Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie
Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie (1996, produced by Best Brains, Inc., distributed by Gramercy Pictures ) is a theatrical adaptation of the cult television hit Mystery Science Theater 3000. It was produced between seasons 6 and 7 of MST3K, explaining the absence of both TV's Frank (Frank Conniff), who died in the finale of Season 6, and Pearl Forrester (Mary Jo Pehl), who moved in with her son in the premiere of Season 7 (the final Comedy Central season).
MST3K: The Movie was filmed away from the Best Brains corporate headquarters and studio in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, at Energy Park Studios in St. Paul. Like the TV series, it starred Michael J. Nelson, Trace Beaulieu, Kevin Murphy, and Jim Mallon .
The movie opens with mad scientist Dr. Clayton Forrester (Trace Beaulieu) explaining the premise of the film (and associated TV series). This is unusual as the opening theme ("Love Theme from Mystery Science Theater 3000") typically explains the series premise in lyrical form.
Following Dr. Forrester's intro, we are introduced to our heroes, Mike Nelson (Michael J. Nelson), Crow T. Robot (Beaulieu), and Tom Servo (Kevin Murphy), along with Gypsy (Jim Mallon). Cambot and Magic Voice play no role in the movie.
After a brief opening skit, Dr. Forrester forces our heroes to watch the 1955 classic Rex Reason sci-fi thriller This Island Earth in an attempt to break their wills. In the process of doing so, Mike and the Bots mock (or "riff") the movie mercilessly and quite accurately, accidentally destroy the Hubble Space Telescope, and finally unwind with a little "Metaluna mixer" (a This Island Earth-themed party).
MST3K: The Movie is remarkable in that it is several minutes shorter than an actual television episode (75 minutes vs. 90) and the concentration of jokes is considerably sparser than in a television episode. A small number of riffs—actually rather conspicuous in the milieu of the series—included profanity, in order to save the film from a "G" rating, which would have been the kiss of death for a young adult-oriented comedy.
The choice of This Island Earth for the film to be riffed in MST3K: The Movie was somewhat questionable, as the classic film's quality was considerably higher than virtually all of the films seen in the series. Universal Pictures—the owner of distributor Gramercy—decided that the picture would make a good vehicle to push one of their classic sci-fi properties (this was during a slow period for their monster properties). This however robbed the Brains of one of their richest veins of humor: mocking the poor production qualities of a film presented for their viewing displeasure.
The movie's shortness was due to Gramercy Pictures' belief that the general viewing public would not sit through an hour and a half movie consisting of a small cast joking on the absurdities of another movie (the length of a television episode of MST3K without commercials). Because of various constraints placed on the Brains by Gramercy, several of them (most notably Kevin Murphy) have identified the movie as the least satisfying project they have worked on.
The production values of MST3K:TM were considerably higher than those of the TV series. The sets were much larger than the sets for television and showed off more of the Satellite of Love's interior than the TV show.
Lines quoted in italics come from the original This Island Earth.
(during the opening credits)
TOM SERVO: "This Island Earth can be yours, if The Price is Right!"
TOM SERVO: "Shatner, Shatner, Shatner, nope, he's not in it, we're safe."
(during the movie)
REPORTER: "Cal, remember me back out on the West Coast."
CROW: "I'm the wormy one!"
CAL MEACHAM: "I borrowed this plane from the boys over at Lockheed. Hope you taxpayers don't mind.
ALL: "We mind."
CAL MEACHAM: "What do you think of Mr. Mozart, Exeter?"
EXETER: "I'm afraid I don't know the gent. ...My mind must have been wandering. Your composer, of course."
SERVO: "I'm not an alien!"
CAL MEACHAM: "'Our' composer! He belongs to the world."
EXETER: Yes, indeed.
SERVO: "But I'm not an alien!"
EXETER: "Well, you had better get some shuteye. It's a busy day tomorrow."
SERVO: "Then I'll ram my ovipositor down your throat and lay my eggs in your chest. But I'm not an alien!"
(during the ending credits)
TOM SERVO: "Eastman! He came out of the East to battle with the Amazing RANDO!"
CROW: "Come on down to L. Marie Ford. Free hot dogs and balloons for Mom."
CROW: "Puppet wrangler? I didn't see any puppets in this film!"
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