St. Louis show from 2007 riffing Hercules and the Mole Men. I can't tell if that's Joel or Mike between the bots. Obviously the shot shows a projection of one of the DVDs, but the set-up looks like a larger event.
Joel's live show looked like a lot of fun. Old movies are still fun for anyone you can get to attend. So show them often, show them for FREE and build your own audience. Café Roxy programs come without comment tracks so your audience can add their own if they are so inclined. The Roxy Golden Turkeys can also be enjoyed for the thrills and spectacles that some of us felt in theaters many years ago when we were kids. It's hard to predict how an audience will get into a film and react once they get hooked and keep watching. It doesn't matter to me. Just have fun!
If you put up the poster shown here on the left and make it a free show, will an audience flock to your café, bar or theater? Will they laugh at the hapless monsters (most likely) or warm to the fights and spectacle? Try it and find out.