Scott Graham's award-winning Highland drama, starring Chloe Pirrie as a teenager who works at a remote petrol station
On Film4: 4 Aug 11:05PM
A man and his robots watch This Island Earth and pass comment upon the B-picture. That's it
A sizeable cult success in the USA where it's aired on Comedy Central and the Sci-Fi Channel, 'Mystery Science Theater 3000' (aka 'MST3K') has never become established on this side of 'The Pond'. Which is odd given that it's entertaining concept - a space station janitor and his homemade robots are obliged to watch the world's worst movies and we get to eavesdrop on the experience - and wry wit would play well anywhere comedy is appreciated.
'MST3K's 'popularity in America led to its creators, Best Brains Inc, being asked to make a movie. To commemorate this momentous event, the writing staff - having dedicated themselves to taking apart dogs like The Giant Gila Monster, Joe Don Baker vehicle Mitchell and Roger Corman's Teenage Caveman - turned their attention to This Island Earth.
Since Joseph M Newman's picture is considered a classic in some quarters, the Best Brains boys were rather brave to put it under the microscope. Brave, or should that be stupid? Certainly Mike Nelson (pretty much playing himself) and sidekicks Tom Servo (Servo) and Crow T Robot (Beaulieu) score fewer hits here than they did upon disasters such as I Accuse My Parents - a musical about alcoholism and teen murder - and Manos: The Hands Of Fate, the infamous first and last movie from fertilizer salesman-turned-director Harold P Warren.
It's also hard to square this polished picture with the wonderfully ragged TV show that became required late night viewing and continues to perform well on the marathon circuit. Still, if it's not the best advert for the programme, there are enough strong gags here to satisfy the casual viewer. And if you like what you see here, you're going to love the original shows, what with them enjoying a new lease of life on DVD.
The TV show might be funnier but this is pretty solid introduction to the 'MST3K' phenomenon.
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