I have a lot of fond memories surrounding Mystery Science Theater 3000. By the time that I caught up to it, it was airing nightly at midnight on Comedy Central, which seems only appropriate since the entire affair had that sort of vibe going on. They really communicated the psychotronic concept and the lunacy on display in any given episode was what you would expect from a midnight movie. The idea was so fresh and entertaining, too. Elvira and Joe Bob Briggs had made entire careers out of bagging on awful movies but none so robust as the Best Brains gang. So it was with a heavy heart that I watched the show slowly come to a halt in its latter days on Sci-Fi, a network that didn’t really seem to get it. The impression that I was left with was that the people in charge of the show at Sci-Fi were the kind of people who didn’t get the joke. “How am I supposed to hear what’s going with these guys cracking wise over the soundtrack and what’s more, they’re blocking the lower part of the screen! This is absurd! Shuffle them around the schedule until the fans go away and we can legitimately stop paying for this nonsense. We need money for more episodes of Stargate!”
Thankfully, this wasn’t the end. Joel Hodgson (Joel) and Trace Beaulieu (Dr. Forrester) went on to be a part of the brilliant and horribly misunderstood show, Freaks and Geeks, which was tragically cancelled after one season while Mike Nelson (Mike), Bill Corbet (Crow) and Kevin Murphy (Tom Servo) went on to become Rifftrax/The Film Crew. While I have no experience with The Film Crew, Rifftrax is pretty funny, utilizing the same MST3K idea of bagging on bad movies but through the use of a synced up MP3. Cinematic Titanic, on the other hand, is the real deal. Those who long for the days of late night bong rips, funny riffs and really awful movies could probably put this latest release on and smell the resin after all these years.
I don’t know who thought Legacy of Blood would be a good idea but they should probably be shot in the streets for making such an awful and weird movie. The plot plays out like any given V.C. Andrews novel. A nasty old-money family gathers at the old house to hear their late father’s last will and testament. They’re all more or less a bunch of animals that hate each others’ guts. The agreement is that they get their duckets if they spend the night in the old house which everyone reluctantly agrees to. At this time, everybody starts getting killed off. Dark family secrets involving incest are aired and a dude gets his face eaten off by fish. It all leads up to a preposterous and extremely predictable ending that all but fellates itself for being what it considers to be so clever.
But you’re not here for the movie, are you? Of course not. This movie would be completely unwatchable bullshit if it weren’t for the Cinematic Titanic crew riffing on its every flaw.
Let me take a second to familiarize those unfamliar with the format. It has been quite some time since MST3K went away so it wouldn’t surprise me if a lot of people had no idea what I was talking about. Mystery Science Theater 3000 put Joel (later replaced by Mike) on a satellite forced by mad scientist, Dr. Forrester and his sidekick TV’s Frank (previously occupied by Dr. Erhardt) to watch fucking terrible movies. To ease the pain, Joel built some robots to chill with, Crow and Tom Servo, and together they would be seated in silhouette at the bottom of the screen and would rag on the movie as it played. It was brilliant. Occasionally they broke up the action to sing a song or do some scripted bit as an intermission to break up the action. Cinematic Titanic follows this idea but rather than seat the cast at the bottom, they surround the picture on the sides, apparently volunteers of some shady research project. They do the MST3K gag the whole time and occasionally the movie stops to accomodate some kind of intermission gag such Josh chewing gum in the viewing room (not allowed) and a gameshow where the contestants have to guess which one of three items won’t kill them.
Does it work? Is it just like it used to be? Does it seem tired and played out? Yes, yes and hell no, not in the least. Since MST3K, the cult has been creating its own rifftrax and sharing them on the intertrons but they’re never very funny. You can see some of them in action on Youtube, if you dare. These, however, are the masters of the joke. They’re practiced comedians and they’ve been working together for years. Their chemistry is tweaked to perfection. I saw the first trailer for the The Oozing Skull, CT’s first feature and it left me feeling a little spooked. The jokes seemed forced and the way the crew sits over the movie actually seemed intrusive but my experience with Legacy of Blood left me at ease. It’s extremely funny, everyone plays off of each other’s gags and the new and improved formula is never quiet. MST3K, particularly in it’s first couple of seasons was plagued by long silences due to bad improv and a fast production schedule. There is none of that here. This is MST3K perfected, complete with familiar rhythm and style. You could probably dig out that old Deep 13 drinking game you printed out back when people actually printed out websites and play along until you’re passed out and your friends are drawing dicks on you in your sleep.
Head on over to Cinematic Titanic’s website and buy yourself a copy of this. Your old Mistie friends will thank you later.