Dir: Jim Mallon, USA, 73mins, 1996
Cast: Trace Beaulieu, Michael J. Nelson, Jim Mallon
Review by James Arthur Armstrong
Mike Nelson and his robot companies watch and give us their humorous opinions on the B-Movie, This Island Earth. The evil scientist, Dr. Clayton Forrester, has created an evil scheme that he believes will help him succeed in his quest for world domination, but first he plans on tormenting Mike Nelson and his robot friends. He makes them sit through a stinker of a film, a film he believes will drive them to insanity.
For people who aren’t aware of Mystery Science Theater 3000, it was an American cult comedy television series created by Joel Hodgson that ran from 1988 to 1999. The television series focused on a man, Mike Nelson, and his sidekick robot buddies, Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot. On a weekly basis they were forced by evil scientist Dr. Clayton Forrester to watch shockingly bad B-Movies. To stay sane, Nelson and his robot buddies provide running commentary during the film, making fun of its flaws and wise cracking, or riffing as it is known as. This style of comedy is now commonly known as movie theater peanut gallery. During it’s eleven year existence, Mystery Science Theater 3000 gained critical acclaim, as well as a phenomenal cult following, produced 198 episodes and received two Emmy Award nominations.
Mystery Science Theater 3000 was ahead of it’s time. It brought a fresh approach to underground cable comedy in the United States. Since the dawn of the DVD, we are now accustomed to having the option of listening to more serious and insightful commentary from the director, producer, editor, or actor. Mystery Science Theater 3000 created a genre of comedy based of a simple concept years before the DVD was even thought about. This simple concept has always existed ever since the existence of cinema. We are all guilty of picking flaws when watching what we believe to be awful films. We can’t help it, it’s in our nature. The enjoyable aspect behind Mystery Science Theater 3000 is it picks out flaws but doesn’t crucify the film, it’s not a malicious attack. You can still enjoy the gobbledygook of the film in question just as much as the riffing.
In 1996, in the height of it’s popularity, Jim Mallon produced and directed this movie spin off. The theatrical release kept the same format as the television series and was released to cult success. Although, genuine sci-fi fans were a little disheartened that Mallon chose This Island Earth as the subject of Mike Nelson and his robots pals riffing material. Those sci-fi fans believe This Island Earth is a legitimate sci-fi classic, but it didn’t stop the encouragement of the long time Mystery Science Theater fans. This is a unique film that should be given a go by any film fan. It won’t be to everyones taste, but a whole heap of fun can be had with it and you’ll find yourself joining in with your own wise cracks.