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Sci-Fi Archives


Visit our archives of the MST3K pages previously hosted by the Sci-Fi Channel's SCIFI.COM.

Goodbye Sci-Fi

Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett reflect on MST3K's final broadcast.

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Episode guide: Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie

Movie_title

Movie: An atomic scientist is invited to collaborate on a mysterious project that has interplanetary consequences.

First shown: 4/19/96
Intro: Dr. F. explains the premise
Opening: Mike’s begins his day, but what’s that rhythmic pounding?
Host segment 1: After the film breaks, Crow and Tom goad Mike into piloting the SOL–with disastrous results!
Host segment 2: Mike and Crow check out the interociter in Tom’s room, but the Metalunan they contact is no help
End: Dr. F. is sure Mike’s will has been broken, but on the SOL its party time — with a “THIS ISLAND EARTH” theme. Dr. F.’s attempt to poop the party backfires. Aaaahhhh!
Stinger: No stinger, but Mike, Crow and Tom return to riff their own credits!
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (253 votes, average: 4.36 out of 5)

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• There is SO much to talk about when it comes to this all-too-brief attempt at mainstreaming an almost unmainstreamable product. I’ll try to hit as many of the high notes as possible.
• For a lot of background on the movie, read our FAQ (which needs a little updating, see below).
• There were a number of releases of the film, first on VHS, later on DVD, also on Laserdisk and Blu-ray. The DVD went out of print for a while (which was around the last time we updated the FAQ) and then came out in a bare-bones, movie-only edition. After that went out of print in 2013, Shout Factory finally got the rights and put together a features-laden DVD release, including the deleted scenes. And take note of the background music on the menu: it’s the almost-never-used Dave Alvin and the Blasters (actually on his Facebook page, he says it was he and a group called “The Guilty Men”) rendition of the theme song, which had been, in Alvin’s words, “in rights limbo” for more than a decade.
• In many ways, all their years of hard work were leading up to this and the movie is at the heart of so much that happened at (and to) Best Brains. One giant example: Joel has revealed that it was Jim’s insistence on directing this movie that was the proverbial “straw that broke the camel’s back” and led him to depart the series. How might the world, the show and Best Brains have been different if they never thought to try to make a movie? We’ll never know. The movie also caused them to put the regular series on the back burner, and that may have helped give Comedy Central the impression that BBI had no interest in continuing the show. I could probably come up with a dozen more examples, and who knows what sort of backstage stuff went on that we don’t know about?
• The movie proves one thing without a doubt: It IS possible to have closed captioning for MST3K. I forget now if the DVDs have captioning, but the VHS versions did — the dialog from the movie ran at the top of the screen and the riffs ran at the bottom. It worked reasonably well, and I really wish EVERY episode was closed captioned. I’m a bit of a militant on this issue, but I do think it can be done and I wish it would be done.
• I visited the set while they were filming (it was the day they shot Trace doing the opening bit) and everybody seemed pretty upbeat. Kevin was even speculating on the prospect of doing one of these a year for the foreseeable future (Joel told me something very similar more recently).
• Trace worked like a real trooper that day. They must have done 20 takes. Oh, and anybody who says making a movie is exciting has never actually been on the set when a movie was being made. It’s a little like a baseball game: lots of standing around and waiting, punctuated by a few seconds of excitement.
Take a look here if you want to read many of the reviews at the time, or at least excerpts.
• Many of the harshest reviews came from people who felt “This Island Earth” is “too good” to have been the subject of riffing. And as I read these reviews, I noticed something really strange: among the people who made this charge, the words “The Day the Earth Stood Still” were often part of the review. It really was a remarkable thing. “This Island Earth” is NOT “The Day the Earth Stood Still” but the mere PROXIMITY of “This Island Earth” to “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” in the minds of these critics, was enough to disqualify it for mockery.
• I told Kevin, during a break on the set, about the people who were saying TIE was “too good to riff.” His response was very simple: He threw his head back and laughed uproariously. Then he began to tick off the fundamental flaws in the movie. First of all, he said, Cal, our hero, goes on a mind-bending journey across the universe — and yet he returns utterly unchanged in any way. Secondly, Cal is supposed to be the hero, but his most heroic act is to yell, “Run, Ruth, run!” at one point. Third, it’s fairly clear that both Rex Reason and Jeff Morrow thought THEY were the hero of the movie, and that jumbles everything up. Fourth, the chemistry between Faith Domergue and Rex Reason was tepid at best, and on and on. He hadn’t even gotten to all the criticisms before he was called back to the set.
• On the other hand, it’s hard to fairly judge TIE based on the chopped-to-shreds version we get in MST3K:TM (as noted in the FAQ, the entire running time of MST3K:TM is less than the original running time of TIE). But I have seen the full thing (indeed I watched the full thing riffed by Mike, Kevin and Trace at the first convention in 1994) and I am here to tell you that it is NOT a good movie. Visually arresting, okay, I’ll grant you that. But a deeply flawed flick.
• In the opening, just watch the real estate Trace covers as he goes through his explanation of the premise. Now imagine doing that about 20 times under hot lights.
• After the little Dr. F intro, we go into an elaborate “2001” parody during the credits. If you’re watching it carefully, they give away the joke (i.e. that at first Mike looks as if he is jogging in a giant circular spaceship as in “2001,” but then we realize he is actually on a giant hamster wheel) pretty early, but I also suspect that a lot of casual viewers may well have been finding their seats etc., and might have only gotten the joke as the credits end.
• Note that a copy of the old Satellite News newsletter is the “wire service reports” Gypsy gives to Mike.
• Also during the early moments of this scene look past Servo and Mike to the wall behind them. The set is decorated with many pink flamingos. These were a gift from some fans (me among them) presented to the cast and crew at the end of the first convention.
• One of the things that the publicity people for the movie pushed was that we would get our first glimpse of other parts of the SOL. But, in the end, we didn’t really get to see anything very memorable. I suspect they were thinking about the scenes that were eventually cut.
• As we get ready for movie sign, they make explicit the threat Dr. F has always sort of implied in the past. He pulls a lever and apparently cuts the oxygen in the SOL. Mike, of course, has the most reason to cooperate, but Crow and Tom comply as well, not wanting to be the cause of Mike’s demise.
• Look for Frank on one of the doors during the door sequence.
• The movie contains many riffs that loyal fans have heard before, sometimes on several occasions. Among them: “It’s a long par five to the nation’s capital,” “Football practice!” “Put your shoes on, we’re at grandma’s,” “I have tubes in my ears!” “I kind of live out of my [insert vehicle type]” and [you] “wake and bake every day.”
• One of the problems I do have with the movie is that, early on, when they should be establishing a riffing rhythm, there is an upsettingly long stretch of no riffs. It happens during the scene in which Cal holds an impromptu press conference as he prepares to climb into his jet. A long painful minute goes by with only a few paltry riffs, and it’s really the wrong place for a dead zone.
• Then current riffs: “John Sununu goes for a haircut,” “Look out President Clinton!”, a reference to pilots drinking rum and cokes and “The Kingdome!”
• In the live riffing, the “secret eggo project” scene went on much longer and established the “Cal always breaks things” running gag. The shortened version doesn’t really establish it, with the result that when Servo says “Cal, I don’t think there’s anything left to break!” we really don’t understand what he’s talking about.
• Take note of a few familiar faces: The “sort this, deliver that” delivery man is none other than Coleman Francis!! And, later, the Metalunan pilot who punches up the “Normal View” is none other than Richard Deacon, Mel Cooley from “The Dick Van Dyke Show.”
• Another little in-joke for fans, you can hear a light musical riff on the “Manos” theme as Mike activates the manipulator arm, which is labeled “Manos.”
• It always cracks me up the way Crow nuzzles Mike while doing his George Takei impression.
• Servo mentions hamdingers under his breath as he looks for his interociter.
• One of the most surprising, and head-scratching moments of the movie came with the appearance of actor John Brady as a Metalunan taking a shower. Brady had never been involved with MST3K (in fact this was his first movie role) and many fans were baffled by the appearance of this complete stranger.
• Just a shout-out to Jef or whoever built that replica of the catalog in the movie. Looks perfect.
• The movie contains three “shits” in the dialog, expressly added so that would avoid the dreaded “G” rating. I’m sure this made sense at the time. but, in hindsight, doesn’t seem to have helped.
• Obscure riff (there were a few!): They enter a room on the ship that looks to have wooden tile floors. Crow, in his best Henry Fonda, says “Hey the floors look great!” Fonda was a longtime pitchman for GAF flooring.
• As they riff the closing credits, most of the names they pick out are folks who have been longtime BBI staffers.
• Cast and crew wrap-up: We’re going to do this one a little differently because basically the usual Universal crew worked on this thing, and many of them also worked, within a few years on “Revenge of the Creature,” “The Leech Woman,” “The Mole People,” “The Deadly Mantis” and “The Thing that Couldn’t Die.”
Those also working on “Revenge of the Creature ” were producer William Alland, the director of the Metaluna scenes Jack Arnold, assistant director Fred Frank, special effects guy/costumer/makeup guy Bud Westmore, costumers Jack Kevan, Millicent Patrick, Robert Beau Hickman, Chris Mueller and John Kraus, hairdresser Joan St. Oegger, art director Alexander Golitzen, set dressers Russell A. Gausman, sound person Leslie I. Carey and score composers Herman Stein and Henry Mancini. In front of the camera: Robert B. Williams.
Those also working on “The Leech Woman” were special effects guy/costumer/makeup guy Bud Westmore, art director Alexander Golitzen set dressers Russell A. Gausman, sound person Leslie I. Carey, musical director Joseph Gershenson (who served as producer).
Those also working on “The Mole People” were producer William Alland, editor Virgil Vogel, special effects guy Clifford Stine, special effects guy/costumer/makeup guy Bud Westmore, hairdresser Joan St. Oegger, art director Alexander Golitzen, set dresser Russell A. Gausman, sound person Leslie I. Carey, musical director Joseph Gershenson, score composers Herman Stein, Hans Salter and Henry Mancini. In front of the camera: Mark Hamilton, Regis Parton and Ed Parker.
Those also working on “The Deadly Mantis” were producer William Alland, special effects guy Clifford Stine, special effects guy/costumer/makeup guy Bud Westmore, art director Alexander Golitzen, special effects guy Fred Knoth, set dresser Russell A. Gausman, sound person Leslie I. Carey, musical director Joseph Gershenson and score composer Henry Mancini.
Those also working on “The Thing That Couldn’t Die” were cinematographer Clifford Stine, special effects guy/costumer/makeup guy Bud Westmore, set dresser Russell A. Gausman and Julia Heron, sound person Leslie I. Carey, musical director Joseph Gershenson and score composer Henry Mancini.
In addition, producer William Alland also worked on “The Space Children.” Special effects guy Clifford Stine also worked on “The Creeping Terror.” Makeup guy Bud Westmore also worked on “San Francisco International. Hairdresser Joan St. Oegger also worked on “The Amazing Colossal Man.” Art director Alexander Golitzen also worked on “Kitten With A Whip,” as did musical director Joseph Gershenson. Set dresser Russell A. Gausman also worked on “The Brute Man,” as did score composer Hans J. Salter.
In front of the camera: Lance Fuller also appeared in “The She Creature.” Coleman Francis, well, you know. Ed Parker was also in “Bride of the Monster” and “Undersea Kingdom.” Russell Johnson was also in “The Space Children.”
• CreditsWatch: Regular crew members who also worked on the movie were Jeff Stonehouse, Bradley J. Keely, Michael Kienitz, Andrea Jackson DuCane, Jef Maynard, Wendell Jon Andersson, Patrick Brantseg, Crist Ballas, Tim Johnson, Barb Tebben and Julie Walker.
• Fave riff: “Hey, keep it on the road! We’re in the tubes back here!” Honorable mention: “Recognize me now, Ruth?”

Next week, we’ll start season seven.

237 Replies to “Episode guide: Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie”

  1. Kenotic says:

    Of the many, many stories that the cast told about this movie and the suits brought it in to make things difficult: I still can’t believe a bunch of Scandinavian Midwesterners from suburbs and rural towns had to tell people from a movie studio who Bootsy Collins was. That and MJ’s comment about the OJ trial.

    I was in England in June of 1996 and remember seeing pictures for “Barb Wire” on the sides of all of the buses with the showstopping tag-line “Don’t call me babe!” I cursed them under my breath.

       7 likes

  2. jason says:

    I thought the movie was great. I never got a chance to see it the movie theaters like allot people didn’t. I thin it was gramercy that ereleased this. They are now out of business. I wish they release the uncut version of this movie. I now siskel and ebert like this movie. I think is was the fact the comedy central aka paramount didn’t own the rights of this show that drove them to cancel them. Whn they put south park on the air they made sure they own the rights to it. Plus at the time they had a total idiot in charge of comedy central at the time. cancel the show right when the mvoie was coming out. Revenge? for not having the rights to it. My favorite riff After they look at oictures and she say noticed the strange forehead bumps and servo says NO!

       0 likes

  3. Satan's Jockstrap says:

    I get a good laugh from the idiotic critics who claim that “This Island Earth” was a good movie which cost MST its credibility and a large chunk of their fan base.

    THAT’S TOTAL BULLCRAP!

    “The Movie” was what ultimately got me into MST3K. It’s the gateway drug that got me hopelessly hooked onto the series. And “This Island Earth” (the film) is a colossal, heaping, steaming pile of cow dung!

       12 likes

  4. klisch says:

    I remember seeing this in the theaters when it came out and there were maybe a handful of people in the audience. What really struck me with this was the absence of Frank, Dr Forrester did all his scenes by himself and I was dissapointed. But this movie did make me laugh out loud plenty of times, I just wish there were people in attendance to laugh with.

       1 likes

  5. Sitting Duck says:

    IMO the captioning works for the movie because of the relatively low density of riffs. If the same were done to a typical TV episode, the screen could get cluttered quite easily.

       0 likes

  6. ck says:

    I agree in principal that the movie was “too good to riff”…but then again, I really like (generally) Time Chasers and Overdrawn atMB, which seems to mmake me a real minority. But I am prepared to make defenses of them (in the future—or have I already :mrgreen: )?

       4 likes

  7. Tim S. Turner says:

    Favorite riff: “C’mon. Shrinky-Dink, remember?”

       2 likes

  8. Wilford B. Wolf says:

    Just FYI, the Image DVD never did have captions, but the newer Rogue DVD has subtitles in English (along with the French dub, which I still find interesting). As #5 noted, captioning only works best when there are a few riffs at a time; some of the more complex ones, especially when they complete a line, or sneak one in during a long dry speech often makes the screen crowded with text.

       0 likes

  9. ck says:

    Oh, and I agree, as I’ve called for before, that this movie proves you can have closed captioning, for both the movie and riffing. Frankly, there are still some riffs in the movies I can’t understand, and the movie speaking is frequently talked over, usually not a problem but at times you miss something.

    WE WANT CAPTIONING! WE WANT CAPTIONING!
    (Well, I do). :smile:

       0 likes

  10. ck says:

    One more thing on closed captioning. It’s just an option. If someone finds it too cluttered, no problem. Don’t put either captioning on.

       4 likes

  11. jjb3k says:

    I think the catalog that Benkitnorf looks through – and for that matter, the Interocitor itself – were the real props from This Island Earth. After all, they were making this movie under Universal, who did TIE, and they probably save the props from all their movies as most studios tend to do.

    The first time I saw this movie was on a rental from Blockbuster in 2005, after I’d been watching MST3K for less than a year. My only exposure to the Comedy Central era thus far had been the Essentials DVD – all the rest of my episodes at the time came from the SciFi era, so this was my first time seeing the dynamic between Mike and Dr. Forrester. I do remember wishing Frank had been in the movie, though.

    The riffing is good, though not great. You can tell they had to slow it down for the benefit of people who’d never seen MST3K before. There’s also a lot of riffs that feel like they were dumbed down from their original conception (like “Sort this, file that, I’ll make them all pay!”, which seems like the kind of joke that anyone could make for that scene). There also seemed to be a surprisingly high amount of frat boy humor (stuff like “Ruth…” “I farted” or “It must feel like they’re inside a huge bong”), like they were specifically trying to draw in high school and college students…apparently having forgotten from the conventions that most of their fans were high school and college students anyway, even without this kind of humor.

    Anytime they make an obscure reference like “They’re very into Yes on this planet”, it feels like they managed to slip it past Universal. I can just picture some movie executive screening the film and saying “I don’t get that! Change it!” every two minutes. Probably the most infamous example is when Scrotor first appears and Crow riffs “Leona Helmsley!” – the original line was “Boo Radley!”, but someone at Universal didn’t think enough people would get the reference.

    Evidence of last-minute editing plagues the theater segments. The position of Servo, Mike, and Crow’s silhouettes in the shadowrama keep jumping at odd intervals, making it obvious that there was a cut. It’s most clear when they exit and return before and after the host segments, which leads me to believe that they weren’t originally meant to occur at the places they did in the movie. Also note that each time they leave the theater, they’re given a reason – first the film breaks, then they sneak out to use Servo’s Interocitor. Apparently, without the theme song and its line “Now keep in mind Mike can’t control where the movies begin or end”, the traditional episode structure didn’t work.

    Seems like MST3K didn’t lend itself well to a movie. In order for a TV show to transition to the big screen, it needs to be a show where everyone in the audience knows how it works. MST3K was never mainstream, and so only a few hundred thousand people in a country of millions really saw it and understood it. And thanks to the movie’s limited run, I’m guessing very few of those people actually got to see it in theaters. It was pretty much doomed to obscurity from the start.

    Still, at least it remains a good way to introduce non-fans to the general concept of the show. You can put on MST3K: The Movie for any non-MSTie, and odds are they’ll grasp the premise, get most of the jokes, and maintain their interest for the brief 74-minute running length. And then you can pull out something like Outlaw or The Day the Earth Froze and say “Well, if you liked that, wait ’til you see this!”

       6 likes

  12. GizmonicTemp says:

    Speaking of Coleman Francis Cameoes, and forgive me if this is off-topic, but at the end of “Killers From Space”, Peter Graves is being chased through the power plant by two men. We never get a closeup, but one of them sure looks and runs a lot like Coleman.

    Any one?

       1 likes

  13. Graboidz says:

    I’m just not a big fan of The Movie. The host segments kind of dragged and no Frank left Dr. F’s scenes kind of blah. Trace does a decent job, but without someone to play off of, it just didn’t flow as well as the TV show. While TIE isn’t a great film, the shredded version presented in the movie is unwatchable, they would have been much better off either riffing an almost uncut version, or finding a film with a smaller running time.

    My favorite riff comes early on when Cal is flying in the jet and Crow states “Hey..his legs are sticking out!”. Overall though I consider “The Movie” the weakest episode of the series next to “Hamlet”.

       0 likes

  14. GizmonicTemp says:

    jjb3k #11 – You mean a movie exec didn’t think that the general public would understand a reference to a character from one of the greatest pieces of American literature, turned Oscar-winning movie starring one of the greatest actors of the time?!

    Sigh. Hollywood, you sicken me.

       0 likes

  15. MPSh says:

    This movie could have been teriffic. However, even though it plays as a mediocre MST3K epsiode (with higher production values), it’s still pretty funny.

    One of the reviewers on Rotten tomatoes makes a crack to the effect that this is a terrible idea for a TV show. I actually agree with that – it’s due to the talents of the Brains that show was a great as it was.

    Favorite riffs: “I’m going to ram my ovipositor down your throat and lay my eggs in your chest. But, I’m not an alien.” and “Nanoo.” I also like the Shrinky-Dink riff.

    Did everyone spot Coleman Francis in this movie?

       0 likes

  16. rcfagnan says:

    I guess I’m in the minority here because I REALLY like MST3KTM. I’d been into the show for several years at this point, and when this started playing in only ONE theater in downtown Atlanta (live in Lawrenceville, which is a good hour plus away) I begged my dad to take me (wasn’t old enough to drive). He reluctantly did, but he didn’t really get the show until he saw the movie. The theater was PACKED, unlike some other folks’ experience, and the audience never stopped laughing during the movie segments. I count myself priveleged to have been a part of the experience. To Mike, Trace, Kevin, Jim, and all the other people who put their hard work into the making of this film, my deepest thanks. And though the process may have scarred you for life, the end result was thoroughly enjoyable.

       11 likes

  17. The theater was also packed when I saw it in Albany, California, and everyone was laughing at the jokes. Somehow, it gave the show and its premise legitimacy to hear this huge theater of people roaring at “It’s a long par five to the nation’s capital” and “What’s this ‘and the rest’ crap?”

    However, I feel like the movie didn’t live up to its promise. The 2001 parody intro seems to promise something grander than what we got. The massively-cut TIE lost coherence, which was kind of a shame. There was no way you could really have BOTH concepts in a theatrical movie and have it be satisfying.

    Still, I love it and still watch it from time to time. “Normal view! Normal view! NORMAL VIEW! NORMAL VIEWWWWWW!” is perhaps one of the most classic riffs of the show’s entire run. It’s a shame the movie didn’t gain bigger success, but in the end, it’s better that we got the TV show, because that meant more of MST to love. One MST fix a year would have been difficult to cope with. Selfish of me, no?

       6 likes

  18. badger1970 says:

    The movie felt gutted and rushed. Frankly, it stank hell to high heaven because the financial backers had more control than the creative geniuses at BBI.

    As for the straw. There had to be other issues Joel had with Jim than just the fight about directing. The show quality was all over the board (and the increase in below the belt, negative riffs) in the first part of season five. I’m not on the Jim the bad guy and Joel the good guy band wagon. It was a partnership that dissolved, it happens. The show survived the movie and Joel’s leaving.

       1 likes

  19. Chris L says:

    As per the production of the movie, given the lousy treatement they got from the studio, I wonder if the Brains ever considered doing what Monty Python did for Life of Brian: producing it indepedently, and enlisting their celebrity fans as investors? Surely the likes of Steven Spielberg and Neil Young could have helped them out a bit.

       0 likes

  20. Cliff Weismeyer says:

    While I agree with the folks that argue that the problem with The Movie was not that This Island Earth is a classic (the movie is plenty turgid and silly), put me in the camp that thinks it just didn’t work. While a good heaping of the blame can go to the studio, I think the Brains deserve a great deal also. As others have noted, it comes across as a very poor episode of the show. These same artists were faced with similar constraints in the early years of the SciFi era (story arc, etc) and delivered a much better product. This time around it did not work, and ultimately that is on the director.

    In my dream world, the movie riffed would have been Plan 9 (to capitalize on the popularity of Ed Wood’s films in the wake of the Tim Burton Movie). I would have used a story arc similar to Manos (with Dr. F. unleashing his cinematic atomic bomb, the cast suffering, cracking, perservereing and triumphing). It seems that would have been a way to introduce a wider audience to the concept while getting across the essential flavor of the show.

    That being said, the Brains deserve credit for bouncing back the way they did. Over the course of about a year and a half they would lose Joel, Frank and Trace and have the movie tank. It is amazing that they got through at all, let alone would have the wherewethal to introduce us to the Pumaman, Garth Vader, the wharwilf, and show us where the fish lives.

       8 likes

  21. Brandon says:

    Awhile back I met someone who CLAIMED that he had a friend that used to work with Comedy central years ago, and he said that originally CC offered to produce the film, and distribute it, but they did not want to give them a full theatrical budget. However they were willing to give The Brains full creative freedom, which CC warned them that many movie execs probably would not do. The Brains however wanted the money for a movie budget, and CC kept saying no, resulting in them basically going, “Fine, we’ll go find another film company.”

    The person I spoke to says he believes CC cancelling MST3K (among other reasons) was there way of telling The Brains, “We told you so!”

       1 likes

  22. MattG says:

    I was fortunate enough to see The Movie in an actual theater packed with MSTies. It was back in June ’96 when the film passed through the area to play for one night only at a little arty theater about an hour’s drive away. I was 15 at the time and basically had to beg my parents to make the trip. I wound up taking a friend along and we all stood in a massive line to buy tickets. The movie was going to sell out and not everybody would get in. We lucked out and bought some of the last tickets.

    We had to sit in the back of the theater, but it was worth it. The audience roared with laughter at the right moments. It was a very community-type setting where everyone seemed to know everyone else. Seeing Mike, Crow, Servo, Gypsy, and Dr. F up on the big screen was a major moment for me, as I’d only started watching the TV show about eight months earlier. At the time, it was as if catching all those reruns on Comedy Central had culminated in this moment.

    After the movie finished, Kevin and Jim came out to tell a few stories about the production and take questions. Then it was all over and it was time to go home, but I never really let go of that night. I bought the VHS version of the movie (along with the chunk of Deep 13 sold through the old Info Club), then later managed to buy the out-of-print DVD on eBay for a reasonable price. Then came the reissued DVD, and finally I have the movie on my DVR from one day when HBO aired it in HD. It’s just as funny now as it was then, and while some episodes of the TV series were better, the cast and characters never looked better than they did in the film. I’ve read where the production could be a pain for them, but they really created a stellar film and I wish it had met with the success it deserved.

       11 likes

  23. Schippers says:

    I suppose I too am in the minority that loves MST3K:TM. I first saw it in a nice little theater (subsequently closed, too bad) here in Tucson, and I had a great time. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve seen it on DVD since then.

    For me, the strongest part of TM is the beginning, before Cal and Ruth go on their…uh, adventure. (Does it qualify as an “adventure” if they don’t do anything significant while they’re on it, or is that more of a “day trip”?) Once they’re flying to Metaluna it loses some of the charm.

    Ok, now my responses to two of the themes I’ve picked up in this thread so far:

    1. “TIE is not a good candidate for MST3K.” Wow, that’s a ridiculous opinion. TIE is the PERFECT candidate for MST. Turgid scientist-type people? Check. Stentorian delivery of lines? Check. Fascination with pseudo-atomicky sciency stuff? Check. Star Trek-style aliens? Check. Nice-looking arm candy lady? Check. Plus, it’s a gorgeous movie.

    TIE is NOT a complete pile of dog crap, as some here have said. It looks GREAT. They really spent a long time on those special effects, and they still look good today.

    BTW, has anyone read the novella upon which the movie is based? There’s a lot more to the story than what the movie manages to muster up. It’s worth checking out if you’re a fan of TIE, the movie.

    2. “There’s more frat-boy humor in TM than an average MST3K episode.” That’s bull. Spin up almost any ep from any of the show’s eras and you’ll find numerous references to bongs, waking and baking, farts, poop, boners, and so on. I’ll agree there’s less pseudo-intellectual references, but big deal.

    One last thing – I assume many of you have seen Cinematic Titanic’s version of Legacy of Blood. If you haven’t, and you want to see some TIE actors fifteen years after the fact, you’ll see a badly aged Faith Domergue and an even more badly aged Jeff Morrow (sporting a child molester moustache, no less).

       8 likes

  24. Kenneth Morgan says:

    For all of those who complained that TIE was “too good”, remember Russell Johnson’s line at ConventioCon II: MST3K-TM actually gave TIE an audience. I mean, even in abbreviated form, TIE was back on the big screen and in the public eye. Better that than being relagated to the vaults.

    It’s pretty amazing that Universal/Grammercy would’ve wanted to exercise such tight controls over a movie that was pretty low budget and not expected to be a major blockbuster. I guess it was a combination of extreme pennypinching and figuring BBI were little guys that they could safely push around.

    Two questions: First, what are the chances that &%$#@*! Universal/Grammercy will pony up for a “special edition” DVD release with extras, or at least allow BBI & Shout Factory to do so? Second, how about this for a weekend discussion question: Did you see MST3K-TM during its original run, and where?

       4 likes

  25. I saw the movie first at an “arty” theatre near Drake University, and near the end when the spaceship is returning to earth, Crow makes a joke about gassing up in Des Moines, and the crowd (which was pretty big) erupted, we were so proud of our hometown! About a month later, the movie theater I worked at picked it up for later showings, which was fun. The crowds were smaller, but I remember at least one person showing up in a homemade jumpsuit.

       2 likes

  26. trickymutha says:

    I have always loved MST3K-TM. Love it when Russell Johnson is walking by and the riff- “what’s this all the rest crap?”

       2 likes

  27. Scott says:

    Long time fan of the movie, even before I was a hardcore fan of the series. I even remember renting this on VHS and watching with my parents, who found it pretty darn funny too.

    I’m another fan of the closed-captioning, and would love to see them on all the DVDs.

    And I’d double dip (again) to get an extended cut on DVD.

    And This Island Earth isn’t completely horrible on it’s own. I also have the uncut movie on DVD and have spun it up from time to time.

       1 likes

  28. Lukas says:

    Despite its flaws I love MST3KTM. In 2000 (I was 12 at the time) I just happened to rent the movie from a video rental place, having seen tiny bits of the show while channel surfing for years. I never really stopped to watch the show back then because I suppose I didn’t get it.

    Then I watched the movie, loved it, and from then on was a fan.

    normal view!
    Normal View!
    NOrmAL VieW!
    NORMAL VIEW!

       2 likes

  29. Sampo says:

    Kenneth Morgan: Question 1–Here is a very sad story. I pushed and pushed and pushed to get a “special edition” put out — one that would include all the footage Jim has, including the cut scenes that were shown at the convention. I tried to explain to them that bootlegs of this movie that they saw as of no value was selling for $100 and up on e-bay. I could never get past the gatekeepers at Universal. For a long time I gave up.
    When ShoutFactory got the rights to the show, I broached the idea to Jordan and he was actually looking into the idea. It was then that, out of the blue, Universal re-released their no-frills DVD, which pretty much meant that the idea was dead in the water for the foreseeable future. Tragic.
    On the second point–good idea!

    Oh, and one other thing I forgot to mention: One of the lost treasures related to this movie is the version of the theme song performed by Dave Alvin and Blasters. A snippet of it was heard in the TV commercials for the movie, and it was played in its entirety at the second convention (I have a horrible live recording). Alvin said on his Web site that the song is owned by Universal and they won’t let him release it.

       6 likes

  30. Astaroth says:

    The movie will always hold a special place in my heart, it was what got me into MST3k :cool:

    “Normal view!,normal view!, nooooorrrmmmmallll vieeeewwww!!!” is one of my favourite riffs in the shows history

       3 likes

  31. Roman Martel says:

    I enjoyed the movie quite a bit, hell, I still enjoy it. In my opinion it’s one of the best ways to get someone into MST3K. Back when I used to work in a video store, we’d pop this sucker in on Sundays and it would always rent out, and that renter would usually come back asking if we had any more (and we kept all the Rhino VHS in a special section). Converted a lot of fans using the movie.

    I’m wondering if a lot of dislike toward the movie that I find in “true fans” comes from the fact that they know what the movie could have been. I suggest you enjoy the movie for what it is, and that will make it all the more enjoyable.

    Anyway, I saw this when it was released in theaters. It was about an hour drive from my home, in a small multi-plex. There were only about fifteen or so people there (we saw a noon showing I believe). During the opening sequences there were isolated chuckles, but I think Dr. Forrester frightened people more then amused them.

    Once the credits started to roll, my wife and I were laughing uncontrollably. That remains one of my favorite credit riff sequences. I especially like the “Let’s see, Shatner, Shatner, Shatner. He’s not in this one, we’re safe.” It seemed like we were the only ones laughing. I was actually waiting to see some people leave the theater. There was some chuckling here and there, but it seemed almost timid, as if they weren’t sure if they should be laughing.

    It took a few minutes, but once the whole plane turning green sequence hit, it seemed that the rest of audiance finally got into the groove. From there forward there were lots of big laughs and everyone left with a smile on their face.

    As I mentioned when this came out on VHS (and Laserdisc, which I still have somewhere), we would put this on regularly in the video store, and got lots of rentals out of it. Enough that if we sold a copy, we’d replace it. The sucker kept making it’s money back.

    You know, I never noticed Coleman Francis until I found it as a trivia nugget on this site. But I did see the gentleman who looks just like him in “Killers From Space”. I swear it is Mr. Griffin himself – if not it’s an incredible simulation.

    For me The Movie will always be one of my favorite doses of MST3K. I really wish they had been able to do the full film, and had more control over the final result – but in spite of all that, I think the final product is worth seeing and a perfect jumping off point for anyone who’s never seen the series.

    Favorite Riff: “Normal View. NORMAL VIEW! NORMAL VIEEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWWWWWW!”

       11 likes

  32. swh1939 says:

    In 1996, the closet theater to me that was showing MST3K: TM was a 3-hour drive away. Ugh.

    I’ve seen the deleted host segment (where Tom saves Mike and Gypsy gives Mike mouth to mouth) and I SOOOOO wish that was actually in the film.

    Another vote here for CC, three options (movie dialog, riffs, or both together).

       0 likes

  33. Dave says:

    Hate to be nitpicky, but there are 3 ‘****s’ in the movie, all by Kevin. After the identification of several scientists by Ruth he says ‘Whoopdee-****’, when we see Metaluna on the viewscreen we get a ‘What kind of ****-hole planet is this?!?’ and finally when trying to escape and seeing the “Mutant” Servo speaking as Exeter exclaims, ‘Now I swear we are parked on level C right next to…Oh ****’

    AS A registered cursoligiost I felt I had to set the record straight.

       4 likes

  34. Sampo says:

    Oh ****! Thanks, Dave!

       5 likes

  35. crowtdan says:

    When this movie came out in 1996 I saw it at the Spectrum Theatre in Albany NY which is an “arty” theatre with multiple screens. I wore my white beefy-t with the MST3K logo on the breast. The ticket seller said “Wow, you must be a fan!” I had visions of seeing hundreds of other MiSTies when I entered the theatre. There were about eight of us. That didn’t stop me from having a great time even singing “This Island Earth doesn’t shine for me anymore!” I had read that joke couldn’t be done for copyright reasons. That’s when I truly realized that most people do not get it. The only complaint I had about the movie was not enough jokes. I heard that they spaced the jokes to allow for laughs. Never assume. MORE JOKES. That’s why the Sci-Fi episodes could have been better. Too much emphasis on the segments.

       0 likes

  36. GizmonicTemp says:

    Roman #31 Cool. I didn’t think I was crazy. (see comment #12)

    MPSh #15 Wasn’t Coleman the “sort this, deliver that” delivery man?

       1 likes

  37. H says:

    Count me among the ‘what could have been?’ people. I like the movie, I’m glad it got made, but it had a lot of potential it fell flat on.

       0 likes

  38. Oh man, where do I even begin? While The Brain That Wouldn’t Die was my first MST3K experience, The Movie is what really got me hooked on the series and that showed when I attempted to MST some bad fanfics found on the web at the time (I failed miserably).

    Movie:
    * I love watching this when my dad is around, because TIE is one of his childhood favorites and he can’t stand it being torn apart by the riffers. Still the primary reason he dislikes the show as a whole.
    * Recycled riff: “There’s Taurus the bull.” – “And underneath the constellation feces.”
    * Say what you will, but Rex Reason’s voice is MUCH cooler than James Earl Jones’s.
    * For the longest time I thought the riff, “I’ll go poke Webb’s eyes out.” was an actual line of dialogue.
    * I always did wonder about the numerous ways they could have riffed Cal’s cut line, “Our size is the size of our GOD!”
    * Looking forward to Season 8, it’s amazing how they were able to keep the “Nicest weather Earth has ever had,” jokes fresh and varied when nearly every movie for the first half of the season was from Universal.
    * Favorite riffs:
    “ACTING!” – Mike
    “The secret government Eggo project.” – Crow
    “Cal, it looks like there isn’t anything left for you to break.” – Servo

    Host Segments:
    * Using the Manos panel and the Torgo’s theme arrangement in Segment 1 is still the coolest thing ever.
    * Personally I prefer the two segments that ended up being cut from the movie: taking shelter during a meteor storm and sending a Mut-ant down to Dr. F. They can be found on youtube.
    * Favorite line: “Mike broke the Hubble! Mike broke the Hubble!”

       4 likes

  39. Oh yes, for those who argue that TIE is a bad movie, don’t forget that it was “2 1/2 YEARS IN THE MAKING!”

    Of course that’s assuming that statement from the original poster makes any difference. Frankly, seeing Lance Fuller’s name on it would have scared me away.

    Phantom Planet has a similar statement on its promo poster. Did the producers really think that the time it took to make the movie had something to do with how good it would be in the end?

       1 likes

  40. Professor Gunther says:

    Has anyone watched this on dvd using the language options? We watched the first part in French, and it was hysterical—and I know almost no French! During the “weenie mobile” bit, for example, you don’t hear anything about weenie mobiles or Weenie Man, but instead something like “Je suis Batman.” How on earth the translators came up with BATMAN for this sequence is beyond me. It makes no sense, and it’s not even funny (then again, maybe there’s something in there a French person gets). It causes me to suspect that MST3K doesn’t necessarily translate into other languages very well. I mean, some jokes just cannot be translated (obviously).

    At any rate, I LOVE the movie as it was my first encounter with MST3K.

       7 likes

  41. Professor Gunther says:

    Oh yeah–and the voices in French are ALL WRONG. :?:

       0 likes

  42. Patrick says:

    Actually, jjb3k (#11) and GizmonicTemp (#14), the original riff was “Bootsy Collins,” not Boo Radley. The change to Leona may have made the riff more accessible, but it hasn’t aged well, really.

    I have fond memories of the movie, which I saw with a friend and fellow Mystie during it’s original release, and still watch it frequently. Actually, False Mustache (#25), I saw it at that same theater (the Varsity, right?), maybe even at the same showing! (Although I bet the crowd roared at that line during every showing.)

    I had caught onto MST3K in college and was anticipating the movie like nothing else, but the staggered release plan was annoying. If memory serves (and it usually doesn’t), I saw the film at least month if not more after it officially “opened.” The showing at the Varsity was packed, but it was the only theater showing the movie in town! (That said, I don’t think Des Moines had Comedy Central at the time — I was living in Iowa City where we had a different provider — so that speaks well of the show’s following, I think.) I also seem to recall the line about the Sci-Fi Channel getting a big response, as the show had been picked up by the network by that point.

    Sure, the movie has its flaws, but I still think of it as one of the breeziest experiments to sit through. It actually has a plot, some action, some effects and lots of killer riffs, many of which pop up in my everyday conversation, to the bewilderment of less ardent fans. (“Hey, Kreskin, quit hoggin’ the bottle!” “Oh no, I can’t digest milk!” “Normal view! Normal view!” I could go on and on… and on. And on.) It’s probably one of my top 10 most watched episodes.

    (I was also one of the lucky ones who had/has a DVD of the original Image release, which at one point was going for something like $200 on eBay, although I never even considered parting with mine.)

    When I interviewed Kevin for the Too Much Coffee Man magazine, he spoke about how he didn’t feel as though the film was among their best work, but I suspect his memories are colored by all the absolutely ridiculous interference from the studio. Just imagine what could have been if they’d just been left to their own devices. I think I heard Jim (?) mention that they were considering an all musical episode! Even without that, I suspect it would be a more coherent experience if they’d just allowed the gang to keep the “plot” that was originally planned, instead of making the host segments self-contained.

    (I will say that, for as much pain as it caused the Brains, it sure paid off for the gang. If nothing else, it gave us the brilliant host segments in the Incredible Melting Man, easily one of my favorite episodes.)

    As for This Island Earth, it just has so many delightfully goofy elements to it. Rex Reason certainly looks the hero, and everyone seems to hold Cal in high esteem, but he never demonstrates any heroic qualities whatsoever. And for a supposed scientific genius, he certainly does a lot of really dumb things. The effects look nice for the day, but the concepts behind the effects are dumb as toast. The movie just hasn’t aged well at all, and it’s perfect fodder for the gang.

    Personally, I’m still holding out for a special edition DVD with deleted scenes, but I know it’s a long shot. (The Wikipedia entry on the movie references a fan-created SE, but I’ve never been able to locate one.)

       6 likes

  43. Trumpy Dumpy says:

    I was at Universal Studios in Orlando last weekend and they have the “Mutant” head on display at the Horror Make-Up Show! I had to take that chance to get a picture with it!

       4 likes

  44. I first saw the movie in a theater in NYC with a MSTie friend. The theater was crowded, and it was a revelation to see that the experiments were even funnier when seen with a big group.
    I’ve since gotten the same feeling by seeing the Cinematic Titanic live shows, and from our Portland MST3K meetup group.

    As for the quality of the movie/episode, I think it’s a middle-of-the-road effort. Maybe the dumbing-down insured that. It does contain what might be my favorite riff in any movie segment – “What’s this ‘and the rest’ crap?

    And Frank’s absence really stands out in the movie.

       1 likes

  45. RevRaven says:

    I took some pictures of my copy of the Special Edition, for anyone interested.

    http://img29.imageshack.us/img29/2382/mst3kthemovie10thsefron.jpg – Front cover

    http://img29.imageshack.us/img29/69/mst3kthemovie10thseback.jpg – Back cover (sorry for the flash)

       4 likes

  46. DON3k says:

    I loved MST3k:TM, and really did love TIE as a kid. Great color, decent effects, a neat movie monster. Sure, the story and science were crap, but as a kid, it was one of the greatest movies ever.

    Oh, and the Interocitor and Manual were BBI props. They sat in BBI and could be seen on the tour. Wonder who ended up with those? They would have been a fortune on the EBAY auctions.

    I love many riffs from the film. A couple that I quote occasionally are “Come in, Dr Meacham. Sit down. You’re being kidnapped by the Lite-FM.” and “Put me on intermittent, Joe” and of course, the Mike-as-Cal’s “Yum..” Another great one is when Joe is pleading with Cal not to get on that plane, in the fog as he walks away, and Crow does a hilarious walked-into-the-props sound that kills me every time.

    I did get to see this in the theater. It was pretty much me, a girlfriend who doesn’t like MST3k, and maybe two more people. I still laughed, but I knew that I would have enjoyed it a thousand percent more had more fellow MSTies been there.

    Another point, the deleted scenes really were great, and should never have been removed due to studio meddling. The meteor shower scene was hilarious, and the original ending with Gypsy and the gang using Tom’s Interocitor against Dr F were so much more fun than what was in the final print. I only wish I knew someone at the Convention Center’s AV dept, who I could have gotten to spin off a copy of the footage that was projected onto the screen at the Con. I could of also had the Assignment: Venezuela short years earlier, too.

    STAND BACK! STAND BACK!! ACTING!!!!!!!!

       5 likes

  47. Dan B says:

    I saw it with my good friend Kevin J. Jolly (the “J” stands for Jolly) at the Laemelle Sunset 5 in Los Angeles. It was a good crowd. We laughed a lot, especially during the closing credits riffing. Adam Arkin was behind us. And, he laughed as loud as I did. (I’m a loud laugher.) I remember thinking that it did start off slow but, by time the Interoceter showed up, we were cooking. As we filed out, everyone was holding the door for everyone else with big smiles on their faces.

    I don’t watch it that often. But, there’s just something very cool about the fact that it’s an honest-to-goodness released-in-theaters movie. Yes, it’s compromised. Yes, it bombed. But, it’s a movie. Just watching it makes me think “Way to go, guys and gals.”

       5 likes

  48. pablum says:

    What can be said about a movie that’s shorter than the television show its based off of? MST3K:TM is…okay. Not great. I like the large sets the characters get to play around in, but the theater scene riffing is some of the most bland you’ll find coming from the Brains. Such a shame that the jokes (and everything else in the movie) were stifled by movie company decree.

    The only thing I can say about the cast is…Frank. Oh Frank, why did you decide to jump ship just before the movie? Your presence was sorely missed on celluloid.

    And what was with that music? Not even a cover version of the theme song by Aerosmith to play during the end credits? All that money (ha!) spent on designing a massive Satellite of Love and a full-sized tunnel sequence and we get some guy on a synthesizer making barely audible musical cues.

    Don’t get me wrong. I like the movie. I even pop in last year’s bare bones DVD to watch now and again to soak in all that Hollywood magic.

    Here’s to waiting ten more years for the bare bones Blu-Ray release. Perhaps in twenty or thirty yers we’ll get a 3D holographic release with some VHS quality extras of the cut host segments.

       1 likes

  49. M "RANDO!" Sipher says:

    Six hours’ drive. I, my brother, and two friends drove six hours up to Washington DC to see this movie opening day, since that was the closest damn theater that was showing it.

    And we saw it twice in a row when we got there, in some rinky-dink arthouse theater with -of all things- support posts in the middle of the seating area.

    A few weeks later, it actually showed up in a local theater, so I saw it again there, this time with my father accompanying. He enjoyed it muchly. Kevin showed up for a Q&A. Amusement was had.

    As for the movie… not their strongest, no, but there’s something really special I like about it. Maybe it’s the added angles of the SOL. The background music. The unexpected guest. Seeing Mike and the bots physically walking down the theater hallway is unsettling in a good way.

    And I swear, Mike’s face when the Hubble plummets… always, always cracks me up. Mike is a very expressive man.

    I do miss the musical riffs, though, which is another sacrifice made to getting this in theaters.

    RANDO!

       6 likes

  50. M "Hey, Wait A Minute..." Sipher says:

    Also… am I the only one who prefers the final cut’s ending skit over the one on the bootlegs? Dr Forrester bringing about his own “downfall” in an attempt to torment his captives while the SOL crew enjoy themselves (then realize how screwed they are again) feels much more RIGHT for MST’s universe than the SOL crew intentionally siccing a killer monster they created on Forrester.

       3 likes

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