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August 8, 2010 6:52 PM   Subscribe

What are the best episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000?

There are a ton of past MST3K episodes. I love the format and love Joel and Mike and the bots, but I feel like I have trouble sifting through them to get the best ones. Unfortunately, I've found some of the movies to be so bad that they're just plain boring.

What movies that they have covered do you recommend? Rifftrax suggestions are also welcome, since it's pretty much the same people and same format, minus the pretext. Heck, even Riffs from other groups would be great.

For context, my favorite one that I have seen so far is Pod People, followed closely by Santa Claus. After that, maybe The Head that Wouldn't Die.
posted by mccarty.tim to Media & Arts (72 answers total) 107 users marked this as a favorite
This Island Earth was the one they selected for their theatrical release.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 6:56 PM on August 8, 2010

OMG The Starfighters... The United Servo Academy Men's Chorus song is completely amazing.
posted by mintcake! at 6:57 PM on August 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

"I'm not your real father."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 6:58 PM on August 8, 2010

Mitchell! The last Joel episode, and one of the best of the Joel or Mike eras, in my opinion. Starring Joe Don Baker as the titular dysfunctional 70s cop.
posted by letourneau at 7:00 PM on August 8, 2010 [14 favorites]

posted by box at 7:01 PM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Manos: the Hands of Fate and The Creeping Terror are both funny, but the underlying movies can tend towards the mind-destroyingly boring.

Space Mutiny (origin of Blast Hardcheese and Big McLargehuge)

Any of the various Gameras or Godzillas are reliably good

It might be what you meant by Santa Claus, but Santa Claus Conquers the Martians is good.

Mitchell is funny and the underlying movie is almost watchable.

Not Red Zone Cuba. RZC is the worst movie ever and it hurts to watch even with the riffing.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:02 PM on August 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

I haven't seen them all, but I came in to say Mitchell. My, my, my, my Mitchell.
posted by synecdoche at 7:03 PM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Cave Dwellers. Miles and Miles O'Keefe.
I also love the shorts.
posted by Lemmy Caution at 7:04 PM on August 8, 2010

I'll second Mitchell ('Even his name sounds like a beer') and Space Mutiny (Big McLargehuge!) and also go with The Final Sacrifice ('This has the bacony smell of Canada all over it'), The Incredibly Strange Creatures who Stopped Living and Became Mixed Up Zombies and Star Force ('They tried to kill me with a forklift!').
posted by hobgadling at 7:06 PM on August 8, 2010

Response by poster: Oh yes. I love any short from MST3K. Shorts rock because they're so earnest and sincere that they demand parody.
posted by mccarty.tim at 7:07 PM on August 8, 2010

I'm partial to Manos: The Hands of Fate because it's such an incredibly bad movie it drives the gang to fits of quipping bordering on avant garde.

If you're in a Godzilla mood, they don't get much better than Godzilla vs. Megalon. Related, any of the Gamera movies are good in a pinch.

Also partial to Warriors of the Lost World (available on Netflix streaming!), and Sidehackers. Their take on Marooned is great fun- c'mon, Gene Hackman?! And Pod People is a must.

And any of the shorts collections are worth your time and money. The shorts are, quite often, where they do their best work.
posted by The Mysterious Mr. F at 7:08 PM on August 8, 2010

I love Prince of Space (HAAA HAAA HAAAAA). It's one of the first I ever saw (bootlegged on a tape), and it still remains at the top of my list. Godzilla vs. Megalon is also towards the top of my list. I tend to prefer the poorly dubbed Japanese movies, as you can probably tell.

The final episode, Danger Diabolik, is also one of my favorites. It's an ok movie that is riffed well.
posted by SNWidget at 7:10 PM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

I loved Girl in Gold Boots.
posted by naturalog at 7:11 PM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Space Mutiny!

Also, anti-recommendation for "Manos: The Hands of Fate." God that was garbage.
posted by griphus at 7:15 PM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Other MST3K fans Mr. F and I know are mentioning Danger: Diabolik!, Village of the Giants, and Giant Gila Monster.

If you like weird spy comics like Casanova, Danger: Diabolik! is probably a good one on historical grounds; Fraction often cites it as an influence.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 7:17 PM on August 8, 2010

I second the anti-recommendation for was just so bad it didn't keep my interest at all. I loved The Horrors of Spider Island & The Final Sacrifice (which is even better when you find one of the original actors is really happy with what MST3K did with it, from his post on netflix).
posted by bizzyb at 7:24 PM on August 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

Riding With Death
Space Mutiny
Puma Man

posted by porn in the woods at 7:25 PM on August 8, 2010

Some of my favorites:
Manos, the Hands of Fate (which translates to "Hands, the Hands of Fate") is a must-see because it is so unbelievably bad.
Santa Claus Conquers the Martians: Let's Have a Patrick Swayze Christmas!
Warrior of the Lost World
I Accuse My Parents
Earth vs. the Spider
Godzilla vs. Megalon
The Unearthly
The Giant Gila Monster
The Atomic Brain

I prefer the Joel and early Mike episodes, but you might like these since you liked Pod People. (These episodes are with the "new" Crow, after Trace Beaulieu left):
The Final Sacrifice
Parts: The Clonus Horror
Time Chasers
Devil Doll
Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders
posted by lucysparrow at 7:26 PM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

...and Time Chasers
posted by porn in the woods at 7:26 PM on August 8, 2010

Mitchell and Mystery Science Theatre 3000: The Movie.
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:30 PM on August 8, 2010

Lots of good choices here, especially Space Mutiny and Mitchell!

I recommend Puma Man and Overdrawn at the Memory Bank -- I like the ones where the movie is just as hilarious as the commentary, and these fit the bill big-time. (Never stick a good movie in the middle of your crappy movie!)
posted by vorfeed at 7:30 PM on August 8, 2010



posted by Neofelis at 7:39 PM on August 8, 2010

The Mister B Natural short is classic, the best IMHO, which was part of the War of the Colossal Beast.

Master Ninja. Lee van Cleef, Timothy Van Patten, and Sho Kosugi, in a huge suckbag of a TV show turned into a two-parter 'movie'.

"They tried to kill him with a forklift!" is from Fugitive Alien (two-parter) which is a must-see.

Mitchell is also funneh.

Others I will ++: Manos, Cave Dwellers, any of the Gameras, Zombie Nightmare, Warrior of the Lost World, Pumaman, Robot Holocaust...

Generally speaking, I found the B/W movies harder to watch due to their generally slower pace and being not-quite-ridiculous-enough on their own.

Rifftraxwise, I liked the Cloverfield one, but I haven't seen enough to really say much.
posted by fleacircus at 7:43 PM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Teenage Caveman was a great one.
posted by anazgnos at 7:45 PM on August 8, 2010

The Touch of Satan. We watched this at one of my Halloween parties and guests are still quoting from it.
posted by haplesschild at 7:46 PM on August 8, 2010

Another vote for...Mitchell!
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:52 PM on August 8, 2010

Although tainted for me by recent revelations about Mike, "Revenge of the Creature" is still laugh-out-loud funny.
posted by ryanshepard at 7:54 PM on August 8, 2010

There's a soft spot in my heart for The Horror of Party Beach. I can't be the only one, can I?
posted by .kobayashi. at 8:01 PM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Also, nth-ing Mitchell: "How do you like your whiskey, Mitchell?" "By the quart!"
posted by .kobayashi. at 8:03 PM on August 8, 2010

Warrior of the Lost World, and Mitchell, for me.

"Make it sloooooow, Megaweapon...."
posted by Thistledown at 8:05 PM on August 8, 2010

Nothing is funnier than The Incredible Melting Man. "How many movies end with a janitor sweeping the title character into a trash bin?"
posted by GaelFC at 8:10 PM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Shorts Volume 2!
posted by starman at 8:17 PM on August 8, 2010

Nthing Space Mutiny. In my experience, Space Mutiny is absolutely the best episode to show people who have never seen MST before.
posted by Lobster Garden at 8:18 PM on August 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

Mittens! ...I mean, Mitchell.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:18 PM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Was it Pod People that had the line, "This guy has Renaissance Festival written all over him!" (whole gang) "Huzzah!"

Because I remember that whole movie being a particularly funny one.
posted by Jon-o at 8:29 PM on August 8, 2010

I also love the shorts.

The one about electricity with the girl who's feeling squishy. OMG.

And the one about the circus. Pure cavalcade of nightmares.

Back to full movies....

The Day The Earth Froze which featured the Sampo. Which endlessly amused me as I was watching on a Sampo tv.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:29 PM on August 8, 2010

I was just coming in to say The Day the Earth Froze.
posted by crush-onastick at 8:35 PM on August 8, 2010

No one has mentioned Werewolf yet, so I'll throw that one in.

Nthing these:
Manos: The Hands of Fate
Puma Man
Pod People
Santa Claus Conquers the Martians
Devil Doll
I Accuse My Parents
Space Mutiny
posted by smich at 8:47 PM on August 8, 2010

As was I, a true classic. "The Sampo" is still part of my circle of friends' vocabulary.
posted by ecurtz at 8:49 PM on August 8, 2010

I second The Day the Earth Froze.

Also any of the Hercules movies by the blood of Uranus!
posted by a humble nudibranch at 8:51 PM on August 8, 2010

Nthing Mitchell. You could make it a double-bill with Final Justice, too.

My other favorites:
Master Ninja I & II ("There's no Kosugi like Sho Kosugi.")
Sidehackers ("The grass... is drugged!")
Puma Man (Or is it Pyoomaman? Or Poo-MAY-min?)
Santa Claus
Soultaker ("Does Joe Estevez ever really star in anything?")
Timechasers ("Remember when everyone was wearing Castleton t-shirts?")

I do like Manos quite a bit, but the movie is just so bad and painful that it's hard to get through, even with the jokes.
posted by MegoSteve at 9:03 PM on August 8, 2010

Nthing Werewolf and Space Mutiny.

I'm surprised no one has mentioned Girls Town yet. It has fabulously ridiculous plot, Mamie Van Doren and Elinor Donahue as tough girls from the wrong side of the tracks, Paul Anka as the teen heartthrob, and Mel Torme as the biker. And the riffing is great.

Other favorites:

Riding With Death: Two episodes of a crummy 70's tv show clumsily pasted together in an attempt to pass it off as a movie. The riffing is fantastic.

The Gamera movies, especially Gamera vs. Guiron and Gamera vs. Zigra. These movies are just plain goofy in entertaining ways.

Angels Revenge: crummy ripoff of Charley's Angels + Jack Palance + funny riffing.
posted by creepygirl at 9:10 PM on August 8, 2010

At this point you might as well just write them all down and tally up how many votes each one gets, but I'll throw in for Puma Man, Hobgoblins, The Final Sacrifice, and both Santa Claus movies. Also Laserblast, which no one has mentioned yet(!).
posted by jackflaps at 9:19 PM on August 8, 2010

The Final Sacrifice
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:37 PM on August 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

Everyone's mentioning awesome ones, but I do have to throw in Deathstalker and the Warriors from Hell as another favorite. (Disclosure: first MST3K I ever saw, but it hooked me.) It'll always occupy a warm dumb place in my heart.
posted by actionpact at 10:09 PM on August 8, 2010

Space Mutiny is probably my all-time favorite: lots of the individual riffs are good, and there is a running theme they take up which cumulatively becomes AWESOME. Werewolf, The Horror of Party Beach, and The Final Sacrifice ("C'mon, just one more sacrifice before bed." "OK, but this is your final sacrifice." are among my next favorites (I must admit to sacrilege in saying I liked the last cast best).

However, Cave Dwellers (a Joel episode) makes me laugh out loud (something I rarely do often) with a song near the end related to Ator, the "lead" character.
posted by dhens at 11:56 PM on August 8, 2010

Oh, and if Rifftrax et al. are in the mix, The Room and Troll 2 are some of the best, followed by the uproarious Christmas Shorts-Stravaganza. (The latter two can be purchased as pre-synced Videos). My favorite Cinematic Titanic (Joel's project) is East Meets Watts, followed closely by The Alien Factor.

Someone mentioned Red Zone Cuba. That and two other Coleman Francis films (The Beast of Yucca Flats and The Skydivers) were all riffed in Season 6, and are rewarding, but not for beginners.

I agree with several people above who discourage Manos: the awfulness of the film outweighs the riffs in this case.
posted by dhens at 12:06 AM on August 9, 2010

To give you an idea of how open a question this is the SomethingAwful thread of the same name is two years old and going strong!

That said my current favourite is "The Man from HARM," a goofy 60's spy flick starring a guy who looks like Mr Rogers and a female love interest/secret bad guy (spoilers!) who looks like a baby. Featuring the judo range! And the henchman who looks suspiciously like Prince!

As far as Rifftrax go the Twilight series' riffs are good enough that I'm actively looking forward to Eclipse coming out on dvd so I can watch the riff.
posted by Silentgoldfish at 1:01 AM on August 9, 2010

Seconding Mr. B Natural. I still think about it regularly.
posted by funkiwan at 1:40 AM on August 9, 2010

MST3K: The Final Sacrifice is great ("My Rowsdower's come for me!"); so is The Blood Waters of Dr. Z, some of the best fish-based horror you'll ever see.

Rifftrax: The Room is one of the best; for additional geek cred get the Star Wars Holiday Special rifftrax, it is simply un-f*cking-believable.
Oh, and while you're on the site you might want to check out the stuff done by Incognito Cinema Warriors XP - while they only have two full-length riffs out they have quite high production values and very funny riffs, recapturing much of the essence of MST3K.
posted by PontifexPrimus at 1:48 AM on August 9, 2010

I'm also a fan of Side Hackers and Master Ninja, but I think my favorite, which no one has mentioned, is "Catalina Caper". It has Little Richard hopped up on goofball, Creepy Girl, and a great ship scene where Joel starts talking about the 60s and Tom Servo starts mumbling subliminal messages beneath his monologue.
posted by Red Loop at 3:55 AM on August 9, 2010

Werewolf! At one point they go "well we are just establishing the hell out of this building at an uncomfortably long static shot of, yeah, a random building, and that's still one of my favorite lines ever.
posted by ifjuly at 4:51 AM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Definitely Space Mutiny.... but only because it was filmed as a tax dodge in South Africa.
posted by PenDevil at 5:06 AM on August 9, 2010

"Where, wolf?" "Over ther..." "Shut up!"
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:11 AM on August 9, 2010

I love I Accuse My Parents. Love.
posted by theredpen at 5:35 AM on August 9, 2010

My top 3:

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians
Secret Agent Super Dragon
Catalina Caper

Last month I threw out ALL of my Season 1, 2 and 3 VHS tapes of MST3K. ::::cry::::
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 6:46 AM on August 9, 2010

Oh, gods. Space Mutiny (Thick McRunfast!). The Final Sacrifice (Rowsdower!). Pumaman (He flies like a moron!). Hobgoblins (Hooooobgoblins...). Werewolf (Nose to anus?).

The Starfighters isn't a great episode on the whole, but as mentioned above it does have one of the best songs they ever wrote. And only watch Manos if you're really into the DEEP HURTING.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:52 AM on August 9, 2010

Anyone else love "Tormented" as much as I do?
posted by Lucinda at 6:54 AM on August 9, 2010

Anyone else love "Tormented" as much as I do?

"..and this is how I throw my curve ball....."

How could I forget?
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 7:13 AM on August 9, 2010

Favorite five episodes, in no particular order:
Ep. 212, Godzilla vs. Megalon
Ep. 701, Night of the Blood Beast
Ep. 820, Space Mutiny
Ep. 524, 12 to the Moon
Ep 418, Attack of the the Eye Creatures

Best five shorts, in no particular order (trust me on these, OK?):
Uncle Jim's Dairy Farm
Young Man's Fancy
Assignment: Venezuela
Here Comes the Circus
Mr. B Natural
posted by cog_nate at 7:25 AM on August 9, 2010

Ep 418, Attack of the the Eye Creatures

Oh dear God yes. I forgot about that one... because they just didn't care.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:11 AM on August 9, 2010

Another reason to watch Manos is to see the short Hired: Part 2, but of course first you will have to watch Hired part one, which was shown with Bride of the Monster (I cannot speak to the quality of BotM). But Hired is comedy gold, people. Watch it now. Damn elves.

Also voting for Werewolf, Soultaker, The Day the Earth Froze, Hobgoblins, Mr. B Natural (really, just watch all the shorts).

I'll also throw in a vote for Alien from LA, featuring...Kathy Ireland! ("Oh, Kathy oh Kathy, my wild Irish lassie...").
posted by DiscourseMarker at 8:11 AM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

My favorites: Pod People, Mitchell, Space Mutiny, Werewolf, The Dead Talk Back, Mr. B, Merlin's Shop, Touch of Satan (This is where the fish lives.)

As far as Rifftrax, definitely Twilight movies are great. I remember Daredevil being really, really good, but that might be because it was the first one with Mike, Kevin and Bill. Over the Top contains Mike's hilarious Stallone impression. They actually have a live simulcast of Reefer Madness coming up next week. And if you ever get a chance, see Cinematic Titanic live.
posted by cottoncandybeard at 10:13 AM on August 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Yep, looking forward to Reefer Madness intently.
posted by mccarty.tim at 10:26 AM on August 9, 2010

My my my my Mitchell!

(I can't get that song out of my head:
posted by seventyfour at 12:21 PM on August 9, 2010

In terms of shorts, A Date with Your Family may be one of the single funniest things I have ever seen, anywhere. (Via cog_nate's link). The Rifftrax short "Drugs Are Like That" (narrated by Anita Bryant!) is pretty good too.
posted by dhens at 12:27 PM on August 9, 2010

I also reaaalllly like all of the shorts, but as far as full episodes, the ones I watched most often (Sci-Fi Channel era) were Prince of Space, Invasion of the Neptune Men, and Horror of Party Beach (title correct?)

I would also HIGHLY recommend the three most recent Cinematic Titanic episodes that were recorded live -- all three are very, very funny and topical because they just came out.
posted by wittgenstein at 5:24 PM on August 9, 2010

The shorts were always my favorite. Check out:

Why Study Industrial Arts? ("Because you're bad at math")

Are You Ready For Marriage? ("First Federal Church, member FDIC" and "He's a sorceroooor!")

Mr. B Natural ("Mr. B, you're hot!")

Catching Trouble

Junior Rodeo Daredevils

Home Economics

All are good. The Chicken of Tomorrow has some moments as well.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:22 PM on August 9, 2010

nthing Attack of the Eye Creatures
Attack of the Giant Gila Monster
Manos the Hands of Fate

Also in favor of Overwithdrawn at the Memory Bank ("Something went terribly wrong with Fingel's dopple")
Catalina Caper

I also love Hercules vs the Moon Men ("It's Marlo Thomas as THAT QUEEN!"). I laugh through the whole episode no matter how many times I watch it.

I'm also with Wittgenstein about Cinematic Titanic, although I also love The Oozing Skull as well as the live episodes.
posted by miss-lapin at 9:24 AM on August 11, 2010

I haven't seen anyone mention the Rifftrax for Roadhouse, Battlefield Earth, or Reign of Fire yet. Those are some of my favorites.

FWIW, Pod People is my favorite MST too, and I agree with everything cottoncandybeard said.
posted by heatvision at 12:11 PM on August 12, 2010

Response by poster: Loved, loved, loved the Roadhouse Rifftrax. Finally, we had the appropriate followup to the best Christmas carol ever put on tape.
posted by mccarty.tim at 12:28 AM on August 13, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for all the suggestions. Looks like I have a lot to watch!

Thanks for the epic short thread, which is actually quite long. I'm watching Puma Man, and it's one of the strangest and most hilarious films I've ever seen.
posted by mccarty.tim at 1:37 PM on August 13, 2010

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