Have a Patrick Swayze Christmas, Chorally Yours

24-Dec-13 9:30 AM by
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Alumni of Mystery Science Theater 3000 rang in the holiday season earlier this month with a live RiffTrax of Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, a film that Cinematic Titanic has also revisited. When MST3K originally spoofed that episode on Dec 21, 1991, it featured a host segment with a very special musical interlude: Joel and the bots wishing viewers to "Have a Patrick Swayze Christmas".

Mr. Swayze is no longer with us, but I think he would smile at the thought of us celebrating the holidays in his memory. MST3K creator Joel Hodgson and the team at Reddit agree and together revisited this holiday staple, arranging it for a mighty chorus. Come and listen to their musical rendition:

Merry Christmas, everyone!

(Hat tip to reddit)

Mystery Science Theater 3000 Turkey Day offerings

27-Nov-13 2:19 PM by
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It is a good time to be a fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000. The television show spent ten years lampooning some of the worst films ever created, and this week, 25 years after the show's debut, the comedy just keeps on coming.

If you didn't catch this show during its decade on the air, or you're missing your favorite episodes, Shout! Factory has you covered. All this month, they've been celebrating the show's 25th anniversary with daily sales on select DVD sets. But why settle for one a day? This Thursday and Friday, ALL previous sales will return simultaneously. Engorge yourself with your favorite box sets at MST3KTurkeyDay.com.

There are still more box sets to come, with the 25th Anniversary Edition having been released just yesterday, and another box set — the show's 29th! — announced as coming next year, containing some of the best episodes ever.

Want to watch MST3K show live like it's 1988? A tradition long gone from our world returns this Thanksgiving, thanks to show founder Joel Hodgson. The MST3K Turkey Day Marathon is back, with six favorite episodes airing starting at noon ET, again at MST3KTurkeyDay.com.

Reruns are great — but what about the future? After MST3K concluded its run, its hosts continued the comedy with two similar troupes: Cinematic Titanic, hosted by Joel Hodgson, and RiffTrax, spearheaded by Michael J. Nelson.

Cinematic Titanic focused on DVDs and live tours and will be concluding their farewell tour next month. I caught them on all three of their visits to Boston, most recently on November 2, when they subjected their audience to a terrible movie, The Doll Squad. Hodgson engaged in Q&A with the audience, but more impressively, he yesterday conducted a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" (AMA). Generations of fans paid tribute and got sincere, thorough answers to their questions about the past, present, and future of Hodgson's comedy exploits.
Meanwhile, RiffTrax continues to publish audio commentary MP3s to accompany your favorite blockbuster films, from Starship Troopers to Twilight. Their next live event is a holiday riffing of Santa Claus Conquers the Martians on December 5 at 8 PM ET. Tickets are now on sale, and these events have been known to sell out, so get yours today!

This holiday season, I am thankful for the talented artists who have brought so much laughter into my home, and the many friends with whom I've shared those experiences. We have movie sign!!

UPDATE (2-Dec-13): Missed the Turkey Day Marathon? Here are all the original host segments featuring show creator Joel Hodgson:

(Hat tip to Annie Lynsen and Annie Lynsen)

Tom Servo's Christmas Concern

24-Dec-10 9:30 AM by
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Happy holidays from Showbits! As is tradition, I would like to celebrate the season in classic, comedic style with the residents of the Satellite of Love. This collection of MST3K performances has three skits, but I've limited it to the most passionate and my favorite:

This is Showbits' fifth annual Christmas greeting from MST3K and harkens back to the first, when the site was less than two weeks young and run by someone who was recently out of a text-based environment and still unsure how to use multimedia.

May our holidays be rich with humor and cheer!

Art Clokey of Gumby, Davey & Goliath, Passes Away

11-Jan-10 3:47 PM by
Filed under Fade to Black; 1 comment.

Art Clokey, creator of the stop-motion clay animation shows Gumby and Davey and Goliath, passed away this Friday. He was 88. The New York Times has the full obituary.

Though Davey and Goliath and its Lutheran values predate my childhood, I was a religious follower of Gumby, making the show a part of my morning ritual. Gumby's friendship with Pokey took them on the most fantastic adventures, though later characters Prickle, Goo, and Denali were sometimes a bit disturbing. Mr. Clokey's obituary taught me things even I didn't know about the character, such as the origin of his design — "Gumby’s asymmetrical head, resembling a rakish pompadour, was a tribute to [Art Clokey's] biological father's prominent cowlick" — and his popularity: more violent cartoons swayed viewers away from Gumby until Eddie Murphy's bawdy interpretation of the character on Saturday Night Live brought the fans back to the original. Who knew that a seemingly disparaging parody could have such a positive effect?

If parody can then be a tribute, then I offer the following MST3K as my contribution to Mr. Clokey's memorial. "Robot Rumpus" was Gumby's third episode, having debuted on The Howdy Doody Show in August 1956:

Have a Patrick Swayze Christmas

24-Dec-09 9:30 AM by
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We are about to close what has been a difficult year for the acting community — not in terms of low box office sales or a lack of acting jobs, but due to the loss of many storied performers. Ed McMahon, Karl Malden, Dom DeLuise, Bea Arthur, Majel Roddenberry are among those who we lost.

As always, we here at Showbits send holiday greetings in a musical style perfected by the inhabitants of the Satellite of Love. I'd like to use that tradition to honor one of the great actors we lost this year, Patrick Swayze:

Turkey Volume Guessing Man!

25-Nov-09 12:00 PM by
Filed under Humor; 4 comments.

Tomorrow is America's Thanksgiving Day, on which we as a nation declare that nothing brings a people together like the communal devouring of a dead animal's burnt flesh. As a vegetarian, I believe there are better ways to use 46 million birds this holiday season. If we must exploit the animal, why not use turkeys' mathematical properties to address such burning scientific issues as these?

Happy American Thanksgiving, everyone!

To Die a Funny Death

21-Oct-09 4:35 PM by
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I don't particularly care for horror films, as they often call for something disturbing to happen to a protagonist I'm supposed to care about. What sort of sadism would lead somebody to enjoy such a film?

Science has the answer. According to a recent article, "Horror film gene that makes some scream while others laugh", it's a matter of brain chemistry. The COMT gene weakens our ability to control our emotions: the more copies of the gene you have, the less your restraint, and the more affected you are by unpleasant pictures. In the study, participants with just one COMT gene (which is about half the population) "were able to keep their emotions in check far more readily", while just one COMT gene predisposed viewers to be "significantly more startled by frightening images than others."

The article doesn't live up to its headline before closing by saying other variables influence the situation — which seems obvious to me, and not on a neurochemical level. The horror genre features ample entrails and other viscera, and some moviemakers mistakenly use this visual device as a substitute for plot, tension, character development, and depth. As a result, we're presented with elementary storytelling awash in senseless violence, all masquerading as a horror film. For some people, likely reactions to such cinematic sludge are boredom or nausea; for others, it's laughter. The film may not have been designed to be a comedy, but it inadvertently is, and we can't help but derisively observe by how far the filmmakers missed their target.

Need proof? The Internet Movie Database classifies Manos: The Hands of Fate as horror. This representative of the genre is #9 on the IMDb's Worst 100 Films, voted there as a result of its popularity from being featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000. Anyone who's ever seen Manos knows there's nothing to fear here.

Good comedy is hard to do; so is good horror. A failure at one can result in a success at the other — so long as you have the genes to appreciate it.

So Bad It's Worse

MST3K on iTunes

10-Jan-09 11:40 PM by
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A boon previously alluded to by Joel Hodgson, creator of cult comedy series Mystery Science Theater 3000, has come to pass: episodes of MST3K are now available for online purchase and viewing from iTunes. The selection consists of the same four episodes recently released in the 20th anniversary box set (link opens in iTunes). They're listed as movies, not TV shows, and are priced accordingly: $9.99 each, no rental option, with a running time of about 90 minutes and filesize of roughly one gigabyte. A single trailer promotes all four films and is an edited version of the promotion for the original tin:

MST3K: The Movie, which was re-released to DVD in 2008, is not (yet?) available via iTunes.

(Hat tip to Satellite News)