Join us as we look at the five best movies riffed on by MST3K during the Joel years.
With 107 episodes under his belt (including the KTMA years), Joel Hodgson riffed through his fair share of bad movies. However, not every movie shown on MST3K was bad; in fact, some of the films they lampooned were downright entertaining. The following list contains what we consider to be the best movies from the Joel years of MST3K. Note that these aren’t indicative of what we think are the best episodes, just what we think are the best movies. Or, to put it another way, this is a list of movies that we would enjoy watching without the MST3K folks riffing on them.
Season 1, Episode 5: The Corpse Vanishes
In an attempt to keep his wife alive, a mad scientist (played by Bela Lugosi) abducts young women and drains them of their vital essences. Despite the over-the-top acting and hammy script, this film actually manages to be creepy. We watched it late one night with all the lights off, and were glued to the screen! While many are quick to dismiss it (including Servo, who shorted out when he was asked to name something good about it), the fact is that it has a real creepy atmosphere and keeps you guessing about what’s going to happen next.
Season 1, Episode 11: Moon Zero Two
This one has just the right balance of cheesiness, humor, drama, and action. The late-60’s practical effects are a real treat, and a scene in which two characters realize they’re more than a hundred miles from a base and only have 45 minutes of oxygen left manages to be genuinely suspenseful. The storyline is predictable, but we still found ourselves intrigued in watching it unfold. If you have a thing for 2001: A Space Odyssey-era science fiction movies, you can’t miss this one. Besides, who can resist a 1960’s fully-animated intro sequence?
Season 0, Episode 17/Season 3, Episode 6: Time of the Apes
A mid-70’s Japanese version of Planet of the Apes; this one is GREAT. Originally a 26-episode TV series that was edited down by Sandy Frank, Time of the Apes hits all the same notes as Planet of the Apes, while adding a decidedly Japanese flair. Despite its goofy dub and lame special effects, it manages to be a really entertaining movie, one that’s perfect for fans of the original Planet of the Apes.
Season 4, Episode 15: The Beatniks
Eddy, a leader of a small-time gang, gets his big break when he and his crew mess with the car of a music executive. The executive ends up hearing Eddy sing, and gives him an opportunity he can’t resist. Eddy’s success and his rough-and-tumble lifestyle intertwine, as he battles with trying to figure out which way he wants to go.
This particular movie is highly enjoyable, despite the fact that Eddy’s gang is about as far from being beatniks as they can possibly get. Eddy is a good singer, and none of the cast is safe from getting the hell beat out of them. This one tends to break all the rules, kept us guessing about what was going to happen, and had us genuinely interested in how it was all going to play out in the end.
Season 5, Episode 7: I Accuse My Parents
A teen unwittingly goes from clean-cut student to getting in deep with the mob. Even though this one has a lot of overacting and some HIGHLY coincidental situations, there’s something charming about it that makes it really fun to watch. Interestingly enough, some of the moralities explored in this movie still have a lot of relevance today, although you’ll have to suspend your disbelief regarding the main character not knowing what he was getting himself into.
So there you have it, our list of the 5 best movies from the Joel era of MST3K. We’ll be doing a similar feature for the Mike Nelson years sometime in the next week or two, so keep your eye out for that.