How Mike and Joel Saved Christmas: The Top 9 Holiday Riffs

December 13th, 2012 Posted by Gavok

It’s the Christmas season and amongst all the joy and laughter comes the utter strangeness that is the Christmas concept. Whether you’re talking about Jesus or Santa or whoever else, the whole season is a cultural mixing bowl of strange pop culture. That makes it all too fun to laugh at.

Throughout its many decades, Mystery Science Theater 3000 and its many spinoffs have given us much to celebrate. So many bad movies have been pointed at and made to look even more foolish. Like all good TV shows, there would be the occasional Christmas episode. These Christmas-themed riffs are always fondly remembered by the fans and tend to be revisited every December.

But what’s the best? I’ve decided to rewatch all of them and rank them based on my own fair and just rating system pulled directly out of my ass. I’m covering all corners of the Riffverse for this: Mystery Science Theater 3000, Mike Nelson’s offshoot Rifftrax and Joel Hodgson’s Cinematic Titanic. I wish I could have included the Film Crew – the other offshoot created by the Rifftrax guys – but with only four episodes, nothing really fit with the season.

I’m also disqualifying any of the Rifftrax shorts releases as individual entries. Everything on the list has to be at a minimum of 20 minutes. As for the ratings, each entry will be graded on four things:

– WTF Factor: Sometimes the best fodder come from movies that are just so strange that you have just as much fun explaining them to others as you do watching them.

– Watchability: I enjoy a good bad movie, but sometimes a bad bad movie can be a bear to sit through no matter how funny the jokes are.

– Riff Quality and Extras: The movie may be a mess, but how funny are our guys giving it the business? Not to mention the stuff that isn’t part of the movie itself, like skits and such.

– Christmasness: You’re watching this because of Christmas, right? Well, how much does it really have to do with Christmas?

I wanted to go with a top 10 list here by including Space Mutiny to round it all out, but I decided against it. It didn’t feel right that it would rank so highly when the only reason it’s on the list is because one of the supporting characters looks a bit like Santa Claus. So let’s get going with the Top 9 Best Christmas Riffs!


Rifftrax (2006)
Mike Nelson

Rankin/Bass, the people behind such holiday classics as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and A Year Without Santa Claus, go in a more biblical direction by telling the story of Nestor, a donkey born with exceptionally long-ears. These ears end up getting him in trouble and make him the laughing stock of the animal kingdom. After the death of his mother, he’s greeted by a cherub who gives him an important mission to find Joseph and Mary, as he will be instrumental in the survival of their baby.

– WTF Factor: There’s an awkwardness to the special based on the desperation to reinvent the wheel on Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. The basic concept is incredibly similar, only it has none of the charm and fun that makes Rudolph such a holiday staple. There’s not much else to mention other than the truly bizarre ending. In the beginning, Nestor and his mother are taken care of by a really abusive donkey breeder named Olaf, who angrily throws them out into the cold, where Nestor’s mother dies. After Nestor’s journey to Bethlehem, the story ends with him returning home and all the animals – AND OLAF – are all happy to greet him, like they somehow heard news of Jesus being born over Twitter or something. 4

“All those of you who rubbed raw my soul with your bitter mocking laughter: THANK YOU! You truly are my friends!”

– Watchability: Despite being 25 minutes long, Nestor is rough to get through. Like I said, it’s Rudolph with none of the charm. Remember the beginning of Rudolph when the other reindeer make fun of him for his nose? Imagine that for about twenty minutes straight. Mix that with Nestor’s mother’s death and the whole thing is teeming with depression. Even worse is the soundtrack, made up of the same forgetful song played again and again with different lyrics. It isn’t even weird enough to be enjoyable. But hey, at least it’s short. 2

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Mystery Science Theater Beatdown: The Greatest Video Game to Never Exist

April 13th, 2012 Posted by Gavok

I love fighting games. I also love Mystery Science Theater 3000. Never have I really considered the idea of mixing the two.

A guy by the name of FutureDami decided that not only should such a thing exist, but he went the extra mile with it by making a gallery of “official” profile art for such a hypothetical video game. Rather than go with the obvious of Mike, Joel, the Bots and the Mads, FutureDami instead goes with the many, many bizarre characters our heroes have been forced to watch over the show’s ten seasons. Behold the world of Mystery Science Theater Beatdown!

Yes, who needs playable Mike and Joel when you have Trumpy, Torgo, the Phantom of Krankor, the Hobgoblins, the Beast of Yucca Flats and Mr. B Natural?

Each character piece also features a profile, including how they would fight had this game existed. Check it out. It’s a great who’s who/love letter.

PUMAMAN (Episode 903)

Professor Tony Farms could have gone his entire life without knowing he was THE PUMAMAN. Yes, he could sense danger. Sure, he could see in the dark. And he was vaguely aware that his hands were steel claws, after a series of broken nail-clippers and inexplicably ruined sofas.

But it was only when Tony was hurled out a window by Aztec priest Vidinio that he truly embraced his inner puma, making him technically some sort of 70s proto furry.

Pumaman is an aerial attacker, using the natural flying abilities of the puma(?) and feline grace to flail around and fall at a 45 degree angle. Most of his attacks involve him losing control of his pitch/yaw, crying and giving up, and simply slamming into his opponent with the force of a discarded dishrag.

PITCH (Episode 521)

Pitch is a part time devil working for Lucifer. After a brief stint lowering the productivity of bread delivery drivers, Pitch settled in to a decent routine of minor harassment. Working odd jobs for eternity in hell has given pitch a wide array or marginally useful skills.

In combat, Pitch is quite versatile, able to switch the position of his asbestos-tipped trident for various styles of fighting. He has three stances:

“Infernal” a fire based magical stance where Pitch uses his sulphurous combustion breath.

“Impenetrable” a guarded stance in which Pitch torments his opponents witch cheap ranged stabs and stuns.

“Ineffable” a forbidden hubris-based style that is inherently too overpowered, complex, and abstract to be adequately communicated.

DROPPO (Episode 321)

Droppo is lazy. I mean seriously lazy. The guy is such a bum, he can waste other people’s time simply from being in the same room. He is probably the laziest man on Mars. If there was a Martian DMV, he would work there. Part time.

He is equipped with pulse-phase anti-gravity boots, and a deadly q-ray pistol, but Droppo can hardly be assed to use them.

What, do you ask, is his advantage in combat? This: You can’t beat a guy who doesn’t give a crap. There is at this date, no known way to defeat Droppo.

NASTINKA (Episode 813)

Knowing his time was nearly at an end, the jovial Jack Frost adbicated his frozen throne and dominion over ice to pert young Nastinka.

She was, after all, the only person ever to recover from the bone chilling effect of his magic scepter. This weapon was susequently reclassified: “Will freeze to death anything it touches save for a few rare exceptions when true love and plot convenience is involved. Use as directed.”

Nastinka does not have a large health pool, and will shatter with a few punches. Good luck ever getting close enough to her, though. She will call down ferocious aoe snowstorms slowing opponents, and will slick the ground wherever she walks for several seconds causing enemies to slip and fall in a comedic manner.

She will smile in a pleasant innocent manner while you are entombed in a bitter cold casket, and wait patiently while all the blood in your veins turns to ice. Do not mess with Nastinka.

ZAP ROWSDOWER (Episode 910)

No description needed. Its ROWSDOWER.

(Drinking arm status: healed)

Awesome. Absolutely awesome.

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