My Favorite MST3k Episodes

If there are two shows I have loved unconditionally over the past twenty-five years, they are Saturday Night Live and Mystery Science Theater 3000.  Those two have always been my favorites- my mainstream favorite and then my not-so-mainstream favorite.  I can't even begin to tell you how many people I have introduced to MST3k over the years.
In honor of the show that I consider one of the smartest, funniest things ever seen on TV (as well as one of the biggest overall influences on the Funny 115), here are my all time favorite Mystery Science Theater episodes.
Disclaimer #1:   You'll notice that I only mention the movie in my writeups.  I don't mention the host segments or any of the shorts that might come the start of the episode.  The reason for this is that I only really care about the movie riffing.  In fact, when I first started taping this show on my VCR back in the early 90's, I figured out that if you cut out all the commercials and all the host segments, you could fit five whole episodes on one tape.  So that's what I used to do, because I was a poor college students and because tapes were expensive.  So when I don't mention the host segments in my writeups, there's a good reason for that.  In a lot of these episodes, I've never even SEEN the host segments.  All of them were edited out of my VHS tapes back in the day.  Maybe one day I'll do a countdown of my favorite host segments or my favorite shorts, but that would have to be a different countdown.  Although I should point out I do love a lot of the shorts, by the way.
Disclaimer #2:  In general I am a much bigger Mike era fan than a Joel era fan.  I know that everyone has an opinion about this so I won't linger on this subject too much.  But in general I think the Joel era was innocent and fun (at least up until Mitchell), and the Mike era was just blunter and meaner.  And also, in the words of my brother in law Andrew, "In the Mike era they tended to make fun of the process of making the movie, as opposed to just throwing out random pop culture references."  I find that Mike era episodes are much better when you want to introduce somebody new to the show.  Hence my countdown is pretty heavy on Mike stuff over Joel stuff.  I still like Joel though, it's really more just the style and the era.

Disclaimer #3:  At the time of me writing this, I haven't seen any of the new Netflix MST3k episodes yet.  So this countdown is only seasons one through ten.  One day I will update it with all of the new episodes, I promise.  It just might be a while.

Mario's Top 50 Mystery Science Theater Episodes

50. Time of the Apes (1974) - Season 3, episode 306

"Doesn't anybody have peripheral vision in this movie?"

Plot:  A Japanese lady and two kids go into a cryosleep and wake up in a future world run by talking apes.  
Famous for:  The (gasp) fact that (gasp) the actors (gasp) like to (gasp) gasp before (gasp) saying their lines.  It (gasp) becomes (gasp) quite the running joke (gasp) throughout the movie (gasp) because every character (gasp) is constantly surprised by everything.

My favorite riff:   Pretty much any line about the monkeys crapping in their hands and flinging it at people.  

"Uh, I'd wash that hand if I were you. That's my throwin' hand."

"That's John Wesley Ape. He once flung crap at a man just for snorin' too loud."

'They're going to give him a twenty-one turd salute."

Comments:  Time of the Apes will always hold a place in my heart because it was the very first MST3k episode I ever had on tape.  I first taped it off Comedy Central back in the summer of 1992, and I brought it back to college with me to show all my friends this wonderfully new weird and funny show I had discovered over the summer called "Mystery Science Theater 3000."  So this was the episode that I used to introduce countless new people to MST3k over the years.  In fact, I will always remember "Time of the Apes" as the litmus test I used to determine if people I knew were actually funny or not.  If a person watched this episode and loved it like I did, I knew they had the certain type of humor that would fit in well with my life.  If they thought it was dumb and they didn't like it, I quickly cut them out of my life.  I know it's an arbitrary and weird way to pick your friends, but hey I was an eighteen year old dorky MST3k fan.  It was all that I had.

Of course, after I spent months obsessing over Time of the Apes, I finally taped my second MST3k episode ("Gamera vs Gaos"), and that one sucked.  And then I was like man, I hope that Time of the Apes wasn't actually a fluke.  Maybe this show isn't really all that amazing.  But I stuck with it.  And I eventually found other episodes that I liked.  And pretty soon Time of the Apes wasn't really in my top ten (or even top twenty) anymore.  To this day I know lots of other episodes that I now think are funnier.  But again, it was my first, and you will always stay in love in some way with your first.  And come on, it has jokes about monkeys throwing shit at people.  Who doesn't love that?

"Shock the monkey!"

Other personal favorite things about this episode:  
Pay attention to the way Japanese directors like to ZOOM IN on a character's face several times during each scene.  And watch for the random jump cuts they like to throw in for no apparent reason.  At one point, after several random unnecessary violent zoom-in shots in a row, Joel quips, "Wow, suddenly the film editor goes for an Oscar!"

Trivia:  Time of the Apes was originally a 26-episode Japanese television series titled Saru no Gundan ("Army of Apes").  The American distributor edited all 26 episodes down into a single two hour movie ("Time of the Apes"), and if you're wondering why the movie makes no sense and has a ton of plot holes, that's why.  Just remember these are just the highlights of a 26-episode weekly series.  

"I don't care!"

49. The Human Duplicators (1964) - Season 4, episode 420

"Richard Kiel's got a butt collection!"

Plot:  A big giant alien comes down to Earth and starts making clones of people
Famous for:  Joel and the Bots mercilessly making fun of Richard Kiel's monotone speaking voice

"Excuse me, where is the little giants room?"

My favorite riff:   Hugh Beaumont from Leave it to Beaver is in this movie, and there's a scene in the middle where he is angrily yelling at somebody over the phone.  Crow, of course, busts out a great Leave it to Beaver reference with:

"The boys did WHAT?  They duplicated LUMPY?!?"

Comments:  I have always loved Richard Kiel as an actor, ever since he played the hitman Jaws in the James Bond movies when I was a kid.  So it was a treat to see him show up and have an actual speaking part in this random science fiction movie from 1964.

Annnnnnnnnnnd then, he started talking in that monotone voice of his.  And then he started tailing off every line like it was supposed to end in an ellipsis.  And then Joel and the Bots started mimicking every line that he spoke.  And I swear, the first time I saw it, it was one of the funniest things I had ever seen on TV.  All they do is mock his voice and his way of speaking for ninety straight minutes.  No wonder Kiel didn't have a lot of speaking roles other than this one.  They just absolutely murder him for the whole episode.

Kiel:  I am Kolos...
Crow:  And diet Kolos...

"This is Beverly Hills Cop.  Only the slow, white version."

Other personal favorite things about this episode:  There's a character in the movie called "Professor Von Dornheimer."  Every single time a character mentions his name, Joel and the Bots start giggling.  It's a subtle joke you have to listen for in the background, but it's awesome.  Also, you can never go wrong with jokes about a blind girl.

"Oh, she's blind.  Well that explains the decorating."

48. Pod People (1983) - Season 3, episode 303
"Trumpy! You can do stupid things!"

Plot:  A group of aliens come down to Earth and start murdering people, only one of them makes friends with a kid along the way
Famous for:  The insane scene in the middle where Trumpy does magic things and starts making the kid's toys move around

My favorite riff:   Just go to Youtube and watch the scene where
Trumpy makes the kid's toys dance around.  It starts at around 59:00 and it is one of the funniest scenes in MST3k history.  Just pick any riff from that scene.

"What, did he come from Planet Goofball?  Did he come here in a little clown car?"

Comments:  Pod People is universally considered one of the funniest episodes of Mystery Science Theater, but I have never loved it as much as most people do.  And the reason why is because it is really three movies in one.  There's the story of the kid befriending the alien (which is awesome).  Then there's a side story about a music group traveling around in a Winnebago, which starts strong but is really nothing special after that.  And then there is a third story, about two hunters walking around in the woods, which goes on for WAY too long and is not funny at all, and which takes up WAY too much of the movie.  So as much as I love the kid scenes with Trumpy the alien, the rest of the movie just isn't strong enough to warrant a ranking any higher than this.  There are just huge chunks of the episode with no laughs at all, and if you watch it again you will notice that.  Still, all things being equal, the highs of Pod People are about as high as any early episode of Mystery Science Theater ever got.  And you have to respect that.

"If these guys get any more soul, we'll have to order out for greens."

"Ewwww, I stepped in some Trumpy Dumpy."

"It stinks!"

Other personal favorite things about this episode:  There's an obscure throwaway joke in this episode that always makes me laugh.  At one point in the movie one of the girls picks up a phone, and one of the Bots mimics somebody on the other end saying something in a foreign language like "Homey Akapiside?"  There's no way you would ever get that joke, unless you know that there was a phone commercial out on TV at the time that featured that exact exchange.  There was a commercial for AT&T in the early 90's that claimed that with their new long distance service, you could now reach anyone anywhere in the world.  So they showed a guy on a beach in Fiji picking up a phone and saying "Homey Akapiside?" or something like that to someone calling from America.  That is the exact type of random obscure joke that immediately made me fall in love with MST3k.  Maybe like five people on the face of the earth were ever going to get that joke, but they still went for it.  I love that about them.

Trivia:  Pod People was originally a French-Spanish movie called Los Nuevos Extraterrestres (The New Extraterrestrials).  It was supposed to be a straightforward horror film about an evil alien on a murderous rampage, but the producers demanded script alterations to cash in on the success of the recent movie "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial."  So they inserted a subplot about a child and a cute, lovable alien.  The film was largely forgotten until 1991, when it was lampooned by MST3k and became one of the show's early signature episodes.  

Pod People recently ranked 5th in the "Top 100 MST3k Episodes" poll, as chosen by backers of the Bring Back MST3k Kickstarter.

Tommy:  I'll never forget you, Trumpy.
Tom Servo:  The way you callously knocked off fifteen people.  I'll never forget that.  Don't ever change, Trumpy.


47. The Giant Spider Invasion (1975) - Season 8, episode 810

"I can't believe I let you roll on me!"

Plot:   Meteors crash into rural Wisconsin and unleash a swarm of giant spiders
Famous for:  Lots and lots of Wisconsin and Green Bay Packers jokes

My favorite riff:   The star of this film is a rather greasy, unappealing large sweaty man.  There's a scene towards the beginning of the movie where he walks in a room, and turns on a light switch, and he is revealed in all his lumpy, back-brace and underwear-wearing glory.  And Mike and the Bots all simultaneously go "Ewwwwwwwwww!"

"No, don't turn on the light!"


Then Crow delivers the kicker with his horrified:

"Ewww, he's lactating!"

Comments:  The Giant Spider Invasion is a terrible regional horror movie from the mid 70's.  It was made for cheap by a bunch of local Wisconsinites, in an attempt to kickstart their local film industry, yet as bad as it is you can tell it also has a certain charm about it.  I mean, it looks like the people who made it were all having a blast.  I have also heard that it is a fairly beloved movie around the area where it was filmed.  People from the area still remember the VW Beetle that was disassembled and turned into a giant spider and later used at the end of the movie.  I mean, just look at all the extras that were used in that scene and tell me they weren't having the time of their life.

The Giant Spider Invasion isn't a great movie by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a lot of fun.  And of course you have to love all the redneck and Packers jokes strewn throughout the episode.  Since Mike and the creators of the show are all from Minnesota, and the movie is set in Wisconsin and was made by Wisconsinites, you know the writers were having a field day seeing how many times they could bag on their neighbors from the next state over.  If nothing else, just remember this episode as the one where the writers got to take out all their comedy aggression on Wisconsin.

Other personal favorite things about this episode:  Not only did the producers somehow wrangle Alan Hale (The Skipper from Gilligan's Island) into starring in their movie, they actually introduced his character by having him turn to the camera and call somebody "Little buddy" in his opening scene. And THAT'S how you do it if you want to win over your audience.  Also, as my wife likes to point out, "Man, Alan Hale was a terrible phone actor."

"Well hi, little buddy!"

Also, there's no way to talk about Giant Spider Invasion and not mention the scene where the two lead actors fall down a hill and the male lead literally rolls over and on top of the female lead.  And then it becomes the best running joke in the movie when Mike at the Bots keep referring to it.

"And there goes the last shred of dignity, folks!"

Trivia:  The Giant Spider Invasion is actually one of the best known movies that MST3k has ever riffed.  Despite its low budget and its clunkiness, it received a considerable theatrical run and was actually one of the fifty top-grossing films of 1975.  It is also listed in 'The 100 Most Enjoyably Bad Movies Ever Made' in the book The Official Razzie Movie Guide.  Also, up until November of 2010, the frame from the VW/giant spider hybrid was prominently displayed in Gleason, Wisconsin right next to the Post Office.  At some point after that, it was stolen, and nobody seems to know where it is now.

46. The Day the Earth Froze (1959) - Season 4, episode 422

"Kids come running for the great taste of Sampo!"

Plot:  A witch steals the sun from the small fishing village of Kalevala, and Finnish hero Lemminkainen has to build a horse, construct a Sampo, sail across the sea, retrieve the sun, and defeat Father Wind.  Based on a true story.
Famous for:  Being the first of an endlessly weird string of Russian-Finnish mythology movies

My favorite riff:  I don't really have a favorite line from this movie, it's all so goofy and so weird that I just love the whole thing.  However, if I had to pick one...

[The bag containing the North Wind starts moaning in pain - "D'ohhhhhhhhhhhhh"]
Joel:  It's a bag of Homer Simpson?

Comments:  The Day the Earth Froze is the first Russian-Finnish movie that they ever riffed on MST3k, and boy is it a masterpiece.  It's a weird masterpiece, of course, but compared to some of the other movies they have watched on the show, this movie is practically Citizen Kane.  It's weird, but the production values are high, and all goofiness aside, it is actually pretty good.

By the way, if you have never seen a Russian-Finnish fairy tale before, let me describe them this way:  They will all be set in the snow.  There will be dancing bears.  There will be magic.  They will all be based on some random Scandinavian folk tale you have never heard of before.  The production values will be impressive.  Oh yes, and at some point during the movie, the main character will fly and/or be attacked by a mushroom and/or ride a giant seahorse and fight Neptune.  There is really no way to describe a Russian-Finnish fairy tale except to say "Wow that was beautiful.  But what the fuck did I just watch?"

I really don't know how else I can describe this movie to people who have never seen it before.  Although I can say this:  If you ever wanted to introduce somebody to Mystery Science Theater and you wanted to show them how random and goofy and funny it can be, The Day the Earth Froze would be an excellent beginner episode.  It has a little bit of everything.

"Guys, I wonder what her Myers-Briggs test was like."

Trivia:  "The Day the Earth Froze" was originally released in 1959 under the title "Sampo."  And as weird as it is, it is actually a fairly accurate retelling of the Finnish national epic "Kalevala."  Oh, and in case you are wondering what a "sampo" is, it is simply a magic mill which ensures unending riches for its owner.  And I should point out that as bizarre as this movie is, there are even WEIRDER Russian-Finnish fairy tales that will show up later on this countdown.  They watched a bunch of them on Mystery Science Theater, and The Day the Earth Froze was actually one of the more normal ones.

Witch:  Forge a Sampo! Or you'll never see the face of your pretty sister again!
Crow: Can we see the other parts?

45. The Blood Waters of Dr. Z (1972) - Season 10, episode 1005

"Did I just hear a fish strangling a guy?"

Plot:  A former Nazi scientist wants revenge on the world he feels has wronged him.  So he creates a race of mutant fish-men to terrorize Florida.  
Famous for:  The opening scene where the narrator waxes poetically about fish and their fish lives.  Because closeup shots of a fish anus are exactly how you want to open your film.

"Please enjoy a fish anus."

My favorite riff:  There is a hilarious sequence about ten minutes into the film where the mad scientist is setting up an experiment, and he is doing all these checks and inputting all this data, and Mike and the Bots reel off some of the best sex jokes I have ever heard on the show.  

"Should I perform horrible experiments?  Or count my used tissues?"

"Hmm, I think I've got everything.  Oh wait.  Nipple clamps, that's it."

"I need to simplify my masturbation ritual."

Comments:  The Blood Waters of Dr. Z is one of my favorite types of episode - It's a strange little regional horror movie that some guy made because he wanted to inject some money into his local film industry.  In this case, the region was Jacksonville, Florida.  You are going to see regional horror movies show up time and time again on my list because even though they are always low budget and kind of goofy, at the same time they weren't big Hollywood movies with real actors or real filmmakers.  It's usually just a bunch of locals who threw together a movie based on whatever they had available.  And for that reason there is a kind of charm to them.  They are never good, but it's clear that somebody BELIEVED in this movie at one point in history.  And because it employed a lot of locals, to this day it is probably still important to a lot of people.

That said, it would be irresponsible for me not to point out that Blood Waters of Dr. Z (under its original title, "Zaat") was pretty well known before Mystery Science Theater ever got their hands on it.  As "Zaat", it was widely considered one of the worst movies ever made, long before it was ever riffed by Mike and the Bots.  Elvira even featured it on her TV show back in the 80's, so unlike stuff like Manos and others, this wasn't just some rando movie that the guys at Best Brains pulled out of a bin.  In fact, I read somewhere that they still even have yearly screenings of Zaat down in Florida, where people who love it can go and watch it on a big screen and make fun of it like it's The Room.

I happen to think that Blood Waters of Dr. Z is an awesome episode, and I'm always surprised that a lot of MST3k fans don't seem to agree with me.  For some reason Blood Waters never shows up on anyone's favorite episodes list.  I don't know why.  It's really funny.  To me it's like a much funnier and much more watchable version of Manos.  Because people already loved it and already mocked it and already made fun of it long before Mystery Science Theater got their hands on it, it was really Manos before there was a Manos.

"It's got playful teen beach movie font."

Other personal favorite things about this episode:  That dumb little car that the scientist drives at the end.  I mean, what the hell.  It's like they specifically put that in the movie just so MST3k could riff on it twenty five years later.

"I gotta get back to Camp Snoopy and connect this to the ride."

Trivia:  This episode has had a rocky legal history over the years, and for a long time it was nearly impossible to find a copy of it on DVD.  Here's why (from Wikipedia):  

Cult television series Mystery Science Theater 3000 featured Zaat in a season 10 episode under the title Blood Waters of Dr. Z.  The episode, which originally aired May 2, 1999, mocked the film's low-budget effects and general tepidity. Director Don Barton was reportedly annoyed with MST3K for mocking his movie, but later clarified that the only reason he was annoyed was because Syfy (then known as the Sci-Fi Channel) had failed to secure the proper rights to the film. Barton issued a cease and desist and a lawsuit, so Syfy pulled the episode, and only reran it twice two years later, when they had cleared the issue with Barton out of court.  

Shout! Factory eventually released the MST3K episode on DVD, along with three others, on March 16, 2010 as part of Mystery Science Theater 3000 - Volume XVII, after managing to properly secure the rights.

The film's original poster from back in 1972

44. Teen-Age Strangler (1964) - Season 5, episode 514

"And he didn't steal no bike, neither!"


Plot:  A small town in West Virginia is terrorized by a killer that has been strangling teenagers.  Only the local teen gang can help solve the crime.
Famous for:  One word:  Mikey

My favorite riff:   Pretty much any time they take digs at poor unfortunate Mikey.  It would be impossible to pick out just one of them.  There are so many good ones.

"The Amish kids beat me up again!"

"Oh, it's a note...  (reading)... Please knee this kid in the groin."

Comments:  Hey look, another little regional horror movie!  This one is set in West Virginia, and, well, it's not really a horror movie so much as it is a bunch of locals starring in a teen movie about juvenile delinquency.  But hey, it's a lot of fun, and it was definitely one of the most popular episodes of the early Mike years.  And of course most of that is because of the character Mikey, who was memorably played by local West Virginian, and first-time child actor, John Humphries.

The unfortunate-looking Mikey

It's funny, I have seen this episode more than ten times, and if you asked me to tell you what happens in the movie I have no idea.  I just remember that there is a dance scene, and that some people get strangled, and then really it's just a bunch of filler scenes that kill time until Mikey shows up, and Mike and the Bots can start pummeling him again.

"I think they found Waldo."

"Pansy gram!"

This was the only movie that John Humphries ever starred in, which makes sense since it was clear he had no idea what he was doing and he was not a trained actor.  But I have to give him credit.  Even though the MST3k guys absolutely murder him in the riffing, he was a good sport about it and he even sort of embraced his fame as Mikey the walking dweeb after the episode came out.  He was a featured guest at the first MST ConventioCon back in 1994.  

Because of the inherent goofiness of this movie (and because of Mikey himself showing up at the first fan convention), Teenage Strangler has always been one of the most popular of the early Mike episodes.

"Uh.... is he giving birth?"

"Oh god.  He's at ten!"

"Push, Jimmy, push!  Come on!"

Other personal favorite things about this episode:  You know, it wouldn't be a proper teen movie without an attempt to market a new dance song in the middle of it.  Hence the scene where Mary from "Mary and Jack" stands on the counter at a local deli and she sings "Yipe Stripe!" to everyone.  And yes, I think we all remember where we were when Yipe Stripe knocked the Beatles off the charts and went to #1 back in the summer of '64.  It was a massive hit.

"You're standing in my biscuits and gravy!"

Trivia:  Teenage Strangler was originally released in 1964 as "Terror in the Night."   It was largely ignored during its initial run, but after MST3k revitalized interest in it, it was given a "proper" premiere showing in Huntington, West Virginia in 1994. The premiere was attending by several surviving cast and crew members.

Oh, and then there's this:

John Humphries had never acted before doing this film.  He has since said that he took his acting cues from Jo Canterbury (his co-star) who he knew had some Off-Broadway acting experience. So as her performance became more teary and shrill, so did his.

Mikey overacting


43. Outlaw (of Gor) - (1986) - Season 5, episode 519

"I worry about a superhero named Kevin who drives a Camaro."

Plot:  A guy (Cabot) drives a Camaro through a time portal and becomes a hero in the medieval fantasy world of Gor
Famous for:  The fact that the other characters scream "Cabot!" at least a hundred and fifty times in the first ten minutes.  Oh, and also, lots of upskirt buffalo shots.

My favorite riff:   This episode features one of my all time favorite subtle dirty jokes.  There's this queen who likes to get carried around town on a chariot by her manservants.  And one day as she is being carried through town, they walk by a statue that looks like an enormous stone dildo.  And as the queen turns to look at it... well... enter Mike's wonderfully timed vibrator joke:

"Oh, oh god, PLEASE invent the battery!"

Comments:  The reason this movie is confusing and why the storyline makes no sense is because it is actually a sequel.  Outlaw was originally titled "Outlaw of Gor" and it was a sequel to the 1987 science fiction fantasy Gor.  So if you are wondering why we get so much backstory in the first five minutes and why everything moves so quickly, that's why.  The filmmakers assumed you had already seen Gor and you already knew the backstory of Cabot before you watched it.

Outlaw is easily one of my favorite episodes of the early Mike era.  It was also one of the first really dirty episodes of MST3k, which marked a significant turning point in the history of the show.  Before Outlaw, the dirty jokes on the show were usually much more subtle and underplayed.  They were there, but you didn't always catch them.  But here in the Mike era, they started going right for the PG-13 rated humor, and they generally weren't very subtle about it.  So you start getting jokes about boob sizes, and gratuitous ass shots, and the sex scenes.  And of course the vibrator joke.  Since I love racy edgy humor as a rule, this is why I always preferred the Mike era over the Joel era.  The Joel era might have been more clever at times, but I always laughed harder at the Mike jokes, 'cause they saw them and they just went for them.

Oh, and of course you have to love any barbarian movie where the actresses are clearly 80's girls who just stepped out of the mall.  I have always loved that about this particular era of trash cinema.  Just watch for the 80's hairstyles.

80's girl

80's girl

Gag me with a spoon.  Grody.

Oh, and also, how the HELL did they get Jack Palance to star in this movie?  Was his career really at that low a point in 1987 that they were somehow able to snag him?   Keep in mind that this is a guy who won Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars only a few years after this.  Yet you see him show up in Outlaw in these ridiculous hats, and the jokes pretty much write themselves.

"I crap bigger than this hat."

Trivia:  Hey, you know that second actress from the 80's I mentioned?  The one with the really big mall hair?

Rebecca Ferratti

Well you might recognize her from The Three Amigos, where she shows up at the end as Ned's girlfriend


42. Village of the Giants (1965) - Season 5, episode 523
 "Tommy Kirk discussing 'goo' makes me very uncomfortable."

Plot:  A gang of juvenile delinquents eats a substance that turns them into giants.  So they grow big and they terrorize a town.
Famous for:  Bad teen actors pretending to be big by just moving and talking slow.  Oh and also a young Ron Howard.

My favorite riff:  Any of the jokes during the famous "breast ride" sequence

"First base is larger than I remember!"


"Urban cowboob."

Comments:  Oh man, there's a lot going on in this movie.  I mean, the cast list alone is just a sight to behold.  First off, there's Jeff Bridges' less successful brother Beau Bridges, who plays Fred, the lead of the delinquent gang.  

"Beau knows acting!"

Then there's Tommy Kirk, who was a featured Disney star back when he was a little kid.  And who was, uh, mostly known for being fired by Disney because he was openly gay.

"Take me, you savage mouseketeer."

Then there's Ron Howard, who shows up as Genius, the little kid who creates the goo.

"Look at him, the little kid plotting against us with Willow."

Oh yeah, and then you also have Toni Basil, who recorded the song "Mickey" later in the 80's, and who shows up here as a member of the teen gang.  All in all, this has got to be one of the best casts of any of the movies that Mystery Science Theater has ever done.  Which leads to a lot of fun little inside jokes that you might not get unless you know all the backstory.

"This is Tommy Kirk REALLY acting."

Take a great cast, some great riffing, and some of the worst special effects you will ever see in a movie, and you have one of those episodes that has always been one of my favorites.  In fact, this is one of those episodes that I am always surprised doesn't show up on EVERYONE'S favorite list of MST3k episodes.  It has a little something for everyone.

"Jesus was run down by a Thunderbird."

Trivia:  The song at the start of this movie is called "The Last Race".  It was later used by Quentin Tarantino as the theme for his movie Death Proof.  You can listen to it here.

41. Overdrawn at the Memory Bank (1983) - Season 8, episode 822

"I bet nobody calls up THIS cinema."

Plot:  Aram Fingal gets his dopple bungled.
Famous for:   All the dumb future technojargon.  Oh, and this:

My favorite riff:   I don't know if I necessarily have a favorite riff in this episode.  The scene above where Raul Julia inadvertently asks his mom about his nuts is always a crowd pleaser.  And when Mike and the Bots start going crazy with all the Fingal and dopple and bungle jokes about twenty minutes into the movie, that's a fun stretch too.  But in the end I don't know if there is one particular riff that I think is the best.  It's just a funny goofy episode from start to finish.

"Oh yeah, old guys becoming pandas, that's the future."

Comments:  There is no episode I have had a more bipolar relationship with over the years than Overdrawn at the Memory Bank.  The first time I saw it, I hated it.  I couldn't stand this episode.  I thought it was so dumb, and so annoying, that I couldn't even get through the first hour.  So I put it away, and never watched it again, and I just filed it away under "MST3k episodes that are a waste of time" along with Racket Girls and The Castle of Fu Manchu, and a couple of the other ones.

"Man, never show a good movie in the middle of your crappy movie."

Then, a couple of years later, I decided to give it another chance.  For some reason, I was having a conversation with a friend of mine named Brian Michael Scully (who is a comedy writer himself), and he mentioned that this was his all time favorite MST3k episode.  And I was like, really?  That one?  But I couldn't even get through it the first time.  So I decided to give it another chance.  And this time around, I thought it was really funny.  It wasn't like one of my favorites or anything, but I was like okay I could see how that could be somebody's favorite episode.  It's fun and it's also one of the goofier movies that MST3k has ever watched.

Apollonia:  Relax. Take a deep breath.
Crow:  Not THAT deep!

The first time I ever did a countdown of my favorite fifty MST3k episodes, Overdrawn at the Memory Bank just missed the cut.  And I mean it baaaaaaarely missed the cut.  I probably would have put it at #51.  And then I posted my list on the internet, and then every MST3k fan I know yelled at me for not putting it in my top 50.  Out of all the big episodes that got snubbed, and believe me I snubbed a couple of very popular ones (hi Hobgoblin fans!), this was the one that everyone yelled at me for not including.  And it was at this point that I realized, okay, I need to give Overdrawn at the Memory Bank another chance.  There is something about this particular episode that I appear to be missing.

Fingal:  Mom!  What are you doing here?
Mike:  Why aren't you Puerto Rican?

Okay, so now the story gets weird.  About a year ago, my wife and I sat down for a viewing of Mystery Science Theater, and for some reason I decided our evening's entertainment should be Overdrawn at the Memory Bank.  So I popped it into the old DVD player, and my god, I WAS LAUGHING NON STOP FOR THE NEXT NINETY MINUTES.  I don't know what it was about that viewing, but for some reason it got me into the giggle zone very early and it never let up.  To the point that at the end of the episode, I turned to my wife and I said I haven't laughed that hard at an MST3k episode in years.  And with that, because of that one viewing, Overdrawn at the Memory Bank quickly shot up into my top twenty episodes.

Apollonia:  Sit down, Mister Fingal.
Tom Servo:  You need to tinkle, Fingal?  
Apollonia:  Nothing to worry about.
Tom Servo:  How 'bout some Pringles, Fingal?

"So, aging lesbian nuns rule the future?"

"Hey! Someone turn off the fat rotating guy!"

So this is where we stood as I sat down to make this particular countdown.  Overdrawn at the Memory Bank was going to be my #20 favorite, and I was going to make up for the fact that I had snubbed it entirely the last time I ranked my top fifty.

"Surely this will cure him of his LOVE OF CINEMAS."

However... and here's where it gets frustrating again... I sat down to watch it the other day, and pick out my favorite riffs for this writeup.  And as I was going through the episode, I found myself not really loving it this time around.  I mean, the funny riffs were still funny.  And I still love all the fingaling and doppling and fat guy and anteater jokes.  But I just didn't find myself all that invested in it.  And it NEVER got me into the giggle zone the way that it did so amazingly the last time around.  And at this point now I'm like well fuck, how the hell am I supposed to rank this episode?  Do I actually love it, or don't I?  And that's why I said, I have never had a relationship with an MST3k episode that is as bipolar as my relationship with this one.  Some days I love it.  Some days I just like it.  And some days I hate it.  And then every so often I'll sit down and watch it and it becomes one of my favorite episodes.  I have never had a history with an MST3k episode that is quite like this one.  It's so weird.

"Come.  As you are.  To my mall.  To my aaaaatrium."


40. Laserblast (1978) - Season 7, episode 706

 "You know, every time I come close to not hating him, I see those feet on the side of his van."

Plot:  Aliens accidentally leave a powerful ray gun on Earth during one of their visits.  A teenage kid finds it and starts laserblasting everyone.  Based on the Maya Angelou book.  
Famous for:  All the "Are you ready for some FOOTBALL??" references

My favorite riff:   Film critic Leonard Maltin famously gave Laserblast two and a half stars (out of four) when it originally came out back in 1978.  
My favorite riff is when Mike sarcastically alludes to this during one of the dumber scenes of the movie.

"I wonder what the flaw was that kept Leonard Maltin from giving this a full three stars."

Comments:  I read a review once that said Laserblast was "the perfect movie for Mystery Science Theater."  And I would say that's true.  I don't know how you can have a movie starring Eddie Deezen, stop motion aliens, and a guy who says "Pa-Pa-Pow!" while mock shooting an alien ray gun, and how you can possibly take that seriously.  It's like the producers just served this one up to MST3k on a silver platter.

Won't he be surprised when he finds out it doesn't go "pow," but "FWEESH!"

The riffing on this episode isn't the funniest it has ever been.  And you'll probably get tired of them saying "ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL??" every time the Hank Williams-looking guy appears on the screen.  But damn this is just a fun, goofy episode.  It also gets better and better the more times that you watch it, which is pretty much the same thing you can say about all the best Mystery Science Theater episodes.  This is one of those episodes that demands repeat viewings.  It will almost always get you into the giggle zone.

"I know what you're thinking.  Did I fire six gorlocks or only five?"

 "I just keep getting the feeling that you're not ready for some football."

"The inverted world where the spazzes make fun of the cool guys."

Other personal favorite things about this episode:  Did you know that the producers actually expected this movie to be a hit?  True story.  When Laserblast first came out in 1978, it was expected to not only compete with Star Wars, some insiders actually thought it would beat Star Wars.  And that's why the director put in a scene of Billy blowing up a Star Wars billboard with his laser gun.  That was supposed to be prophetic for when Laserblast topped Star Wars at the box office.  Spoiler: It didn't.

Take that, George Lucas.  The gauntlet has been thrown!

39. Squirm (1976) - Season 10, episode 1012
"Mr. Beardsley?"

Plot:  Worms in a small Georgia town are electrocuted and become mutant killers
Famous for:  Soooooo many southern redneck jokes

"Imperial Grand Dragon and I still gotta drive a bus."

"We shape our hair into waves down here, boy."

My favorite riff:   See below.

Overly Southern Mom:  I just don't want you to be too disappointed if he doesn't come.
Crow:  Mother, that's private!

Comments:  Now THIS is a fun episode.  Which makes sense, because this is actually a really fun movie.  In fact, to this day, Squirm is still the only episode of Mystery Science Theater where I actually saw the movie way before they ever riffed it.  I even own a copy of the un-riffed movie on DVD.  As bizarre little regional horror films from the 70's go, this movie is perfectly fun and watchable on its own and you could do a lot worse.

"Ahhh!  The worm had a shiv!"

By the way, the director of Squirm (Jeff Lieberman) once famously criticized MST3k for mocking his movie, because he claimed you can't goof on something that's already a goof.  But I don't think that's true.  I love Squirm as a goofy little movie on its own, and I love the riffing of Squirm by the MST3k guys even more.  I believe they can both co-exist.  In fact, to me, this is one of those episodes that would be ideal to introduce a first time viewer to.  They are bound to get a kick out of all the overly Southern accents and all the over the top cartoon characters and antiquing jokes.  It's not the funniest episode that MST3k ever did, but it is easily one of the most watchable.

"We thought you'd enjoy reading your movie."

Other personal favorite things about this episode:  I could watch this episode a hundred times and I will NEVER get tired of riffs about people randomly looking for Mr. Beardsley.

"Mr. Beardsley?"

I will also never get tired of them cutting to the giant six foot two sister, and Mike imitating her by going into his deep Richard Kiel voice.  It happens a bunch of times in the episode and it makes me laugh every time.

Geri:  "You ready?"
Mike (in the deepest voice possible): "YEAH I'M READY."

Trivia:  This is one of the rare movies featured on MST3k that was actually rated R.   The unriffed version is significantly more graphic than the version we see in the episode.


38. The Amazing Colossal Man (1957) - Season 3, episode 309

"Well, there's a fifty foot guy. But he has hair, it can't be Glenn."

Plot:  A soldier is irradiated in an atomic blast, and he grows to be fifty feet tall
Famous for:  Being one of the absolute funniest early MST3k episodes

Doctor:  Your name is the only word he spoke.
Tom Servo:  Well, that and 'AHHHHHHHHH!!!'

My favorite riff:   This is one of those rare episodes where I don't have a favorite riff.  Pretty much every scene in the episode is funny, from start to finish.

"Oh, why do they keep putting these little chairs in here? They just do it to bug me!"

Scientist:  And then, his heart will literately explode.
Crow:  So... uh... don't wear a white dress that day.

Comments:  I first got into Mystery Science Theater about midway through season four.  And at that time, if you had polled MST3k fans and asked them what their favorite episode would have been, the overwhelming #1 choice probably would have been "The Amazing Colossal Man."  Before Manos came around at the end of season four and changed the game, THIS was the episode that nearly everyone I knew was talking about.  

Amazing Colossal Man has never been my favorite episode, mainly because it doesn't have that ONE great riff or that ONE great scene that always pops into my head when I think about it.  But it still continues to show up in most people's top 20 or top 30 episodes, and with very good reason.  It's hilarious.  Since I am more of a Mike era guy than a Joel era guy, it's only going to show up in the thirties on my particular countdown.  But if you asked me to name the funniest episodes of the first three seasons, I would definitely include it in my top three.  In my opinion, the best three episodes of the first three seasons are Amazing Colossal Man, Gamera vs. Guiron, and Fugitive Alien.

"No man is a Three Mile Island, Glen."

Other personal favorite things about this episode:   You gotta love the big hypodermic and the giant fake legs they had to use for the desert scene.  And how is it possible that they can't spot a FIFTY FOOT GIANT wandering alone through the desert.  Is he really that hard to find?

Trivia:   They also riffed on the sequel to this movie (War of the Colossal Beast) a little later during season three.  That episode is also hilarious, just like this one is, but I didn't include it on my countdown because I wanted to spread the love around and include more movies.  This "no sequel" rule also applied to why I included Fugitive Alien but not Fugitive Alien 2.  Oh, and I have to add this quote I just randomly found on an MST3k message board:  "The Amazing Colossal Man contains what I believe to be the meanest riff they ever did.  During the war footage, when the plane goes down, Joel says in his Big Bopper voice, “Hellllllo Baaaaabyyy!"  It's horrible but I laugh every time I see it.

37. I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957) - Season 8, episode 809
"He's devolved too much! He enjoys Adam Sandler movies!"

Plot:  The dad from Little House on the Prairie turns into a werewolf
Famous for:  People randomly throwing milk

My favorite riff:   Any joke about Michael Landon getting mad and throwing milk.  That, and the running joke about his dad being depressed and always wanting to kill himself are two of the funniest running jokes I can think of in an MST3k episode.  And they are both in the same episode.

"Well, off to my job at Dismal-co."

Comments:  I was kind of surprised when "I Was a Teenage Werewolf" was first announced as being an MST3k episode.  And the reason why is because this is actually a pretty well-known, well-respected horror movie.  It is so well known and well respected, in fact, that Stephen King even included an homage to it in his 1986 book, "It."  I have heard him say before that this is one of the movies that actually frightened him back when he was a kid.

Even though this movie is better (and far more well known) than most of the dreck that MST3k decides to riff on, it actually turns into a really hilarious episode.  Every single time I watch it, it grows on me more and more.  And it's funny because this is one of those episodes that you rarely ever see on anyone's "Best of MST3k" list.  It has never been a big fan favorite, hardly anyone I know ever quotes from it, yet every time I watch it I think the riffing is incredible.  

"Fudd, you check the woods.  And be vewwy vewwy quiet."

"Help!  I'm being attacked by a Berenstain Bear!"


"Judy Garland runs out of pills."

Trivia:   As I was finishing up this entry, I went over to the website Mighty Jack's MST3k Reviews, and it's funny, he said almost the exact same thing that I said.  He loves this episode and he also doesn't understand why it isn't a big fan favorite.  Here are his comments:

Though not a big fan favorite, I feel this classic Michael Landon fright flick receives some very clever, dead on Msting from start to finish. A great choice for an experiment - "Werewolf" isn't too painful to watch, but still provides M&TB with enough material to rip on. Including a clown mating dance, callbacks to "High School Big Shot" (same actor playing the dad) and harrowing scenes of milk throwing... Teen is one of those episodes where I find myself shaking my head in awe. I am so impressed with the way the riffing taps into the vibe of the film. The comedy is so tight, so perfectly constructed and delivered. It is one of several season 8 episodes, which show off the writing staff at the top of their game.

"You know, one advantage of a werewolf:  They scoop their own poop!"

36. The Giant Gila Monster (1959) - Season 4, episode 402

"I just want to know if the Lord said it this many times in a row."

Plot:  A giant gila monster terrorizes a small town.  Only the local hot rod gang can stop it.
Famous for:  Characters randomly putting their knees up on things as they are speaking.  

My favorite riff:   Here you go.  Get ready for one of my all-time favorite riffs.  This is the one that first made me fall in love with Mystery Science Theater.

Chase comes home, and he sees that his bed-ridden little sister is finally able to walk.

"Look what I've got!  I got leg braces!"

She tries to walk over to him, but her legs buckle and she collapses.  Awww.  

Chase rushes over to comfort the poor little girl.

Then, to cheer her up, he pulls out a ukulele and he sings her a little song.

It's a sweet scene

Then, he wraps up, and we all say "awwwwww'.  It's a nice little Disney family moment.

And Joel pulls off the riff that instantly made me fall in love with Mystery Science Theater.

"Uh, that's real nice but it doesn't help my legs."

Comments:  The Giant Gila Monster was the first episode of MST3k that I ever saw, so it will always hold a special place in my heart.  Because you never forget your first.  In fact, I can still remember the first joke I ever saw in this episode that really made me laugh out loud.  It happens towards the start of the movie, when Chase and his friends drive up to investigate a crime scene.  As the car in front pulls into frame, Joel and the Bots start humming the theme song from "The Munsters."

Now, the first time I heard this joke I instinctively laughed out loud.  Because if you know the Munsters, you would know that that hot rod looks a lot like the jalopy that the Munsters liked to ride around in.

So I saw that car, and I saw them throw in a Munsters reference WITHOUT ANY ATTEMPT AT ALL TO EXPLAIN WHY THEY WERE SINGING THAT SONG, and it immediately struck me that wow, this show is going to be a little bit different.  Because it was right there and then that I realized, this isn't a TV show for everyone.  You are going to have to know your shit to get all their little obscure comments and references.  So the minute I saw that car and I heard that Munsters song, I knew this was going to be a show for me.  And the fact that they did their little Munsters joke at least three more times during the episode didn't hurt.  EVERY single time that car pulls into frame during the movie, they sing the little Munsters song.  Between that, and the joke about the little girl's legs later in the movie, this is the episode that instantly made me fall in love with Mystery Science Theater.

"You know, a smart feller could put his knee up on such a thing."

That being said, I don't think this is the funniest episode overall, and a lot of the scenes where Joel imitates the gila monster are just plain tedious and annoying.  But hey, this was the episode that introduced me to the show, so I will always have a soft spot for it.

"And the Lord said DIE CHILDREN DIE!"

Other personal favorite things about this episode:   I love that Chase lives in the heartland in the middle of rural America, in the 1950's, and for some reason his girlfriend is from France and she speaks with a French accent.  Really?

"Here, drink this.  It'll make you feel American."


35. Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966) - Season 4, episode 424
"Manos: The Hands of Fate was filmed on location in a vacant lot."

Plot:  A family on vacation stumbles into the home of a cult leader
Famous for:  Torgo and for being maybe the single worst movie ever made

"He's the guy you used to know who works at a Kinney shoes and won't leave you alone."

My favorite riff:   Oh boy.  There are sooo many to choose from in this episode.  Because I can't possibly pick one, let's go with these:

A. Any riff during the scene where Mike and his family first meet Torgo

"Been hittin' the thighmaster, Torgo?"

"It's like having Joe Cocker as your bellhop."

B. The great moment towards the end of the movie where The Master and Torgo are just standing there, staring at one another.  And Joel gets so frustrated by the lack of action that he loses his temper and screams:


C.  And, of course, because I love a good understated deadpan criticism, this one towards the end after we've had to sit through an hour of maybe the shittiest movie ever made.  During an especially uninteresting "action" scene, Tom Servo astutely points out:

"You know, there are certain flaws in this film."

Comments:  Manos is widely considered
to be A) the worst movie that MST3k has ever watched, and B) one of the funniest episodes in the show's history.  I don't happen to agree with either of those, but there's no doubt that it was a turning point in the show.  And it remains, without the slightest possibility of debate, one of Mystery Science Theater's most famous episodes.  There is no way you can know about this show and not know about Manos.

Oh look, honey. Torgo has a little altar to Ba'al!"

If you want to know more about the history of Manos, there are plenty of sites on the internet you can go to read about it.  So all I will say is this.  MAN this is a terrible movie.  But at the same time, I don't think it is the worst movie MST3k has ever done.  In my opinion, the worst movie they ever watched was Red Zone Cuba.  Manos, while inept, actually has a pretty decent story behind it.  I have always thought that if you took the story of Manos, and you had an actual movie budget, and you had decent actors, and you had a director who knew what he was doing, and you had a camera that could actually film more than thirty seconds at a time, you could probably pull off a halfway decent little regional horror movie.  So I will always give Hal Warren credit for at least TRYING to make it happen.  It's clear he had no idea what the hell he was doing trying to make a movie, but in my mind you have to at least respect the effort.  I mean, the guy was a fertilizer salesman and he was trying to win a bet that he could make a movie.  And you know, technically, he did.   He actually won the bet.  Nobody ever said that it had to be good.

"Ehhhhh.   Ahhhhh.  
cUt it OuT yoU feM."

Manos is one of those movies that is so intertwined with the history of Mystery Science Theater, but at the same time I have never thought it was one of their best episodes.  And it is absolutely NOT the episode you want to start with if you are being introduced to the show.  It is just way too tedious. Especially the second half of the movie.  Man are the last thirty minutes of Manos: The Hands of Fate a chore to get through.

"Torgo, you're missing the fight, get your dress on and get in there!

All things considered, I love just about everything about Manos.  I mean, I even own an unriffed version of the movie on DVD, and if you can sit through that, you can sit through anything.  It's even worse when you realize they actually cut about fifteen minutes OUT of the MST version.  The unriffed version is even lamer and longer.

I am thrilled that I get to write about Manos in my top fifty Mystery Science Theater episodes, but the mid 30's is about the highest I would ever rank it because it just isn't that good.  I mean, it's fun.  And some of the riffs are glorious.  But it just isn't one of their stronger episodes.

Wants me? What kind of talk is that?
Crow:  Why, it's oily, sleazy talk.

Other personal favorite things about this episode:   As my wife likes to point out, the dad (Mike) in this movie is kind of a dick.  He just shows up at a guy's (Torgo's) house in the middle of the night, then he demands to be let in to sleep even though the guy who lives there says no, he can't.  But Mike doesn't care.  He just barges in anyway.  He basically takes over some guy's personal residence and treats it like a hotel, just because it's late and because he promised his family a trip.  And as my wife likes to point out, what an asshole.  

Torgo never asked them to stay.  Torgo was just standing there next to a door.

Trivia #1:  If you want to know more about this movie, t
here is a really good documentary on Youtube called "Hotel Torgo", which talks about the backstory of Manos, and how it came about, and where it was filmed, and its overall legacy in the world.  It's pretty good, you should check it out.

Trivia #2:  Sadly, the young man who played Torgo (John Reynolds) committed suicide shortly before this movie was released.  So he never lived long enough to see how beloved it (and he) would later become.  Because Torgo is probably the single most famous character from any of the MST3k movies, I thought it would be interesting to find a picture of what John Reynolds looked like when he was out of his costume.  It took me a couple of years to track these down, but here are some pictures I found of John Reynolds back when he was in high school:

Trivia #3:  Manos in Spanish means "Hands."  So the name of this movie is, literally, "Hands: The Hands of Fate."  That seems appropriate.

"Oh, I wish those hands would just push him over."


34. The Prince of Space (1959) - Season 8, episode 816

"What's wrong with bootblacking? We like it very much!"

Plot:  An evil chicken alien comes down from space and attempts to destroy Japan.  And only the superhero The Prince of Space can save the day.
Famous for:  Crankor's stupid laugh and his empty threats

Hawwwww hawwwwww hawwwwwwww

My favorite riff:   There is a running gag in this movie about how the alien weapons are ineffective against the Prince of Space, and he keeps telling them that, yet they keep trying to use them anyway.  After about the twentieth time it happens, it gets really ridiculous.

"I told you!  Your weapons have no effect on me!"

"It is my considered advice that you discontinue your use of said weapon!  Ha ha!"

"Empirical data suggests the accuracy of my earlier contention that your weapons against me are without merit!  Ha ha!"

"Allow me to reference my earlier codicil on how your weapons are ineffective!"

Comments:  When I first sat down to create this countdown, I asked my friends who I knew were MST3k fans if they had any particular favorite episodes they thought I should include.  I was mainly looking for any older episodes that maybe I had forgotten about over the years.  Or maybe some random minor episode that maybe I had never even seen before.  I mean, I thought I had seen every MST3k episode over the years, but maybe I hadn't.  So I threw my question out there to see if anyone could come up with a "forgotten" episode that maybe I had overlooked.

Well, lo and behold, my friend Jessica replied with something along the lines of "If you don't include Prince of Space, I'll kill you."

Prince of Space, I thought.  Isn't that one with Rocky Jones and Winky where they are flying around in that spaceship?  For some reason I thought that was Prince of Space.  But no, that one turned out to be Manunt in Space.  It turns out that, for years, I was getting the two episodes mixed up because their titles were so similar.  And then sometimes when I saw people talking about Prince of Space, I actually thought they were talking about Stranded in Space.  

Long story short, I did some research, and I learned that even though I had been an MST3k fan for more than twenty years, I HAD NEVER ACTUALLY SEEN PRINCE OF SPACE BEFORE.  All these years, me thinking I had seen every episode, multiple times, and meanwhile there's this one really funny episode from season eight that I had never actually seen before.  And.... uh... wow.  Holy crap.

Commander:  Ah, Captain Manakata.  Come in, please.
Mike:  I understand you're stuffed with cheese.

So anyway, I watched Prince of Space for the first time last week, and it immediately vaulted into my top fifty because it is so damn funny.  I will have to watch it again and again in the upcoming years to see how well it holds up, and where it should go in my ranking.  But for now I am putting it here, right ahead of Manos, because this seems like the perfect place for it.  I like this episode very much.

"Uh, sir?  Did you forget something when you got dressed this morning?"

33. The Incredible Melting Man (1977) - Season 7, episode 704
"Oh great. The movie has to mop up after itself now."

Plot:  An astronaut gets hit with radiation and starts melting
Famous for:  Being the one MST3k episode that might be too gross for most people

"He'd make a pretty good dip with taco chips."

My favorite riff:   I don't remember too many standout riffs in this one, I just remember it being pretty consistently funny from start to finish.  Although there is one scene in a house towards the middle of the movie, where a lady is looking for an intruder in the dark in the middle of the night.  The director decided to add a bunch of annoying sound effects to the scene to make it more dramatic, so Mike and the Bots play along by adding their own little ridiculous FWISHes and THWIPs and ZWOPs and it gets really funny.  That's the one scene I always remember from this episode.

"I had my breasts lowered and my hips pulled out at odd angles.  I hope that's okay."

Comments:  This is one of those episodes that never seems to show up on anyone's favorites list, but every time I watch it I find myself laughing a lot.  So either everyone else is wrong and I'm right, or maybe I just have a higher tolerance for disgusting special effects and jokes about gooey melting apple heads than most people do.  I don't know.  All I know is that every single I watch this episode, at the end I find myself thinking, "Man, that one was really good.  That has to be one of the most underrated MST3k episodes."

"I'm not gonna look silly in this shot am I?  I will maintain my dignity?"

"Remember when everyone had one of those giant black velvet moth posters?"

For me, the standout scene in this movie comes at the very end, when a janitor has to literally pick up what's left of the villain, scoop him into a garbage can, and then mop up after him.  If that doesn't sum up the experience of watching The Incredible Melting Man, I don't know what does.  Also, I can't believe people actually went to see this movie at one time in the theater.  It's not the worst movie I have ever seen in my life but... my god.

"So he was tomato-based then?"

"Ahhhh.  I never understood white people."

Other personal favorite things about this episode:   One word:  Hotchka.  No one knows what the hell it means, but they sure do get a lot of use out of it.


Trivia:  I remember reading somewhere that this was originally supposed to be a comedy.  It was supposed to be a parody of horror movies.  Then, at the last minute, the studio got nervous and they cut out all the comedic scenes and made it a straight horror movie.  And that's how you wind up with a bizarre little gooey horror movie that takes itself too seriously and is perfect for MST3k to make fun.  Life moves in strange circles like that.

"Why is she running through the E-Z mini storage?"

32. The Brute Man (1946) - Season 7, episode 702
"Honey? My face is as big as ever and someone shot my sizzler off!"

Plot:  A guy with a big face starts murdering people.
Famous for:  Being one of the most f'd up movies you are ever going to see.  And also, the shopkeeper scene.


My favorite riff:   This movie has one of the funniest sequences in any MST3k episode, where the shopkeeper just starts yelling at his stockboy for no apparent reason.  It's so over the top and it just comes so completely out of nowhere, that Mike can't even say any of his lines.  He just lowers his head and starts laughing.  It is one of my favorite scenes in MST3k history because Mike just completely loses it.  This scene is so beloved among MST3k fans that you can even find it posted on Youtube as its own video.  Hope you aren't drinking any liquids if you have never seen it before.  I'm not kidding.

Mike just lowers his head and laughs because this scene is so funny

Comments:  Man, this movie is so messed up.  I mean, I love it as an episode, but boy it's just one of the most horrible things ever the more you know about it.

For starters, do you know who Rondo Hatton was?  If you don't, he was an actor in the 1940's who was known for having an exceptionally large and ugly face.  He got a lot of bad guy roles in movies around that time simply because he was so naturally g.d. ugly.

Rondo Hatton

Only, here's the catch.  Rondo wasn't born ugly.  When he was in high school, he was actually voted "Most Handsome."  But he happened to have been born with a pituitary condition called 
acromegaly.  This made his facial features grow and morph out of control as he got older, and that's how "most handsome teenager" Rondo Hatton eventually grew into Rondo Hatton, the nice but horribly disfigured movie villain.

Before and after.  Poor guy.

So here's Rondo's story.  He was a handsome and popular and well-liked young man, who eventually grew up to have horrible features because of a disease. Although at the time, nobody knew it was because he had a disease.  At the time, it was assumed he had some taken in some mustard gas in the trenches during World War I and that had somehow screwed up his endocrine system.  In fact, that was what the studio press releases at the time tended to say:  Rondo was born normal, but due to an accident with mustard gas, he was turned into a freak.

So here's this guy, who started normal, and who later turned into a freak, and to capitalize on his looks, some studio writes a movie that basically retells his entire life story.  Let's say there's this guy.  And he's normal.  And he's popular.  And then due to an accident in a chemistry lab, he turns into a freak.  And then, afterwards, he is so shunned by society because of his looks, he has no choice but to seek revenge on the people who did it and turn into a bad guy.  And hey, let's cast Rondo Hatton since that is basically what happened to him in real life anyway.  So this role should be easy.

In other words, Rondo Hatton really isn't playing The Brute Man in this movie.  HE IS BASICALLY REENACTING THE TRAGEDY THAT HAPPENED TO HIM IN REAL LIFE.  And I'm sorry, but that's just incredibly fucked up.

"I'm gonna grow an ugly face and kill you!"

If you can get past THAT, and you can get past the fact that this is actually a pretty good and sad and touching little movie, this is actually a really funny episode.  But man is it kind of a downer when you know all the backstory behind it.  I mean, Rondo was paid to make this movie about his life, then he died before it came out in theaters, and then it actually became a fairly big hit that probably would have earned him a lot of money and a solid career.  Poor guy.  

On the plus side, the good riffs in this episode are SO good that they help to make up for it.

"She can't hear him?  She's the most inefficient blind person I've ever seen!"

 "Ahh, now his creeping has just turned into wandering."

Blind Girl:  I knew he was in some sort of trouble, but I didn't realize it was with the police.
Crow:  I thought he was pregnant.

"Grocery Boy Slain By The Creeper!" - Boss delighted!

Other personal favorite things about this episode:   None, really.  I just happen to think it's actually a pretty good movie.

"God is dead?  GOOD!"

31. Operation Double 007 (1967) - Season 5, episode 508
"This is beginning to look pretty serious. We'd better call Sean in."

Plot:  James Bond is busy, so his younger brother Neil has to step in and save the day.  Neil, of course, is played by Sean Connery's actual younger brother, Neil.  I shit you not.  This was a real movie.
Famous for:  The opening theme song.  Oh, and also, the fact that Neil Connery plays a character literally named "Neil Connery."

Mr. Connery's brother

My favorite riff:   First off, every time they make a quip about a character wanting Sean, or preferring Sean, or asking Neil for Sean's autograph, it kills me.  For years this was one of my top three or four MST3k episodes.  And it was only because of all the hilarious "I'd rather have Sean" jokes.  

"Oh, he's hardly Sean, I realize, but he comes cheap."

Neil (after fixing a girl's bow):  Any reward?
Joel:  Uh, yeah, can I get your brother's autograph?

My other favorite part of this episode is the opening theme song.  You see, since this was technically a "James Bond movie", it also needed a "James Bond song" at the beginning.  So there's this lady singing a song called "The Man For Me" or something like that, in which she waxes nostalgic about all the amazing thing this unnamed guy she loves can do.  It's actually a pretty catchy song.  But then Joel and the Bots start inserting all these other things that this guy can do, that maybe aren't so amazing... and well, yeah.  Like I said, at the time, this was easily one of my favorite episodes of the first five seasons. That opening scene is so awesome.

Singing lady:  Because HEEEEEEE loves me!  HEEEEEE holds me!
Joel:  HEEEEEEE likes to wear mittens!
Crow:  HEEEEEEE prefers stuffing to potatoes!
Tom Servo:   HEEEEEEEE sat on his glasses once!

Comments:  I have such mixed feelings about this episode.  For starters, it is such a fricking goofy idea for a movie.  Hey, let's make a James Bond movie.  Only we don't want to have to pay for Sean Connery.  Instead, let's take his non-actor brother Neil, and we'll pay him, and we'll try to pass him off as Bond Junior.  Oh yeah, and then we'll fill in the rest of the movie with real actors and actresses from actual James Bond films.  I bet the audience will love it.

The former Miss Moneypenny

The former bad guy from Thunderball

This is such a goofy idea for a movie, and it should be the funniest Mystery Science Theater episode ever.  I mean, the idea is great.  The execution is great.  It also has some of the best riffs of the first five seasons.  And yes, that's even on top of all the already great "Hey Neil, can you get me your brother's autograph?" riffs.

"Ex. cuse. me. I'm. Three minutes. Late."

"That's. Okay. We're a.  Pretty loose group."

"Operation Double Double-O Girl Scout."

"Operation Double Double-O Hee Haw."

This movie has sooo much going for it, and the good parts of it are so good, but the problem is that the movie itself is actually kind of boring.  I mean, I love the IDEA of this movie.  But the problem is that James Bond spy films tend to be rather talky, drawn out, and boring.  And this movie, which is trying its best to be a James Bond movie, is no exception.  I mean, imagine a talky James Bond film from the mid 60's, only then take out all the action scenes and the big expensive set pieces, and replace them with scenes about lipreading.  And voila, you have an episode that SHOULD be among the all time MST3k greats, but it just falls short.  And believe me, nobody wants to love this episode more than I do.  For years it was one of my favorites.  But watching it now, it is soooooo close to a great episode, but it just misses the cut.

"Thank you for touching me, sir.  That will keep me going for the entire day."

Operation Double 007 is fun for what it is.  I just think it could have been a little bit more.

"Uh oh.  You know when there's four people on a screenplay there's gonna be trouble."

Other personal favorite things about this episode:   Okay, here's one of my MST3k soft spots.  You know that famous scene at the end of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom?  When Indy is about to cut down the rope bridge and kill all the bad guys?  So he turns to Mola Ram and he very badassedly says, "Prepare to meet Kali.  IN HELL!"  Remember that?  It is one of my all time favorite movie endings.

Well the MST guys must have loved that ending too because they have referenced it in two different episodes here in my top fifty.  One of them will come later, when I get to the Painted Hills, but Operation Double 007 has the first time they referenced that quote in one of their episodes.  And of course they also threw in a "Sean is Neil's brother" reference at the same time, so you can imagine how much I appreciated it.  

In any case, here's the line.  It's at the very end, when the bad guy is about to kill Dr. Connery.

"Prepare to meet Kali's brother.  NEAR HELL!"

God I love this show so much sometimes.  :)

30. Wild Rebels (1967) - Season 2, episode 207

"Banjo, stop playing yourself!"

Plot:  A biker gang hires a famous race car driver to help them pull off a string of robberies
Famous for:  Being what I consider the first really funny MST3k episode

"Uh, Rod, we need a few more people nibbling on me here.  Come on over."

My favorite riff:   I love the scene where the old cop explains to Rod that the bikers are "smart" and how they always manage to outsmart the police.  This becomes a running gag throughout the rest of the episode.

Cop:  They're smart.  They know we can spot their motorcycles before a robbery, so now they're gonna switch to a car.
Tom Servo:  Yeah, cars are harder to see.

Rod:  How come you don't arrest them?
Cop:  Well, like I said, they're smart.  They get rid of their guns after each job.
Tom Servo:  Oh look, THEY'RE JUST REALLY SMART, okay?

And then there's this scene towards the end of the movie, where the cops set up a road block, and the bad guys just drive around it and go down a different road.  This moment is always good for a laugh.

Joel:  You know, we really should have blocked the other road too.  What were we thinking?
Tom and Crow:  (giggling)

Wild Rebels holds a special place on my Top 50 countdown.  The reason it is so special is because it is the earliest MST3k episode to crack my Top 50 list.  Wild Rebels was the seventh episode of the second season, and in my opinion it was the first time they really pulled off a great MST3k episode.  Prior to this, I think the greatness of the show was really just mostly in theory.  It was fun, but they were still trying to figure out their formula.  With Wild Rebels, I feel like they finally crossed over and they finally produced their first masterpiece.

"Yikes, looks like Banjo exploded.  There's biker shrapnel everywhere."

The reason this episode stands out to me, and why so many of the other early episodes don't, is because this is actually a pretty watchable movie.  Even without the riffing, you could probably sit down and watch Wild Rebels, and you would probably enjoy it.  It really isn't all that bad.  And to me, that was one of the keys when it came to creating a show like Mystery Science Theater.  You don't necessarily always want to pick the worst or the most unwatchable movies to riff.  Every so often you want to throw one in there that is goofy and decent and actually kind of fun.  Combine THAT, with some of the best riffing of the first two seasons, and voila, you come up with the first really good episode of the show in Wild Rebels.

Cop:  We'd like you to work with us, Rod.
Joel:  It's called Operation Weaselsnitch.

Wild Rebels is a little slower paced than some of the later episodes, and I doubt it will ever show up in anyone's top ten or top twenty.  But if you want a really good example of where MST3k crossed over from "a goofy little public access show on cable" to "a really funny comedy that will be appreciated by everyone", this is probably that episode.

"I really like you, but we could never wash our clothes in the same load."

Other personal favorite things about this episode:   It's impossible to capture in print, but the squeaking noises they make whenever Linda walks across the screen in her tight pants are hilarious.

Banjo:  You stay away from her.  Momma's like a virgin goddess.
Crow:  Well... sorta.


29. Fugitive Alien (1978) - Season 3, episode 310

"No one can beat me at snap-zooms!  I was in 'Time of the Apes!'"

Plot:  A trained space assassin goes rogue and joins a flight crew of Earthlings
Famous for:  "He triiiiiiiiied to kill me with a forklift!"

"Eat fork, buddy!"

My favorite riff:   I feel bad picking the forklift scene, because it's so iconic and predictable, but it really did become iconic for a reason.  I mean, if you had asked someone for the most famous MST3k moment through the first three seasons of the show (or pre-Manos), I'm guessing something like 75% of fans would have said the scene in Fugitive Alien where Rocky tries to kill Ken with a forklift.  And then Joel and the Bots make up a song about it, and they sing it throughout the rest of not only this episode, but Fugitive Alien 2 as well.  To me that was the proudest running gag of early Mystery Science Theater.

Oh, I also love the running Beatles joke that every time someone mentions the character Rita, Joel and the Bots will follow with "Meter maid."  I mean, that's just fun nerd humor.

"Rita!  Meter maid!"

Comments:  Fugitive Alien is without question one of the most popular episodes of Mystery Science Theater, and I would say is one of the three really good episode of the first three seasons.  I have mentioned it before, but my big three of the first three seasons are this one, The Amazing Colossal Man, and Gamera vs. Guiron (which we'll be talking about in a bit.)  

I wouldn't say that the riffing is all that amazing on this film.  I mean, it's funny, but there have been funnier episodes that come later down the road.  No, what this episode has going for it is that the movie itself is fun and just goofy as all hell, and you would probably get a kick out of it just watching it unriffed.  Sometimes the jokes practically write themselves, Joel and the Bots barely even have to say anything.

"When Josie and the Pussycats go bad."

"Presser?  AIR PRESSER??"

Tammy:  Captain!  It's for you!
Joel:  Fisher Price phone, sir.

Fugitive Alien isn't actually a movie, it's really three episodes of an old Japanese TV show from the 70's called "Star Wolf."   When the Japanese production company wanted to bring it to America, they just took three episodes of the show, they spliced them together with the barest semblance of a storyline, and voila, it was repackaged as a movie.  Then the Mystery Science Theater guys got their hands it, and it became one of their earliest signature episodes.  And despite the fact that I don't think the riffing on this episode is particularly outstanding, I have always loved the running gag they come up with that every single character in the movie is apparently named "Ken."  If you don't remember Fugitive Alien for the forklift song, you'll definitely remember it for all the Ken jokes.  To me, that's the heart of the episode.

"Ken 33, go left! Ken 16 and 18 flank him!"

Even though I think there was funnier riffing later in the series, this will always be one of my top thirty episodes.  If only because I have seen it so many damn times over the years, and because it is one of those episodes I have used so many times when I want to introduce a new person to the show.  For years this was my absolute go-to episode when I wanted to turn someone into a Mystery Science Theater fan.  I have nothing but respect for Ken and Captain Ken and their Kenlings.

"Between Ken and Ken lies... Obsession."

Trivia:  There is also a Fugitive Alien 2 (aka three more episodes of the TV show), and some would argue that episode is even better than Fugitive Alien 1.  After all, that one has most of the songs.  But I am trying not to include sequels on my list, I am trying to include as many different types of episodes as I can.  So just consider this a joint entry for both Fugitive Alien 1 and 2.  They are both awesome.

"Space speed?"


28. Final Justice (1984) - Season 10, episode 1008

"It's dangerous for Joe Don to be in the water. Someone's bound to harpoon him."


Plot:  Joe Don Baker is fat
Famous for:  Being the meanest episode Mystery Science Theater ever did

"His arteries are just lookin' at each other, shakin' their heads."

My favorite riff:   There are two great running gags in this episode.  The first is a recurring storyline where Joe Don keeps getting arrested by the Malta police, and every morning he wakes up in the Malta County Jail.  Every morning he wakes up in the same bed, he rolls over, and he stands up, and EVERY single time Mike makes the exact same fart noise as he stands up.  It's one of those stupid little jokes that is maybe kinda funny the first time you see it, but when you see it eight times it gets a lot funnier.  I mean, nobody ever said comedy had to be sophisticated.

"Oh Kermie, take a look at my good stuff."

The other great running gag in this movie is the fact that it was actually rated R when it first came out, so they have to bleep out or blur out a lot of different things.  Which leads to a great running gag that the bad guy is always calling Joe Don a "Son of a!"  Mike and the Bots have a lot of fun referring to that line, they are constantly calling character names but always leaving out the last word.  It's hard to really describe it in print.  It's really funny when you hear how they do it.

"You son of a!"

"No, you're a son of a!"

Comments:  Oh boy.  So much to say about this one.  

"Ooh, I wish I was illiterate.  So I didn't have to read that."

For starters, the only way you can appreciate this episode is by knowing the backstory of Joe Don Baker and Mystery Science Theater.  You see, back in season five, they did a Joe Don Baker movie called "Mitchell", where they absolutely tore him apart, and they made every fat and fat slob joke in the book.  At the time, it was easily one of the funniest... and meanest... episodes in the history of the show.  And of course you are going to see it much higher in my list because Mitchell is one of my all time favorite episodes.

Mitchell - the first time the show ripped the shit out of Joe Don Baker

So anyway, rumor has it that one day Joe Don Baker saw what the MST3k guys did to him with Mitchell, and he was pissed about it.  And he said that if he ever ran into them somewhere in real life, he would kick their asses.  

Which, of course, leads to Mystery Science Theater doing their SECOND Joe Don Baker movie at the very end of the show, during their last season.  Where they not only matched what they did with Mitchell, they actually went after Joe Don Baker even meaner and harder.  That movie, of course, is the one I am talking about, Final Justice.  This was their final say on the matter of what they think of Joe Don Baker as a big fat action star.

"When fat kills fat."

"You'll have to grease me and push me through here."

"The last thing a sausage sees."

This episode is so damn mean, and so damn funny at the same time, that I have always had a hard time knowing how I should rank it.  I mean, on one hand, there are few episodes I have laughed harder at over the years than Final Justice.  When the jokes work in this one, they REALLY work.

 "Oh, you don't want Joe Don throwin' a stool at you."

But at the same time, it's also a pretty one-note episode.  I mean, the jokes are great, but nothing in this episode is all that especially clever.  It's really just one Joe Don Baker is fat joke after another.  So if you're talking about episodes that are particularly intelligent or witty or amazing, I don't think you'd be talking about Final Justice.  Your reaction to an episode like this would depend on how much you enjoy Mike and the Bots ripping Joe Don Baker a new asshole.


Joe Don:  The food's good.  Thank you.  Sure is a lot of it, too.
Mike:  Fits right in with my plan.

I happen to love Final Justice, but I can see why it wouldn't be everyone's favorite.  I just think the backstory of Joe Don saying he would kick their asses one day, and then this was MST3k's revenge, I just happen to think that is really funny.  But I'd be lying if I didn't feel a little bit bad while I am watching this episode.  I mean, they go after Joe Don and they go after him HARD.  And this really isn't even all that bad a movie.  The worst you can say about Final Justice as a movie is that the copy they use on the show is faded and dark and that sometimes it is hard to see what is happening.  Other than that, I can totally see this movie being in a theater in the 80's.  It's not that bad.

Joe Don:  Aw, thank you, little lady.
Crow:  You're welcome, huge man.

All things considered, I'm glad that Final Justice exists.  And it easily slips into my top 30 just because it always makes me laugh so hard.  But BOY is this a mean spirited episode.  It's hard to compare it to any other episode in the Mystery Science Theater catalog, and yes I am even including Mitchell.  If you want to see how comedy can sometimes be used for evil, here's your episode.  

Oh, and if Joe Don Baker ever DID track the MST3k guys down and kick their asses, they'd probably deserve it.

"Our hero.  A big stinky cheater."

Other personal favorite things about this episode:   Joe Don has a catchphrase in this movie ("Go ahead on"), and I love all the little puns and jokes and other ways they manage to make fun of it throughout the episode.  

"You think you can take me?  Go ahead on."

My favorite is during a scene towards the end where Joe Don is on a boat, and the bad guy blows it up.  Joe Don is flung into the water by the explosion, presumably dead, and that's when Tom Servo breaks out this wonderful Titanic reference.

"Don't worry.  His heart will go ahead on."

27. Jack Frost (1965) - Season 8, episode 813
"The movie that dares to ask the question... Will he find the dwarf?"

Plot:  A guy turns into a bear and has to outwit a mushroom and rescue a peasant girl
Famous for:  Being maybe the weirdest movie MST3k has ever done

My favorite riff:   The most famous riff in this episode is when Nastenka's boyfriend Ivan turns into a bear.  Which gives us this iconic MST3k line:

Although I have to say, there is one riff that I love even more than that.  Any time you can take a Russian fairytale, and turn it into a Janet Jackson song, you will always have my undying love and respect.

Nastenka:  Well, my name is Nastya.
Ivan:  Nastya?
Tom Servo:  Miss Jackson, if you're nasty.

Comments:  Jack Frost is one of the weirdest movies that MST3k has ever riffed, and it almost always shows up on people's lists of their favorite MST episodes.  It has been a beloved fan favorite now for more than twenty years.  And for good reason too.  This episode is hilarious.

"So the first plot point involves knitting socks?  I think we're in for quite a ride, guys."

Ivan:  Darling, will you marry me?
Tom Servo:  Um, I'm nine.

"You just got yourself a big sledload of whoopass, Frost."

The only reason I don't put it in my top ten like most other people is because I think the movie is maybe a little "too" weird.  Like, for example, my wife can't stand this episode.  It is one of the rare MST episodes that she refuses to watch, because she finds it too cartoony and just way too strange.  And I see her point.  It IS strange.  I mean, name another movie where a guy turns into a bear, has to outwit a mushroom, does battle with a house, and then undoes the forces of winter to save the life of a nine year old.  Unless Nicolas Cage stars in that movie, that's gonna be a really tough sell.

"You know, if "Disappearing Elf Hide and Seek" were in the Olympics, Finland would be in great shape."

That being said, I love this episode, and I am more than happy to put it in my top thirty because it's a fun little movie to watch, and because some of the riffs are just absolute killers.  The first ten minutes of this episode alone are funnier than most entire MST3k episodes.  So no, I wouldn't put it as my #1 overall as Mighty Jack does on his page Mighty Jack's MST3k Reviews, but it is still one of my favorites.  And, you know, it's amazing they found a Russian fairytale that manages to outweird "The Magical Voyage of Sinbad."  But by golly they did it.

"So, the premise of this movie is that everyone is just nuttier than all get out."

Trivia:  I wasn't aware of this until my friend Sarah pointed it out to me the other day, but this movie isn't really "Russo-Finnish" like MST3k always claims it is.  It's really just a Russian fairytale.  The only "Russo-Finnish" coproduction they ever watched on Mystery Science Theater was The Day the Earth Froze.  Both Jack Frost and The Magic Voyage of Sinbad are one hundred percent purely Russian.  Of course, all three movies are hilarious, and all three are goofier than shit, so I can see why one would want to lump them all together.

Also, I should point out that, despite the fact that they play Jack Frost for laughs on Mystery Science Theater, it has actually been a fairly beloved movie over the years.  
It won the award for Best Children's Picture at the 1965 Venice International Film Festival.  It is also a tradition in the Czech Republic for it to be aired on TV every year around Christmas.  Steven Spielberg once even called it "the forerunner of many Hollywood blockbusters."  So when you watch this episode, keep in mind you're watching a movie that a lot of people have really loved over the years.  Yeah, it's goofy, but when it came out, it was considered a masterpiece.

26. The Magic Voyage of Sinbad (1952) - Season 5, episode 505

"Sir, we may be underwater, but we still have standards."

Plot:  A guy named Sinbad (who is not Sinbad) searches for a magical bird to save his village
Famous for:  Being one of the best episodes of the Joel era.  And also my personal favorite MST3k Russian fairytale.

"That bear has Hammer Pants on."

My favorite riff:  If you asked me to name my all time favorite MST3k riff, this one would have to be up there.  It kills me every time.

Sinbad:  Tell me one thing.  Have you got the Bird of Happiness?

Crow:  We... uh... have a pretty friendly chicken...

Comments:  It's a tough call picking my favorite Russian fairytale movie between Jack Frost and Sinbad, but in the end I gotta give it to Sinbad.  If only because it was first, and because this is easily one of the top three or four episodes of the MST3k Joel era.  It also has absolutely nothing to do with Sinbad, Arabia, the seven seas, or anything even remotely related to Sinbad.  It's actually the story of a famous Russian musician named Sadko.


This movie originally came out in 1952, and it was originally the story of Sadko the musician.  Who goes sailing the seas in search of the Bluebird of Happiness.  But when it was brought to America in the early 60's, they dubbed over it in English, and they gave it a completely new storyline, and that's how you wind up with the story of Sinbad, the Russian singing sailor who has nothing to do with Sinbad.  

"Uh, if you find a melody, Sinbad, hop on."

Despite the fact that this movie is goofy as hell (like all the Russian fairytale movies), it actually has pretty good production values.  And it is actually a pretty good movie too.  You could sit and watch this movie unriffed, and you would probably have a pretty good time.  Which I have always said is the key to most of the good Mystery Science Theater episodes.  The movies that are actually fun to watch tend to make the best MST episodes.

"Hey those ships have scoliosis."

"Everyone dresses like Michael Nesmith in this town!"

"Here, quickly.  Follow me down the Fallopian Tube."

Combine a fun, goofy movie (that makes no sense) that has good production values, with some of the funniest riffing of the Joel era, and you have this, one of my favorite Joel episodes.  In fact, when I first started recording episodes on tape (and ranking them) back in the early 90's, this was the second episode ever that I awarded the coveted grade of A+.  The first one was Teenagers from Outer Space, which we will get to much later in the countdown.

"You know, they also have a dog in there with Alan Alda's head.  It's pretty neat."

Other personal favorite things about this episode:   Jack Frost gets all the credit for being the really weird Russian fairytale movie, but there are scenes in Sadko Sinbad that have to be right up there.  I mean, let's not forget that there is a scene in this movie where Sadko Sinbad goes underwater, rides on a seahorse, then has a dance party with an octopus.  All before having a tea party with the Roman god Neptune (who is decidedly neither Russian, nor Arabian.)

"Man, I've done some weird things before, but... wow."

This movie is so weird I'm shocked it didn't come out of Japan.

"Kill me.  KILL ME!"


---> Continue to the next page for my top 25 (link coming soon)

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