Cinematic Titanic hit the road earlier this year and took their show to theaters across the country. I nearly got a chance to take one in at the Somerville Theater just outside of Boston but was furious when I went to buy tickets and found out that ticket pricing was on par with buying a Cadillac Escalade. Complaints about the ridiculously high price of seating at the CT forums wasn’t received particularly well as I discovered that many of the nerds who whore those boards were not just seeing the show in their local theaters, they were following the troupe around like they were The Dead or something. So this new release from the Cinematic Titanic crew, East Meets Watts, at least gives you a look at the live show from the comfort of your own home where you’re free to carry out your old MST3K rituals in relative privacy. East Meets Watts is a sort of Cinematic Titanic live album. It’s not clear where the show is being recorded but I’d like to see more of these live shows on disc. A lot more, actually.
The film, like you care, is a mashup of popular exploitation themes from the time. It’s half martial arts movie, half blaxploitation and I’m at a loss to explain it. Larry Chin jumps ship in San Francisco looking for his brother and on his way to Los Angeles, he winds up handcuffed to street tough brother, Stud Brown. They become fast friends, do a lot of walking, running and hopping into the beds of moving trucks and at some point Larry finds his brother and tangles with a dirty cop who has a disproportionately hot wife and a gang of thugs whose leader rides a cheap motorcycle. It’s an Al Adamson flick, if that means anything to you (it does to me) and it’s a real piece of garbage packed with suspiciously vacant sets and a scene where Stud Brown woos his mute girly subject with an impromptu song that is nothing short of squirmworthy.
This is a first for Cinematic Titanic and hopefully the beginning of a new format because, quite frankly, this live presentation is a much more functional version of the show. Gone, for this release, is the silhouette which runs along the sides of the screen, replaced by the actual lit faces of the crew whose riffs, in the live arena, have a new kind of energy to them that seems much more vital and lively than the recorded studio versions. Player reactions to the funny riffs are left intact and even the few flubbed lines from Joel, Frank and Mary Jo are funny enough to fit in with the overall vision. It has a great rhythm and among the available Cinematic Titanic releases, this is easily the funniest. What we have here is something akin to MSTie classics like The Amazing Colossal Man and Manos The Hands of Fate. Previous CT releases have warranted laughs but not one of them has had me wiping tears from my eyes as East Meets Watts did. It’s such a dog and the material is easy riffing for Trace, Joel and company. The movie’s jokes write themselves and the gang spares no opportunity.
In summary, were the Cinematic Titanic crew to replace the existing format of the silhouette with the interim breaktime gags with this live presentation, it would elevate the overall quality of the product. East Meets Watts is extremely funny from start to finish, the best of the bunch, by far. Cinematic Titanic, please, please, please release more live riffing! If you promise to do this, I will stop publicly bitching about your ticket prices.