Tagged: Mystery Science Theater

Gorgo – Steve Ditko’s Truly Fantastic Giant

Ditko Monsters

Ditko Monsters – Gorgo!, stories drawn by Steve Ditko, written by Joe Gill, designed and edited by Craig Yoe. YoeBooks!/IDW Publishing. 224 pages, $34.99 retail hardcover.

I realize I’m jeopardizing my Geekcred here, but when I was a kid I never was much of a monster movie fan. After I got past James Whale and Ishirô Honda, it was pretty much “if you’ve seen one slimy green tail, you’ve seen them all.” Of course, this was prior to the proliferation of porno.

My pathetically mature attitude kept me away from Marvel’s monster comics prior to Fantastic Four #1 (the first one). That changed with Fin Fang Foom and Strange Tales Annual #1, and it changed with Steve Ditko’s Amazing Adult Fantasy. (Memo to self: define “adult.”) It became impossible to pass up any Jack Kirby or Steve Ditko effort, be it superhero or monster. Hell, I even bought Ditko’s Hogan’s Heroes adaptations.

So, like many Baby Boomer Doctor Strange fans, I first encountered Gorgo in the 1966 Charlton reprint Fantastic Giants. The giant lizard shared the cover with a big ol’ ape named Konga, a bizarre caricature of the artist, and the legend “A Steve Ditko Special! 64 pages!”

I’ve waited almost fifty years for Fantastic Giants #2, and thanks to my pal Craig Yoe, it finally arrived in the form of a 224 hardcover, Ditko Monsters – Gorgo! He reprints a ton of Ditko Gorgo stories shot from the source material but painstakingly restored and fronted by a wonderful and highly informative introduction by the editor.

These stories are fantastic fun, which is exactly what they should be. Mystery Science Theater 3000 could riff the Gorgo movies, and they did, but these comics stories co-star such notables as John F. Kennedy, Fidel Castro and Nikita Khrushchev. Communism be damned; evidently, Castro and Khrushchev had licensing agents.

If I have one complaint, and it’s a minor one, the book could have used a table of contents and an index. Bitch, bitch, bitch.

So, you might ask, what happened to Konga? Where’s Ditko Monsters – Konga!? That would be next month. One good turn deserves another.

 

Sunday Cinema: Every Mystery Science Theater 3000 movie (and then some)

The MST3K planet logo

In the not-too-distant past, 1988 A.D… there was a guy named Joel, and then another guy named Mike, both of whom worked as janitors at Gizmonic Institute, and who ended up getting tormented by mad scientists. But you already knew that, I’m sure. In fact, you may (like me) recognize far, far too much of this comprehensive and hyper-condensed tribute to Mystery Science Theater 3000 and a whole lot of related stuff like Turkey Day, Rifftrax, Cinematic Titanic, and on and on and on.

Now keep in mind you can’t control where the clips begin or end…

How many of these have you seen? Worse, how many of these had you seen before the MST3K bots got their hands on them? And which were your favorites?

A Brief Look at Foreign Comics Adapted into Film

Italy’s Dylan Dog is interesting in that it is one of the first foreign comics adapted by Americans for the big screen. With the video release of the little seen feature film coming July 26, we were given to consider the foreign comics we know as readers and may have never seen the film versions. The first adaptation of Dylan Dog was a homegrown effort, 1994’s Dellamorte Dellamore (known in English as Cemetery Man or Of Death and Love) from director Michele Soavi.

Other countries have tried their hand at adapting their homegrown comics as films, with about the same level of fidelity and success as most American attempts. For example, there the dreadful 1966 movie based on Peter O’Donnell’s brilliant Modesty Blaise. Not to be outdone in awfulness, America tried their hand at a prime time series, starring Ann Turkel. The 1982 ABC pilot aired and got some reasonable reviews but Americanizing it robbed the show of its charm. The direct-to-video My Name is Modesty, released in 2004, was far worse.

America didn’t do any better with Britain’s beloved Judge Dredd. Danny Cannon and Sylvester Stallone share credit for ruining a wonderful concept with their ham-fisted 1995 feature film.

Italy’s Danger: Diabolik was turned into a 1968 feature film from horromeister Mario Bava based on the Italian comic character Diabolik, a 1962 creation by Angela and Luciana Giussani. The film is noteworthy simply because it was bad enough to be used as the final episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

More iconic was the 1968 film from director Roger Vadim, based on Jean-Claude Forest’s Barbarella. Starring Jane Fonda, it was psychedelic and campy and tremendous fun. Maybe that’s why attempts at a remake have stalled; hitting those notes is a trick most filmmakers today struggle with. John Philip Law deserves credit for appearing in both Diabolik and Barbarella in this year, showing his agent had no taste.

Maybe they should just faithfully adapt the source material much as the successful series about everyone’s favorite Gaul, Asterix, who has starred in 11 films since 1967.

They all could have taken lessons from Japan which pays a lot more fealty to the source material when adapting manga to anime or film to manga. A prime example is the seven films based on Lone Wolf and Cub. The first screened in America in the 1980s under the title Sword of Vengeance, just as comics fans were being introduced to First Comics’ editions of the classic tale. Shogun Assassin, also shown in the US, took the first film and a chunk of the second and for people unfamiliar with the concept, as I was when I screened it for Fangoria, it was eye-opening.  Known as the Baby Cart series, they launched in 1972 and remained revered.

Of course, Belgium’s Tin Tin will take his turn this winter but that’s a story for another day.

The Point Radio: James Cameron On Making AVATAR

The Point Radio: James Cameron On Making AVATAR

Years in the making, the anticipation is building for AVATAR, James Cameron’s 3-D epic. In our exclusive talk with James, he tells us how the process of creating the effects for the film began. Plus Tom Arnold explains his connection with MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 and the Summer Box Office whimpers to a close.

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Hulk Smash RiffTrax! For Free!!

hulkRemember sitting through any particularly bad episode of The Incredible Hulk and thought to yourself, "Boy, this would be great for Mystery Science Theater!"? Well, look no further because Mike Nelson and his band of riffers from RiffTrax.com have decided to take on the very first episode of season one entitled "Final Round".

RiffTrax, for those not in the know, is a website where you can buy MP3’s of the cast of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett, and Kevin Murphy) doing what they do best for movies that deserve it. After purchasing the Riff MP3, you then synch it up to the movie you purchased, like a makeshift commentary. With a selection ranging from Plan 9 From Outer Space to Ben Affleck’s Daredevil, you can purchase each "podcast" and watch it along with your DVD in the comfort of your own home. In a new deal, Rifftrax has partnered up with Overcast Media who will pre-synch the RiffTrax onto content posted for free by Hulu.com. This episode of Hulk is being offered for free as a Beta test and those who check it out are asked to give their feedback on how the service worked.

In the episode, Bruce Banner, going under the name David Benson (ugh) gets saved from muggers by local boxer "Rocky" (no relation) . Later Banner becomes Rocky’s friend and corner-man and uncovers a plot by Rocky’s manager for him to mule drugs. Not only do we get Martin Kove playing "Rocky", who is best remembered as the instructor who told Johnny to "sweep the leg" in Karate Kid, but we also get Ferrigno in green jumping in the ring to beat on the baddies!

Enjoy the full episode with RiffTrax commentary here.

 

Mystery Science Theater Returns

Mystery Science Theater Returns

Unusual is in the mind of the beholder. My favorite teevee shows of all time include such fare as The Prisoner, Fawlty Towers, and Boston Legal – unusual to some, but probably not to most ComicMix readers. If pressed, though, I’d have to say my all-time favorite show was Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Well, in television, as in comics, the word "was" is rarely what it once was. After 11 seasons and nearly 200 two-hour episodes (including one theatrical movie that remains a cable perennial), the stars of Mystery Science Theater 3000 are back.

According to Satellite News, this Monday, November 5th (Guy Fawkes Day, no less), November 5th, MST3K’s parent company Best Brains Inc. will begin webcasting brand-new animated adventures of Crow, Tom Servo and Gypsy – the bots from the Satellite of Love and the only characters to survive all 11 seasons of the original show.

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D2DVD REVIEW: The Film Crew

D2DVD REVIEW: The Film Crew

 

Okay, I admit it. I’m still a fan of [[[Mystery Science Theater 3000]]], the long-running teevee series that featured four robots and a loser riffing on a couple hundred B-flicks… if you’re feeling particularly generous about that “B” part. Michael J. Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy were among the show’s writers and producers. They were also performers – Corbett with the eighth season, Murphy with second season. Nelson, who was head writer from the start, played odd parts for the first four seasons and took over the lead when creator Joel Hodgson left the show at the beginning of season five. The show ran from 1988 through 1999 and begat a feature film.

And I miss it a lot. Particularly after a presidential press conference.

So it was with missed emotions that I popped the first D2DVD by The Film Crew, [[[Hollywood After Dark]]], into my machine. This can’t possibly be as cool as Mystery Science Theater 3000, I thought. And I was only barely right. Nelson, Corbett and Murphy did what they do best: use a contrived reason to sit in a darkened theater and make jokes about a really horrible movie… but without the trademarked silhouette.

If the phrase “sexy Rue McClanahan” sounds like an oxymoron, Hollywood After Dark certainly provides the proof. It is perfectly horrible; it was made for Nelson, Corbett and Murphy to eviscerate. They were fully up to the task, and since the three were also the voices of the featured riffers in MST3K’s last three seasons, if you close your eyes it seems a lot like the original. They only have about half the number of writers, so the material isn’t quite as sharp.

The presentation was bisected by one studio bit, and here’s where I’m having a hard time shaking off MST3K. The ‘Bots had wonderfully wacky and occasionally evil personalities; the Film Crew enjoys its work and is perfectly fine with their environs. No tension, at least not in this first offering.

Shout! will be releasing three more Film Crew D2DVDs this year, and I suspect they’re already looking at their orders and deciding if there will be more. I have great confidence in the Film Crew, and Hollywood After Dark was a good if not great first offering. They will settle comfortably in their new roles.

I recommend this to my fellow MSTies. Yeah, there’s no ‘Bots. Deal with it.

TV Cult Guide

TV Cult Guide

According to TV Guide Online, here’s their latest top 30 cult teevee shows of all time.

I would scoff at this, but it turns out I really like at least a dozen of ’em.

30) Strangers with Candy (1999-2000)*

29) Absolutely Fabulous (1994-2003)

28) Stargate SG-1 (1997-2007)*

27) H.R. Pufnstuf (1969-1971)

26) Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman (1975-1978)

25) Firefly (2002-2003)*

24) Twin Peaks (1990-1991)

23) Dark Shadows (1966-1971)

22) Doctor Who (1963-present)

21) Freaks and Geeks (1999-2000)

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Happy 95th Anniversary, Universal

On this day in 1912, Carl Laemmle merged his movie studio, the Independent Moving Picture Company (IMP), with eight others, creating Hollywood’s first major studio, the Universal Film Manufacturing Company — later to become Universal Pictures Company. Universal would unintentionally give gigantic starts to other film companies, like not paying Irving Thalberg enough money to keep him from being lured away to MGM, or by refusing to pay a decent production fee to produce cartoons starring Oswald the Lucky Rabbit to a young up-and-comer named Walt Disney.

But still– any studio that can bring us Frankenstein, Dracula, The Mummy, Abbott and Costello, My Little Chickadee, Harvey, Touch Of Evil, The Sting, American Grafitti, Jaws, Animal House, E.T., Back To The Future, Jurassic Park, Columbo, McCloud, The Rockford Files, Conan, Darkman, They Live, Hulk, Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie, and enough Law & Order episodes to choke a horse deserves a round of applause.

We’ll even forgive them for Van Helsing and Howard The Duck.

In that spirit of self-improvement, here’s a little employee video from Universal that you might enjoy.