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Mystery Science Theater 3000

December 17, 2009

I have been watching a lot of MST3K on Google Video in the past few weeks. Not only is it funnier and smarter than I remembered, it’s also replete with Tom Waits references.

One thought that I cannot shake when I am watching these godawful movies is that it takes a lot of people to make a movie. There are writers, a director, actors, and countless people in design and supporting roles. Many of the movies the MST3K people riff on must be the result of catastrophic failure from the top down. In one of the better-known episodes, they watch the movie Manos: The Hands of Fate. To say that Manos sucks balls would be a colossal understatement, but it comes off like Citizen Kane compared to The Skydivers.  MST3K was a testament to both synchronized horrible judgment and the ability of good comedians to shine shit.

Update: Then I ram my ovipositor down your throat and lay my eggs in your chest, but I’m not an alien!

Update #2: The Leech Woman will teach you all you ever need to know about the pineal gland.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Jonathan permalink
    December 17, 2009 6:15 pm

    Yeah, it is a great show. You can watch it as a grown up for the ‘smart’ comedy, or you can watch it as a stoned teenager and still get something out of it.

    I have worked as a reader for a couple of screenwriting competitions. Believe it or not, when most people sit down to write a screenplay, they end up writing something that looks like an MST3K movie.

    Anyway, here is how to make a bad movie:

    Step one: Write a screenplay without bothering to learn anything about dramatic story structure first.

    Step 2: Try to find what is known in the industry as “Stupid money.” This can be your dentist or doctor, your 2nd cousin who is a New York banker, or a Texas oil man. Texas oil men are really big right now, as they all want to get into the movie biz. The trick to getting stupid money is selling the glamour and excitement of making a movie. Sweet talk them. Schmooze. Tell them about all the women they are going to get.

    Step 3: Put out an advertisement looking for a crew. Nowadays you can do this on craigslist, back when the MST3K movies were being made, you would have used a newspaper classifieds section. The trick here is don’t offer pay to anybody. Make sure it says in the ad that you don’t offer pay, so you won’t get anybody who expects money. There are so many naive and desperate people who want to make movies that they will beat down your door. What you do is offer them a film credit, offer them paying work on your next project even though you know perfectly well you will just get free labor again, and offer them free meals on set. You might want to offer them something called deferred pay, which means you will pay them once the film makes money. Don’t worry; you will never have to pay them. This is just an enticement. Also, you might want to give preference to people who own their own equipment. That way you won’t have to rent anything.

    Step 4: Cast the film. Once again, do not offer pay to your actors, just the chance to be in a movie.

    Step 5: Shoot the film. A typical day of shooting lasts 12 hours, and a small film like an MST3K film might have a shoot of about 18 days. Whew! Good thing you aren’t paying anybody.

    Step 6: Pocket whatever of the stupid money is left over, which should be enough to live on for about 6 to 12 months, since you didn’t actually spend any money on the production.

    • Barry permalink*
      December 17, 2009 6:18 pm

      That’s a lot of work to put into something that is going to suck balls.

  2. Jonathan permalink
    December 17, 2009 7:27 pm

    Oh, but you have to look at step six. That’s the step that makes it all worthwhile.

    • Barry permalink*
      December 17, 2009 8:03 pm

      Step six is the Gnar Step.

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