Mystery Science Theatre 3000 (known to fans, and fans of initials, as MST3K) is a much-mourned TV show that was the scourge of bad SF movies the world over. After its cancellation in 1999, latter-season host Michael Nelson and other MST3K staff writers founded RiffTrax, a web-based riff-generating machine, where customers can download audio tracks to go with their (least) favorite recent movies, as well as full downloads of a truly staggering collection of public-domain shorts that together paint a picture of our horrifyingly upbeat and brainwashing national past. (That’s a story for a different column.)
The problem with downloads is that watching an MST3K episode alone is never as funny as watching it with friends. RiffTrax must know it, too, because Nelson, Kevin Murphy (voice of Tom Servo), and Bill Corbett (latter-season voice of Crow), are bringing a live RiffTrax to the big screen this summer.
On August 20, the terrible trio will be riffing Plan 9 From Outer Space (YES!) live from Nashville, Tennessee. It will be simulcast to movie theatres across the United States. (Thanks to opera for starting that trend! SF nerds will take it from here.) Once you’ve calmed down from your fannish high, you can search for participating theatres and to purchase tickets.
No matter which host was your favorite (and it’s a fight of West Side Story proportions), a chance to see a riff for the first time ten years after the show was cancelled hints that the online fandom is alive and well, but in reality, it means only one thing: Mike Nelson got all eight thousand of my fan letters, and he listened.
Below, one of the most chilling of the classic MST3K shorts, in which you are instructed how to eat dinner with your family. Hint: never open your mouth.