Like Being on the Satellite of Love

If you did not get the Mystery Science Theater 3000 reference in the title, then this probably is not the post for you.1 You can move on. It’s OK, really.

I happen to love the show. Notice that I used the present tense in that last sentence. Yes, I am aware of the fact that the show has been off the air for years. Helllooooo…internet! Earlier this year I started watching episodes of MST3K on Amazon. Then I found a
website with links to just about every episode of the show.

I spent a good couple of weeks with the bots on in the background no matter what I was doing.
2 I still put on an episode whenever I am creatively blocked or feeling a little down. Even the ones that I have seen before3 still make me laugh.

You can imagine my excitement when I found out that the boys over at
Riff Trax were doing a live show for the Halloween season and would be riffing on The Night Of The Living Dead4 Unfortunately, said live show was being done in Tennessee or someplace like that. Fortunately, they would be broadcasting the show live to theaters around the country.

Lucky me, there were three in the area.
5

Naturally I hit the road, then the ticket window, then the concession stand (ouch), and took my seat. The crowd was primarily made up of twenty-something males, as one would expect for the comedic event in question. I did notice a smattering of couples and extended groups which appeared to be families (twenty-somethings with their parents and siblings). There were no small children.
6

The person sitting behind me described to his friend quite aptly:

“This has got to be the geekiest group of people ever.”
7

The benefit of going to something like this, by which I mean a specialty showing of a film attended by like minded individuals, is that people are actually there to see the movie.
8 Unlike standard regularly released films which people go as a form of entertainment, showings like this one take on a special nature. As such one does not have to be bothered by people talking on phones or to their neighbors, people not paying attention to the movie itself, people getting up and wandering around, talking back at the screen when it is not appropriate, etc. When the audience is there because they appreciate what they are watching, instead of just being their for a little escapist entertainment, there is a distinct lack of people doing annoying, stupid things.9

The fun started before the movie did with some entertaining, Halloween themed, Rifftastic promo cards. You know those annoying bits of advertising and easy movie trivia they show before the previews? Those were replaced by quotes from the RiffTrax folks. My favorite was probably “Um, actually Frankestein is the name of the doctor…” The Monster,
Frankenstien. There were also a number of last minute costume idea suggestions like “Viewer of Paranormal Activity” (just pretend to be asleep) and “Guy Who Thinks Starship Troopers is a Brilliant Example of Satire” (aka the guy who gets thrown out of every party).

Before the movie started Michael J Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett did a little skit amongst themselves and riffed on a short film. Throughout this portion we in the theaters were able to see them on the stage and their live audience. When they turned to
Night of the Living Dead, the time was divided between a split screen where you could see the performers (stacked one on top of the other Brady Bunch style) and the movie and just the movie with the comments of Nelson, Murphy, and Corbett.

The experience was extremely entertaining. The running gag about the film actually being a documentary on poor carpentry practices was funny. I had never noticed the annoying crickets before, but I am sure that I will never watch TNOTLD without noticing them. There were a ton of very funny comments. All in all it was like sitting and watching MST3K with a roomful of your closest friends.

A really big room.





1 In fact, I’m rather surprised that you are reading this at all. I would have guessed that the Venn Diagram of people who read this website and people who enjoy MST3K would be pretty much two overlapping circles. Who knew?

2 Much to the annoyance of The Mrs who does not care for the program. She would rather be watching something from the Hallmark Channel. Opposites attract and all that.

3 Most of them.

4 Which you may remember from
my list of films which I recommend watching to get one into the Halloween spirit.

5 Once again, “the area” is a variable distance. To properly compute it, one must factor in the cool factor of the event, my desire to participate in said event, the actual distance to the event, the type of roads between the Dragon’s Roost and the event, and sometimes my mood on that particular day. In this case the theater I chose was the AMC Forum 30 in Utica, about 30 (all freeway) miles from my house. Easy peasy.

6 Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah…

7 Obviously this was not the geekiest group of people I have ever been in. Keep in mind the number of horror, sci-fi, and comic book conventions I attend annually. Still, the first advertisement was for a video game review website. I’m sure that they were hitting their prime target audience.

8 I’ve seen this a lot. Whether it is a classic at the
Redford Theatre, a midnight showing of a horror film, or a special showing of one of the Evil Dead movies with commentary by Bruce Campbell, when people get together to watch something they love, they actually sit down and watch something they love.

9 There is also a reduced chance of me flying into a rage and beating someone to death with an overpriced, oversized soft drink, so…bonus.