Movie-riffing for the masses - East Valley Tribune: Get Out

Movie-riffing for the masses

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Posted: Saturday, May 16, 2009 10:51 pm | Updated: 2:50 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

A couple of wisecracking robots and a janitor-astronaut stranded in a spaceship controlled by mad scientists back on Earth hardly sounds like the stuff of great TV, but “Mystery Science Theater 3000” was exactly that.

The show that verbally shredded bad movies to bits achieved cult status in the 1990s.

Now, much to the delight of diehard “MSTies” everywhere, “MST3K” (as the show is often abbreviated) has been reincarnated as “Cinematic Titanic,” and it comes next weekend to Mesa Arts Center.

Made up of MST3K’s original creator and cast – minus the robots – “Cinematic Titanic” mocks lousy films in direct-to-DVD releases and live performances. The cast will screen — and riff — two movies Friday and Saturday in Mesa: the abysmal “East Meets Watts” and “Danger on Tiki Island.”

Like all films to face the cast’s ribbing over the years, the movies are so bad viewers might think they never should have been made in the first place. But that’s the point: With the quick-witted derision of the crew, awful movies become not only sufferable but funny. It’s a formula that turns below-B-grade flicks like “The Brain that Wouldn’t Die,” “Attack of the Giant Leeches” and “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” into movie-riffing masterpieces.

Cinematic Titanic’s cast includes creator Joel Hodgson (“MST3K’s” Joel Robinson), Trace Beaulieu (“MST3K’s” Crow and Dr. Forrester), J. Elvis Weinstein (“MST3K’s” Tom Servo and Dr. Erhardt), Frank Conniff (“MST3K’s” TV’s Frank) and Mary Jo Pehl (“MST3K’s” Pearl Forrester).

“MST3K,” which aired on Comedy Central and The Sci Fi Channel, earned a Peabody Award and appeared on Time magazine’s list of the 100 best TV shows ever.

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