Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Mystery Science Warfare 2008

About a year ago, former Mystery Science Theater 3000 head writer and host (seasons 4-10) Mike Nelson had the bright idea to research intellectual property law regarding DVD movie commentary. As it turned out, commentary on any particular movie was in no way legally bound to the movie itself. One could theoretically sell one's own recorded commentary on "Star Wars," for instance, without incurring legal wrath from Lucasfilm LTD.

What makes your commentary worth purchasing? I don't know, but when MST3K's Mike Nelson sells his commentaries at Rifftrax.com for a couple bucks apiece, he's selling comedic skills honed by years of movie mocking. And when you're frequently joined by other MST alum like Kevin Murphy (Tom Servo, seasons 2-10) and Bill Corbett (Crow, seasons 8-10) the value is oh so much sweeter.



Nelson also had the good sense to create these commentaries for recent releases, so that recent ridiculous Hollywood absurdities and banalities like Daredevil and The Matrix Revolutions, b-grade shlock on a-grade budgets, can finally receive the MST treatment. Even modern bad movie classics of recent years are in the catalogue, like Battlefield Earth and Batman & Robin.

More recently, Nelson, Murphy and Corbett even turned their attentions back to vintage bad movies, buying up the rights to forgotten turds and releasing their commentaries with the DVDs in stores.

Now I see Joel Hodgson, the creator of MST3K and host of the first 4 seasons has gotten in on the act with Cinematic Titanic, a far less attractively titled and web-designed enterprise. But wait! What's this! He's ALSO got MST3K alumni on his movie-riffing team: Trace Bealieu, the original Crow, writer and cast member Mary Jo Pehl, writer and cast member Frank Coniff, and gadzooks - even Josh Weinstein, writer and cast member for ONE SEASON and indisputably the least popular of all MST3K alum. They even mocked him on the show once, seasons later on some Gamera episode.

I can only assume Joel saw what a clever post-MST3K continuation Mike had come up with and got nostalgic and bitter all at once. No one owns the idea of making fun of movies, but if someone had to, it'd be Joel.

Cinematic Titanic may only be focusing upon older bad movies, which would be limiting. Nelson has already beat him to the punch, at his own game. Fans will buy both, of course, but a new chapter has unexpectedly opened up in the old parlor game rivalry amongst MiSTies:

Mike or Joel. Who's better?

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