Monday, May 12, 2008

My Oozing Skull: Reviewing the Snarkers

Seems like the crew from MST3K has split into two camps - the Joel Hodgson contingent and the Mike Nelson, um, 3-hand pinochle game. Both have independently produced independent DVD releases of snarked-over bad movies in the old Mystery Science Theater 3000 TV show mold, only with fewer cute robots and more adult words.

Mike Nelson's pinochle buddies, working as The Film Crew, produced four (ish) DVDs last year that held to the formula of finding old, bad movies, now in the public domain, and recording on top of the original soundtrack the funny thoughts that we would all say if we were a lot faster on our feet.

This year, the Joel Hodgson contingent, five strong, but late to the DVD idea (and late to the next idea as I'll explain later), presented Cinematic Titanic: same idea, different voices, also with alumni from MST3K.

For those of you who are still reading after that scintillating gob of exposition, I am here to exact judgment. First, a little more about the contenders.

Killers From Space, offered by Mike Nelson's Film Crew (2007): A good choice of bad movies. Completely lacking competent editing, acting, or dialogue. Oh, and featuring giant insects (in a cameo role) and bad costumes. The comments started slowly, but warmed up to some funny running gags ("Mittens!"), possible new product ideas ("Action Bathrobe!"), and a silly montage of the director's penchant for unnecessary close-ups.

The Oozing Skull, recently released by Joel Hodgson's Cinematic Titanic (2008): The title is hard to beat. And although there was plenty of circa-1972 gore, I'm not sure I caught an oozing skull, although I did notice a latex bald-head cap oozing the owner's hair, and although I have to admit, during the initial screening, I dozed off a little. Yes, "initial screening." To be fair, I tried it again a few days later. I'm not sure why I felt obliged to be fair. Nevertheless, on second viewing, I found the movie to be awful in the most delicious way, however I can't say that the comments kept up with the awfulness. In fact, I was compelled to start scribbling my own comments, since the Captain avoids these bad movie nights like grass during hay fever season, so I had no one to vent to.

For instance, one annoyance that went unnoticed by the Cinematic Titanic bunch: what was it about the late 60's and early 70's that made it okay for women to wear fake eyelashes that looked like black poodles pasted on their eyelids? In what world is that considered a beauty asset? But I digress.

Lastly, the "humorous" intermissions were not. And I don't mean that as a curmudgeon, I mean that as a human.

The envelope please...I choose...The Film Crew.

Which is a pity because they are no more. Which is not really a pity because they have moved on to producing funny tracks for currently popular movies (such as I Am Legend, Cloverfield and Point Break) under the name RiffTrax. Since copyright laws do not allow them to record voice overs directly onto these movies, they sell mp3s for download, which you are able (with their free software) to sync up to the DVDs that you own or rent. Better explained here. Brilliant, no?

But then, I was always partial to Mike Nelson.


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